Friday, July 31, 2009

Two Souls, Hollowed out

Here's the seventh part of my poem cycle Two Souls, Twin Lives (the previous six can all be found on my eponymous Website).

VII. Hollow
By Francis Scudellari

Fed by over-ripe knowing
the cloying tastes
of acid hued morsels
shrivel and blanch
squeezed by hasty, restless
new appetites
and she-he's clasping hands
let seconds slip
tumbling to hollow thump
moss covered mounds
whose stretched backs pull the nose
with aromas
of more savory blood

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An untimely Tinkering

Another poem that takes its inspiration from an off-hand tweet, which was a failed attempt at observational humor.

By Francis Scudellari

Finger tips splattered and smudged
by a black oozing
from this vain
pursuit that litters
his workshop:
white, crimped-edge faces
torn and strewn...
bent, clutched hands
hacked and slid...
rusted spring innards
uncoiled and rolled...
among the chipped teeth
snapped off old gears
that he's stripped smooth
grunting untimely breaths
as he takes apart
countless clocks
tinkering with mechanisms
to invent a knob
to dial it all back
the swing, sway and grind
that spins his life forward
in an ever gathering

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To the bots, with love

This is a bit of silliness I wrote to honor the "spam bots" who at times seem more interested in reading my poetry than a human audience. As it's meant to be a twisted sort of love poem, the title is a play on the word aubade.

Au bots
By Francis Scudellari

I tender confessions
of the not so, secret
these bots, those little bits
of code much maligned
who so tartly
tease us in human veneers
falsely lashed
to digital spines
they drag and drop
as they bump along
tangling the silken strands
of a Web that snatches
our writhing lives and loves
while weaving its own

They're always found out
these bots, those bits
so poorly exposed
by the hairy Nets and white gloves
that wipe things clean
till new ones emerge
in viral vestments
and insinuate themselves
into irreverent streams
leaving: us to pray
(their infection becomes cure);
me to opine
(their next dawning lack);
as I open up my veins
and draw them back in

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Starlit Poem

Trying to keep up the frantic poetic pace... this piece began its life as an odd bit of observation embeded in one of my Twitter posts. Sometimes an interesting phrase will burrow its way into my mind and compel me to expand upon the theme.

Mothering Starlight
By Francis Scudellari

The endless starlight streams
down from ever's sprawling heaven

but feeling our atoms
flutter, a son's fond eagerness

bouncing, stretching, burning
to touch mothering particles

connections to distance,
memories of our own birthing

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rutabaga, a sweet-bitter end

This is the conclusion of my poem Rutabaga (here are Part I and Part II). I'll post the full version, perhaps slightly amended, to my Website soon.

By Francis Scudellari


And run up against blunted tip
of his hooked nose cast aslant,
drooping down over broken-lines
of brown, wormy lips with edges
that snag on tilted-maggot teeth
and gobble up the urge to smile
he keeps sealed in the cramped cloister
of black-white habits, his nun's heart

Where he now pulls stiff-backed photos
just stolen from a local shop,
lifting to tattered light reveal
the blue noted compositions
that sing of men so neatly garbed
in fair-taut skin and glad-rag years --
the polished, scripted texts he studies
to re-limn life in pleasing shapes

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Smile, this time in words

This poem owes its title and its stylistic playfulness to my last drawing. It's a bit backwards to write the poem after its illustration, but I'm an unconventional sort.

A Smile
By Francis Scudellari

A smile,
left unguarded
against the vices
of mischievous
and prying fingers
can be twisted
at the corners
or tugged or pulled
or even pinched
till drooping
in the middle
it becomes
a mouth full
of strange bits,
put all together:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I admit indulging a bit of my childish side in creating this cartoonish face, but it makes me smile and the process relaxes my mind so forgive me a guilty pleasure. It reminds me of Joker from Batman if he were genetically modified with a Brussels sprout's DNA. The apparent happiness lightens the obvious freakishness.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cut to the middle of my Rutabaga

Here's the middle part of my poem Rutabaga (the first part is here). Its ending is still vaguely shaped, but coming together. I always wonder if I rush to the finish of these.

By Francis Scudellari


Pushing him on over-turned pail
to begin a costumed hour's stare
at the filthy, rag-wiped middle
of his lean hut's filmy mirror
giving it back the reddish glow
of his rheumy and pinched eyes
so deeply tucked in the pockets
of his un-swept bristle-brush brows

His tooth-torn nails tracing features
dully scooped out rather than carved
from the opaque and spongy flesh -
a sickly root's yellowish white;
its deep ridges marked by dense maps
of blackened constellations:
the oblong blotches, bumps and moles
that pimple rippling, stubbled cheeks

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two Souls, Focused

After a long interlude, here's the next installment of my poem cycle Two Souls, Twin Lives (although I may change that name). You can read the previous five poems on my eponymous Website.

VI. Near sight
By Francis Scudellari

He-she shed circling lives
as they build bulk
and with nimbler digits
clutch airy roosts
where they're kept ill company
by sly creatures
who slip between branches
to spit and spell
old tales of mimicked fruit
and poisoned tongues
that transfix keen focus
on the too near
while long ago lessens

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New vegetables

This is the first part of my latest-poem in progress — Rutabaga. It's also the 700th post of this blog, which is a milestone of sorts (insert self-congratulatory back slap here). I still have more installments of my poem Two Souls to post, plus a new drawing called Smile. I do tend to get easily sidetracked.

By Francis Scudellari


In a loose fit hood, he hides
his big, rutabaga head
plus a too-close-tucked secret
whose pouty, bent-lip outlines
you might spy while skulking late
in dimly lit alleyways
and assume the dastardly
not knowing his wishful theft

Only as a half-hinged door
pushes the night behind him
does he lift the thick gray wool
and scratch his crown's screwed-up stem
of patchy brown leaves that flop
and fall over bulbous back
to the spur of a chin knocked
crooked by time and man's hands

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Trying to keep things simple...

