I wrote as I ate, laying ink . . .
by Jean-Paul Basquiat

Woozy with the need for sleep

I sat down to write a poem.

A twentieth-century 1988 fatigue

lay over me, and I pitied myself.

So I fixed some popcorn,

took a dinosaur napkin down

from the refrigerator to wipe

my fingers clean as I ate.

I wrote as I ate, laying ink

and thinking of what I would say to you

tomorrow. I would confess how hard it all was,

a daily grind with pre-dawn beginnings

to post-midnight ends, and I would look for

your concern, try to see how special

a case I am . . . to you.

And then I noticed how all my poems

hug the side wall of the paper

like someone walking safely near

a concrete wall, holding

on to the vertical,

hunching in the shoulders,

eating popcorn at one in the morning.


The knot is tied and fear flips over . . .

The recognition that white snakes were arms

of women–mother’s nurture, winding blench–

rose through your skin insidious as steam,

uncoiled from long submersion, seeping out

of smug protected memory. You sit,

a sorry daughter, feel her fold

her arms in rolls of dough around your skin.

Your heart confesses murmurs–babbling scarlet,

braiding twining thoughts into contrition.

Wrapped as this, you can’t untangle it.

The knot is tied and fear flips over, you are scared.

You can’t think where you ought to run.

An adaptation of Jean Genet from his “The Thief’s Journal”

#4 red in the water–by Gertrude Abramson

Creating is not a somewhat frivolous game. The creator has committed herself to the fearful adventure of taking upon herself, to the very end, the perils risked by her creatures (creations). We cannot suppose a creation that does not spring from love. How can a woman place before herself something as strong as herself which she will have to scorn or hate? But the creator will then charge herself with the weight of her characters’ (creations’) sins. Jesus became woman. She expiated. Later, like God, after creating women, She delivered them from their sins: She was whipped, spat upon, mocked, nailed. That is the meaning of the expression “She suffers in her flesh.” Let us ignore the theologians. “Taking upon Herself the sins of the world” means exactly this: experiencing potentially and in their effects all sins; it means having subscribed to evil.

Every creator must thus shoulder–the expression seems feeble–must make her own, to the point of knowing it to be her substance, circulating in her arteries, the evil given by her, which her heroes (creations) choose freely. We (the many men and women in Genet) wish to regard this as one of the many uses of the generous myth of Creation and Redemption. Though the creator grants her characters (creations) free will, self determination, she hopes, deep down in her heart, that they will choose Good. Every lover does likewise, hoping to be loved for her own sake. . . .

Happy Inter-dependence

Happy Interdependence Day! Love each other!
–photo by CMR

Happy Independence from America! 

Today I celebrate my independence from the ugliness

of America’s past

declare my disconnection from its rigid spirit,

my independence from its caustic politics,

and claim my ancestry among those who reveled in the woods,

the mountains,

the lakes,

the stones,

the trees

of this magnificent continent.


I am an American.

Among the Chippewa, the Sioux, the Lakota . . . the Micks

from Ireland.

We are of them.

We honor what they honor,

and so,

we are Americans.

Silent Expressions: Cincinnati Ballet, c.1990

–photos by mickey [Michele] morgan

I did my best, and I know I’ve made errors here, so help me out, Cincinnati Ballet Veterans! (many thanks to Rene Micheo)

Trinidad Vives and the late Antonio Souza in “Swan Lake”
Ben Stevenson’s “Cinderella”
Daniella Buson and Marcello Angelini in Ben Stevenson’s “Three Preludes”
Marcello Angelini and Daniella Buson in Ben Stevenson’s “Cinderella”
Mauricio Wainrot’s “Anne Frank”


Piet Mondrian, 1909

The birds are beautiful today. I remember no other day have they sung such an integrated symphony. Then I hear why:

“Who’s responsible for cleaning up this dead thing?” “Uh. I dunno . . . yeh, ‘t’s a dead bird, I guess.”

The winged beauties circled wide and high above their lost child . . . and sang and cried to each other all morning.

The Act of Witnessing


“Girl with Green Shawl”–Moise Kisling, 1919

The Act of Witnessing


She faces the settled form;

densely bound beneath an auburn down,

olive skin like mama’s belly

curves and cups bulb

eyes that seem so ready

to roll out wetly,

not competently contained

by fences of thick thorn lashes;

filament fingers flutter above

the hollow curve of loss.

Words form by compression—

the bend of the torso,

down and in, then out,

suspended for a moment—

mauve lips are fragile vines.

Words spill, scattering

as does she as she


chestnut crystals.