27 May 2009

Poems for those who pass through

I have had a lot of people passing through my life, of late. People I haven't seen in years who suddenly show up... people who I've known for years who are moving on. It seems to be going around... I've been hearing a lot of stories about people losing friends to suicide or retirement or relocation or career changes or starting a new family. Either way, change is change, and it puts us through our paces.

People come, people go, and as the world is in such flux, these days, it seems only right to, well, write about it.

Verse is really the only thing that's making much sense to me, these days. Prose just ends up glomming up the pipes. So, I write poetry. And it helps.

26 May 2009

New poem - Alarm Clocked

Alarm Clocked


That marauding black cat from across the street must be
gone. The chip-
munks and jays are
again -- tho’ it’s too late now
for me to get back to sleep.

Saturday morning before eight, one prefers not
to be woken by the manic-frantic OhMyGodInHeavenOhMyGodInHeaven
shrieking of bird and miniature rodent parents
telling all the world the neighbor’s beautiful
killing machine is near-
by... on the prowl,
hunkered down
beneath a fallen log, too close!
to all the nests full of freshly birthed hungry striving life, while
bluejays shrilly dive-bomb with unreserved aggression and chippies squeak
ambulance decibel levels. Their nails-
on-the-blackboard calls
drove the predator away -- and with her, my Saturday morning lie-in.
Death is afoot! Death is afoot! Guard your babies!
The alarm is for all
the world to hear, including once-sleeping me, oh deafening
entitlement of survival.

That cat must be gone. All is quiet. But all
is not well.
I am awake
when I shouldn’t be. I did not get
to bed at the pre-arranged hour, the night
before. The movie and the prospect of a long week-
end were too enticingly rebellious -- and so liberating. I could not
take myself to bed
at ten.
I simply couldn’t. And life has refused
to humor my defiance, waking
me early, re-
fusing to fill in the neglectful gaps
I’ve created in my own needful routine.

I have none but myself to blame for being bo-
thered by being woken early.
There ‘tis.
What is
simply is. And today I won’t sleep in.
goes on -- but not by default. Some things,
like keeping chicks and pups safe from feline claws and teeth,
must be
What must be done, must
be done.


Now all is quiet.
I have made peace with being woken by nature’s
eternal dance of life and death.
I have brushed my teeth and put on
my grubbies for the morning, and resigned my-
self to having a sick headache from too
little sleep (staying up
too late last night is the cul-
pable culprit, not the chippies and jays, not
even the neighbor’s cat). I have taken what
responsibility I can for my situation and re-
solved to redeem myself with verse -- and nap
in the early afternoon.

Today, I shall write. And perhaps mow the wild-growing yards
around our house. At
least, walk the lawn to see
how the seed I spread a week ago is
taking, in the bare-ish patches that come
back in the same spots
each year.

But wait -
it looks like rain.
Perhaps I shall not
go out today -- live instead
like a modified Emily Dickinson, roaming my
house, rather
than my attic, but avoiding outside act-
ivities all the same.
There are ticks out there, after all.


Five or six days ago, I was
asked -- “Have you written any poetry recently?”

And, thinking myself honest
and sincere
and 100% correct, I replied, “No,
I haven’t had the time or the inclination.
Not lately.”
I was convinced of it, too.
totally convinced. Utterly,

On a hunch, I thought I should double-check my certainty, and
the following day, upon rifling the top drawer in the filing
cabinet that holds up the left side
of my makeshift desk, I found
tens -- maybe more
than a hundred -- pages of verse penned
in the past three years.

I can be such an idiot at times.
Saying stupid shit like “Oh, no, I haven’t written very much at all
in three years!” makes me
look like a pathological liar. I didn’t mean
to deceive, but
I did a damned good job of it -- myself, not least of all. And
once again, I find evidence
that I am without a doubt truly


Self-flagellation doesn’t become me.
Where mortification runs thin, my pride wins out.
And I turn my mind to more productive,
.... now that I’ve found
these words
I penned in a flurry and tucked away
tidily in a steel-cased desk
now what?

