Tag Archives: art

The challenge for today was to make a work of art on a rectangle of card stock measuring two and a half inches bt one and five-eights inches. Since it would be tiny, “tiny time” seemed an appropriate double acrostic. It didn’t take long to figure out end rhymes with an abab scheme, though “exempt” and “pro tem” are not quite true rhymes.

tiny time

thoughtfulness is tax-exempt
indolence is sans souci
none need senator pro tem
yin needs yang as thou needst me

The poem is a distant cousin to the lyrics of the song “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” The illustration is a sort of resonance with “thoughtfulness,” the first word of the poem, reducing a somilar concept “watchfulness” to the pocket-watch “watch,” the king’s jester “foole,” and the Prohibition-era G-Man Eliot Ness “ness.”

Readers, your time is precious, and there are thousands of demands on it. Thank you for spending this Tiny Time with me.

2022 0916 retrograde

I did this one for certain of my poet friends who are under the influence of celestial signs and portents and are freaking out because astrologically speaking things have gone quite Retrograde. It is an occasion I am memorializing through acrosticizing. It’s the first time I’ve done backwards letters on part of the acrostic spine; it felt right and fun to do so.


Regard the Planets so entrancing
Ensorcelling as they are Dancing — for
Turns of Fortune oft dismayed a
Reaved, regretful Soul who’s strayed
Or reft a Forest of her glade

Here is a drawing I’ve been working on and off on for several days. It started as a study of chicken bones, and then the wishbones seemed to want to talk to each other and the Universe, so element by element the drawing came to stochastic life. It told me to have implied stories here and there, and I did my best to oblige. The last thing it told me was to sign it and stop, and think of it kindly as a possible future painting. It feels unfinished-yet-not, as if “in medias res” is essential to its being. If I do make a painting of it the strategy will be alla prima in bluish violet–maybe.

This post is titled “faux tableaux” because the implied stories are not part of a play nor historical description; also, with Faux being four letters and Tableaux being eight, the title lends itself to the Acrostic poetic form I have been specializing in for more than a decade. Usually I include the poem on the image, but the image is busy enough as it is, so I’m going hyperdimensional and letting it stand separately below.

faux tableaux

far-flinging tenancy undue
adds more to addled syn&tax – a
unit’s cubic aperçu
x-rays the law and says relax

Now, what does that all mean? Well, “far-flinging” might be referring to the implied Disc Golf game in progress in the image; but Far-Flung colloquially means a deviation from reality. Tenancy is an official melding of being and location. Undue implies both unexpected and unwanted. Put them all together and they feed the next line’s “adds more to addled syn&tax” with the made-up wordmash “syn&tax” having a first syllable connoting both Synthetic and Sin, the last syllable connoting both a surcharge and a burden, and the ampersand gluing them together. Meter and rhyme are preserved by the appended dash and indefinite article; read aloud, the third line would begin with “A.” “A unit’s cubic aperçu” shows both the glory and the shame of my quasi-acrostic construction. “Unit” was chosen because it starts with a U and yet must phonetically start with a consonant; otherwise “A” would have to be “An.” And “aperçu” was chosen to rhyme with Undue (though it doesn’t, quite, English speakers unfamiliar with French will impart the Ooh sound to the last syllable, and not the French U sound, which is “ooh” with a hint of “ee”) and also because I flat-out love the word, with its magic cedilla and its densely-packed meaning of “a comment or brief reference that makes an illuminating or entertaining point” into only six letters. As a composer of acrostic poetry I have leaned on “aperçu” often as a line-ending word. I don’t apologize. I’m grateful to have it to use.

The third line feeds into the fourth. “A unit’s [someone’s] cubic [adding a third dimension] aperçu [spoken perceptive observation] x-rays the law {analyzes codified custom] and says relax [things ARE chaotic but are not as gruesome as they seem].”

A classmate of mine recently disparaged me as a “third-rate poet” who does “weird drawings.” To my knowledge he does not write poetry at all, and by his admission he can’t draw his way out of a wet paper bag. (To his credit, he publicly apologized later, saying he was retaliating for some unkind remarks I made about his selfies.) The truth is I’ll take Third-Rate over Nonexistent, and Weird over Nonexistent as well, any day. No one else on Earth is doing what I am doing, the way I am doing it, and it keeps me sane and out of trouble to boot. Bonus! 🙂

2022 0726 duolithicus

Once upon a time an old man sat at his kitchen table and stared at the smooth, white stone resting on his powder-blue tablecloth. For approximately the fifteen thousandth time he tried to use the power of his mind to lift the stone gently off the cloth. He stared at the stone until an afterimage-ridge of it seemed to make the stone vibrate. It did not budge. It never had except for once, and that was due to a mild earthquake, giving it a wobble that made his heart jump until other earthquakey stuff happened.

