05 December 2016

Photography 2

My attraction to photography didn’t emerge from a moral necessity. It was more like breathing, taken for granted, a biological action & a cultural idea interweaving daily; something familiar and taken for granted. It was a natural necessity. I was just aping my parent’s behaviors. Photography was my parents’ recreation, one way of paying attention to whom they wanted their children to be. If I’m unkind, I’d say they wouldn’t have paid attention at all if it weren’t for their desire to use their cameras. Their cameras and how they used them reflected their aspirations in their time.
Loren Eiseley writes that, “God asks nothing of the highest soul but attention.” I don’t know about God. I imitated my father and mother and grandmother behaviors.  Attention is one of my higher powers and I attend to it, I schooled myself in it more than I knew at the time, for development of such things, and I do inwardly digest what I pay attention to. To pay attention, to observe, I think is something like being one whom waits who is also serving… but documents it.
I did intend to cultivate “higher”. And I began to do this trying to imitate photographers Eugene Atget and Bernice Abbott. I was drawn to their images. I lived and moved and had my being in a major city and I could see their images in museums. I could work to emulate them.
Imitation is more like what I would call my judgment in the word “higher” now. Back in my day my aspiration wasn’t quite so articulated and unraveled. In reality I just think I was young and proud and aspirational. I wince a wee bit now at my “higher” judgments.

28 September 2016


City-County Bldg, 1986, Knoxville, TN.
If I were a poet now I'd write my voice in words so to paint a color image of my experience of awe and wonder I see in people and things and nature and light and pattern and form and texture in space. What’s some nano-brain-storm visualization of clarity and awe and beauty were, maybe still are, dusty words in my mouth, objectifications, the analog sort, not much summoned and conjured, in the dark, with passion, care, skill and experience, in our time, detached from my desire for words. I felt so I created photographs.

I gravitated to photography. I wrestled with analog photography; a substitute for my words. For decades that was good enough and I was happy & proud with what I did, even though I felt little dissatisfactions from my imperfections in my creations; perfections of visions of reality, in a moment in time, beauty, is rare within me. Now, in moments, I’m disappointed I ended up with what sometimes feels like images of solids, like this image I made in 1986 and clunky. Awkward as my enfeebled words I’m trying to forgive.

08 July 2016

Queen Anne's Lace

We three took off, packed, if it could’ve been called that, each, bike-boom early ‘70’s, Peugeot UO 8, 10-speed, racing-style touring bikes in homemade bags, so to classify them as baggage per Greyhound’s helpful requirement, bused to Bangor, ME, cycled down to Bar Harbor, and ferried across the Gulf of Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for three weeks touring through the Annapolis Valley to then turn right on down to Halifax.
Our food sources were unknown except what we bought or scrounged along the way. I knew of the return-to-nature guru Euell Gibbons and I packed Stalking the Wild Asparagus as guide if I needed to shift into desperation mode.
I seized my test opportunity after I read about Queen Anne’s Lace; I read it to be wild carrot and it was everywhere. I liked the blossom, I was confident and hopeful, and skeptical, naturally being so, but I was also accustomed to eating in Manhattan where all food is abundant and prepared, and if not already so, then prepared on demand, 24/7. It was a fantastic multi cultural food capital and crossroads. Queen Anne’s Lace had never been on my menu.
We boil it and boil it and boil it, and then some more. It was tough, maybe never boiled enough, bitter, and completely, utterly, inedible. No, it was disgusting.
“Well, so much for Queen Anne’s Lace and Euell Gibbons, I said.
“Bill, this is our first try. We’ve never done this before. I want to try again,” said Penelope.
I looked at John, her beloved, this really big tall dusky blonde longhaired hippie sort of guy. He was alpha and he was so big, and nice to me, older, and looked like he had more knowledge and experience, and in fact really did have more, being an architect for the City of New York.
“Well, Penelope, tomorrow I buy from a road side stand. You pick another plant and try. I gotta have backup. I’m sorry. I gotta eat, I’m hungry.”

