Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hoped-for payoff

Here's the payoff on that tease of a post I did two days back. I tweaked the first stanza, and then took the poem in a slightly different direction than I originally intended. And I finished it in time for New Year's, which I hope will give me many reasons to be resolved.

by Francis Scudellari

I am wedged, ever so un-
comfortably between too
pliable becoming and
a stone-hardened was: Stuck

Through a piggish present, slow-
roasted over lukewarm flames;
Blue, stubby tongues that lick a-
way my black, greasy drips: Sins

He, She, You, Someone counts, in-
dexes with hidden names locked
in musty drawers; dark acts some-
times only intended: Thought

Clouds of form-shifting, milk-
puff fingers that reach, caress
their glassy lid, collect, and
fall dewy dropped back down: Wait

In-pooled, murky hands that palm-
press this thick-boxed bottom till
spidery cracks appear and I
slip out, into: Tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Embracing my unholy side

I discovered this interesting quote attributed to my namesake saint on a religious brochure piled in among the free lit at the local café:
I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.
— St. Francis of Assisi
Then it hit me like the clichéd lightning bolt: Perhaps the problem is that I haven't been unholy enough. I may just need to embark on a lot more sinning before God deems me worthy of becoming his instrument. Everyone loves a reclamation project.

The nice guy act certainly hasn't gotten me very far. It could be time to turn over a new, darker leaf and head into the shadows. I think I now have my New Year's resolution.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Creative limbo, an update

I've got ideas for four different poems jostling for primacy within my head. One, Turn-tables, which I mentioned a couple weeks ago, hasn't developed much further since its initial growth spurt. Part of that is the unfortunate result of holiday and other life distractions.

Two others are still just twinkles in my mind's eye, with no real sense of identity beyond their draft titles. I'm not sure that they'll even make it out alive, but they're trying very hard to push their way through.

And then there's this last one, Purgatory, the idea of which came to me very suddenly this evening. It will probably outpace the others to make it to the light of day first, but I want to let it percolate a little longer. I will leave you with this tease of a first stanza though ...

"I am" wedged, ever so
comfortably between
pliable becoming
a very hardened was

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The song running through my head

Songs often run through my head unprovoked, but as Christmas wraps up for another year I have a particular tune that predictably resurfaces within my synapses for the occasion. It's John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" and it's a song that I wish more people would associate with the holiday.

If you truly honor the religious teachings of the man who lends his name to this holiday — a man who is also known as the "prince of peace" — you should do everything in your power to foster the golden rule that he preached surpassed all of the ten commandments: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

I dedicate this video to the incoming Obama administration, and I pray that they'll heed John Lennon's and Yoko Ono's words ... "War is over, if you want it." It's time for us to wage peace, not war.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Belated, Candied Christmas Wish

It's the day after Christmas, and five days into the latest Doodle Week, but tardy soul that I am, I'm just getting around to recognizing both on this blog. Day Two's theme was Candy Cane, and here's my take on that holiday fixture. I hope everyone who celebrates it out there had a wonderfully festive Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A layered wave

This isn't the best image of it, but I like the drawing itself quite a bit. The name is probably a little misleading, but for me there's something tidal about it. Maybe it's the rippling blue that is intermixed with the harder-edged surfaces. With that said, as always I toss it out to you to better define.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crash course in scurvy prevention

As further proof of the often pathetic state of my life, here I sit on the night before Christmas Eve eating oranges and listening to my iTunes (I do love the Flaming Lips).

The fruit is all I currently have in the fridge, but that's good as I need to make a dent in the large gift basket my mother sent before it spoils. I also had a nice walk around the neighborhood earlier, which is strangely deserted either because of the never-ending snowfall or the holiday.

I have a drawing that I'll post after midnight. I like it a lot, and I spent quite a bit of time layering the colors, so I hope you do too.

Random musing between flakes

My mother likes to remind me occasionally that I was born in the midst of a blizzard. It may not seem such a big deal in the Midwest where I currently reside, but in the DC area they don't happen that often.

As I trudge through the quickly accumulating snow today, I think back to that storm which I've only experienced through re-telling, and find a magical beauty in it. The borrowed memory becomes even more poignant, when I realize how fleeting these moments are.

Within hours (maybe longer considering the city's current budget crisis and cut backs to snow removal), the plows will come by and push the unbroken plain of white into uneven piles stained black, brown and gray by the sprayed salt and belched exhaust.

There's a metaphor hidden in there, which I'll leave you to dig out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Buon compleanno a me: another year in the books

Tomorrow marks the completion of my 45th year breathing this atmosphere. I have every expectation that my 46th ride along the earth's regular solar revolution won't be dull, and if the universe decides to smile (or frown), it may even be fate-full. 