His mind had never made it budge, but the man never gave up, and when he grew old the attempted stone-lift became a comforting part of his evening ritual. Tonight, as ever, he gave up his efforts after a few seconds, sighed, sighed  a little more contentedly, and put the stone back on top of the breadbox.

This night did turn out to be different, though, for after he turned in for the night the stone visited him in a dream. He was floating in an odd, chaotic space, and the stone floated too, about eighteen inches from his face, and spoke to him.

“Why do you waste your time with me?” the stone asked, using a voice similar to that of British actor Terence Stamp.

“It’s not a waste of time. Every time I try to lift you I get a little stronger. I can feel it.”

“You won’t lift me with strength, man,” said the stone in the voice of comedian Stephen Wright. “What you need is Knowledge.

“You don’t even know what I am. I’m Feldspar. I’m smooth because I was in a river for a few hundred years. Hard though I am, I eroded.

“And when you try to lift me you use an imaginary hand. You don’t have an imaginary hand and you never will. The only way you have the least hope of lifting me is if you work with me. I have plenty of ergs to supply the lift. All you need do is exploit my crystalling subatomics. Do that right and I become a nifty little hovercraft.”

“Stone, you talk like you have a brain and a mouth. You don’t. What gives?”

“Dude,” said the stone in a Jeff Bridges voice,”you’re having what is called a lucid dream. NO, I don’t have a brain, but I’m using yours. And I’m using your memory of other voices.

“But I’m also using myself. I am a stone, but when I am near you, I am also part of the stone part of you. You know about Monoliths. You and I together, with our special connection, are Duolithic.”

“Sounds like crap.”

“Wake up,” said the voice of Morgan Freeman. The man opened his eyes. The stone floated before him, then rose, and the man rose too, They passed through the ceiling, then roof shingles, then the stratosphere. Reality bent into a harsh monochromatic superspace, the man silhouetted, the stone became monolith-like and brighter, and threw off subselves. “Your life,” said the pulsing stoneblock, “has more holding it together than you can possibly imagine. Don’t waste it.” There was a crescendo of driving noice and a flash of All. “NOW wake up.”

The man opened his eyes. He was in bed. He went to the kitchen. The stone on top of the breadbox looked different. It was luminous, with pulsing golden flashes under its surface. They were fading. And after a minute or so the stone looked like it always had.

“Rise,” said the man to the stone. And it rose.

2022 0714 poet composing

On my Facebook feed there was a post from a friend of mine saying to the world, “What are you up to? Send a picture!” And what I was up to was composing a poem. So I took a picture of myself staring into the Heavens looking for the words, and attached it to my comment “Composing a poem” on her post.

But the picture…it was different from the other self-portraits I’ve done. So I drew it in HB pencil, and for background put some of the words and some of the self-instructions I’d come up with in the course of composing “Bouquet of Bouquets.” Here is the poem:

Bouquet of Bouquets
Spring wildflowers in a jam jar
FTD delivery twelve long-stemmed roses
A deliberately clumsy Picasso drawing
Cumulonimbus clouds carved by fighter jets
Coffee-charged notes with the nails
Fireworks bursts frozen in time
Acne rosacea on Grandfather’s bulbous nose
Football players breaking from a huddle
The grins of Clark Gable and some of his pals
Arpeggios in a Bach fugue
A dozen cocoons cracking open
A troupe of ballerinas with emotional issues
May be empowering
And well-timed bouqueting
Spiritually swaying.


Just another day in the life of an oldish codger who every so often takes the pressure off the urge to express by looking into the Heavens, writing down stuff, and sometimes illustrating what he’s written.

2022 0704 see who won

There are two word games I play daily on the Internet. One is Words With Friends 2, a fancier version of the Scrabble-derived Words With Friends, and the other is Boggle. I play Words With Friends mostly with a handful of people I know in real life. Boggle I play in tournaments and with individuals, and I play anyone, which can be downright humbling when up against a player far better than I am. WWF2 and Boggle are made by the same game-maker, and one of the similarities is that at the end of a game a player is invited to “See who won!”

