Friday, February 27, 2009

Speeding back up to frantic

I'm feeling a bit more myself today, and the bad news that accompanies this good news is time has sped back up to its normally frantic pace. Of course, having lost two days to recuperation, that also means I'm  woefully behind on things both bloggy and non-bloggy.

Looking back with fresh eyes on my last poem Metmorphosis, I've decided it needs more than just a few tweaks. So, I'm currently engaged in a more radical than anticipated re-write. On the positive side, I've decided to create a drawing to go with it.

The lesson I'm slowly learning is: I need to pay less attention to artificially-imposed deadlines and recognize those occasions when the words just aren't flowing as freely. That will become even truer as real life continues to make greater demands of me. And in the midst of a spiralling economy, it's hard not to heed those calls.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When time-space turns to molasses

A late winter varietal virus is currently coursing its way through my bloodstream. My immune system is working feverishly to subdue the intruder, but still hasn't quite gained the upper hand.

One of the strange symptoms of this virus is its ability to warp my sense of space and time. Accustomed short distances stretch out into vast planes. The passing of minutes that flashed by so quickly earlier in the week, now crawl in a slow-motion creep.

It might just be that the full-body ache and sapped energy have affected my perception, but that's less interesting to read. New posts may be time-delayed going forward.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mythical transformations

Here is my latest poem, which again takes inspiration from a classic myth — the story of Daphne as told by the Roman poet Ovid. I struggled a bit with the ending, and I'm still not quite satisfied with it. I've also been trying to pay more attention to spoken rhythms. I may yet re-write parts of it. 

By Francis Scudellari

With mythic suddenness, as if
set upon by a god's whimsy--
for deep lust or petty anger--
a reposed Daphne she transforms.
Her crowning, walnut strands thicken,
vine outward, a loosed-leaf wrap round
trellised bed, budding ends a-twirl
to bind her to this dreamed waking.

A too-soft heart become bark-clad
thrusts fibrous roots downward, thirsty
gray coils that seek wormy passage
through black soil, to moist tiers below.
Four fleshy limbs harden, turn to
knotty stalks; skyward-bent, pale shoots
freckled with bulging pods that flare
in pollen rich scarlet bursting.

Broad petals splay wide to attract
noon-day sun's lurid stare, its heat;
Liquid thoughts made misty, to sigh
up-swept words, and gathered clouds seed.
Her essence in droplets returns
to mother long forgot, and feeds
a self-less spring cycling; her growth's
exquisite pain subsides to peace.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Simply dashed off

My time has been a bit constrained the past few days, so I'm trying to rein in the scope of my creative endeavors for this weekend so I can get stuff up more quickly. This drawing, for example, was pretty simple to execute, and I'll try to generate my weekly poem along similar lines. I'll give a heart-felt huzzah to whoever can guess the inspiration for the sketch.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sorry for the silence ...

I've been swamped with work trying to get out the latest issue of The Urban Coaster, which is the community newspaper I help publish. Now that it's officially on its way to the newsstands of my neighborhood, I can press ahead with my other commitments

I should have both a drawing and a poem ready for you in the next couple days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Too much information running through our Web?

I take time out from endeavors of the creative kind, to issue a brief rant....

The title of the following article from February's Wired may seem counter-intuitive, but that's exactly why it's such an interesting read:
Clive Thompson on How More Info Leads to Less Knowledge
... After years of celebrating the information revolution, we need to focus on the countervailing force: The disinformation revolution. The ur-example of what [Stanford Historian Robert] Proctor calls an agnotological campaign is the funding of bogus studies by cigarette companies trying to link lung cancer to baldness, viruses—anything but their product. ...
Click the title to read the whole piece; it's worth it. It's also a concept I've been talking up to my friends for several months now: giving people easy access to wrong information is just as harmful as blocking their access to the real kind.

There's been a tremendous proliferation of sites and e-mail blasts dedicated to spreading rumor, innuendo and out-right lies in order to attack the innovative ideas that threaten the profits and outdated worldview of the status quo.

There's more of a need than ever for a healthy public skepticism, and the ability to filter authoritative news sources from manipulative ones. Without that, we may find ourselves retreating into a new Dark Age. Speaking of which, I'm overdue for another of my philosophical posts.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Not letting a sleeping poem lie

This is the latest poem I'm working on. I may yet make some minor changes to it. It jumped the queue, as my pieces sometimes do, past the poem I alluded to a couple posts back. It's an invention with no particular inspiration, just vague impressions that had been floating about my imagination.

These recurring deaths
By Francis Scudellari

These recurring deaths brought down by
drowsing shade, Hypnos who nightly
stalks him, catches him, carries him
away to puzzle-piece landscapes;
odd bits jammed together, seeming
crudely fit with hasty fingers...

Time again dropped 'neath paint-smear sky:
purple-black dotted with pink-white.
A speckled canvas further smudged
by thick-limbed clouds that hover over
claw-hammer trees, screw-top bushes;
hills' sparse stubble he stumbles through...

As he chases familiar shapes,
shifting glimpses of strange beings;
their vaguely human faces topped
with twisted horn or ragged mane;
misshapen escorts who lead him
across rock shoulders, mossy backs...

Toward a close-cropped clearing where,
gathered with shepherding eyes, they
watch him, welcome him, offer him
sips from stick-carved ladles and spoons
they dip deep in green, soupy streams
to coax him to forgetfulness...

Weak-willed, he drinks serenaded
by an elemental chorus;
some airy, some hot, some mildewed,
all mismatched voices borne aloft
on ancient tongues whose wings beat
a steady pulse, that brings him back ...

