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There’s this great Bob Dylan song whose title is repeated four times in its forthright chorus, thus:

I Want You
I Want You
I Want You
So bad
Honey, I Want You.

In its image-rich first verse there is reference to Silver Saxophones, thus:

The silver saxophones say I
Should refuse you . . .

Everything on the page I just made followed. It may be flavored by my recent partnerlessness (notice, for instance, how the word WANT is emphasized), but hey, so many love & longing songs have been fueled by such. I wonder if Mr. Dylan’s song had such roots. The Truth is out there, no doubt, but let’s find out later, if at all.

i want you 022815

Here are the words to the triple acrostic:

Idle wallowing won’t play
If we’re wishing woo today
If that candlelight won’t do
Inch & pinch & bill & coo
Itches scratched may be très fou

TRIVIA: In the film BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, Holly Golightly uses the phrase “très fou,” thus: “I suppose you think I’m very brazen or très fou or something.” It means Quite Crazy.

HISTORICAL NOTE: The movie 50 SHADES OF GREY is currently playing in theatres around the world.

Today I tried drawing a horse without looking at a horse. I kept using drawing-trickery to disguise my ignorance of horse anatomy–then a Yiddish word popped into my head that I’d seen in Philip Roth’s PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT and also Herman Wouk’s YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE. The word is chazerai. Wouk defined it in HAWKE as “faking, foolishness, trash.”

So here’s my fake horse, under which is some fake haiku, with a bad-pun title to boot.

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equinimityku

this is not a horse
an artist ought LOOK at a horse
before he draws one

from more than half a life ago
some artifacts remain and so
they raise me up and lay me low

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an uncle and his nieces sit
the inkwash sloppiness may fit
if smiles persist and moods acquit

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some ink dissolved in lithotine
on fingerpainting paper clean
may slosh then be erased–it’s keen

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on plates of zinc with beveled edge
may be a mirror image–hedge
your bets and stack ’em on a ledge

gb artist 022515

this fella thought he was so smart
and dabbed and dribbled at his art
a lifetime later? time to start

*****

My brother Brian and I were going through boxes in the carport this morning and found many blasts from the past, from more than a century ago to and through the 1975-1982 period when these images of mine were made. Pride, embarrassment, a pang of grief for my now-deceased niece Lori Marie, and frustrated regret for the art career I never really had swept through me in five seconds or less. “What’s past is prologue,” said Shakespeare’s Antonio in THE TEMPEST. “It’s never too late to do something great,” I wrote in our Glendale High School 20th Reunion souvenir book more than 20 years ago. I hope I was right!

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Once upon a time in the late 70s, a classmate of mine brought a few of her Persian friends to the house I was raised in. It was that evening that the innocent, wet-behind-the-geopolitical-ears Bowers family learned of unrest in Iran, and got a hint of the misdeeds of the soon-to-be-deposed Shah and his Gestapo-like secret police. Some time later came what we came to call the “Hostage Crisis,” which much later came to be the springboard of Ben Affleck’s excellent ARGO.

That same evening one of the Persian gentlemen entertained many of us by giving Tarot Card readings. I waited patiently for mine, but alas, the gentleman grew too tired to continue before he got to me.

As the years went by, every so often I’d pass a house with PSYCHIC glowing in neon in one of the front windows. I never quite gumptioned up to go in–not that I put stock in the existence of psychic phenomena, you understand. No, I was sure it was “For Entertainment Value Only”–but I thought it would be a kick, and would also scratch the itch I got that evening at the Bowers residence.

Flash forward thirty-some years. I shuttled myself up to Camp Verde for a low-expectations lunch date with my now-former (sigh) Sweetheart, Denise. After a fine plate of Mexican food at a mom-and-pop called La Fonda, and a brief reunion with the critters I’d left behind when I left Cottonwood, Denise and I took a stroll in Old Town and stopped in a bookstore . . .