I have a strong hope that circumstances — personal and global — are flowing together in such a way to propel me in a new direction (physically, mentally and spiritually), but then again, I thought the lottery was a sure thing the other day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Drowsy inspiration

I'm trying to develop more of a narrative voice in my poems. This one started out from a very simple personal experience ... laying in bed with the covers pulled over my head while music wafted in from the other room. I put that moment into a much different context, and abstracted it from myself by sharing it with a third party.

by Francis Scudellari

Sleep-nestled in
she unfolds too
in-woven tales,
self-spun over-
long ago til
head-to-toe rapt
her mind
swings to-and-fro
up-tethered with
a single strand

The silky pod
floats some-
time jostled by
sing-song voices
snake-tongued sirens
that each day drift
in, try to lure
her out
with their stories
of fabled lands,
distant faces

Yet, warmly tucked
her soothing dreams,
she sleeps on not
eager to join in
worlds, their storybook
readings of love
instead waits for
her own
free-form scenes to
outside unfurl
on painted wing

Monday, December 15, 2008

Clowning around with a governor

This is my perhaps sophomoric attempt to portray my state's now famously clownish Governor. I contributed the cartoon to The Urban Coaster newspaper, which on this week's front page will urge the state legislature to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against Mr. Blagojevich.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An odd bit, undeveloped

as a ghost who
passes over,
through barren and
busy worlds, each
footprint too slight,
my outlined frame
too misshapen,
for the tended
masses to not-

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back to blogging

I'm still trying to find the right balance in my use the two personal websites that I'm currently maintaining. This site has gone through a few iterations over the two and a half years it's existed, but I think it's time to return it to its original bloggy nature.

My eponymous site (FrancisScudellari.Com) will become the primary location for my creative endeavours, and I'll amply plug those from here. I'd like to transition Caught In The Stream toward shorter, more prosaic posts with insight into the process of birthing my poems and drawings. Basically, it will be a place where I think aloud. I'll also toss in some seeming non-sequitirs. It may or may not work.

I'm currently working on a poem entitled "Turn-tables: A cylcical movement in four parts" that I hope to have ready in the next few days. A successful outcome is however still in doubt.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stoic pose

This is another in my sereies of winter weather inspired abstract drawings. I'll probably be posting quite a few more the way the season is going here in Chicago.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I was pretty worn out when I drew this. I'm sure that affected the content of the illustration, if not the quality. I'm interested to see the interpretations of it. 

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gray surfaces

The wintry weather has put me in a gray mood. I think I may continue experimenting with gray-themed drawings for a little while.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Vanishing, LIght

Sometimes I struggle with my writing, and other times the words come together very quickly. This poem came in a quite literal flash of inspiration one morning.

Vanishing, light
By Francis Scudellari

Her face, remembered but,
For this moment, not-named
Features searched, caressed by
My gentle-touched recall

Her smile that beams, knowing
Stares, meant for these eyes,
Where wait, in-part secrets
Of loved not, to explore

Then-with blinking open
Of my dreaming mind
She, so quick, vanishes
Silent to early morn

This feeling, its darkness
Ever dissipating

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Doodled Winter in Passing

Between the holiday, newspapering, and poetry writing, I failed once again to keep up with Doodle Week. I can't let the whole week slip by without contributing at least one drawing, so here's my very quick and simple attempt to capture the season of Winter.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

In-colored streams

I struggled a bit with this drawing ... hence the lag in posts over the past week. It's a bit harder for me to deal with complete abstractions. This was very loosely inspired by the line "In colored streams" from my last poem Demented.

A bloggy thanks giving

Honoring the U.S. tradition of giving thanks on this day, I'd like to express my appreciation for all you wonderful folks who regularly read and comment on this blog. The continued interest and very generous feedback have served as a great motivation and inspiration to my odd brand of creativity.

I'd also like to offer a special "thank you" to Jena and Deborah who have given me blog awards recently. From Jena, whose productivity on several blogs (including Gewgaw Writings) and Helium makes me feel like quite the writing slacker, comes the Butterfly Award. From Deborah, who is the motive force behind the Climate of Our Future blog to which I contribute, I received the lovely Lemonade Award.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Temporary dementia

This is the poem I've been working on. It was a bit of a struggle, and I may still revisit it. There's not much biographical in it, other than a few loose-stitched scenes from a recent dream. 

by Francis Scudellari

From a mind's sharp cycling,
His life spun through;
Then reels forward to now
In colored streams;
Faces, at first static,
Thinly sprinkled
Bits of dust, laid afar
Are raised timeless
In eddies' swirl; Gathered
Up; Loose-tear glued
To feature-smoothed spheres, then
By thought storms flung,
Strike thick crystal landscapes;
Punch-out windows:
Perfect round glimpses of
The backing black

Each impact slow-stretches,
Sudden shatters
His scene-cracked mirror; Shards,
Paper-fold hinged,
On jagged wings fly up,
Cutting skyward;
Each fractured flap captured
Stop-frame motion;
Gravity freed, vapor
Tails wag behind;
Their glass-voiced cries echo,
One-note alarm,
Ring present-trapped ears; Pull
Him disordered
To this world; Awoken
For one moment

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sorry for the delay ...

