Monday, June 29, 2009

Io, Mid-transformation

This is the second illustration I've done for my poem Argus & Io. It depicts the nymph Io as both woman and cow. I like the way I interpreted her bovine side much better.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Newspapering, and self-promotion

As I may have mentioned on this blog before, I've been working with some friends to get a small newspaper off the ground here in Rogers Park, the Chicago community where I live. We're still growing and improving after 7 months of learning on the job.

In the current issue, which hits local newsstands tomorrow but is on the Web now, I contributed an essay of sorts that I find quite amusing (yes, shameless self-promotion to follow). It deals with the joys of jury duty and draws from my literary past. It's called One Day, One Trial, One Bounced Check. Here's a small taste, but please do read the whole thing if you find the tease worthy:
On a crisp early morning last April, I made the trek down to the Daley Center to perform a civic duty that fills most Chicagoans with more dread than pride. I had been summoned by the Court to sit through a process of jury selection that seems patterned after the most angst-inspiring metaphors of our best existential writers.

Our County of Cook has christened its system “One Day, One Trial” based on the fact that you need to endure either a single day of rejection or the more dire sentence of empaneling on a single trial’s jury. The solitariness of the moniker is fitting, as the whole experience engenders feelings of isolation and anxiety.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Two Souls: New Hair

Continuing on where my poem Two Souls takes me, this is the fourth installment. I've decided to subtitle each part. In case you haven't been following along, the first three parts are I. Exile, II. Slow Drift, and III. Fleshy.

Two Souls, Twin Lives
By Francis Scudellari

IV. New Hair

On nests spread far between
parallel paths
These two of never's name,
a restless lie,
let time's shortened shadow
fall across bald,
scaled shoulders, its darkness
seeding new hair
and cunning to endure
seasons become
changeling, drawn to leafy coves
where they gobble
shoots that taste of lost light

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two Souls, Fleshy Promises

This is the third installment of my latest poem, which I think may grow past my initial imaginings. The developing story is gaining complexity in my mind.

Two Souls, Twin Lives
By Francis Scudellari


Then removed, with miles lapsed,
separate sames
each stubby-leg crawl up
on greening clumps
of floated rock and root
that warm harbor
creatures also exiled,
bumping along
blindly to seek their like,
prodded past sleep
by hints of shapeless eterns
traded for fleets
of fleshy promises

The illusion of time

Catching up on my New Yorker reading, I came across a passage from Salman Rushdie's wonderful short story In the South that held particular resonance within the context of my previous post on Biocentrism. I'm likely assigning it a different meaning than the author intended, but regardless of that, it's a lovely piece of writing.
In the front yard they paused briefly by the golden-shower tree that stood there. They had watched it grow from a tiny shoot to its present sixty-foot grandeur. It had grown quickly, and, though they did not say so, this rapid growth had disturbed them, suggesting, as it did, the speed of the passing of the years. The Indian laburnum: that was another name for it, a name among many names. It was konrai in their own, southern language, amaltas in the tongue of the north, Cassia fistula in the language of flowers and trees. “It has stopped growing now,” Junior said, approvingly, “having understood that eternity is better than progress. In the eye of God, time is eternal. This even animals and trees can comprehend. Only men have the illusion that time moves.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Briefly back to the philosophical

Interrupting my in-progress poem Two Souls, I want to make a more-than-mental note of a couple ideas brought to my recent attention. Each hearkens me back to the series of posts I began a few months ago (and unfortunately dropped due to distractions) regarding the necessity for a new 21st Century Ethos.

I'll try to incorporate both into the continuation of that discussion, which I hope to pick up again very soon.

First, there's a very interesting article in June's Wired Magazine, which features a discussion of the New New Economy. The article is called "The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online." Its title is sure to provoke a negative response from Americans who for sixty years have been taught to recoil at the mere mention of the "S" word. Getting beyond that first reaction, it's very much worth reading for its examination of the new forms of social media and how they are creating a greater tendency toward and preference for collaboration and collective action.

