I wrote the following nonsense/sound poem for fun. The “translation” was something I did to squeeze a little more fun from the silly-talk:
Keepers of the Evergreens
The keepers of the evergrees
doyen, duyan, dogun, dees,
pitched a frighted battlefrees
and smacktossed Lesley.
Ser she bauble, ser she fried,
Ser she mackentoshed
Ser she mint un Wilber frowed her
Eft er ober issen olster.
(Smashed begonias, il ber datsun issen tolder!)
MAKEN, MAKEN, MEKAN… SMOLDER!
SMOLDER FRIKON, SMOLDER DAKEN, SMOLDER BOSH
AN SMOLDER FREKON!
Is ma el tom dick and Jason
bitte ta doty, MAKK do trisson.
Si. Bosh ed dism tody. Mary frankensense… smell ‘em!
Smell ‘em. Mary, smell ‘em!
(Translation through line 14 follows)
The keepers of the evergreens,
old women, frightful, hair in patches,
half undressed, in tattered slinkies
(pale blue, mauve, olive green and violet)
bound to softest, whitest, oldest flesh
with ties of braided nylon.
The sharpest of them, breasts crossed
and pressed by blue acrylic, arms akimbo,
hands on hips had spent the morning
sweeping from beneath the trees
the fragments of the moon
that overnight had lodged there.
Painstaking work when every shadow
tries to hide a bit of her.
Who could blame the last that tried
for giving up?
It had seen the others crucified,
lashed and torn from root-sides,
hollows. All the grateful places
that the sun provides were brushed
her strokes were sandstorms, locusts,
The last remains of cried-out moon
drops would spring to life again
at first touch of salt water.
But dust must call for rain, first,
then roll the long way oceanward.
In my mind the poem and the painting fit somehow. Maybe because the painting reminded me of children’s book illustrations I grew up with. Sometimes I’ll look at a painting and wonder, where on earth did that come from? Then I’ll open some old children’s book, one of the Childcraft* series from the ‘50’s, say, and see a border illustration around a page and think, hmmm, that’s where they come from.
The painting itself was part of a series, in that they were all painted at roughly the same time. I try to do it that way – to always have multiple projects going – to protect myself from the tendency to torture a painting to death when I have only the one in front of me. With multiple projects I can turn from one to another when I run out of ideas for the first, working on the second, or third, or fourth, or fifth until ideas and a sense of direction for the first piece returns, or a sense of completion sets in.
* Childcraft: hours of serene, happy, absorbed, enjoyment: projects, mythologies, stories, poetry, games, how to, and more.
Childcraft is also, I found after rediscovering the series 10 or 12 years ago in a thrift shop, easily recognizable as part of the institutionally racist, mid-century, white male dominated culture insinuating itself into every aspect of the lives of those of us growing up in the good old U.S. of A at the time.
Which is to say, it was invisible. To me, anyway. Like Crayola’s pink crayons, which were called “Flesh”, and the dusky red/burnt sienna, which was called “Indian Red”. Quite likely invisible to the authors of the series, as well. What am I overlooking today?