To panderer clock's up-swept hands
pushing the rhythmic details of
a new waked sun's rosy allure;
her plying whispers that draw out
his sharp-splinter want for a day
when evening's pause never ends.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Improbable transformation

This is a second drawing inspired by the dream that prodded me to write Trapped Ghost. It should also form the basis of a future poem, but that may take me a week or two.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Looking for an opening

Below is my halting attempt at the opening lines for a poem that I've been struggling to finish over the past several weeks. Generally, I try to write the beginning and closing stanzas first. Then, it's easier for me to create the story arc that connects the two. This is a bit of a different style for me, so I'd appreciate some feedback on the first few lines before I get too much further into it. Stay tuned also for a drawing that should be ready to post by tomorrow.
I. Love
Words long lost in her mind's murky reverb,
until she discovers them, tucked inside
a tar-black disk's wax-spun groove she pulls from
once-stiff paper sleeves stacked in messy piles

The neighborhood newspaper biz

This post is a bit out of character, as I don't like to delve too deeply into my non-creative activities on this site, but I also don't want to sit idly by and allow someone to mischaracterize what I do either.

For those who don't know, my friends and I started a new community-based newspaper. It's meant to open up the channels of communication in a diverse neighborhood where information doesn't always flow freely. It's a publication with a distinctly progressive voice, which will become apparent when you see this week's lead story on Naomi Klein's discussion of the financial bailout.

The paper is called The Urban Coaster, and it's beginning to get some attention. CommonDreams.Org just featured the Klein story on its national site and brought us a huge influx of new readers. Unfortunately, with the good always comes some bad. There are those in the community who don't want to see a publication succeed that gives voice to alternative views.

Ours is a strange little neighborhood, where a group of very vocal folks try to shout down anyone who disagrees with their self-aggrandizing agenda. They do this to compensate for the fact that their opinions only resonate with a small minority. Some have blogs that they use to bully others into silence, and they often do so in the most reprehensible ways. Actually, I guess that really isn't much different than the tactics of certain Fox News "personalities."

I don't want to dwell on their negativity too much, and I think the vast majority of people in the community will respond to our positive message much more than their vituperative posts. It's just a shame that some feel the need to resort to the most petty of personal attacks in order to promote their views. I'm not going to stoop to their level.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

To blog, or not

I'm still struggling mightily to figure out the raison d'etre of this site. I've tried to post a variety of writings, and art, but I don't know if that material is better left to my eponymous site (FrancisScudellari.Com, if you haven't been paying attention). A blog is a strange and different animal. It thrives on daily posts and prefers journal-style entries. I get bored talking about myself though, and blogging is much more of a self-indulgent exercise than jives with my personality.

As I quite literally still figure out what I'm doing with my poetry and illustration, I find myself taking much longer to produce pieces. So, there is a lag between posts. I don't know how much that matters to folks, but I tend to get antsy whenever I haven't posted in a few days (and this post is a prime example of that).

I'm also internally debating whether I should be posting poetry on the web at all, or if I'd be better served trying to send the pieces out to various publications in hopes of reaching print. The egalitarian in me likes to share what I write freely, but so far that methodology hasn't really served me very well — at least based on the general sense of apathy its received with (excepting all you wonderful folks who've commented over the past couple years).

Right now, the inclination is to keep on with the keeping on — but with the understanding that updates might become less frequent. If that changes, you'll be the first to know.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Trapping a dream

This is the poem about the dream that inspired my drawing A hungry ghost. I have another drawing and poem that should be posted soon, and which also come from that sleeping mind-trip. Please stay tuned ...

Trapped ghost
By Francis Scudellari

Raised. On a mirrored slab
inch by inch he glides, spins
up, pulling against straps,
un-willing what binds him,
slow propels him toward
thrice blinking, blurred halos,
the whir of saw-tooth gears,
uncanny steel fingers
bent posed, purposeful:
his many-armed surgeon...

Cuts. His half-conscious mind
knowing but not feeling
the sting of numbed pink flesh;
laser pin pricks tracing
patterns, deep-stenciled shapes
to draw from dead tissue
a thick-brow, brown golem.
Its emerged-eye stare fixed
on the steel-teat mother
as she spills her static...

Milk. Grabby-claw hands, take
greedy-fang bites, feasting
on pulsed bits beamed across
an electric blue stream.
This raw, imagined food
real enough to entice
its once bone-gripped belly
to red-swell large, and fill
a machine carved gap, where
his trapped ghost is growing...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Poetically pondering fate and transparency

Here is my latest poem, a day later than I planned. Circumstance and a mild virus conspired against me. As always, feedback and constructive criticism are much appreciated. This came together pretty quickly once I settled on the Three Fates motif (with thanks to Alicia for that inspiration).

Transparent (To Alicia)
by Francis Scudellari

Her life on a spindle,
slowly spins out, into
a too delicate thread;
knowing if not caring
hands weave in odd patterns
to make a broader cloth.
They bleach it, bony white.
They stretch it, transparent.
They dab it, fine-dust it
with mixed pigment palette--
butterfly-wing powders,
a bright-hue camouflage.

Over measured, hungry
days, rude visitors come.
They bump, up against her.
They feel, to fill a lack.
They smudge, her covering tints;
continue on, smugly
clap fatty hands, to rid
themselves of rubbed-off bits;
her color haphazard
pilfered now, then carried
off on indiff'rent breeze--
whorled wisp, smoky sparkling.

In sunset's cutting hour,
Atropos' polished blades
casting an orange light,
she senses herself fade
to too pale shade, the years
of so many touches
leaving a lone, small speck--
a bluish smear. She waits,
still, so unsure, whether
to fear the next visit
or hope, to meet that fate,
who puts the colors back?