Better late than never news

Last November, Lori Gómez, publisher of VEXT Magazine nominated my poem Chrystal Spheres Blown through Emptiness for the Pushcart Prize. My many thanks to Lori for the vote of confidence and for her vision and commitment to the creation and publication of VEXT Magazine.

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Little Miracles: Poem by Donna Snyder

Miriam’s Well published my poem “Little Miracles”

Miriam's Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond

Little miracles

Hoping for succor, promises pinned to purple velvet. Arms, hands,
legs, and backs dangle from ribbon, unblinking eyes tied to statues,
a show and tell for saints and God.

Candles smoulder. Candles turned upside down until what was lost
is found, wagers made with the Paduan, pleas to restore tranquility,
if not possessions mislaid or love stolen.

Faithless wander through shadows as tourists, but see these flagels
studded with cactus spine. Believers crawl here to kiss sainted feet,
leave bits of knees and hands behind.

Blood sacrifice. Prismatic eyes. Body of terra cotta, breath of dust.
Iniquitous night inhabits the sky. Demon mouths filled by succulence
of pearls. An owl signifies either wisdom or death.

A blue glass eye shields from evil intent. They bathe in blessed mud
said to heal the feeble and lame. Crutches at the door, proof of miracles.
Piñon smoke. Scent of juniper, palo…

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My poem, Crystal Spheres Blown Through Emptiness, published in VEXT 13

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Addendum:

I recently learned that Lori Gómez and VEXT Magazine nominated this poem for the Pushcart Prize last year. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

“Even in the Absence of Proximity”-my review of Christina Quinn’s Up the Down Spout published in Red Fez

My review of Up the Down Spout by Christina Quinn

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Looking Up the Down Spout by Christina Quinn

Poetic Justice Books & Art (Port Saint Lucie, FL)

Christina Quinn is a visual artist and poet, born and reared in England, who has lived many years in the Coachella Valley of California. As a girl, she was the kind of person to travel extensively in Germany and ride a motorcycle around the U.K., Belgium, France, Australia, and New Zealand. As a woman, she designs houses and furniture out of next to nothing, walks her dog in the high desert, and has had solo and group art exhibits in California, Florida, and elsewhere. She is tall, bone thin, and wears her very short hair a natural platinum. I have followed her work on line for several years, admiring her large abstract paintings and distilled, minimalist poetry. A life-long visual artist, Quinn began writing poetry much later in age. She has five published collections of poetry, some of which are not available in the United States.

Looking up the Down Spout, the title of which reflects Quinn’s lifelong curiosity and willingness to take risks, both large and small, is a fine collection of brief poems, most under a page long. The untitled poems lay spare lines on a page, reminding of the delicate bones of a bird that somehow still lifts its own weight off the earth and through the sky. As one would expect of a visual artist, Quinn’s poems are filled with colors and vivid images. One reality is often altered by the play of light and shadow to reveal an alternate reality. Here is a poem in its entirety.

under the pier

sun fingers

hold tight to

green algae

softening the split

of treated wood

pink crustaceans

kiss randomly

the junctions

of dark & light

& the sea makes

entanglement

of underworld weeds

slumber eyes

catch shaded

dappled skin

swaying in time

to the tide

he smiles

in that lazy way

& the sea tilts

close enough

to taste salty skin

your eyes are green

he said

Her dreamy imagery here implies more than mere visual description, suggesting a reference to one of many definitions of quantum entanglement, that something exists only in a dream-like state of unreality unless measured, that is, quantified in some way other than mere observation, as described by Scott Glancy of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in his article, “Local Realism, Bell’s Inequality, and T-Shirts: An Entangled Tale,” found in the NIST blog. According to Glancy, based on extensive experiments throughout the world, quantum particles do not have fixed properties in all circumstances. Quantum entanglement is the concept that stuff, like particles, can affect other things even when separated by even substantial distances. Quinn’s poem quoted above, in a few brief lines, conjures the impact of dark, light, color, the tide, on human observation and consequent relationships. Likewise, her dramatic changes of media and approach to her art reflect the diverse realities in which she has found herself throughout her life. Here is another poem that hints of objects being described in reference to each other, controlling effects even in the absence of proximity.