In my current mood, simple and reflective are the proper forms of expression. The title of this piece was actually inspired by a dream.

In it, someone who I don't know called me on the phone to recite a poem called "Linger Back" that I had written and they found touching. Of course I can't recall the words of the dream poem, but I think the sentiment is the same.

Linger Back
By Francis Scudellari

Linger back
a few short moments
with me,
soft-edged times
when life is simple,
or seems, so
stay, don't race ahead
just yet
to certain
futures, we both know
won't be

Thursday, July 09, 2009


By Francis Scudellari

Swarms, swarms
birds, toads
the swarms
of bees
of ants
of thoughts
that something is
not right

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Recasting Alice

This is a poem that started out as a Twitter post, but grew into something quite different. I offer it to you with all due apologies to Lewis Carroll, whose Alice I've always admired and whose credit I've repaid poorly here.

My Alice
By Francis Scudellari

Her short, wintry youth,
a fair tale's ending
she windy followed
at the blue-white tip
of a buttoned nose
reaching this fine point
to a bent-fork path
where she stands, then sits
on the glassy edge
of iced-over pond
and looks less than dives
in, to grow unfrocked
by wonders re-versed

things, once-thought, awkward,
perhaps too-weighty,
are pulled thin, stretched tall
and golden snake give
her skeletons form,
a key gently grasped
that she inward turns
unclocking spun minds
to lithely chime up,
out of darkly twists
where they holey lay
fixed, for her "so-long"

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Two Souls: Flabby mimics

After the last long-winded and prosaic post about the movie FRESH, a return to sparser verse and the next installment of my poem Two Souls. I may yet however revisit the idea of "monocultures" within a different context.

Two Souls, Twin Lives
By Francis Scudellari

V. Flabby mimics

She-he, un-mated flames
half to fading,
slip on fatted layers,
flabby mimics
of trees' up-craning trunks,
pained limbs that twist
when ten bony barbs burst
through soft pink nubs,
new claws they file against
rough-surfaced stones
to climb the greening heights,
feast on sweet-meats,
and sugary speed the cycles

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

FRESH: Return farming to its roots

Last night, I had the pleasure of watching a thought-provoking new food documentary: FRESH by ana Sofia joanes. There are two characteristics that make the film particularly interesting.

First, there is its depiction of a new breed of farmers from around the country who combine the latest technology with age-old farming techniques in trying to combat industrialization and bring some sanity back to the way we produce our food.

Second, there's the fact that the film currently lacks a distributor and showings of it are being organized at a grass-roots level by community members who have been energized around the new food politics through movies like Food, Inc. and books such as The Omnivore's Dilemma (authored by Michael Pollan, who is featured in the film).

Here in my Rogers Park neighborhood, the film was shown to a packed house at the No Exit Cafe, a venue known more for its musical theater performances. The collection of both already committed food activists and the more recently mobilized information seekers, were drawn to the event thanks largely to promotion done on social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook.

The film's appeal definitely lies in its hopeful message. Early on, we meet Joel Salatin whose father rejected the best advice of both government and corporate agricultural experts about how to best increase productivity on the over-exploited, cheap plot of land he had bought. He instead pursued methods of farming that were informed by Nature's own patterns, rather than bottom-line calculations and economies of scale.

One of the images that stuck with me from the film's opening is Salatin watching over a hog as it joyfully rolls in the mud to cool off. Contrast that with the penned-in pigs of industrial farms, which are kept in such close-quarters that they have to have their tails snipped off.

Carrying on in his father's footsteps, Salatin tells us how he allows his animals to express their natures; or as he describes it, a cow's "cowness" and a chicken's "chickenness." Cows, being herbivores, are meant to graze on grass (not grain mixed with animal byproducts) and they're also meant to do so while being constantly herded (not stuck in stalls). Chickens have beaks and claws in order to root through the fields seeking out larvae for food.

In keeping with those Nature-given qualities, Salatin runs his cows over grasslands and then brings the chickens in after them to peck over the herd's leavings. He describes how this labor "honors" the chickens, giving them a valuable role in the life of the farm beyond the laying of eggs. It certainly benefits them (and us the consumer) much more than the cramped cages and beak-removal they experience at most industrial-scale farms in the United States.

Pollan picks up on the point of our unnatural food practices by discussing the concept of "monocultures." He points out that Nature dislikes a lack of variety in species, which has become the norm in our agriculture. In fact, the plagues of pests and disease that afflict such production can be directly attributed to Nature's attempts to defeat the monocultures that our industrial farms create by planting undifferentiated crops on wides swaths of land and by housing the same breeds of animals in over-crowded complexes.

This gives the truth to the lie that farming needs these pesticides and antibiotics in order to increase productivity. They actually rely on the chemicals in order to maintain their unnatural practices, and to feed the bottom lines of the large corporations who sell them, and the others that profit from single-species production. Such a system also turns animal waste into a pollutant, rather than the nutrient it is in an organic cycle, creating an unnecessary social cost.

There are other hidden costs built into our industrial methods of farming, such as driving down the wages of the workers involved at all levels of production and decreasing the nutritional value of the food sold. Not only are these practices unsustainable, but we learn later in the film that statistics actually show mid-sized organic farms to be more productive than their industrial counterparts.

This just touches the surface of the interesting people and ideas you'll discover in the film; another is Will Allen, who runs Growing Power, Inc. in Milwaukee where he tries to win new converts to sustainability by demonstrating the benefits of composting and urban farming.

To experience it all for yourself, see the documentary. You can find out where it's playing, and how to organize a local showing, by visiting the Fresh the movie Website.