I shall try like hell to figure out why
in heaven’s name I would forget a thing like
having written hundreds
upon hundreds
upon hundreds
of lines
and placed them neatly in labeled manila folios,
suspended in tabbed hanging folders,
tucked in tightly like sleepy children
all organized
in my left
desk drawer,
of sight
of mind...

That question must be answered first.

And next,
I shall work like hell to redeem myself from my in-
explicable neglect, walking deliberately
across the territory I dashed
wildly through
in recent years past,
what’s worth saving (in my estimation), ditching
or pitching
what didn’t work then and won’t work
now ... all along paying mind
to the promising skeletons that may still support
fleshy addition -- making like Dr. Frankenstein
picking choicest pieces
of anatomical additions for his prized
creation, I myself
being cognizant (more than the fic-
tional Swiss doctor was, perhaps)
that I may not end up
creating what I sought to seize
in words and sound and breath -- but yet de-
termined to love
what comes of it
all the same, un-
like the fictional doctor who fled
the crass evidence
of his most human failings.

Then what?
Then what shall I do?


Like Proust biting into that madeleine,
this gradually dawning shock of mine -- that I
have done much much more
than I recorded in my sometimes dim im-
agination -- has unleashed
some sort of torrent.

Panic, perhaps, that I lost sight
of something so vital, so precious, so
And was so quick to dismiss it,
as though I could dis-
pense with breath
or light
or the sea.

My voice -- where is my voice? What is my Voice? Has
it changed on my journey through the long
dark gauntlet tunnel
of shifting jobs, medical emergencies, reversals of fortune, and the too-soon
passing of my next-younger sister?
I am com-
pelled to look backwards-forwards-backwards again,
to compare my before-and-after styles,
my pacing and diction and choices
of sounds -- my “maturity”, if any is to be dis-
cerned by my own self, unschooled as I am
in the popular vernacular of poetic/artistic
acceptability. I took enough anthro-
pology to know analysis is not often best done
from the inside. Criticism is an out-
side job.
I think...

But what would I know of these things?
I have not taken the designated coursework and satisfied
sufficient requirements to call myself publicly “a poet.”
I make a shitty student -- and I make no apologies for it -- teachers
of the intentional, professional, certified human sort irri-
tate the shit out of me.
I can never figure out what they want me to say... tho’ I’m pretty
damned sure they don’t mean it
when they say,
“What do you think?” I don’t know their world well enough to tell
when I’m being tricked.
In classrooms I usually feel like
I’m about to be tricked.
Taken for a ride.
For the amusement of the neurotypical.
Or the predatiously dense who hang
on my words long enough to lift them from my distracted possession
and sell them to someone else.

No, I am no use to anyone in a cubical classroom of cinderblock walls.
I am too wary of my fellow students.
Too clueless to give my teachers what they seek.

Too itchy for actual life.
To guru life, in contrast, I am a doting,

The passing years must be
my classroom.

So it has always been.
And I’ve not suffered
for it.

So mote it be.


.... But where was I?
Ah, yes.

I am awake now, even
as his petite madeleine broke him out
of the everyday present and unleashed a sensory avalanche
of What Once Was.
upon volume
of words-words-more-words. All written
by hand...
I sit here at my desk overlooking a back clearing
alive with chipping rodents and pipping birds, sensory cacophony
of life as it is, was, shall always be (provided we don’t wreck
it all with our lust for wasteful conveniences)... also writing
in longhand -- though surely
with less artsy grace than Marcel. The computer I usually
use is not yet turned on,
oh blessed relief.
And in the punctuated silence,
words come.
before coffee.

I know next to nothing
about Proust, aside from
his petite madeleine and that it fired his mind. Or per-
haps that is just hearsay, and it wasn’t
like that at all. I may be taking
liberties again with my memory -- poetic
license I can apply in the privacy of my own
simple study/studio, to fill in
the gaps of what I think I know
but truly do not.


I am awake now
and very much in need
of coffee. Let me take
this notepad and pencil and pencil sharpener down-
stairs with me and keep it handy while I boil
water and watch
for what words come next.

Downstairs is cool, now. Yesterday
was hot. Almost too hot -- making everyone
I encountered nervous, antsy, prone to move
and drive and react
too quickly.
Yesterday was hot. But today -- this
morning, anyway -- it’s cool.

