Wednesday, November 24, 2004

half sonnets 1, 2, and 3 in a row (self-portrait)
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half sonnet I & half sonnet II & half sonnet III
half sonnets 1, 2 amd 3 in a row (self portrait) is the final displaying of the half sonnet poems that i wrote in 1997. each image is 8.5" X 11" so, the full, 9 piece image is 25.5" X 33." what is in the background of each of the self-portraits is actually cool: in #1, the poster to raise money for the legal defense fund for the white night riots is the yellow/red border, as well as the outline of the cat in the hat; in #2, there is a poster from paris, france. and my big chin -- (OK, that one is not so interesting, except the irish country sea is imbedded into the image too); and in #3 is of course dolores park, san francisco, along with a few tiny jewel weeds which run along the border of the bottom of the image. the jewel weed is an impatiens which is a great antidote for poison ivy. it's also called the "touch me not" flower as well as the "poor man's orchid." if you've ever seen them after they've bloomed and if you've touched the seed pod, you know why these guys are such cool plants. and yes, each poem is a half sonnet not by rhyme scheme but by virtue of being 7 lines (a sonnet is 14 lines) and they all have something to do with love (i always associate sonnets with love, although that is not always the case -- i.e. "dulce et decorum est" by wilfred owen).

wedding sonata (for pam and judd)
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while a few years late in the giving, this piece, wedding sonata, is dedicated to my friends pam and judd. this image (which is only a mere 20" X 25") contains a 3-line excerpt from a poem of mine (gambling w/our lives he said which is also the title of a poem/image in memory of mister man). the three line excerpt fit these two perfectly. the image is based on a photograph from their pre-wedding preparations, except i only kept the outline of them, since their silhouette is what moved me to write the poem wedding sonata which only pam and judd have. this image was 1/2 the gift and is the public displayed image -- the poem, a sonata, is the other 1/2 of the gift and is separately and privately illustrated for them -- and of which they have the only copy too. you can make out a smidge of the 5 poem gift -- it is the line running down the left side of the image; the wedding invitation is what runs down the right side. and i did get permission to use the small image of pam and judd playing from the cartoonist. this is one of my favorite images that i've done.

the three lines of the poem read:

hands that hold are hands of god
tears fall rolling down my cheek
you kiss the tears out of my eyes and they are gone

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halfpound4brenda is 8.5" X 11" and is basically 1/2 of my other poem illustrated, for ez. i halved the image as a gift for a friend and this is dedicated to brenda. the chinese ideogram in the center of the image translates into "plum blossoms resemble bright stars." this image by the way is entirely hand-made, no photos at all. this phrase and portion of this image is also the same image from the saturday flower from the week in flowers. my poem for ez (ez being ezra pound) runs along the left side of the image while one of era pound's last-recorded cantos of his life is in the lower right hand corner.

the penultimate moment (for nora)
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the penultimate moment is a very daunting piece, both in terms of its creation and its final size. full size, it measures 30” X 54” (2.5’ X 4.5’). the poem and illustration are both dedicated to my grammy, nora. this is not the only version of this illustration; the original can be seen in this final piece. months later i returned back to the image and realized the scale was wrong, too small. however, the simple process of resizing and augmenting this image was not to be simple at all. my lap top died. then the loaner lap top died. on top of all of that, the image was just too big for my memory on the lap top, so a few times even my photoshop program crashed. all in all, this illustration took over a full working month to finalize. the celtic knot that can be seen throughout the image is not a celtic knot at all, but a fractal of my mom, nora and her husband, my grampy, walking into the church for my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. the photo one set in rows with itself and morphed becomes a very wild celtic know, often intimating a celtic cross. when i wrote the penultimate moment it was really after hearing my grammy’s voice, clearly, even though she had been dead for years. but things like that happen in our family, at least with nora, con, leller and ger. in the final image i have nested a photo of my mom and aunt, ages 5 and 3. suffice it to say the photo tells a lifetime in a snapshot. there is also a great photo of my grampy standing next to his truck when he worked for the city of chicago. he was a proud, tough, lucky and bedeviling man, as she was a soft, quixotic, mysterious and devoted woman. and as it turns out, my penultimate moment with my grammy was at her 50th wedding anniversary. it was a traditional irish wedding party. to the nines. nora and i danced. she said something to the effect of “i’ll lead but it will look like i am following. just follow what i do.” and with that, we danced. i can still remember her glasses, hands, voice (she did almost sing her greeting), her eccentricities. while i have a fairly good memory, when it comes to my grammy, i draw a very mediocre hand. she is my achille’s heel when it comes to my photographic memory. but, i try the best i can to at least approximate what i felt transpired. she always seemed more in-between what was said and what was expected, anyway. it is indeed that moment just before the last one that either haunts or calms. i miss her dearly.

