Posted in Almost Dorothy

A Story About A Sunset

“It takes courage to be afraid.” –Montaigne, Essays, III, 6 (1588)

St. Peteresburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.
St. Peteresburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.

Nothing scares the sun anymore. Not even sinking into the black sea. Not even the black sea and its power over sunsets. Not even the scars or parked cars on Sunday or the squirrels that dream of big things from the tops of enormous trees. Not even the sky and its embedded madness stands a chance against its nuclear dance.

St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.
St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.

Sometimes when the blue clutters the sky, the sun rawrs and tilts its ear toward the sea.

St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.
St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.

Sometimes the sky is a dark paradise. Sometimes the sun hears paradise calling from the abyss in a funny voice, can you hear the light?

St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.
St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.

Sometimes the sun is a delicious dream–

St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.
St. Petersburg Beach. Photo by Neil de la Flor.

intersected by billions & billions.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

A Story About Biscayne Bay

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The bridge & cranes dream of dogs and cats.

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They squint and find wormholes into other worlds.

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What they discover: there’s always one light that’s brighter than the other. And they are drawn to its luminescence with purpose.

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But there’s always something else in the distance, they think. Their fiercely squinted eyes look funny to humans.

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Something centered and floating appears in the distance–a home of sorts–

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tethered to a reality made of foam.

Posted in Almost Dorothy

A Poem About a Plot

The Red Lights of the  World | Photo by Neil de la Flor
The Red Lights of the World | Photo by Neil de la Flor

1. We bond over electronic music and make out.

2. On the dance floor, his arms are iron balls

3. destined for the seabed.

4. We pray for the abyss to relinquish the red lights of the world.

5. Adora welcomes the world batting her eyelashes like a flamenco dancer bats her abanico. She is ridiculous in her beehive wig.

6. A boy and a girl wear leather dog collars

7. as Lola spins the 80s—Cure, Depeche Mode, The Clash.

8. Two shots of tequila enter the photographic memory and each shot is a declaration of love or something close to a cross and bow. The arrow of time is a cosmic phenomenon divined in blue agave.

9. The cosmos is a black veil that quarrels with vagabonds. He reveals the history of sharing needles beneath yellow street lights—a pair of binary stars gripped by gravity fight for more space.

10. Vampires and bats quarrel behind iron bars in the yellowing twilight as I bend dangerously over in awe of angels.

11. We morph into morphs and transmit the secrets of starlets and starlight to passersby.

12. The shadow on the left puts his left hand in the right pocket of the shadow on the right.

13. We (or they) were nouns and verbs conjugated in a foreign language in a foreign landscape between time and space.

14. Each word plots a point of light in the dark.

Posted in Almost Dorothy

A Prayer for a Red Room

Red Velvet | Photo by Neil de la Flor
Red Velvet | Photo by Neil de la Flor

1. I had my money on him like I have money like I’m sick of him trying to get to me like Jesus.

2. He walks through my red living room to the other red room wearing a jockstrap and high-heel boots.

3. He carries white roses in case it’s Christmas.

4. He is not a jock or Christ-like, but his chin is sanctified.

5. The strap pulls strangely around his cheeks looking like the jowl of a skinny pitbull.

6. He sits on the sofa and the sofa is surrounded by candles that are lit and not lit and he is lit and I’m unaware that he is.

7. He is positive yoga will solve history. And dance. And cartography.

8. Life is interesting, I say, when you become interested in life.

9. He is in the corner of the room kicking at the demons and blames me for leaving the mattress alone.

10. He shaves his or her hair and Lakshmi doesn’t want anymore children because Shiva has turned blue and cold even though he is dancing.

11. Always dancing.

12. He reads the illustrated Holy Bible in my red red room and the red room reads with him. The red velvet curtains seal the red room as the incense from New Mexico burns on the fireplace lined with paper dolls—

13. of Jesus & Mary, of all the saints & all the apostles, of the one true God–as the archangels swoop down and set fire to them.