The cat slumbers, paws tucked under chest, atop
the scratching post perch. She loves the heat, lan-
guishes in it each afternoon, but she rests better when
it’s cool.
The kitchen is quiet, dimly lit
by a cloud-covered noncommittal sky.
Even the refrigerator’s mute.

A rush of water from spigot into kettle.
The click of the knob that turns on
the back right burner. The clack of kettle bottom
onto tempered glass cooktop. And the stove starts to hum lowly
with electronic heating work.



And yet
I am still troubled by -- no, perhaps “intrigued” is a
better choice of words -- no, troubled fits --
this lapse of mine, this lost
memory of deeply productive activity.
What the hell?!
Am I losing my mind?
Is my memory going, as my older friends. all
assure/threaten me that it will?
Did I think so little
of my work that I just dis-
missed it, banished it, sent it
without so much as
a good-bye?
Do I value my words so scantily? Imagine
I had better things to do, than
redeem my various, varied experiences
with lilting, healing sound?

What was I thinking, when I told that active listener
I had written nothing of consequence
for years? What
was I thinking?
No --
wait --
“thinking”is not the right word.
“Feeling” fits better. In my case,
at least.
What Was
and Is
and Will Be, I do not retain
in my brain alone.
My body holds it for my brain to ac-
cess later.

Let me

The Sense of
Things -- Events -- Moments in Time
is what I retain. The intellectual details
not so much. At least
not in the way others do.

It is the Sense of the Thing, the
Feel of the Moment, the physical impression
that makes it mark and
stays with me long
after the particulars are past.

An energetic Signature -- sense-able signpost
along the path of my life that marks
where/how/when I have passed my time.
My memory works best when my brain is not
on its own -- at least
the brain in my skull. the brain in my belly
must be engaged, as well.
Or else.
I forget.

In truth, I recall
being very much up in my head
the morning I forgot the last three years of poetic excess.
And when I was asked, “Have you written any-
thing recently?” I did not feel
as though I had. I sought out
a specific type of sense memory -- re-collection of
laboring long and hard over pages, editing, editing, editing--
which of course I hadn’t done. I haven’t done it in years.

Small wonder, I had no memory
of writing. I did not do it that way.
Not at all.
I was looking for the wrong kind of memory.

So, you see
I actually told a specific truth about that vague por-
tion of my experience. And my in-
accuracy was less related to de-
ception than thoroughgoing single-
mindedness... an out-
of-sight-out-of-mind focus I de-
pend upon to do well in the world... to do
anything at all, really -- well
or not. My rapt devotion to specific,
pragmatic priorities
betrayed my memory again, blotted my poetry’s presence
from my fickle recollection.

It wasn’t an intent to deceive that drove my tongue, just
some acquired fragmentation of the vessel
that contains
what came before
which I carry with me into
my present
in hopes of making future.

The vessel cracked, pieces
of what makes me
dropped through without my notice.

How cracked am I, anyway?


It’s terrifying, isn’t it -- the prospect
of losing one’s mind to in-
herited dementia, Alzheimer’s, head trauma,
brain virus, stroke, miscellaneous unpronounceable degenerative conditions, un-
treated mental illness, neurological insult of various kinds, or the un-
avoidable march of time.
And in many minds, un-
On my more darkly resolute days, the prospect of progressing madness
impels me to plan
a later life of extreme sports -- parachuting, base jumping, rock climbing without
ropes, leading police on the cross-country high-speed chase
I’ve always craved, or plain
and simple
telling the truth to cranky people in power
out loud and
for all the world to hear.

If I must exit this delicious world, let it be decisively,
with a sugar shot of adrenaline-glucose-endorphin-laced
biochemistry cascading through my pumping veins.
Let the end be worth it.
Let it taste good.
Let it be by choice, rather than by accidental, irreversibly progressive tragedy.

But I am getting ahead of myself. All I’ve done
is forgotten writing poetry -- but one aspect
of countless occasions over three
Very Busy Years.
The fact that I’m still standing tells me
I don’t need to learn to skydive anytime soon.

So there.