I apologize for the lack of posts this week. I've been hard at work putting together a website for my friends' and my latest venture ... a new community newspaper called The Urban Coaster.

The website is up and running, but the print edition won't debut until next week. Of course, you'll have to live on the far north side of Chicago to get your hands on it (or ask me very, very nicely to send you one). Be sure to check out the "horoscope," which was penned by yours truly and reveals a little different side of my personality.

In the mean time, I'll have a new poem called Demented ready to share in the next day or so ... how's that for a tease.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bled me grey

Sometimes I feel like I need a good blood-letting. Since there are no leaches handy and I'm quite fond of keeping my real blood inside my body, it's much easier to pretend via a drawing. It did help exorcise some self-conjured demons that had infected my soul. Note: Just to be clear, this is in no way meant to endorse or make light of suicide. If it gives that impression, I apologize. I am a strong believer in art as therapy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weightless, I walked

I'm in a bit of a dark mood. Maybe it's the weather, but more likely the pressing on of days too much alike with no clear change in sight. I have a drawing whose title inspired this, and I'll likely post it tomorrow.

Weightless, I walked
By Francis Scudellari
Weightless, I walked
Impatient through
This darkly steep,
Thorn-rapt thicket
With each step, passed
Over careless
A world of wrongs
Un-lived, never
Committed, just
Imagined but
Razor-sharp when
Limned, they bled me
Till ghostly, grey
Leaving, no mark,
Only a faint
Memory of
Pale words spoken
To, for no-one

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Straight to Jasmin's Heart: A guest post

Jasmin Causevic very graciously invited me to write a guest post for his site Jasmin's Heart. I took the opportunity to review the few lessons I've learned about the creative process over the past two years of blogging. The piece is entitled Lost in a Dream Logic.

Here's an excerpt:
I saw more power and beauty in ambiguity than clarity. Rather than trying to control the impulse to create, I had to give in to it. The unconscious mind did a much better job of directing my hand, and my eyes.
Read the full article here

A bit of catching up ...

For those who have yet to check out my new website, it now includes the complete catalog of the poems I've posted here ... numbering a surprising 90 in all. I still cringe a bit when reading through some of the older ones, but I hope that's a good indicator of growth.

I've also added the ability to comment on the site, so there's a degree of interactivity. The web address is FrancisScudellari.Com.

I also wanted to share a photo from my trip to Ohio. It's a group shot of the "Chicago Six" (from left to right: Charles, Katy, Danny, Terry, me and Jim). We'd like to send out a big thank-you to the wonderful folks in Parma and Strongsville who so graciously welcomed us into their homes. We hope to return the favor if you're ever in Chicago.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Toxic mimic

This poem was very loosely inspired by an environmental piece I saw a few months back on the blog Eco-Friendly Life and Toys. The post features a video clip of writer Derrick Jensen discussing the concept of toxic mimics. I highly recommend watching it, especially since I didn't depict the concept very well below.

Toxic mimic
By Francis Scudellari

(Be led …)

To this reed-choked pool
I'm drawn
With liquid murmurs
My face
Reflected, once-clear
Lines warped
By bubbling decay

(Belong …)

On rippled surface
I seem
Closer. With each breath
My lack
Spreads. Circling worries
By weak-willed current

(Believe …)

In the brown-tinged glass
I bend
To watery shade
Twisted black branches
Reach out
For a sighted hope

(Be loved …)

As teary phantom,
I view
This lonely image
All worth
Grown monstrous, over
Time held
In, tightly, my own

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem ... a day late

Yesterday was the Blog Blast for Peace, which I missed despite my best intentions to participate. Inspired by Mimi, the originator of the Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace) globes, November 6th was a day in which the desire for peace rippled through the blogosphere.

Never one to let the calendar stand in the way of a good idea, a day late I'm posting this original drawing I did to commemorate the occasion. I call it Terraforming Peace.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

We'll return to our regular programming after this brief political message ...

I'm just back from my trip to help Barack Obama carry Ohio (which he did, in case you didn't see the news), and I wanted to very briefly share a few thoughts on the experience.

Four of my friends and I traveled from the electorally secure city of Chicago to Cleveland, a toss-up territory on the shores of lake Erie. There we met our good friend Katy, who had been helping to organize the campaign in the area for five weeks. A rough-around-the-edges group of guys dubbed the Chicago Boys and the Chicago Crew, we were welcomed enthusiastically and immediately put to work out in the neighborhoods.

It began with a methodical canvassing of suburban Parma to tip the minds of those who hadn't yet decided and to motivate those who had. It ended, in the last few hours before the polls closed, with a mad dash through the streets of an impoverished area of Cleveland to make sure that everyone there had exercised their right to vote.