I have been dying

I feel no pain I dream in color

I hear sharps & flats

& speak chameleon

listen I won’t lie

I have been a polite spectral guest

mostly

though not in person

see here

I know the secrets of

deathly impermanence

I don’t lie       

In March of 2015, as a poetry editor for the magazine Return to Mago, I published one of Quinn’s poems. “konigsberg summer” reveals a denser play with language, but also demonstrates a consistent use of color-saturated memories.

the baltic glistens with gold

tears spilled

from the eye of a goddess

calcified in beauteous resin 

lovers who stroll the sand

search for amber teardrops

a pledge to those they love

war came

& when it was time she

walked the thousand miles to freedom

took her boy

a sheaf of love letters bound in blue

& a strand of amber tears

the memory of

konigsberg summers

caught fast in yellow sun

At the time, Quinn said in Return to Mago, “Always a painter, sometimes a poet, I was taught to appreciate language and words by my father…a lover of all things English. I learned to read from the magic found in the complete works of Oscar Wilde, bound in leather by my father’s hand.” Quinn credits her father, who died when she was 12, for instilling a great love and respect for visual and literary arts. He particularly exposed her to the great English artists and writers such as Shelley, Byron, and Blake. He encouraged her painting as a toddler, and inspired her adventures in various media and different parts of the world. As a young bride in New Zealand she diverged from painting and developed a body of work in textile arts, using a neighbor farmer’s sheep as a source of fleece that she then washed, dyed, and wove, developing a reputation for her fine textile artwork. After moving to the United States, she returned to painting, exploring the landscape and human body to create stunning abstractions. Quinn has been quoted as saying, “I like to start with a more realistic approach but quickly move onto an abstract field. I am a colorist so that is a huge part of making art for me. Intuitive color and marks please me to no end….” The Press-Enterprise June 27, 2019.

More painterly details from the natural world, and a subtle mysticism, hint of Blake in the following poem from Looking Up the Down Spout.

from the last step sometimes

I sit & feed the pigeons

they understand this perpetual motion

the four cents in my pocket

& the shoe shocked horses

bolting down cobbled streets

there’s a whirling field of energy

an obsessive compulsion to capture

something tantalizing & out of reach

i feel my dreams have been stolen

others have made silk from my visions

even so

i was born at the stroke of midnight

the cusp of yesterday tomorrrow & today

i can tie three knots in an eyelash

i can make sparks fly

i feed my friends the crumbs of my thoughts

i jangle the cents in my pocket

i watch the horses bolt

& from my frozen finger tips       

i touch the stolen dreams & execute the lie  

Many of the poems in this book are implicitly about a relationship, perhaps failed, perhaps merely complicated. Here’s one of my favorites.

the smell of insanity

& track of quick eyes

silver bells of madness

disturb the air

this autopsy must end

stop seeing the body

focus on the question

are you mad she asked

with a clay heart

he replied

yes

I am reviewing the chapbook edition, which was recently re-released as a perfect bound soft back book in combination with Quinn’s Ricocheted Memories, also published by Poetic Justice Books & Art out of Port St. Lucie, Florida. See more of Christina Quinn’s work at Christina Quinn words and art on Facebook or Christina Quinn on Instagram.

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poems published in Setu Western Voices issue 2020

I’m thankful to Setu and to Scott Thomas Outlar, it’s guest editor for the Western Voices issue, for publishing two poems written in collaboration with Lee Ballentine as well as a poem each from us both.

My poems in Setu Western Voices issue 2020

Poems by Lee Ballentine in Setu Western Voices issue 2020

Here is one of the collaborative poems:

but silence is never silent

Collaboration with Lee Ballentine

Like an ultimatum of birds gone to their winter nests,

I refuse to speak in the shadowed echoes of your applause.

Like things you will never hear again, sounds tremble as they fall,

leaving nothing but your voice telling me what I cannot be.

As my honest self fades to gray, I hear its damp echo.

A machine preaches tolerance, but I see only scowls.

The eruption of unbidden tears. Imperfect duplicates.

A divided spirit—sonorous voice, gregarious smile—

belies the familiar fist. The slammed door and bruised spirit.

Heartache demands shame’s silence.

But silence is never silent. Car doors slam. Jets

roar through dirty sky. Distant dogs complain.

Choppers enforce imaginary lines between Us and Them.

Or maybe bear torn flesh, twisted bodies, the comma of death.

Train tracks thunder a despot’s rage that stops for nothing.

A teacup knocked to the floor, a tympani of windows and roof,

a glorious vibration, the sound of fragile metal, a car

dropped to the concrete floor of a garage in the next block.

Pigeons trill sweetly, then scold anyone without seed.

Water flows through pipes like the presence of god.

Breath rattles through tubes of flesh and dying lungs.

Snub nosed dogs snort and snore in irregular rhythms,

like the voice of ghosts from beyond a non-existent wall.

They cannot stop telling stories of all that’s long forgot.

Footfalls from wooden floors where no feet walk.

I breathe poisoned hills and smell toxic water. My life

demolished like a listing shed in the rail yards.

Lost as the travelers who never returned home

bathed in the midwinter scent of a sea’s perfume.

The migratory odor of abandonment lingers,

and I have nothing to say to you.

The waves you would not see

shimmer like a mirror of clouded ice

gone frozen over the falls.

Setu, April 2020

Scott Thomas Outlar’s guest editor introduction and table of contents for Setu Western Voices issue 2020