The next idea that caught my fancy is the concept of Biocentrism that a friend referenced in a Tweet last week. Below is a passage pulled from Wikipedia that lays out the main points, but I encourage you to read the full article on Biocentrism:
According to Robert Lanza biocentrism has seven principles.

1. What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness. An "external" reality, if it existed, would by definition have to exist in space. But this is meaningless, because space and time are not absolute realities but rather tools of the human and animal mind.

2. Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be divorced from one another.

3. The behavior of subatomic particles, indeed all particles and objects, is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer. Without the presence of a conscious observer, they at best exist in an undetermined state of probability waves.

4. Without consciousness, "matter" dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.

5. The structure of the universe is explainable only through biocentrism. The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around. The "universe" is simply the complete spatio-temporal logic of the self.

6. Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.

7. Space, like time, is not an object or a thing. Space is another form of our animal understanding and does not have an independent reality. We carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Two Souls, Exhausted

This is the second part of my latest in-progress poem. I finished composing it while sleep-deprived, so it may not make much sense.

Two Souls, Twin Lives
By Francis Scudellari


Their arced escape route etched
with quick silver
on velvet, ends tap'ring
to finger tips
that will trace a path back
one day, but now's
distance exhausted, they
splash in blue soup,
swirled till cooled in a cup
of moth'ring clay,
and, nourished on forgetting,
grow buoyant limbs
to slowly drift apart

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Two souls, at first birthing

This is the first part of a poem that I'm currently working on. I'm not yet sure how large it will become, but I'm expecting at least three more parts. 

Two souls, twin lives
By Francis Scudellari


Two souls, twin lives conceived
and long dwelling
within the mingling storm
of light and dust
that delicate danced 'round
goddess sisters'
gaseous split-crown heads
until cast out,
paired molten tears spit-shed
in the blinking
of ageless eyes, not angry
but grown weary
with the weight of shared lids

Friday, June 05, 2009

Many-eyed giant

This is my attempt to depict Argus, although I'm quite a few eyes short. I think that I erred on the silly side with this one.

Monday, June 01, 2009

720 Clocks, in full measure

This is the full poem that I teased in my last post. It's a long one, which I'll use as my excuse for it taking some time to finish. Please let me know if you can easily understand what's going on in the narrative.

720 Clocks
By Francis Scudellari

Seven hundred nineteen
clocks plus one new-bought she
loving cups in pale hands
before it takes its time-
saved place among pieces
atop two dozen shelves--
blond-skinned particle board
framed by squat book cases
that dust-free stand before
her, patient for this day

Clocks with wood-grain finish,
cased chrome, or dyed plastic;
topped with never clanked bells
or kid's cartoon figures--
an endlessly spun chase
round faces, oval, square
her favorite tight sealed
within black cat's belly;
tick-waved paw, twitch-tocked tail
each short minute stroking

It's a lucky number
A very special time
When you can make a wish
For anything you want, and
it will come true , some day...

The mothering low words
circling back, she surveys
her measures collected
for four and twenty years
stretching from right to left
Each now properly wound,
batteries freshly charged
to call up magic twice
this day, filling it full
of her wished for minutes

Whether old-time displayed
by mismatched bandy lengths--
pointed, ornate, and spare
that sweep ever forward
through inward notched halos;
or mechanical marked
between flipping black tiles;
or more modern counted
by re-posed bits of eight
light arranged from behind

Oh. But is it the time
that's very magical,
or the sight of numbers
all lined up, standing tall,
each pointing at the sky?

Her childish answer swings
upon her as she twists
the gray ridged, clicking knob
of the purchased blue cube
set one minute before
its right-neighbor to form
a well-tuned chorus of
seven hundred twenty
clocks to barbed-ripple read
eleven: eleven

This last one pushed into
its first awaiting slot
she sits, slow scans the shelves,
a day's worth of wishes;
the same whispered, wanting
words that she will repeat
one thousand, four hundred
forty times, in constant
chanted hope for lives lost
by four and twenty years