There are many stories to tell (and I'll gladly share them with anyone who asks me over the next days, weeks, months and years), but no amount of words can adequately capture the whole experience. Most memorable was that shared moment as the large group of local volunteers and staff nervously watched the returns around TVs and computer screens on Tuesday night. First came the news that Pennsylvania had gone to Obama, and shortly after that the giddy announcement that Ohio was also projected in our column. 

As more states were called with the closing of polls in the Midwest, we all began to realize what we had accomplished. I'll never forget the tear-streaked faces mixed in among the smiles as Obama secured the needed 270 electoral votes. Handshakes, hugs and kisses abounded as a tremendous wave of emotion washed over all of us in that office -- a scene that I'm sure was played out in countless places across the nation. 

There was a tinge of sadness that we Chicago Six couldn't be home for the big celebration in Grant Park, but it was more than compensated for with the sheer joy of watching Obama's acceptance speech at a local bar surrounded by a group of committed community organizers (and yes, after much serious dismissing of that occupation at the Republican Convention, there was some vindication here). 

Although Obama's victory is a very big, progressive step for our country and the world, it is in many ways just the first foot forward on our long and very challenging journey together. Amid the many positive memories we bring back with us from Ohio, there are also the bracing ones of naked racism discovered in some homes whose doors were opened to us. It is a reminder that there are still minds stuck in the rut of antiquated ideas, and we need to reach out and pull them into the future.

That said, this election proves that most Americans are tired of the empty ideological debates and the childish name calling. They're sick of the politics of a past where race and religion were used to divide and distract us from the tasks at hand. Beyond its already well-documented historical significance, Obama's victory is the triumph of a politics of pragmatism. We have much to do, and we can no longer afford to shunt those responsibilities onto future generations.

Individually, we need to do the hard work of organizing the communities where we live. Members of a thriving democracy don't wash their hands of their responsibilities after visiting the voting booth every four years. They dirty those hands digging in to make sure that the people we've elected are keeping the promises made to uphold the constitution and protect the public interests. Let's use this moment to come together as a nation to guarantee that this truly is the fulfilment of that long-sought and hard-fought dream of a society where we're all judged based on the content of our character.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Gone electioneering

I'll be neglecting this blog for a few days as I depart early in the morning to get out the vote for Obama in Cleveland. Having embarked on my first out-of-state canvassing trip to the Buckeye state earlier this summer, it makes for a tidy ending that my personal 2008 political voyage winds up back in Ohio.

To put us all in a Cleveland state of mind, I'm posting this video of Randy Newman's tribute to the city on the Cuyahoga. There won't be any burning rivers this week, but it could be quite the shining moment in US history nonetheless. We volunteers certainly plan to be "all on fire."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

When shadows move

This poem was inspired by a very brief incident. Staring out into my apartment building's courtyard, I saw the dancing shadows of leaves on branches moved by the wind. It looked to me like rows of hands clapping. I struggled a bit trying to capture it in verse -- a fact due either to a bit of rust or my current dark mood.

My shadow leaves
By Francis Scudellari

My shadow leaves
A frayed, feathered dying
Cast against facing brick

Layered shapes lit
By the down-slanted rays
Of west-directed sun

Blurring movements
Conducted by branches
Not far, but beyond view

The wind-tossed shake,
Shimmer, a rise and fall
Of one-hundred paired hands

All applauding
Re-told dramas un-scened
Nature's final curtain

Drawn close, thick folds
Tinged orange-yellow sad
In autumn's fading light

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This is the last of my series of illustrations for Hanna Filo's poetry book. The inspiring verse is entitled Una Missiva A Prisma. I'm honestly not that happy with it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Out of my gourd

Here is my belated entry for this month's Halloween-themed Doodle Week. I'll try to get some more spooky doodles up before the festivities end on Friday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A planted heart

This is an illustration of Hanna Filo's poem Non Piangere (Don't Cry). It takes as its inspiration the following lines: Vi crescerà una verticale sorta d'amore / A sostenere i cieli per me (It will grow to you, a vertical type of love / to hold up the skies for me).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm amazed (with musical interlude)

I was quite pleasantly surprised to find out recently that I was given the Uber Amazing Blog award by Neferiti at The Inspired Self. Reading the criteria for the award, was a bit humbling:

Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:
~ inspires you
~ makes you smile and laugh
~ or maybe gives amazing information
~ a great read
~ has an amazing design
~ and any other reasons you can think of that makes them uber amazing!