~ Sigh ~
I must learn
to let myself be.
Learn to see myself -- again -- for what
I truly am, and do more
than organize swiftly penned verses in proper-
ly labeled manila folders in the left-
hand side of my desk drawers. Learn
to do more than react to what
descends upon me, and Answer
with my gut
as well as my head, when asked some-
thing as significant as
“Have you written any poetry recently?”

I must also learn to slow myself down. I fear
too keenly
I haven’t got all year to sort this shit out.
I’m accustomed to being swept along by artificial time’s hurried pace,
adept at grabbing its coat-
tails and swinging myself up
behind it, like a bandit fleeing the scene
with a mounted compatriot, well-practiced at hauling
myself onto the back of a galloping steed, like some
circus performer who does it every night
and day for paying, cheering crowds.
a bandit. And a thief. And a practiced
performer. All the best-
living artists are. And the world never misses what we
steal, repackage, and sell back to it, pro-
mising enhanced powers
from its ingestion.

All the world, it seems, longs to be tricked.
Our species is like a flock of magpies who crave and collect
magick sparkles and bold promises of the most
unlikely miracles.
We as a species are addicted
to faith.
Heaven help us.


So, where is mine? My
faith, I mean. Me-
thinks I buckled too quickly when I found those files
of captured words, gave in
to the idea that my mind was going, diving memory-
first into the suspending brine of prospective dementia.
planning my own funeral, just
in case.
Foolish. I can be all too capricious and cut
myself too few breaks. And for
what? To feel I’m on top of things
That I have a plan?

What things should I be on top of?
What plan should -- can -- I have?

My point...
is my point?
I’ve lost it while roaming the room
around my being. Come
Why am I here in the first

Because I forgot? No -- I just
didn’t remember properly.
Memory was not lost to me completely. Only


Track it back.
to the chase.
Get on with the day. The cat is calling
from downstairs for another course
of wet food before noon


I woke up too early... No, I was woken earlier
than I wanted to be
by the protective natures of threatened creatures
who wanted nothing more than
to live to see another day and to see their babies
do the same.

Their shrieking,
screaming, piping, chipping at the tops
of their tiny lungs kindled
a kindred impulse in me -- to throw reserved propriety
to the wind and make loud loud
sounds of cacophonic cadence
to claim my place on this spinning orb,
no matter what dark
shadowy beast(s)
may stalk me.

My memory may have its own mind
at times, but that is of no great con-
if I can just remember what I am really trying
to access.
Sure as
bluejays dive-bombed the neighbor’s cat
at the crack of my dawning day,
I too shall fly
at what threatens to pounce...
and then trounce me -- those inner-
most misgivings that must flee -- like black kitty --
when exposed, full-throated,
by the unabashed drive to do more than

But live.

And write.

And be what
I simply am
as best
I simply can.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Kay Stoner

All Rights Reserved

25 May 2009

Improving my art space with feng shui

Mountain Air 3
10 inches wide x 7 inches high
Mixed media -- marker and oil pastel and watercolor and acrylic

Mountain Air 3 was created as part of an overall effort to "feng shui" my studio, which has a big chunk missing from the room -- ironically, the corner that's about self-awareness. I created a bunch of pieces that had strong blues and browns and blocky design in them and placed them in that corner, and the effect was palpable.

It actually seemed to help me be more comfortable in my space, become more focused in my work, and not feel this general sense of malaise that had dogged me, every time I went into the room, no matter how much "my space" I tried to make it. Let me tell you, it was a really weird feeling to have a studio of my own -- at last -- but not feel like it was friendly to me. When I feng-shui'ed it, that really changed. The improvement was dramatic, and my work really took off, as it hadn't in years.

I started out being something of a skeptic about feng shui, but after I made some simple but intentional changes to my space -- including adding a bunch of artwork that addressed the "energetic needs" of each quadrant of the room -- I became a real believer.

Kind des Bauhauses (Child of the Bauhaus Movement)

In my work, over the past years, I've come to appreciate more and more, just how strongly I've been influenced by the Bauhaus movement and other European artists who were working in the first half of the past century.

