chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

found poem: what recent

drafts

DAK color study - backThe shelves and file drawers still bulge with my mother’s small paintings, drawings, handmade paper, collages and other ephemera. I consider these one by one, as I do the photographs, hoping for insight.

A rejected portrait of a pear occupies the back of an undated, unsigned 6 x 9-inch abstract color study on Arches paper. Dorothy applied the paint — perhaps acrylic — in translucent glazes, considering the colors, the roundness, the gloss of the fruit. But in the end, it was not the pear she wanted and before using the other side, she scribed a firm X through her effort.

She often painted on top of previous paintings, preserving some elements or obliterating the original entirely. But something about this pear was evidently beyond redemption — perhaps its bulging shoulder or pinched waist — and could only remain a haunting substratum to any future image. Still, she loved pears as both food and objects and painted them summer after summer.

Whether with brushes or words, we keep trying to get it right, every poem or essay (the very word!) a sketch, an underlayer to something better — or not. We pick away at vision and understanding, archaeologists with dental tools, miniaturists peering through the magnifying lens, hoping some part of the image will resolve, make sense, escape, for a while, the banishing X.
. . . . .
more on sketches

found poem: moonlight

found poem: days

found poem: dressed

found poem: SUCH HEAT

found poem: imagine

found poem: write

found poem: from needs

an ending

2 September 1945Among the photos that trace the long course of my father’s life — many from his childhood, youth and family; some, formal or candid, from his military service; many from our years together as a family — are a number that seem like pieces of some else’s puzzle.

On the back of this photo, in Les’s very distinctive hand, are the words “Chicago on V-J. Day.” Whether it marks the day of “victory,” August 15, 1945, or the day of official surrender, September 2, 1945, my father was still on active duty, so how he came to have this photo, or who took it, is unknown. But it seems apt, somehow, as a symbol of the exhaustion that marks the end of a terrible war (and what war isn’t?): the sidewalk littered with papers, probably flung from windows earlier in the day, but here, a few hours later, everything back to normal, gray and slow, the long cleanup ahead.

My father never spoke of the war — only his friendships with fellow soldiers — and he served in Europe, but clearly this photo was important enough to keep. An end stop to so much he was unable to speak — or forget.

tools

mallets by LRKMy father was a fierce advocate of the tool-for-every-job philosophy. He also believed that owning tools was a partnership and that a tool would function well only if it was maintained properly. I can see him testing a knife or chisel blade against the pad of his thumb; a chisel that was not sharp was not worthy of the name.

An engineer by trade and nature, he also understood that things didn’t always work as intended. If the tool didn’t do the job, he would figure out a way to make it work.

Before repetitive motion injury had entered the vocabulary, tool handles were one of Les’s most persistent frustrations. A wood sculpture might require thousands of mallet hits against the chisel, hours of abrading with rasps and files and sandpaper blocks. If the tool didn’t fit the hand, the entire body paid the price.

So new or modified handles were one of his most consistent fixes. Sometimes it was just a matter of carving a smooth thumb-well into a chisel handle to keep the chisel from rotating; other times a new handle became a sculpture in itself. Or an entirely new tool.

Thumb testing the blade of this musing, I see that words are also tools. Practice, sharpen, adapt, invent. Repeat.
. . . . .
mallets by LRK, 1963

found poem: the energy

found poem: the clouds

found poem: paper

found poem: to collide

found poem: TO SUBDUE

found poem: the future

found poem: so worried

found poem: my face

found poem: cantaloupe

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