The rules of this award are:
* Put the logo on your blog or post.
* Nominate at least 5 blogs (can be more) that for you are Uber Amazing!
* Let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing award by commenting on their blog.
* Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from

I like using these awards to shine the light on blogs that I read regularly, and find amazing in their own special ways. Having just given out another award to 7 favorites, I'm going to break the rules and share this with only 3 blogs (listed below, in reverse alphabetical order). I highly recommend that you check them out:
  • Wonderland or Not - A passionately written site with acute political and social observations. Cooper also throws in some wonderful musical references.
  • The Uneasy Supplicant - JD is a thought-provoking writer and an awe-inspiring photographer. He's devoting much of his time right now administering the MW Society Press, but still posts beautifully artful photos regularly.
  • Le Chambre Noire - This is a very soulful site mixing atmospheric photography, music and lyrics. Gaëna always stirs the mind and heart with her compositions.
And now, if you made it all the way through the award-giving protocols, I share with you a musical interlude of one of my favorite bands: The Pixies. There's nothing to watch here (just the cover photo of their album Come On Pilgrim), so just close your eyes and enjoy. It starts out with some studio banter then shifts into their song I'm Amazed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A cold shoulder

This is another of my illustrations for Hanna Filo's poetry book. I abstracted the original concept to the point where you may no longer recognize its poetic inspiration. The operative lines come from her poem Lui A Lei (Him To Her): Mi svegliai inquieto /non provando sulla mia spalla / il suo alito caldo (I woke up anxious / not feeling on my shoulder / his warm breath). There's still the hint of a shoulder in the main form.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Fountain

This is another illustration of a poem by Hanna Filo. It takes its name from the title of her poem: La Fontana.

"il tempo infinito inciampò,
cambiò il verso,
allora mi inquietai,
non perchè non ci sarò,
ma perchè fui"

Infinite time tripped,
changed course,
then I became unquiet,
not because I won't be
but because I was.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Twisted form: rediscovering a groove

I'm trying very hard to get back to a regular schedule of writing. I think the quality of my work will improve as I do. Here's the latest poetic effort, which I hope bears out that hypothesis ...

Twisted form
By Francis Scudellari

A twisted form, ever
(Love re-emerging)
It crawls out-in my mind's
(Or, more artful: heart's)
Open-fielded vision

Serpentine in nature
(But surely no snake)
Its knotted quiet slides,
(Less kindly: slithers)
Cooling all it touches

Each up-down feathered scale
(One-thousand facets)
A rainbow-capped smile
(My sadness turned round)
To oft-questioned answers

Its mid-section's bulging
(Perhaps new-fed full)
Tapers to sleek-lined necks,
(Indistinct ending)
Each locked in screw-thread spin

As its twin mouths belch up
(Inky vapor's coil)
A trailing music's script,
(Beats, no melody)
Out-cast spells, spiral hymns

Of near-wordless seeming,
(Slippery to touch)
Drip down in a green ooze
(Clinging, it passes)
Through my tightly clutched hands

Their meaning only caught
(Now, from a distance)
With reading-drowsy eye
(Long-ago embarked)
Toward sleep's final dream

Monday, October 13, 2008

If you're ravenous for good writing ...

You may have noticed the raven's head logo at the top of my right sidebar. Its visual appeal may have even been strong enough to attract a mouse click from you. In case you haven't yet given into that urge, however, I strongly recommend that you check out the new MW Society Press website to which it's linked.

The site evolved from the Society of Midnight Wanderers, which was founded by JD Beaudoin and Michael J. Kannengieser earlier this year as a community of top-notch writers. It's an association to which I'm very proud to give my support, my poetry and my art.

Below is a wonderfully written introduction to the MW Society Press, which I took from the site's Welcome page. You can learn much more, including how to join and submit your own work, by exploring the site in its entirety.
We’re excited to bring you the newest incarnation of the Society of Midnight Wanderers: The MW Society Press. Since the beginning, we have sought to create a web presence for our writers’ association. This presence has taken the form of an online artistic journal, created to promote the thematic and eclectic works of the Society of Midnight Wanderers. The MW Society Press is not a personal blog but a quasi publishing venue for the many creative voices of its members. We are devoted to our members who seek publication outside the traditional means of brick and mortar, paper and ink venues, or even outside their mundane commonality of personal blogs. Their voices are as valid as the voice of any “published” author who sits at a table autographing their books.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Surreality check

This is my attempt at a cover illustration for Hanna Filo's self-published poetry book. I worked from a rough sketch she sent me, but took some liberties with the motif. I can't really explain it other than to say it's a bit surreal.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mangled blossom

After a very prolonged wait due to my immersion in illustration, I'm finally paying off the debt of words owed to my drawing Broken, reach. I had to shake off quite a bit of rust in composing the companion poem, and I attempted a strange form of first-word rhyming. As always, feedback is much appreciated.

Mangled blossom
By Francis Scudellari

Lying. Down,
My eyes I raze
As up-words
Fall, thud, echo

Dying. Time's
Overt rubble
Strewn, I grip,
Pull, twist myself

Clear. Wringing
Hallowed secret's
Dark stain from
Scrawled-on skin, shed

Tears. Dew-streaked
Faces, long lost
Snapped shut, move me

Still. Captured
In vessels too
Thin, shattered,
Lapsed emotions

Spill. Un-cupped,
My hand grasps at,
For other's
Always, waiting

Broken. I
Reach, flesh transformed
Over years,
A petrified

Token. My
Mangled blossom
Offered too,
All passing by

Loved and loving

I'm very flattered to have received the "I love your blog" award (at left), and it came from a quite unexpected source. Kavita, whose blog A Little of This, And A Little of That I just discovered very recently, was kind enough to include me in her list of seven favorite sites.