14. An effigy of the burning boy burns in the red room of paper dolls.

Posted in Almost Dorothy

A Poem About a Flood

You Are Standing Here | Photo by Neil de la Flor
You Are Standing Here | Photo by Neil de la Flor

14. The poem on the left is not a poem. It’s a car.

13. Cartography is the shortest distance between the breath of life and the breadth of life.

12. I met a mouse in a van wearing sunglasses.

11. The bottle-nosed priest excommunicates the clan from kin. He calls me Sally as Mars turns into a water sign.

10. The water inundates the landscape.

9. The trees are mere shadows of trees.

8. The crabs who walk sideways across Belle Isle are submerged by rising waters.

7. The earth is round and the children across the street are home.

6. We stand on guard, on tippy-toes, and kiss beneath the crescent moon. We kiss like we used to kiss with our vampire teeth.

5. We kiss like we kissed in my dream of kissing.

4. When the plumber arrived I thought the dream was real.

3. The water rises and we are on high alert as the neighbors find shelter in burned out Cadillacs.

2. Lilacs won’t grow in Florida.

1. Fabricate dreams out of mud, won’t you?

Posted in Glit Lit

iCloud, weCloud: Poets Inhabit Cumulonimbus

“Nimbus” (Artist: Berndnaut Smilde)
“Nimbus” (Artist: Berndnaut Smilde)

The poet is a monarch of the clouds…” (Robert Hass)

Clouds rule at high altitudes, seducing us with their dew points and their outpourings. (Like poets.) They glow, grow noses, morph into steeds, give good sky, move a mile or so to the East, give it again. They’ve been a major poetic accessory since way B.C.—if you consider Genesis and, certainly, Virgil. They’re omnipresent, enigmatic, drop-dead gorgeous, and they seem to charm the metaphors right out of us.

A cloud made of dust and memos and skin muscled across Manhattan.” (Bob Hicok, “Full Flight”)

Clouds file through the dark like prisoners through an endless yard.”(Susan Stewart, from “Four Questions Regarding the Dreams of Animals”)

Poets love clouds, yes they do. And readers love those cloud-loving poets. (See Wordsworth, who wandered lonely as one in 1804, with over 3,450,000 Google hits.) You might say clouds belong to poets. And vice versa. Orbed clouds, eddying clouds, dusky clouds, uptossed clouds, dark clouds, black clouds, white clouds, pink clouds, gray clouds, creeping clouds, rainless clouds, disagreeable clouds, mythological clouds, monumental clouds, anatomical clouds, creature–filled clouds, and that old puff-ball “puzzle of fish-rib clouds…” (Albert Goldbarth, from “Stonehenge”)

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper…
-Thich Nhat Hanh

That’s the famous epigraph from Sandra Cisneros’ famous poem, “Cloud,” and this is its first stanza:

Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and
murmuring like a mouth. You were the shadows of a cloud cross-
ing over a field of tulips. You were the tears of a man who cried
into a plaid handkerchief. You were the sky without a hat. Your
heart puffed and flowered like sheets drying on a line.

(Sandra Cisneros, from Loose Woman, Vintage, 1995)

Thousands of poets over thousands of years have insistently inserted a cloud, nube, , nuage, nuvem, nuvola, into the titles of their collections and poems.

Yoko Ono, from Grapefruit
Yoko Ono, from Grapefruit


Others have chosen to sneak a lone cloud into a situation full of images.

ANIMA NERA

      sonnenizio on a line from Jean Cassou

If I drink at your sky it is because
I fold into a paper doll. Thirst is second
nature to me. Items, like xeroxed copies
of Apollinaire’s secret poems and an eyeliner

I’ve fished from the lake, replace
the ivory keys missing on the piano.
Grass in my hair identifies with the cat pawing
its face before the moon. I cut out

irises from your clouds and pin them
to sleep beside the ibis tablecloth.
A contrail’s itinerary lances my mouth like licorice.
I skin the elms, a drought of sorts, to read

the ice crystals on your stars. Wind, strumming
the clothesline, lifts the hem of my idle skirt.