Indeed, I have to say that the Bauhaus movement, more than any other movement (including the impressionists and expressionists, of whom I'm very fond) has shaped my sensibilities and my art.

And when I look at the works I've been producing for the past years and compare them with the works and sensibilities of Bauhaus-related and inspired works, I get a better sense of where I stand in the grand scheme of things. I must admit, I have never been very diligent at studying past masters in the usual ways. And I'm not formally trained in artistic styles, I haven't had a classical arts education, and I am waaaay out on the margins of the art world. I tend to work in my own style, then cast about looking for folks who seem(ed) like kindred spirits, when they were working, and look for similarities. I'm an outlier, really. And yet, I'm very much steeped in some important traditions -- not only with regard to my art works, but with regard to my whole life.

Let me explain...

I was born in 1965, which was smack dab in the middle of the Cold War, and had this undertone of hardness to it that I believe got carried forward from WWII times -- indeed, both World Wars. There was a strong European influence in the American world I was born into -- in no small part, I think, due to the rather abrupt rise of the United States on the international scene after much of the rest of the "developed" world got itself all blown to bits. We Americans were suddenly thrust onto the world stage as world leaders (after having been pretty much consumed with getting settled on our own continent, sorting things out via (let's be honest), genocide and conquest and mowing down anyone and anything that stood in the way of our European-American Dreams. We went from being highly insular and focusing on getting our domestic house in order -- settle the West, build the cities, establish our industrial manufacturing base, quash rebellion wherever it sprang up, and define our American culture (more or less) -- to being the military and moral watchdogs of the world. Where oh where would we look for guidance in steering the world in the direction we saw fit?

We couldn't very well look to Asia, as Japan was still very much our sworn enemy -- they attacked us, after all. Africa had never been a source of "mastery" for us -- rather, slavery. The Middle East was a sorta-kinda fragmented collection of warring tribes (more or less -- no offense to anyone from there), so those models weren't apropos for our burgeoning American purposes, either. We needed some cultural precedents for world leadership, which were best (at that time) supplied by Europe. Europeans knew, from what we could tell, how to run things on a large scale. The conquest of the Americas (not to mention Africa and Asia) had been driven by European powers, so we could derive some "template" for cultural success from that heritage.

Yes, Europe would do.

Much as the United States has always been a melting pot, when it came to the cultural heritage(s) we tapped into, 'round about the time when I was born and first growing up, it was really Europe -- bombed out and reconstructing as it was -- that shaped my East Coast cultural experience. And the Bauhaus Movement had a huge impact on my environment. I'm talking, in particular, about all the architecture that was built in the aftermath of WWII -- during the Baby Boom, which immediately preceded my generation.

Note: For the record, I consider myself one of the first Gen-X'ers. I share many more of their qualities, than the Baby Boom. I'm just too much of a pragmatic, make-it-up-as-you-go-along entrepreneur, to be well-qualified for inclusion in the idealistic Boomer crowd.

The world I grew up in -- in particular, the school buildings where I spent most of my waking hours -- was strongly Bauhaus-derived. Look at the square, brick-and-metal, highly functional school buildings where I whiled away countless hours, and you'll see what I mean.

The front entrance of the first early childhood center I attended - note the front door -- all the blocky windows and the straight lines.

My high school, in its early days -- see all the straight lines -- it looks more like a factory than a school, to tell the truth.

There have been plenty of other buildings I've spent lots of time in, which had a strong Bauhaus flavor.

At least, that's how it seems to me. And I really believe that growing up and living my life in the midst of that predominating design had a strong influence on my visual and artistic sensibilities.

Or maybe I'm just the kind of person who gravitates to straight lines and highly utilitarian functionality...

In any case, looking at my relatively "unschooled" work -- after not really studying many artists formally, having no real background in art history or theory -- I see so many similarities between my work and my sensibilities and the Bauhaus Movement, I have to wonder where the influence came from, if not from a classroom or a course of study.

My true influence? Life, actually.

And for an artist, that's probably the best sort of influence, of all.

Why Piet?

One of the smaller pieces I created in 2007 -- or was it 2008? -- is a piece I've entitled Piet_1, in honor of Dutch Neo-Plasticist Painter, Piet Mondrian (1872-1944).