Society frowns on those who venture beyond monogamy when it comes to romance, but it's absolutely acceptable to be polyamorous when doting on blogs. There are many more sites that I currently bear crushes for, but the rules (damn them) limit me to choosing seven.

I've arranged the list below alphabetically, so no particular preference should be inferred from the ordering. For those not included, don't worry, I'll be tagging you with other memes in the future.
  • Baa Baa Blogging - Fiendish, the pseudonymous author of the site, writes some of the most poignant and well-crafted poetry and fiction you'll find on the Internet. It's well worth your time and effort to explore her archives.
  • Black Tie & Sneakers - Robert is a prolific and talented poet who, like me, contributes his wonderful words to the newly revamped MW Society Press (more about that soon). His lines beautifully mark the way-points on life's long and winding road.
  • Crowned with Laurels - Larry is another fellow member of the MW Society Press. Inspired to write poetry by the shining example of Charles Bukowski, he elevates the everyday with his verse.
  • GewGaw Writing - Jena's site highlights both her own fiction and the writing of other authors (including yours truly) who she regularly and generously plugs. She's also one of my most loyal readers and commenters, so I'm happy to requite the attention.
  • Ken Armstrong's Writing Stuff - Ken's personal stories are informed by real life and infused with great wit and charm. And if that's not enough, he also writes reviews of books, movies and theater.
  • Orange Derange (and Orange Derange Lab) - Ms. O. D. will engage you on many levels. She writes on diverse topics (recent posts have dealt with voter registration, the financial bailout, mapping suicide and cancer rates, Salvador Dali, and her book shelf), but she always keeps her musings relevant and light-hearted.
  • That Grrl - Laura is a woman of many talents. She is a fantastic writer. She maintains multiple web sites. She doodles and organize others to do the same. She takes photos of rural ruins. She is a mistress of the meme. She just generally kicks arse as a blogger.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Chimera's head (La Testa della Chimera)

This is yet another illustration of one of Hanna Filo's poems ... L'Atto Gretto (Petty Act). There's quite a lot going on in the drawing, but it very basically captures two lines:

Mani congiunte in preghiera
La testa della Chimera

(Hands joined in prayer
The Chimera's head)

A Chimera is a mythical beast with the head of a lion, midsection of a goat, and tail of a serpent. I tried to depict this as a metaphor for the contradictory and sometimes warring aspects of our personalities.

I'm sure Hanna will shed some light on the meaning of the poem in the comments section of this post.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Dripping hourglass

This is another illustration that I'm contributing to Hanna Filo's self-published poetry book. It's inspired by her poem Tempo Loro (Their Time). Specifically, it refers to the line tocca una clessidra gocciolante (touches an hourglass dripping).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On a pedestal

This is another of my illustrations of verse written by Hanna Filo. It's called Su un piedistallo (on a pedestal).

For context, here is my loose translation of the salient lines from the poem L'Orazione (the prayer):

Dentro di me ho il tutto
Per posarti su un piedistallo
E venerare

Inside me I have everything
To put you on a pedestal
And worship

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


This is the last of my Doodle Week inspired, and Seven Deadly Sin themed, drawings. It's probably even less obvious than the others, but it's meant to represent Pride. How, you may ask ...

I tried to hint at a bust of Frankenstein's monster. It's patchwork pieces of a face stitched together by a modern Prometheus who is trying to steal God's thunder (or fire) for creation. Sometimes art can be an act of pride (in both the positive and negative senses of that word). Allowing one's ego to fall away and one's muse to take over, is one of its biggest challenges.

Now back to poetic illustrations, and some poetry, in the posts to follow.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Even though Doodle Week is technically over, I'll be posting my last two deadly-sin-themed drawings post-festivities. Below is my over-indulgent ode to Gluttony. It started as a simple blobby torso before I got carried away with the shapes and shadows. I'll get Pride up shortly, and then it's back to normal business.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Doodle Week: Shall covet

This is my Homer Simpson inspired version of the deadly sin Envy, which almost catches me up on Doodle Week (Gluttony and Pride to go). The drool and flopping tongue could also apply to Gluttony (or Lust for that matter), but I have something else in mind for that.

Doodle Week: Not so angry

This is my not-so angry take on the deadly sin Wrath, which was Doodle Week's theme for Day 5 (I'm trying to catch up). The flame in the pupil looks a bit too much like a tulip.

