…stole. A copy of Smithsonian Magazine was open to an ad for the DVD and Blu-Ray editions of Ken Burns’s THE ROOSEVELTS. The cover of the items for sale was photo-based but with an anachronistic twist. I initially wanted to do some portrait practice on Franklin, but I ended up doing them all, pencil-reporting and preserving (stealing) the positioning and the anachronism. I did try to add a little more inner beauty to Eleanor, a little more wide-eyed goodtobehere to Franklin, and a little more walrus to Theodore.


I also stole the design of the cover of a memo book produced by Mead Products, LLC, but only to the end of getting some black background, the amazing letter string “memo,” about which more later, and the occlusion of “Mead” so that it might also say something else, like “Meanderlust” or “Meant Not To Be.” Art critics love stuff like that, based on historical evidence, but, honest, folks, I did it because it was the right thing to do!

As to “memo,” not only does it start such magical words as Memorial and Memoirist, it also splits into “me mo,” which is falseghetto for “I want more.”

I don’t think there’s a very high probability that I’ve created a great work of art with this, but I hope it and this annotation give satisfation as something more that portraiture exercise. I wanted to illustrate through caricatured example that what we think of as ART requires more than what the artist does on paper or canvas or stone or sheetmetal; it also requires the thoughts and opinions of others in the Art Business.

For the record, I don’t think stealing makes me a Great Artist. Hard work, skewed thoughtlines, and perseverance MAY do that. It is for others to judge my worth.

Lastly, I’ll steal a terrific seven words from Allen Ginsberg:

“I forbid you not to touch me.”

SEPT: A group believing itself derived from a common ancestor.
EMBER: A small piece of wood or burning coal in a dying fire.

OCTO: Prefix for Eight.
BE: Exist.
R: The interjectory noise a pirate makes.

September Songlet

The good September’s here, but not to last.

October waxes as September wanes.

Be both of that as may and as has passed

Each year brings her September labor pains.

Ectopic pregnancies, some: touch and go.

October in September’s womb grows huge.

Rough gusts presage the broken waterflow

Now whirling in gestation’s centrifuge.

October pushes through September’s tissue

Through gauze as underlies a cap and gown

Through portalled Time which adds her to her issue

Out in to Real, with scarcely time to crown.

But some September echoes still resound

Echoic of the Fall of Grace she’d ground.



As with a good deal of other human endeavor, this text-based image is a happy-accidental cacophony of One Thing Leads To Another, with an overlay of a consciousness trying to make sense of it all. What luck it was that “Psychosis” is choppable into equal three-character strings, and hey! so is “Symphonic!” And Wow–“Psy” names a pop star of Korean roots, and so does “Cho!” A lookup of “Sis” yields–WOW!!! “Secret Intelligence Service,” aka MI16!!!! And so forth.

Early on in this image I’d intended to ask a musically-gifted friend to compose the three ending bars of the Psychosis Symphony–but the crazy-minded flavor of my acrostics made the route I took here suit the subject more fittingly. There is just enough musical notation to frame the elements, and that is another happy accident.

“Psychosis” words:

Paste-effacement is no basis
Prawn-bowl cause could lead to stasis

Shown shorn wraiths of Anasazi
Sphagnums guest heat into ziti
Spared a tool with Luca Brasi
Scarfed aphasic Nefertiti

Yet heard echoes of glissandos
Yaw pitched metaphoric rondos

“Symphonic” words:

She’ll help with a hum/bello piñon
Suppress an oppressivish minion

You might hear from Lauper, Cyndi
Yearn & search for Don’t Bee koi
Yes, & werebeests’ hoped-for chindi
Yet may garnish fresh bok choi

Might need to enshroud a Jung maniac
Moo, Zeke! It’ll get downright zany, Mac


Some day we’ll have a thought-recorder (though it may be argued that stuff like the above image IS a thought-recorder) and people will be astonished to read the transcripts of their own thoughts, let alone those of others. The Surrealists, I think, were on to something.

This morning I wrangled with my mother about how she needs to come up to Cottonwood for a visit, and bring photos of my grandmother Caroline while she’s at it. She says I am a good noodge but no dice for now. (Here’s what A.Word.A.Day says about the etymology of “noodge”: “From Yiddish nudyen (to pester, bore), from Polish nudzic. The word developed a variant spelling ‘nudge’ under the influence of the English word ‘nudge’. A cousin of this word is nudnik (a boring pest). First recorded use: 1960.” The meaning they give is “To pester; to nag.”)

The thing is, I found this folder called “received” in my Hotmail. In the folder were many things I felt needed saving. Among them was this exchange with my mother, about six and a half years ago. “Caroline,” as I say, is my grandmother, Mom’s mom. She was much involved with the Los Angeles theatre scene, and had a close relationship with Josephine Dillon, Clark Gable’s first wife and acting coach. (More about her, and her and Gable, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Dillon ) My Uncle Paul says Caroline “discovered” Alan Ladd, and though Paul is often full of beans, I believe him on this one.

I don’t clearly remember, but I think what prompted the exchange was that I’d mentioned the sonnet I wrote about Caroline in phone conversation with Mom. The other sonnet I probably decided to throw in to lighten up the heaviness of Caroline’s.

Here, edited for formatting and “order of play,” but not for content, is the e-mail exchange:


—–Original Message—–

From: Gary Bowers
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008
To: Jane Stoneman
Subject: Poetry

Here’s the Caroline sonnet:

A Sonnet for Grandmother Caroline

My Mom was born of you in ’35,
And Uncle George emerged in 1940.
And then you died, and then I was alive,
And I have been Theatrical and Sporty,
And feel I owe you that, from what I’ve heard,
Ah, with such matters we don’t know enough—

May be in my beginning was your Word
And maybe therefore MY words aren’t too rough.
A grandchild has a tentacled inheritance

Meandering like ivy through the past
And though my Mother may have deigned to bear a dunce
A dunce can have his moments, can be cast
Ashore with some Survival tools marked Other
Attained, obtained, retained from Mother’s Mother.

And here’s the other one:

I’ve steered around this fourteen-line arenA
Near thirty years–sometimes it leaves me numB
To wrest the meaning from beneath Odd’s ThumB
Engagingly as Dawn on Sand VerbenA
Refreshingly as Eyesight cleared by LasiC
Laconically as sibilantic WinD
Omnivorously as a Glutton’s sinneD
Capriciously as Art Nouveau then BasiC
Until equivalents of Holes in OnE
Take form from all my Darkness Joy and GrieF
I’ll scriven by the Ream all my BelieF
Onto the Page unto my last All DonE
Nor do I feel Success so far–but CryinG
Should NEVER interfere with TryTryTryinG



From: Jane Stoneman
Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2008
To: Gary Bowers
Subject: RE: Poetry

Cried with Caroline.  Laughed with ABBACD.  1 – 2 – 3, Mom


1 – 2 – 3 is family shorthand for “I love you.”


Dewey is a rat, and a fun one at that; so says my replacement on the Graveyard Shift, who is Dewey’s human.

Why is Dewey in the midst of Erratic? Just my erRATic sense of play at humor, and vice versa.

Here are the words to the quintuplesque acrostic:

Histrionic nonmouse idling-whiskered bulby-eyed
Eats preys scampers madly–synchronicity gone wide
Let the record show and tell a rat’s lot’s tough and low
Loathsome inhumanity yields rocky rows to hoe
O for Pizza cheesy with a crust that’s not too doughy

(Dewey really does eat pizza.)


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