Looking at a set of Google search results on Piet Mondrian, it doesn't much look like one of his pieces. It's not full of straight lines and straightforward colors. It's actually very different from so many of the square-angled works of Mondrian... at least, at first glance.

But on closer inspection, it does have some elements in common:

  • Common elements repeated -- the curved lines that intersect

  • Similar colors to many of Mondrian's works -- yellow, blue, black, red -- without a whole lot of inter-mixing. Even in the places where the colors coincide, they do not mix -- they remain distinct, even in their overlapping.

  • Blocks of single color -- the black squares and the blue areas

It's almost as though all those years I spent examining Mondrian had made an imprint in me, and then blended and swirled... gotten "swirled" by my own individual sensibilities.

In a very real way, it's as though the images of Mondrian I've absorbed over the years had turned into an optical palette of sorts... a pot of paint that, when undisturbed, has the Mondrian imprint on its surface... and my life, full of its own adventures and experiences, then reached down into the pot of paint with its own stick or brush or baster, and gave it a big swirl.

Piet_1 seems to be what happens when the undisturbed, imperturbable lines of Mondrian are given a good shake by an active, evolving life.

This is one of my smaller pieces, being 10 inches (254 mm) Wide x 7.75 inches (196.85 mm) High. It's mixed media -- oil pastel and water color and acrylic on watercolor paper. If you could see it in person, you'd catch the little sparkles that come up from the acrylic paint that's thinned with water -- one of my favorite aspects of acrylics. They turn into something different with each substance you mix into them... in this case, they have a faint sparkle to them, which makes a nice contrast with the matte watercolor paper.

This is also one of my favorite recent pieces -- I'm really happy with a lot of the work I've produced over the past couple of years (which I'm now carting out for all the world to see), and this piece has grown on me. When I first created it, I thought "What the hell was I thinking? How... uninspiring." But then I took a closer look at it, I thought about it and where it came from and what it told me about my evolving style, and lo and behold, it really grew on me.

It's for sale, but it's not framed. That's for the next owner to decide on. I'd probably go with a simple Bauhaus-like frame -- maybe something metallic to contrast with the colors. It's a subtle piece, and I think it would do well with a very simple frame. Whatever glass is used would be best chosen for its ability to allow light through to pick up the sheen from the acrylic colors.

It's a happy piece, and I will miss it when it goes. But I'm hoping someone else can gain some happiness from it, as well.

As always, if you like this work and would like to acquire a similar work of a different size or slightly different features, I am available for commissions. Contact me at kaystonerATyahooDOTcom for details.

24 May 2009

Reading Elizabeth Bishop and Wondering…

Had I been born in, oh, say 1907, and had I
known then what I know now,
would we have called each other up to travel,
or summoned one another with telegrams --
“Pack those bags, girl -- we’re going away
again!” attaches of papers and works
in progress
tucked under our arms, the street numbers of fay friends
settled down towards Cuba neatly
penned into our address book.
Would we have known each other
at all?
Could we have not?

Copyright (c) 2009 by Kay Stoner
All Rights Reserved

Winged Destiny

Spun of magic
and of grace, this moment
crackles with its newness,
like fresh crepe paper from the wrapper
embraced by eager palm.

The emerging monarch climbs free of its cocoon, spreads
its damp-heavy
wings to the shifting breeze and lifts
from from my finger.

Milkweed feasts come first, while
South America awaits.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Kay Stoner
All Rights Reserved

23 May 2009

Paradise Coveted

I would be Milton, that well-versed
poet, who commenced his obsession over words of others -- and
intently so -- prior to his practical life’s
inception, and never forsook
his flame. I covet
the choices of his driven father, who afforded his son
the luxury of becoming book-bound. If only
my own father had been less poet,
himself, and more provider...

I would be Milton, who made such casual
references to classic facts, assuming
he’d be understood, whose pool of truths
was perhaps less wide, yet
far less shallow than that from which we dip
today -- who could well afford
to reference Hector
and not be trashed as a pretentious hack,
to draw from Virgil
and be taken for sincere, not quaint,
to cite comparisons of old
without the gaze askance
from a differently educated peerage
with no sympathy
for Clytemnestra,
to type the names of kings of old with no
arguments from a spell-checker that had no record
of their monikers till I showed up at the keyboard.