. . . and in the bookstore, up on a little platform, was a table and chairs and a sign offering Tarot Card readings. I sat in one of the chairs. Denise went elsewhere in the bookstore. Soon a woman arrived, beatific smile, close-cropped hair with a bit of gray on the sides, and introduced herself: Stone Constance Veritas. Solidity Everlastingness Truth–what a name!

As she riffled her well-worn Tarot deck, she gave me an overview. She would begin with a prayer. She would be using the words “abracadabra” and “hallelujah.” She would use a pendulum when she had yes-or-no questions, calling on “Loving Spirit” for the answer. She also valued the presence of Mary, and I think though am not sure that she meant the Virgin of Guadalupe version.

After the prayer, which if memory serves asked Loving Spirit for guidance, and the thrice-repeated Abracadabra (and here’s a brief but fascinating discussion of that numinous word, courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abracadabra ) and Hallelujah, the cards were dealt, with a six-card plus-sign shape on the left and a sixteen-card four-by-four array on the right.

Death showed up right away, ending up in the middle of the plus sign. The Hermit and The Emperor flanked Death. There was also a thrice-stabbed heart, a lot of sticks, a lot of cups, and some geometric-looking crawlies that reminded me of Jack Kirby’s drawings of the Mole Man’s subterranean minions. (My monumental ignorance of Tarot cards is now evident.)

Stone was gracious enough to let me take this picture, of her and the array:

stone 022015

(In my “Tarot Cards” acrostic/drawing at top, you’ll see a really sketchy version of this photo in the middle.)

Stone was quick to assure me that Death symbolizes Transformation. A seed gives up its life, and Life is the result. And elsewhere in the array, she found that a meditation of where I was and where I needed to go was important, and that the pursuit of my calling would result; that healing would occur if a bereft person was consoled; that patience was all-important and that “Ego interferes with Love.”

I enjoyed her company immensely. The psychic connection she may or may not have was irrelevant: like the astrologer Madame Vesant, also known as Becky Vesey, that Robert Heinlein created for his game-changing STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, Stone is wise and good with advice, and uses the arcane medium as a tuning fork to fit the wisdom she has to the person she’s counseling. Whether her spirit guides exist exclusively in her imagination, or visit her from the vast Elsewhere, she puts them to good use. I would rather consult her than a psychiatrist, I think. Luckily I don’t need a psychiatrist–or do I? 🙂

Here are the words to the acrostic:

The symbols are complex yet basic
A primality laces the arcana
Reshuffling focus to arrayed order
Oracularly direct if a bit absurd
Truth sometimes uses odd routes

For reasons that will be explained in a future post, I’ve begun to be immersed in the world of jazz, focusing on the tenor saxophone. The above title refers to a VISUAL learning, and not learning to play, though I’ve got a little background in clarinet and have sometimes daydreamed about taking up the sax.

At any rate, though I am lightyears from knowing this marvelously-shaped instrument, I have started seeing saxophones where there are none, in the shape of streetlights, swans from the neck up, and playground slides. My goal is to be able to draw a convincing tenor sax from various angles without having to rely on a photo source. To that end, I’ve done a lot of looking and a little sketching, as revealed here . . .

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sandcutter inside 1

Faithful readers may recall a blog from last September entitled “Carol Hogan, Cutter of Sand.” It was written when Carol Hogan, now President of the Arizona State Poetry Society, invited me to be the Featured Artist/Poet for a quarterly issue of the Society’s publication SANDCUTTERS.

A few days ago I received a complimentary copy of the issue. The front and back cover feature my pottery and acrostic poetry, thus:

sandcutter cover

It’s a beautifully printed cover, glossy, crisp and full-color. The scan I made of it suffers from my not making separate scans of front and back.

Inside the magazine, they were quite generous with space for me–a dozen pages out of 86 total. The photography of my pottery and sculpture, all by Carol, is quite fine, and the reproductions of my acrostic pages are straight out of my blog posts. So why would I let a few typos and an editorial change in the biographical text I provided bother me?