for ez
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for ez is one of the first images i ever illustrated (ez = ezra pound, the greatest american poet ever, regardless of how whacked and odd he was, and in spite of his virulent and asinine anti-semitism). i managed to keep the original version in some format in the final version, as it runs down the center of the poem separating the 2 covers of the open book. in recasting the image, it struck me how pound's closing cantos -- while by no means reparative-- were redemptive. not one to admit being wrong, not one to ask for help, not one to ever suggest hurt or loneliness, and yet comes the phrase “let the gods forgive…/let those I love try to forgive…” and yet, even in the defeat brought on by his own hubris, pound remains so, so cranky.

the image that is the entirety of my saturday flower from the week in flowers is a five-character chinese ideogram, as brought to us by ernest fenellossa. pound is to have seen this ideogrammatic statement and was able to translate it on the spot, without having ever studied chinese in his life. it could be that it was another ideogrammatic passage or ideogram, but that is not really the point. there was an incident where pound was able to translate without having studied and it might as well have been this one. once i had finished the saturday flower i realized that the image was perfect for the illustration of for ez. in 1991, i spent an entire afternoon on san michele, the island cemetery off venice, italy. it is not lost on me that pound was buried on an island. his grave is simple and dignified, a bit unkempt and very still. the echo of for ez in the background of the image is in memory of that afternoon and i hope the image pays my due respect to my poetic mentor.

tower poem
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canto X: valentine's day eve
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a simple move of the second hand (for liddy)
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while one of my favorite images, this one is probably the least shown, owing both to the person for whom, to whom, and because of whom it is dedicated and completed, namely my cousin liddy. the poem nested into the image a simple move of the second hand is part of the trilogy of time and space of which 2 of the 3 poems/illustrations are complete. the other finished poem/illustration from the trilogy is the end of the ride. meanwhile, the third, syncopated melodies, is still in rewrite until miss byron returns. then it will be completed.

in both a simple move of the second hand and the end of the ride, there is a shared image, namely a fire hydrant (courtesy of moose, whose photograph of the fire hydrant he has allowed me to use and whose original photograph is brilliant). since all three poems deal with death, loss, time and meaning, i found the fire hydrant in the desert image (moose's photo) to be quite droll and understating.

obviously, the title of the poem refers to the second hand of a clock, marking the passing of time in seconds, and the echo-play on second and seconds is intentional. what differentiates a hand shake from an embrace is the second hand. stuff like that. i had lost some very dear friends of mine when the poem was written (including reggie and chuck) and by the time the image was being put together, by then liddy. so, the image is a blend of some of my favorite and most important friends and colleagues and family. i guess that is why it remains finished, and socked away. because the reproduction of the full image is pretty much crap (size issues -- this is a big image, almost 3' X 4'), i have pasted and will paste more examples of the framing image which makes up this. it is a digital photo of the corner of my house, and there are 12 of them (for each month) and in each of the 12 months is nested the name of a friend. etc.

oh and before i forget, because the issue is really important, please check out the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative website ( liddy was amazing. as she dealt with her own ewing's sarcoma, she never stopped trying to help. using the web (it helped that she was truly brilliant -- and it didn't hurt that she was truly caring) and with assistance from her really amazing husband, dad, mom and brothers, liddy did everything she could to try to educate people about and to try to beat cancer. unfortunately, liddy died from ewing's sarcoma in january 2004. our last e-mail exchange was when she wrote at the end of december 2003 apologizing that -- contrary to plans and our conversations -- she was going to have to postpone her trip out to the west coast over the winter holidays because she wanted to make sure her health was strong enough and all that.


in the image there is a private joke of sorts that we shared, from a dinner she and i had over a decade ago in san francisco. all i will say is that if you find the pair of glasses in the image, then you've got great eyes.

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