I would be Milton, despite his failed love
life, his latter pragmatic partnering, his unruly
daughters, his failures to keep mute
when silence would likely have served best his public stature.
I, too, would press onward
against principalities and powers, known
for a quick tongue and rambling pen
that by its very lucidity breaks
the back of vociferous opponents,
deliberate defiance marking my path, even when passing
through friendly hosting lands.
I would profane the pompous with brute force
of learned mind, and cause the critics to lament the waste
of my talent, as a cheap
and imprudent pamphleteer. I would broaden
my reputation with propaganda most impassioned, lauded
in tomes not once, but threefold in the same century.

I would cast in my lot
with king-slayers, then bemoan how monarchy
prevails -- even in the guise of populists -- and rue
the rashness of my
impolitic endorsements. I would reap
the seeds of discontent sown
and fly in the face of advancing night
with such a deluge of vitriol
channeled hard against the advancing tide -- so hard
that none
could make light of my drive.

I would be Milton, who thought better
of telling only tales of woe, who saw
that most grievous loss could prompt a bit of gaining, and knew
full well to whom credit for the brighter song
should be attributed.
I would seek out the company of others
well-read, and spar with princes
in their courts.
I would parry the fumbling advances
of “modern” usage, slice off
that custom blade at the hilt, and send it
scuttling across the flags to dark corners
where the hounds repose,
and brandish my older, sharper, more
tempered blade
in victory.

I would trust the cadence of scriptures
and not be put off
by their popularly suspect intent,
seeking infamy’s father in the illiterate judgment of ob-
scured truth.
I would seek -- and find -- God
on my own terms, regardless of king and country.

Would that I were Milton. True --
his bloodline, for all we know, ended
eventually, with no modern men to pen
“M” as their second initial, quite the way
he did.
True -- his escapades into love and friendship ended
tragically. Perhaps
too much so.
True -- his were viral times, fraught with
danger and early death.
True -- there were events so crushing even he of boundless expression
could neither articulate nor eulogize, so
deeply did they slice into his heart. But

For ever so brief a second, would that I
could esteem myself as learned,
as linguistic, as treasured in syllable
by a knowing crowd who turn no
deaf ear to these ancient rumblings.
For the most fleeing of instance, would that
I could lust openly for Rubens’ curves,
and not be accused
of base lechery.... would that I could dwell at
length upon the conceits of Olympians, rant
contrary to hubris-driven posers, invoke Uther’s bloodline
and cry to Queen of Heaven
in unison with a host of readers
who themselves would claim
Milton’s glory
as their own. And shrink
not from it as conceit.

Let us all be Milton.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Kay Stoner
All Rights Reserved

22 May 2009

I am neither painter... nor poet...

I am an adventurer who ranges far and wide to see what life has to offer, and then records my experiences in color and words. If color happens to use paint and canvas as its medium, or even pen and paper, then so be it. But it can just as easily find expression in wood, stone, clay, marker, colored pencil, graphite, oil pastel, watercolor... or on the monitor in front of you.

Acrylic paint on heavy canvas suits me better than the more refined "professional" supplies that promise to make a work of art an "investment" for the collector. And it gives me a broader, wider, deeper "vocabulary" to work with.

Just as written words, spoken words, felt words shaped and plied in solitude feed and sustain me far more than public performances or "poetry slams" (heaven help us).

These media give me a way to record/express/memorialize/archive my adventures in a shareable and (I think) exciting way. Through the use of color and light and texture... through the sing-song lilt of vowel and consonant... the nuances of not only what I've experienced, but also how I've experienced it, can be captured and expressed.

Through the eye and ear -- and through touch as well -- the full range of human experience can reach into the deepest centers of the brain and tickle the mind to new knowledge, new understanding, new appreciation, new experience, and renewed humanity.

I don't "think" art should ennoble us. I know it should.

Okay, so I've got all this art...