See Who Won turns out to be a perfect triple-acrostic spine, so I gave it a whirl. It’s really hard to read the acrostic poem in the image above, so here is a transcription, lightly edited for clarity.

see who won

sissy fuss is how we grow
enterprise and march and go
endocrines ahoy — c’est bon

For fifteen and a half words, there is a lot to unpack. “Sissy fuss” is a bad pun of Sisyphus, the poor guy of Greek myth who is condemned to eternally roll a burdensome stone up a hill. “Resistance training” found in many gyms and fitness centers is downright Sisyphean. You push and pull and climb and run a treadmill and never get anywhere. Even so, you gain muscle mass and you make more efficient use of oxygen. So going nowhere gets you somewhere, and if you’re blessed with good biomechanics and work ethic, you may find yourself in competitions. And some of the biggest Sissy Fusses ever made are at competitions.  One such just occurred at Wimbledon, and two players were fined.

It takes enterprise to succeed. Inherited wealth is not success.  Making the world a better place is, and it makes you a better person to boot. If you have life goals, it helps to march toward them resolutely.

As for endocrines, here’s a quotation for hopkinsmedicine dot org: “The endocrine system is a complex network of glands and organs. It uses hormones to control and coordinate your body’s metabolism, energy level, reproduction, growth and development, and response to injury, stress, and mood.” No one succeeds without a contribution from their endocrine system. “C’est bon” is French for “This is good.”

My drawing is meant to be a mysterious metaphor for winning and winners. I apologize for the murk–I both underworked and overworked my penciling. I imposed a deadline for myself of today, and got a little too ambitious with the implied planets and archetypical competitors and pseudo-calligraphy and such. But if you look carefully you’ll find a niftily drawn cat, and the clear message that felines are born winners.

I can’t think of a better way to be a winner than by practicing the wisdom imparted by George Carlin as Rufus in the Bill & Ted movies. “Be Excellent To Each Other,” Friends! 🙂

2022 0701 life erasures
Here is an oddness: This is the final version of a drawing which by definition is unfinished. Titled “Life as a Series of Erasures,” the drawing itself has been extensively erased., redrawn, erased again. The roots of this approach may be thought by some to have been planted by Robert Rauschenberg, who erased a Willem de Kooning drawing to make a point about the Ephemeral (my guess as to what he was up to,  anyway), but centuries previous Rembrandt had taken an etching of his which had an extensively-drawn crowd scene, and taken his scraper to completely eliminate his hours and hours of drawing. Prints of both states still exist. Was Robert R riffing on Rembrandt? He’s not around to answer.

There are four acrostic poems-in-the-making in this drawing. They are all double acrostics, with spines/titles “Denude/Bemoan,: “Resist/Desist,” “Derail/Detain,” “Repeat/Defeat.” Note that on the drawing the third title appears to be “Detail/Detain.” “Derail” is better. ERasure and redrawing would be done, were this drawing not finished.


Deride the Women; Hand the Maid
Ensconce the sex in marmalade
Release the Kraken mon petit
And have another cup of sea
I wish for Love and get mere Sin–I
Lost my will to re-begi

This poem is a protest against the recent US Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. “Release the Kraken” was a command issued by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as part of the events surrounding the January 6, 2021 insurrection. There’s a tip of the hat to Margaret Atwood and her The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s also an implicit nod to now-deceased Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been roundly betrayed by certain recently-appointed Supreme Court Justices, as well as by Justice Thomas, who is itching to turn back the clock further with more reversals. Two-thirds of the Supreme Court is politically hacking for the Repulican Party now. This is what we have come to.

On the positive side, outraged women across the country are protesting, and the pendulum may well swing again in my lifetime. I hope so. The little I can do to further that swing of the pendulum is right here, and you are reading and seeing it, Friends.

Life IS a series of erasures. At its best it erases Injustice and redraws Betterment. Let us strive to choose our erasures in the favor of honesty, decency, and lovingkindness.

Final note: under the word Defeat in the lower right-hand corner is a question mark, and underneath that, the answer “NO!!” NEVER give up, Friends. Ever. 🙂

In this image I exploit the checkerboard-patterning connotation of Victory (a checkered flag is waved when the first automobile crosses the finish line in certain international races) and I fill some of the whitespace with certain considerations. One less obvious consideration is the basic function-notation of algebraic variable x, conventionally rendered “f(x)” and pronounced “eff uv ecks.” It is a shorthand way of saying that a variable is being put through a process, perhaps, but not necessarily, describing something happening in the physical world.