Ironically, it is because I have bouts of raging egomania, and the editorial change makes me sound, to my mind’s ear anyway, like a raging egomaniac.

Here is one paragraph of the bio I wrote, verbatim:

“I showed an interest in artistic pursuits at a very early age. My mother has a pencil drawing of mine done before I was four years old. She is proud to point out that the figure drawing, of her, has five fingers on each hand. That they are each the length of the rest of the drawn arm is irrelevant to her. Also, the smile I drew on her transcends the oval of her face–early evidence of Expressionist leanings.”

Here is how it was changed, without prior approval from me:

“I showed interest in artistic pursuits at a very early age, showing advanced tendencies even as a four year old.”

Of course there was a compelling reason to make a change: the text would not all fit on one page without reducing the word count. But if I’d been tasked with cutting 60 words from the original, I think I would have tersified the whole bio slightly rather than take the axe to that one paragraph–and I never would have boasted of “showing advanced tendencies.”

Stung from one change, I looked on the opposite page and found another. My title for my sculpture of a strange bird is “Rara Avis,” which is correct Latin for “Strange Bird” in the same way “Angina Pectoris” is correct Latin for “Strangling of the Chest.” But the editor, perhaps thinking that adjective/noun agreement extended to word endings, changed my title to “Raris Avis.” I’m sorry, Friends, but that’s just plain wrong. There were other errors amongst the titles as well: “Burred Visions” instead of “Blurred,” “Blue Textured Base” instead of “Vase.”

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Am I conducting a tempest in a teapot? Putting the Cur in Curmudgeon?

Yes and no. I’m delighted, and honored, and grateful to be in SANDCUTTERS at all, let alone being singled out for special distinction. I don’t feel nearly the outrage that Harlan Ellison felt upon his pilot script for THE STARLOST being rewritten by Norman Klenman, starting with the title “Phoenix Without Ashes” being changed to “Voyage of Discovery.” And I’m nowhere near the umbrage Robert Heinlein took at the repeated second-guessing his Scribner’s editor Alice Dalgliesh inflicted on Heinlein’s submissions. But editorial standards seem to have declined in this century, evident everywhere from newspaper copy to television news captions. If we don’t make a stand and point out errata, we can only expect worse in the future–and SANDCUTTERS deserves better.

Last night I called Carol and gave her a head’s-up that I’d be doing this blog post. “I’ll do my best not to hang you out to dry,” I told her, after reviewing my grievances. And, indeed, Friends, the job of an editor is almost always thankless and stressful: there are dozens of people to please, hundreds of people that will be necessarily disappointed, and often credit goes to the so-called “talent” when the editor has bent over backwards to make them look good. So three cheers to Carol for fitting all the goodness of this SANDCUTTERS into the Procrustean bed of a single publication. And please, poets in and outside of Arizona, check out http://www.azpoetry.webs.com for the Internet equivalent of such goodness, plus goodies that include submissions guidelines. Please tell them Gary sent you!

Here’s an example of pen & ink, with the acrostic embellished with color permanent-ink Faber-Castell pens. Done back in Aught-Eight, when I was writing single-acrostic sonnets like crazy. The umbilicus, nasturtium, opossum and encyclical illustrate the first four lines.

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Understandable

Umbilicuses pave the stem cell highway
Nasturtiums have ornamental blossums
Deliciousness sometimes requires opossums
Encyclicals so seldom see things my way.
Rich as a soil may be, if dry, it’s barren.
Soft kisses thrill–OR make the Ticklish jump.
The misbehaving hair may snarl & clump
Albeit seeming fair as Rose of Sharon.
Near Death, Experience is tartly flavored
Deliverance to Death’s Door bad-outrageous
Afflicted oldsters call for Priest or Magus:
Beneficence to help a soul be Favored–
Lo and Be Told: I’ll be a deathbed Coward–
Expect some yelping with this–UNempowered.