It's pretty wild, how much of it I have. I mean, tens upon tens of works, in a variety of media. It's like my poetry -- I have a lot of it, and it comes very naturally to me, so I end up not thinking much of it -- I mean, I do think much of it, but it doesn't make as much of an impression on me, while I'm creating it, as, say, coding up a web app or something like that.

For some reason, if it comes easily to me, it just rolls out, and I forget about it -- sometimes -- almost as soon as I've created it.

And since I often (usually) work in solitude, frankly, not many people know about it.

So, I'm working to change that. The web is full of social networking opportunities, so I need to just avail myself of them, I guess.

For starters, I've uploaded a whole bunch of my artwork to my Flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaystoner/. I haven't gone in and created a whole bunch of descriptions (yet). I just got them up there.

There's plenty more where that all came from, and I'll eventually get to it.... But what I wouldn't do for an intern, or someone to help me organize myself...! Or someone who has a real knack for marketing... and who knows about art... Oh, hell - whatever.

I'm just glad I'm able to do this, and that I'm able to share all these pieces.

Maybe someday I'll find a benefactor who can help me get this out to the world. But in the meantime, at least I've got Flickr. And my blogs.

20 May 2009

New poetry from Provincetown

It has been way too long, since I last posted... I've been busy, I guess ;) Studying this and that, reading this and that, writing this and that, and drawing/painting this and that.

Funny, I hadn't realized until lately, how remiss I've been with my blogging. Oh, well.

A funny thing happened the other day. I was talking to someone about my writing, especially my poetry. I was showing him all the poetry books I've written, and he asked if I'd written anything recently. I said -- off the top of my head -- "Oh, no... I really haven't written much at all for a few years. I just haven't been in the mood."

Then I decided to double-check, and lo and behold, I actually have tens of poems I've written over the past three years -- since 2006. I have a real sheaf of paper filled with words, some of them pretty good (I think, anyway).

I don't know what got into me, but I was convinced that I haven't written any poetry, lately. Odd.

I think I've just been so wrapped up in a lot of work-related stuff... stuff I'm doing for others... that I've shut off the part of my brain that keeps track of what I do for myself. Hermetically sealed, as it were. I think I've been too stressed over job transitions and just keeping my life on track, to delegate attention to my poetry.

Because my poetry is something I don't have to work really, really hard at. It just comes. I don't know how or why, but it comes. I have my theories about sound and vocalizations and the sight of letters and words on paper, but the bottom line is, poetry comes very naturally to me. So naturally, it almost seems like second nature. And it doesn't capture -- or hold -- my workaday attention the same way that work-work-work-harder-harder-harder activities do.

Strangely, it seems like, if something comes easily to me, it must not be that big of a deal. I know it's a big deal for others -- they like what I've written, and they want to read more. But somewhere in my mind, I have it stuck that if it's not really, really hard, it must not deserve a great deal of attention.

Well, that's changing. I'm changing it. I'm going to publish my poetry here, as I type up the different pieces. There's a lot of it, so I should have plenty to post... for the next several years.

And I won't need to be this delinquent again.

Here's a fresh start -- please, note, there's profanity in it, so you may want to cover your ears ;)

Echoes of Hell Town*

It's easy to forget, this was
an artists' colony long, long, long before
anyone thought of charging
nine dollars and change for a salad. But
its true. Crazy
motherfuckers have wandered the streets
of this only-recently-straitlaced place
since time first thought of building up
a spit of livable land out of
more than sand and seeds scattered
by birdshit.
Only an idiot would set up house
on a dune more than fifty miles out to sea... but
we came -- all we crazy mother-
fuckers, bags packed for Hell Town,
ranting and railing against The Man, ever
a source of entertainment
or outrage for those stuffed-
shirts of Barnstable, Hyannis or Boston.
Sands shift, though.
Roads get closed off in high winds,
escape routes blocked, right-
of-ways impassable, except
by expensive four-wheeler.
Grain by grain, dune by dune,
it gets easier to forget this place
was ever an artists' colony.

26. Jan. 06

* Back in the day, when polite people stayed in Truro, and only "sinners" crossed over to Provincetown, they called the place "Hell Town". In a way, it's a pity they can't (don't dare) to still do that...