Wastelands: Prosery

“Tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica, by Jacqueline de la Baume Dürrbach. . . It is significant for the political and cultural stance of the Whitechapel Gallery, which exhibited the painting in 1939. The original work is now too fragile to leave Madrid. . .”

I still have nightmares. Not of hiding for days in a fetid crawlspace. I don’t dream of my terror then. I am Every Woman, dreaming of war’s terrors. I am Cassandra with visions of what might be. End times.

I’m in a desolate waste land. What are the roots that clutch? What branches grow out of this stony rubbish? The roots are arms with hands outstretched and reaching; the branches are watered with blood.

The dream doesn’t come every night, but when it does, I wake up screaming and bathed in sweat. Will finding Paul make me feel better or worse? I don’t know, but I must have some answers. Because if he’s a traitor and still alive, he may be helping to destroy all that I hold dear while turning our world into a waste land. And I will have to stop him.

(144 words)

This is for Mish’s Prosery Prompt using the lines:

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?”
–from T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

My last prosery piece ended with the first sentence used in this one.

***Upcoming Event: Thursday, OCT. 14, Lillian will host OPEN LINK NIGHT LIVE. OLN will appear here at the usual time and you can link up ONE poem. If you’d like to participate live to read your poem in person, there will be a Google link for you to join in the event! (You can also join us without reading.)

guernica_at_the_whitechapel_-_geograph-org-uk_-_1593698-1

ceridwen [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“Guernica at the Whitechapel It is no idle whim to include an image of this tapestry reproduction of Picasso’s great anti-war painting but because it is so significant for the political and cultural stance of the Whitechapel Gallery, the only British venue to exhibit the painting in 1939. The original work is now too fragile to leave Madrid; this tapestry was loaned to the gallery, for its re-opening, by its owner Margaretta Rockefeller. Normally it hangs in the United Nations in New York where in 2003 it was controversially veiled prior to a speech by Colin Powell on the eve of the Iraq war.”

Monday Morning Musings:

 “The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.”

–James Baldwin

 

After the tragedy,

in the calmness after the storm,

then we hear about the heroes.

On that sunny September day,

fifteen years ago,

as a gentle breeze blew,

and the world’s course shifted,

there were soldiers and fire fighters,

there were flight attendants and passengers,

there were ordinary people

who were decent and kind

who helped others before themselves,

and who became heroes.

 

From the hell of the Warsaw ghetto,

Irena Sendler saved hundreds of children,

burying their real names in jars,

and though she was captured,

interrogated, tortured,

she did not give up the information,

then, forced to hide herself,

like the children and their names,

she waited, till

after the wind blew

and the course shifted,

so she could dig up the jars

and return the children to their families–

if any relatives remained.

 

Decades later,

school children in Kansas

(a place known for violent winds)

began researching her life

inspired by the classroom motto

“He who changes one person, changes the world entire.”

They researched, developing a performance piece,

that captured the attention of the people in their area–

and then a larger area.

They discovered that Irena Sendler was then still alive,

and wrote to her, sharing the correspondence with universities

and other groups,

raising funds, and finally meeting her and some children she had rescued,

One called them, “rescuer’s, rescuers of Irena’s story.”

They were children, now adults,

who wrote about a woman, who worked bravely to change the world,

and in their work about her,

they, too, hoped to change the world,

one person at a time.

 

I think about the censoring of artists,

the silencing of poets and painters,

of novelists, musicians, and dancers

who proclaim truth and dare to create

silenced by dictators,

the strong men admired by someone here

who can spout his hate-filled rhetoric

only because our Constitution

allows for freedom of speech and expression.

Yet he would like to censor the press.

Is this the definition of irony?

 

I remember sitting, mesmerized before “Guernica”

decades ago in New York

I can still feel the power of that Picasso work

and remember those moments

though the other details of that college trip remain hazy.

The painting itself was in exile,

returning only after the death of the dictator, Franco,

but by then Picasso was also gone.

 

On a beautiful September evening

we sit in the city of Philadelphia,

we drink wine as a gentle breeze blows,

we see a performance piece,

a sort of homage to James Baldwin,

“Notes of a Native Song,”

created by Stew and Heidi Rodewald,

a memorable evening of music and social commentary

that is a reaction or celebration of Baldwin

rather than an adaptation of his work.

On this September night

as a gentle wind blows

I think about artists

and about heroes

I think about the winds of war

and the changing course of political winds

I think about artists

I think about heroes

And I think

sometimes they are one and the same.

 

“I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. I think all theories are suspect, that the finest principles may have to be modified, or may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and that one must find, therefore, one’s own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright. I consider that I have many responsibilities, but none greater than this: to last, as Hemingway says, and get my work done.

I want to be an honest man and a good writer.”

–James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

 

Information:

James Baldwin

Guernica

“Life in a Jar: The Irene Sendler Project

Wilma Theater 

Tria Cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art and Shadows

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sweet and faraway voice flowing for me.

Sweet and faraway voice tasted by me.

Faraway and sweet voice, muffled softly.”

–Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) excerpt from “The Poet Speaks to His Beloved on the Telephone,” translated by Francisco Aragón    Full poem here.

 

We entered the installation area as the sun was setting

screens at one end of the room,

in the middle—more screens, projectors, tables,

words on the wall

Gypsy music played from the speakers—

and the telephone rang

I answered it.

the poet recited a poem in English, then in Spanish.

and then it rang again.

we wandered, looked through drawers of the nightstands,

a grasshopper,

poems,

flowers,

a butterfly

tangible traces of the poet’s words, his existence.

The performance still an hour away,

we went into the exhibition—

Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change

We saw cubist works and neoclassical,

side-by-side, as the artist

produced both styles within the same years

contradictory, bemusing critics and friends.

French nationalists condemned cubism

calling it degenerate, associating it with Germany,

spelling it “Kubism,”

though clearly French in origin.

Picasso never commented on the Great War,

though cubism, he acknowledged,

influenced

the camouflage on trucks and ships,

a strange marriage of art and war.

Denouncing art, artists, of all sorts

nations, politicians, war-mongers do this

in every war

repress freedom of speech and expression

slap on the label of nationalism

and suppress, censor

lay waste to all that does not fit

the narrow parameters and forms

of those

who are in control.

Germany destroys the work of degenerative artists

in the the next war,

destroys the artists, too.

Tyrants know the power of words, the power of art,

and music–

music is played at the concentration camps, you know,

dance me to the end of love

 

We slowly stroll back to the installation

the performance begins,

a ringing telephone

the poet runs to answer it,

then disappears,

shadow puppets blend with figures

on a screen

words

spoken

seen

a fish travels across the white surface

taking us on a journey,

Spain, New York

water, a boat, an iguana with a pipe

writing

surreal images

words of love

lush, sensual

space and time

have no boundaries,

the telephone rings

the poet imprisoned

he speaks no more

shot, silenced

but not forever

because art lives on,

art shadows our world

or perhaps it is our shadow world,

the dreams we live inside.

 

After the performance, we’re invited to look at and play with the puppets and talk to the actors, puppeteers, and musicians.

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We were at the Barnes Museum

We saw My Soul’s Shadow created and performed by Manual Cinema,

a Chicago-based company.  The performance was part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2016 (PIFA), and sponsored by the Kimmel Center.