Coupling ideas

Combining my ongoing task of illustrating Hanna's poems with the seven deadly sins theme of the most recent Doodle Week, I present this drawing entitled I Corpi in Lotta (struggling bodies). It's a phrase from the poem L'Altare di Liberazione, and it's also highly suggestive of the Doodle Week day 1 theme of Lust (yes, I'm regressing in time).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Doodle Week: Kicking back

Day Four's Doodle Week theme is Sloth. I may have abstracted this one too much, but it's my take on a cross-legged slacker pose. I've also included a visual pun ... can you guess what it is?

Doodle Week: Getting grabby

Caught up in my own personal drawing frenzy, I let the first two days of Doodle Week pass by unmarked. That sin of omission ends today with my contribution to Day 3's theme Greed. It's nothing fancy, but it still has some grab value. I'll try to interject at least one or two more designs on this daily parade of deadly sins.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A fishy gasp

Sometimes my drawings start out as very simple ideas (for example, a fish with mouth agape), but grow into something a bit monstrous. This is an illustration of the poetic phrase un pesce guizzante boccheggia (a darting fish gasps). As you can see, I got a bit absorbed in its complexities.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Petal in coffee

I continue to pay off my debt of owed illustrations with a quite literal drawing of a petal in coffee. I'm not sure this works entirely, but there are a few things I like about it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The arched body

This is another illustration of a poem by Hanna. It's entitled Il Corpo Arcuato (The Arched Body), which comes from the opening line of her poem Vizio Onanistico.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Un pianeta: catching up

I'm doing some catch-up, and I hope to post a number of drawings in rapid succession. This first is entitled Un pianeta incompiuto (An incomplete planet), a line from a poem by Hanna. Don't forget to check out my still-in-progress new site:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Broken, Reach: a new drawing, a new site

I'm still adding content to my new website, but I've transferred quite a lot over the weekend. If you haven't yet, please check it out:

I'll continue to post here to inform you of updates on my main site, and I may throw in some personal notes until I get a blog installed over there. Here's my latest drawing, which will be followed shortly by a new poem.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I am in the midst of re-defining my online identity. I may or may not resuscitate this blog, but my new creative home can be found here. I appreciate the very kind comments left on my last post. I'm dealing with a bit of frustration in my personal life, which is bleeding into my creative one. That's inevitable, but I hope that the new website will allow me to be more focused on writing/drawing and less caught up in the self-promotional activities that are inextricably linked to blogging.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Giving in to an existential crisis

I had the best intentions of blogging more, but the overwhelming indifference of a world with many other better things to pay attention to provokes a single echoing phrase:

Why bother?

My selfless contribution to the universe has been an unquestionably unrequited affair, and such an unbalanced relationship can never be healthy. So, I'll let things lapse with a whimper rather than a bang, and ponder what's next within the very solitary confines of my imagination.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Winding form

This drawing was inspired by the sculpture Windform by Lynn Takata (see yesterday's post, Smoothing things over...). It's definitely not a drawing of the sculpture. I made some unusual color choices on this one.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Smoothing things over ...

I'm sorry for the prolonged silence, but I was quite busy this weekend playing mason. I was part of a project to restore a sculpture that resides in one of the local parks. The piece, Windform, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Lynn Takata, the artist, flew in from Portland to direct a few dozen neighborhood park and public-art lovers in the difficult but fun task of resurfacing the 100-foot long cement sculpture.

As you can see from the photo below (snapped by my friend Tom), I was assigned to the cement mixer to prepare the mortar. I'll post a drawing soon to commemorate Windform, and I still am working on posts about my NYC trip.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Easing back with Show & Tell

I'm back from New York City (stay tuned for photos), and am easing my way back into the old routines. As I regain my posting groove, I'm taking a few minutes to answer a question posed by my blogging friend Jena as part of a meme.

What would your version of the Madonna look like?

This is a bit of a cheat, but I drew a version of the Pietà a few months back that I think best captures my artistic conception of the Madonna. It is in the general form of a tear, but if you look closely you should be able to make out the figures of mother and adult child intertwined in shared suffering. I hope it also depicts a strength of selfless comforting in the face of great sorrow.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Creativity on hiatus...

I'm off to New York City for a quick weekend nibble of that biggest of apples. On the agenda is a Friday night Yankees game to see their storied eponymous stadium before it becomes rubble, and then a fast-paced submersion of this second-city denizen (technically third-city, but damn the census) in first-city living.

I will be toting my laptop, but I doubt I'll have much time to post much more than quick updates. If you start jonesing for some art, the Archive feature in the sidebar is quite handy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Doodle Week: Blue planet

This began as a simple enough idea, but it took on a life of its own very quickly and the plant developed a too-intricate root system before I could rein it in. If you hadn't guessed, this is my second Doodle Week contribution, with theme Earth. I added Water , not just because the plant needed it, but because that's the second elemental theme of the week. I'm pinched for time and probably won't be able to get to the remaining two (air, fire) until I get back to Chicago.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Doodle Week: Setting Sun Flower

Another Doodle Week began yesterday, and here is my Day 1 drawing on the theme Sunflower — a day late. Unfortunately, with much real-world work to do and an impending trip to NYC in a couple days, I won't be a full participant in the week's festivities, but I'll pitch in what I can.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My ink's blot

I haven't written (or posted) a poem in quite a while. Sometimes I have to force myself to write, but other times the words seem to flow quite easily. This next piece is one of the latter instances. You'll have to let me know if it seems "dashed off." It was pretty clearly inspired by my drawing "My nib's blot" (see below).