–ARLENE ANG

Appeared originally in Juked #6 and Leafscape (http://www.leafscape.org/aang/). Used with permission of the author.

Without a cloud there will be no water; without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent on the existence of a cloud. (from Peace Is Every Step, Bantam, 1991)

Thich Nhat Hanh made this lovely claim for interconnectedness in the early 1990s. I got my first computer around the same time. Now it’s 2012. Many poets are still peaceniks. And some of them have been using screens instead of trees since they were 4 years old. “Paper?” You can hear my computer laughing as it purrs in my lap. “What’s that, darling, what’s paper?”

Furthermore,” my computer may someday query, perhaps with tongue-in-cheek, perhaps not, “what’s cumulonimbus?”

I asked a bevy of poets recently how they make use of “cloud computing,” that brilliant store-your-big-data idea some of us have embraced and some are trying to ignore, along with polar ice, hormonal shifts, and December 21. “If you’ve ever used a cloud or if you’ve got an opinion on clouds,” I asked them, “would you mind passing it along to me?” Here’s what they said, which, as you can see, was swiftly turned into a cloud:

In reality, most of the poets I queried joyfully sidestepped or embraced the cloud issue, giving it their own poetic spin. Two told of losing entire pieces of their lives to the cursed cloud (funnel?). One already has a whopping case of “nephotechnophobia” (fear of cloud technology). And one adapted a chunk of information on privacy (piracy?) from Wikipedia.

Privacy

companies hosting the cloud services control communication and data stored between the secret NSA with AT&T and Verizon 10 million phone calls between American citizens powers to telecommunication complicate privacy of data customer or tenant data may not remain on the same system legal concerns over jurisdiction provide such as Amazon deploying local infrastructure and allowing customers to select “availability zones” [the service provider at any point in time may access accidentally or deliberately alter or even delete some the service provider at any point in time may access accidentally or deliberately alter or even delete

(Samuel Ace)

Here’s my favorite scene with a cautionary line from “How It All Works,” which was the cutest and shortest instructive video I could find for poets and others who are not and never plan to be big businesses:

There are plenty of reasons to be scared of the cloud too, but for now you decide to trust the cloud as backup… (2009)

I can hear something laughing. My computer again? That cumulonimbus floating by my window in the shape of a clown nose and glasses?

I would dive from it—a horse at the fair, the pool below looming larger with every passing second.” (Holly Iglesias)

“…a cloud, full of poems, that is mine all mine.” (cin salach)

“The poem I used to write, mean to write, simply have to back up, surely need to back off, the poem I woke up on the laptop but needs to get dressed on my desktop…the words like a kite, the string in my clattering keyboard hands.” (Alice George)

Poets are natural skeptics, it’s true, but also, often, so preternaturally absorbed in the elegances and peculiarities of life—the sundry and minutiae—we might miss the immense storage facilities popping up like the crops that used to grow around the globe. As our wise spokespoet, Mia Leonin, has stated: “I was introduced to the cloud as an expansive zone that can ‘hold all of my stuff.’ I was immediately enchanted and suspicious.”

CLOUDS


I’d have to be really quick
to describe clouds—
a split second’s enough
for them to start being something else.

Their trademark:
they don’t repeat a single
shape, shade, pose, arrangement.

Unburdened by memory of any kind,
they float easily over the facts.

What on earth could they bear witness to?
They scatter whenever something happens.
Compared to clouds,
life rests on solid ground,
practically permanent, almost eternal.

Next to clouds
even a stone seems like a brother,
someone you can trust,
while they’re just distant, flighty cousins.

Let people exist if they want,
and then die, one after another:
clouds simply don’t care
what they’re up to
down there.

And so their haughty fleet
cruises smoothly over your whole life
and mine, still incomplete.

They aren’t obliged to vanish when we’re gone.
They don’t have to be seen while sailing on.

WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA (1923-2012)

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.)

