Saturday, April 29, 2006

Paintings, Poems and Pubs

Here we are again, in Sisters. Cheryl is the one straddling the chair, Janet is the large figure on the left. Janet is the dominant one in her creations, Cheryl (or her persona of the moment) is the narrator in much of her work.


One walked into the sea.
The other shook life out
of the paintbrush.
They'd have to dig deep
to recover themselves.
The family tomb shivers
on the skin of holy ground.
It gives nothing away.
The stone lion, standing
eternal guard, sees fallow years
pass between each metallic
clanking of the gates.
Once the sisters are lowered
into their regrets,
what can they hope for?
No point struggling
in quicksand, they sigh.
The choices narrow
as in any after-hours club.
You'll sit with streaks of paint
masking the future.
And I, still as death, take notes
on the meaning of forever.
(Curbside Review)

Abstraction or concrete imagery? Janet uses both, Cheryl leans on the concrete to make her point. "Redwall" needs no explanation, especially if you know the music of U2, but "Abstraction Held by Black Wire" might.

In "Watchman " Cheryl trades Janet's red wall for a well:

He wakes at gunpoint in his dream,
heart beating him about head & ears.
He tumbles down a well where cracked
walls, wheezing, circle him; the lid
clangs across eclipsing sky.

In this womb, he thinks about the bereaved,
how they line up at ticket counters
looking for their own way out,
their chance to whisper goodbye
into someone’s borrowed phone.

Because Epiphany loves a well,
because it storms the half-glimpsed memory,
it rises to meet the sliver of eclipse that burns
eyes wide awake, while the body keeps on drowning.
(three candles)

All Stitched Up is an example of human psychology, painted. It shows the development of a person, his shirt turning into a body of black. The black body echoes the black background. There are two arms and a grid with a head in its own space. The viewer takes away a comment about the way we live now.

Balancing Act

Countdown from your last mistake, on well-licked fingers-- what existed before,
before we needed so much relief from it?

Our milestones harass us: a series of hash marks choking the air, leading us nowhere (in circles, by the nose) A rush-hour sensibility thrives on grim determination and the fascination with menu.
In which brain, scurrying through the turnstile,
does a cell-phone cancer lurk?

Now- to don the mantle of our inner resources:
(a peeled-back stage, the previous irretrievable)
When you jut your jaw like a boxer who knows
a thing or two about glass
and let the storm tack you down, it will dare you
to deny your own experience.

It blows over; your eyes open to something else:
a new picture, rinsed in a wisdom of black & white.
Wasn’t it the shrillest of schoolday pleasures
to always be the last to break the chain?
(Potomac Review)

JS:“Inner/Outer Space” is an example of my mental landscape series; the landscape is abstract and can be felt. The figurative elements—the ball and ring—are the elements I started with in this painting. The space is improvised, the funnel and sky areas. The staircase was an act of improvisation, also.

Publication news:

The Katrina relief antholgy from Sun Rising is out Both sisters' work is included in "Washing the Color of Water Golden".
This is the frontispiece "On the Verge"
by Janet--

Another anthology, Into Our Clothes,
a compilation of work by students at Goucher College in Maryland, has just been published by The Writer's Lair Books Cheryl was one of the editors.

Other new pubs include Esopian, Carnelian, Adagio Verse Quarterly, Half-Drunk Muse and Long Story Short.

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