My ink's blot
By Francis Scudellari

My ink's blot spreads --
A stain that seeps
Deep into skins
Of pale parchment

Or finger's flesh --
Guided slowly,
To see life on
My raised surface

Touching, it smears
My liquid words --
Jagged edges
Smoothed out, into

A blue blotch of
Blood-read feeling --
We two, both marked
By the passing

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My nib's blot

The original concept behind this drawing was a fountain pen spilling ink, but it became something a little less recognizable during the act of putting pencil to paper.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My writing tips for surreal world success

Today I offer a bit of free advice for all of the people riding the crest of the "blog for success" Web 2.0 craze (or are we at 3.0 by now?): Writing to make money and win acclaim is a fool's game.

Sure, folks like J.K. Rowling lead a pretty nice life with the houses, and the travel, and the book tours, and the fawning fans. But as a dogmatically raised Catholic, I have to ask: Where's all the sacrifice and spiritual suffering?

Plus, as any devoted reader of King Lear would know, we're all Fate's dupes and payback is a bitch. The higher the arc upward, the heavier Dame Fortune's wheel will fall on the turn around.

There is of course the shining example of Edgar Allan Poe, who suffered for his art and died madly roaming the back-ways of Baltimore. The recognition came postmortem, but that's a bit too grimy of an existence. And the streets aren't as soft a place to lay your head these days, what with all the paving.

No, the real trick is to strive for success in mind only. A writer's greatest gift is the imagination, so what better place to savor the fruits of our fictive labors than solely within the boundless confines of our make-believe engines.

Write, write, write as you must, but cast your words out to the wind careless of whose ears, if any, they trickle into. If the worlds you create with penned lines or keystrokes are populated by imaginary characters, won't they appeal best to pretend audiences?

Conjure the smiles on their faces as they peruse your poetry and prose. Summon up fantastic sums making their way wirelessly into your bank account. Sit back in your tattered chair and feel it transform into a throne well placed in a palatial estate, no longer the cramped apartment of a wannabe writer. Success in the surreal world is never-ending.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Yesterday I posted a manga version of myself ... or as close as I could get to one given the available options at Face Your Manga. Today, I re-interpret the animated me with a hand-drawn rendering. As you can see, the only thing it has in common with the manga me is the scarf.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Animating myself with a twice-borrowed idea

As I work up the energy to return to regular posting, I thought I'd share a bit of borrowed fun.

I discovered this little exercise in self-portraiture at That Grrl (who saw it at Lady Banana). On the site Face Your Manga you can create a picture of yourself as a manga-style character.

I'm a bit of an animation geek (as you can probably tell from my drawings), so I couldn't resist giving it a whirl. The available facial features didn't allow for a very realistic portrait, but this product of my choices still amuses me. I especially like the sunken-cheeked look with the graveyard background.

I may just try my hand at a manga-style self portrait to see if I can do better.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Amiss and remiss in my posting

I've been inundated with work (the kind that pays the bills) recently, so I haven't had much time to work on creative endeavors. Although that's an unfortunate fact for my avid blog readers, it's very good news for my avaricious creditors. Things should ease up later in the week, and I hope to post my usual mixture of poetry, fiction and drawing before too long.

In the mean time, I'd like to acknowledge two of my virtual friends who have bestowed honors upon me:

First, a hearty thank you to Angel for giving me the Kick Ass Blogger Award (pictured at left). As she describes it in her post, the award recognizes a blogger "who can grab your attention and give you something to chew over for the rest of the day and in doing so, entices you back for more. A Kick Ass Blogger is someone who is witty, articulate, and informative. Not easy to pull off, especially in the blogosphere where the competition is intense." High praise indeed, and Angel's Here and Now blog definitely fits the description, so check it out.

Next, I owe a long over-due shout-out to Jena who a month ago gave me the Arte Y Pico Award (pictured at-right). In the summer, when distractions are omnipresent, time seems to stream by at a rapid pace and I habitually neglect too many things in need of doing. So I apologize for the delayed response. Jena has been very supportive of my work, and Gewgaw Writings is a great creative writing site that you should visit. There are some rules involved with this award, which I'm never good at following. If you're interested in such details, you can view the fine print accompanying this one by reading Jena's post.

For both of these awards, I'm supposed to name five more recipients. I'll work on that, and get a list up here when autumn arrives and time slows to a more leisurely pace.