“Nimbus II” (Artist: Berndnaut Smilde
“Nimbus II” (Artist: Berndnaut Smilde)

______________________________________

Thanks to my cloud associates in this Glit Lit piece: Samuel Ace, Neil de la Flor, Alice George, Holly Iglesias, Mia Leonin, cin salach, & Terese Svoboda. Thanks also to my original cloud collaborators, Suzanne Cohan-Lange and Niki Nolin, without whom I’d still have my head in one. (And bless the poets who had little or no idea what I was talking about.)

MORE CLOUDING

Why I Don’t Trust the Cloud,” By Kenneth Goldsmith

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/04/why-i-dont-trust-the-cloud/

Weird Cloud Fell from the Sky:” 3:57 mins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpysApXRXYE&feature=related

OMG!” A face appears in the clouds (if you’re patient): 2:50 mins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdg6WU_aqWE

Both Sides Now,” Joni Mitchell live, 1970: 3:38 mins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrEqIpi6sg

–Maureen Seaton, May 29, 2012

Posted in The Potty Mouth Interviews

Paula Kolek Is Almost In·di·vis·i·ble

Paula Kolek is complex like the rest of us. This, of course, makes her interesting and fun to talk to. (Full disclosure: sometimes I doze off when she speaks just to make her mad. But, she doesn’t get mad. She is humane and full of patience and wisdom.) What you need to know about Paula Kolek is that she is a dedicated, hard-working adjunct professor at Miami Dade College and Barry University, a comic (I almost wrote communist) enthusiast, an excellent cook, a semi-expert hula hooper, a writer and a visual artist. She is also an astronaut who has traveled to Pluto and several unmanned moons orbiting the cosmos. I tied Paula up and interviewed her over chicken kabobs and (gross) plum wine at her lovely new home in Hollywood, FL, where I tried to steal two comfy patio chairs. We spoke about her latest art work, a humorous art book, which is on exhibit at Humatorium, an exhibition of humorous art curated by Lisa Rockford at the 1310 Gallery in Fort Lauderdale. FYI: there’s a nude pic of Paula in the book. I swear.Welcome to Paula Kolek. She’s way better than Paula Abdul.

Almost Dorothy: Hi Paula, I hear you’re an artist and a poet. Explain the difference?

Paula Kolek: Who told you that? No really. I want a name, number, address, social security #, pets’ names, favorite breakfast cereal…The Works!

I don’t accede to being either, but from what I’ve observed, artists generally run around wielding oils, chalks, charcoal, newsprint, Exacto knives, old photos, urinals, fake teeth, rubber chickens, and poop (I swear I’ve seen all of the above!). They generally make a mess of any space they occupy. Poets, on the other hand, kill trees.

AD: Murderers! So, tell the United States about your upcoming art exhibition or the one that just passed. It all depends on how fast we get this interview up.

PK: Well, the opening was last week, but the closing is October 15th. The title of the exhibit is Humatorium and it’s curated by Lisa Rockford who based the show on art for art’s sake, whimsy, silliness, and of course controversy! My piece is an artist’s book created for the show, booklets for the audience, and a chance to participate in an art installation. There’s also a giant, blue, well-hung blow-up horse at the gallery. Who doesn’t want to see that?!

AD: Uhm-hmm…

PK: The closing is part of a larger art festival called Art Fallout where the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale and local galleries are open for free. That night there’s a shuttle bus so people can go from one gallery to another without worrying about parking or the price of gas! It should be pretty cool, so come out if you’re in the area.

AD: Are you a true artist? If yes, prove it. If not, prove that too.

PK: You prove it! What kind of interview is this anyway?

AD: It’s a potty mouth interview, so you should use potty mouth language when answering these questions, ok? How does your writing influence your art or vice versa or are the two mediums inseparable?

PK: What does inseparable mean? Indivisible, Indissoluble, Undividable. Nothing’s forever. Except Twinkies and cockroaches.

AD: What?

PK: [silence]

AD: In life, we have two choices, left and right. Which did you chose and why?

PK: It’s quite obvious that I chose South; this meant I had to use a precise number of lefts and rights in an exact order. Although I won’t cop to being an artist, I will state that I’m an excellent map reader. When the internet and all the satellites fail (and they will) I’ll be one of a handful of people left who can still read maps. And then I’ll be rich because people won’t know where they’re going and they’ll have to come to me for directions! My time is almost here.

AD: As a poet, you deconstruct memory and turn them into rememberings. Do you remember when and why you started to write this way? Or, am I totally wrong?

PK: Well, it’s your blog, so you’re never wrong.

I learned recently-ish that I don’t have to use personal experience or memories to create (of course you can argue that even our imagination must come from our experiences). Last week I listened to back to back NPR segments – don’t judge me, there were FIVE accidents within a one-mile stretch of 95 and I’d played Tool more times than I could handle. The first segment was an interview with John Lithgow who’s publishing a memoir. The following segment was a conversation about Twitter, Facebook, and blogs and how these mediums are making our world more and more autobiographical. Although I do participate in these mediums (not Twitter, though, I hate Twitter.) and admire writers and artists who put themselves out there, the push to “spill” can be incredibly overwhelming for me.

In my book for Humatorium, I drew from photographs I’d taken, drawings, scientific diagrams, children’s games, and online images (Here I have to thank Wikimedia Commons, a compilation of images given freely by contributors without copyright. This allowed me to use these images without feeling as though I’d “taken” from the work of others). I attempted to create the silliest, most disjunctive pairings possible. And I finished this piece without having to think about high school or grief or hospitals or family arguments!

AD: Which planet inspires you the most?

PK: Pluto! Just because he’s no longer a planet doesn’t mean he can’t inspire. And what about all the moons, planetary dust, supernovas, black holes, quasars, or Dr. Who telephone booths? This is a very narrow question. I object to the insinuation that I have to be inspired by big things.

AD: Have you ever run away?

PK: Yes, and despite rumors to the contrary, sometime running away IS the healthy choice. A dignified walk is better, but sometimes life doesn’t allow for that. In the event you want to run away, I’ve found it helpful to have a waterproof tent, flashlight, some MREs, and a stuffed bunny to take with you.

AD: Biggest accomplishment:

PK: In my artist’s book for the Humatorium exhibit, I have a nude (naked) bookmark of myself which appears opposite the first page of the Instructional. I noticed throughout the night that people (mostly old men) were stroking my bookmark chest.. When one of my friends did the same thing before jumping back and saying, “Ummm…I know you!” I realized the instructions on the opposite page began, “Put your hand to my chest and feel around for the furniture you left behind.” I hadn’t thought through this pairing when I created the book because the instructions largely can’t be followed and I didn’t expect viewers to try to complete them.

I tell students that once we put our work out into the world, it’s never really just ours anymore. It’s open to interpretation by readers and viewers. This, however, was the first time that has happened with my work, and It was super exciting.

Please don’t tell my parents about the naked bookmark; I plan on showing them the book without it.

AD: Mom! So, your biggest disappointment:

PK: Not getting an interview earlier with Almost Dorothy.

AD: Sorry. What would you like to be when you grow up?

PK: I would get paid to be a traveling map-maker (I think they call them cartographers). I’d be sent around the world to hike and kayak and bike new locations and then make maps for that handful of people and girl scouts who like that kind of thing. Sadly I’ve found that there isn’t much call for this.

AD: What will it cost?

PK: A million-billion.

AD: Explain love and/or its imposter and how is that thing communicated through your work?

PK: I think that love in all its incarnations (anger, grief, ecstasy…) has to be passionate, even if it’s a slow burning or difficult love. And since anyone who creates must be passionate (few writers/artists ever make enough money to make up for the long hours of hitting your head repeatedly against the wall of I’m not good enough and What’s the point), so love has to be a driving force.

However, love also has the potential to make us fearful of failing or hurting those we love. I have a poem published in Collective Brightness about my brother and I coming out to one another in the food court of a mall that contained the chapel I would take him to to fulfill the promise to my parents to bring him to Sunday mass when he stayed over with me. The poem is harshly blunt about my feelings towards religion and contains quotes from conversations with my parents where they talk about their opinions towards us queer folk. Although they’re often incredibly supportive of me (they’ve never asked how I intend to support myself by writing), some of their stances make me incredibly angry. I don’t think they, or anyone who knows them, will read this poem, and it isn’t damning of them, but it does have the potential to be hurtful. So I had to weigh how important this writing is to me. Every time I put writing or art into the world, I get nervous about what my family will think about it.

Plus, there’s that naked bookmark floating around!

Paula Kolek is a recent transplant from Boston and has already been stopped by the Coral Gables police three times: most notably for sitting on the curb and riding her bike at 2am in the morning. She graduated from Emmanuel College with a BFA in visual arts and from Umass Boston with an MA in literature, after which she taught undergraduate lit. and creative writing at Umass Boston and Framingham State and worked security – since adjunct teaching pays very few bills. Her poems have recently been published in Ditch, Otoliths, and RECONTRUCTION: Studies in Contemporary Culture and have been accepted by New Letters and EOAGH. Her monologue was presented in The Krane’s production of Monologues Lingus and her artwork accepted for publication in Fickle Muses. She thanks her fellow students and professors at Miami for allowing her the space and encouragement to experiment with the visual in conjunction with language.

Posted in Almost Dorothy

Eple [after Röyksopp]

Part I

1. A glacier tickles the blue sky above the ski resort where no one skis beneath the sky.

2. There is a lamp in the foreground posing as a lamp.

3. A boy drinks beer with his mom’s help and sips.

4. The blond boy, the other one who looks like another blond boy, runs from his mother’s trailer toward an orange station wagon hitched to an insanely orange tent parked behind a gas station.

5. I saw Pegasus between the orange curtains, but it was just a horse.

6. Orange is the color of connection.

7. The horse standing in front of the window is connected, yet unaware that he is a form a electromagnetic radiation.

8. Why is the girl missing her front tooth topless?

9. This is what you should be thinking—

10. electronica is a happy mushroom.

11. Sometimes humans wear orange ski jackets before boarding the cruise ship to paradise.

12. Paradise, in many respects, is a white Volkswagen beetle.

13. I wonder why the boy in the boat wearing a green tee is looking at the girl on the shore wearing an orange tank.

14. The mushroom will return in stereo.

Part II

1. A woman in an orange evening coat crosses the intersection in the company of black and gray.

2. Jumping jacks are performed before the blue airplane takes off.

3. One woman takes off her orange track suit.

4. The city is OK.

5. The lion and the tiger in the photograph are not married, but they are in love because there is a concept of marriage in the human kingdom.

6. Is the white Shepard in front of the church a sign from God or is the girl petting the white Shepard in front of the church a sign for God?

7. A family sits and/or stands outside of their tent while monkeys surround a family trapped inside of their turquoise sedan.

8. Of course there’s always an orange car, too.

9. Sometimes mountains look like nipples.

10. Sometimes music is paradise. And happiness. And home.

11. [For us, this is enough.]

12. There’s always someone in a bikini playing with a beach ball in an indoor pool.

13. The sun is not the sun this time. It is the moon of twilight and the violet flame.

14. The bus in the end is yellow.

*Based on “Eple” by Röyksopp

Posted in Almost Dorothy

What Else Is There? [after Röyksopp]

1. The house floats above a ragged coast that is ancient and unforgiving.

2. There are no pharaohs or else there would be pharaohs.

3. She does not wear a sweater, nor raincoat, even though the storm is wicked owls.

4. Those white feathers are white feathers.

5. These feathers blow in the wind and forgive her for just having one wish left.

6. Each feather drags another storm into the room.

7. She dreams of flashlights and explosions as she rests her head on an oak with a heart that blows smoke.

8. The smoke signals the road is not a road.

9. It was me on that road, she sings, but nowhere near here.

10. Why is there a German Shepherd on that road to nowhere?

11. In the room, she floats like a hipster and wraps herself up in a white comforter–becomes an angel.

12. She comforts us through the television even though she doesn’t know I am

13. Invisible to angels.

14. The man in black is always a ghost.