John stayed out of it. Penelope was short, long black haired and wore thick coke-bottle lens eyeglasses. She was 10-speeding through Nova Scotia, in all weathers, at times rain pelting her eyeglasses, beading up and running off, and kept on pedaling. Penelope was determined. John stayed out of it. We bought fresh produce and fruit from roadside stands and my nose unfailingly sought local bakeries’ fresh doughnuts and pastries and restaurants’ fresh seafood and chowders. I gave my Stalking the Wild Asparagus to Penelope and John.

04 July 2016


In England some priests were associated with a blessing of the fields at planting. The vicar “beat the bounds” of the parish, on rogation days, processing ‘round fields’ edges reciting psalms and the Ascension litany as a prayers of intercession. In the United States rogation days were associated with rural life and with agriculture and fishing. Today they’re remnants of rituals in some church parishes enshrined as scheduled and required check-ins with postulants and bishop or a priest who walk the boundaries of their parish accompanied with the parish vestry.
From time to time, when I’d visit my mother, usually in the summer, we’d walk ‘round the edges her property in West Hartford, CT., maybe an old familial remnant of ritual from her birth family’s days living on and with and from the land in East Berlin, CT. Since the climate was fair and accommodating her shrubs and bushes and greenery and trees, and any cultivated flowers or garden she still had were verdant; I never recall a drought in Connecticut. Inevitably we’d come to the area she habitually left untended,
“I like to leave something wild.”
Well, she said wild but her wild on her suburban corner lot was really permanently untended. My Mother styled herself a fashionable, cosmopolitan New England, Connecticut cultured and comfortable, woman accustomed to all abundances of her post World War II and pre Millennial eras, so her exclamation seemed fundamentally out of character to her youngest child. I filed it away.
It didn’t occur to me until later her declaration was the perfect metaphor for her being. There was something a wild and impulsive within her. But at bottom she was a farm girl and still knew more than I could imagine of the little that remained of her birth family’s living, moving, and being close to land and property from which their sustenance and nurturing was derived. At one time her father Willis Savage delivered fresh eggs to customers’ doors.
Less than, that is how I feel after reading, Janisse Ray’s, On the Bosom of this Grave and Wasted Land I will Lay me Head. https://orionmagazine.org/article/on-the-bosom-of-this-grave-and-wasted-land-i-will-lay-my-head, a lovely and grounded tale of returning to her birth family roots in Georgia. Less than and thus am reminded of my emptiness I carry within, very much like emptiness on the land from fresh clear-cut forest’s mountain terrain.
This despite I think and therefore I am. I know this, I know it well, by now, and in boarding school and college I learned to depend upon it, to be enthralled in it, in my mind, for being, despite feeling bored from time to time with my thoughts.
Now I feel I need new thoughts and new behaviors and new tools to become disenthralled with my dependencies.
If I believe that what I read is feeling, as if I’m, at least, reading new thought, so then, what…
I am renewed and I am refreshed and feel I am once again so I read therefore I am.
And I put aside, maybe, forget about my emptiness just for a time.
But this time I experience Janisse Ray’s work as fresh and vibrant, so vivid, so verdant and so woven w/ observed, recorded, tabulated, factual data I do not feel, I sense and feel,
Nothing like Thoureau, I’m not enraptured
Instead, captured, ensnared by passion & data! Now I am in my moment my reality I live and move and have my being. What a powerful combination. This was not so in boarding school. But at college when I was 19 with my long long hair praying and affirming and celebrating Earth Day on April 22, 1970 on Manhattan on the closed University Place, a bright sunny blue sky first joyous day filled with rainbows and colors, and people, building side to building side people just north of Washington Square Park, a stone’s throw from Washington Square College of New York University, flowing uptown, out onto 14th Street and into Union Square, where we were all united to celebrate Earth, our island home.
I’m reminded of my past actions and my consequences from my actions. They are all I have and so too what I am. All my own…
Fallibility in the face of our Great Appalachian biofield chain, well, what’s left of wilderness.
We nibble at the edges, encroach, push in, lean in, degrade, evaluate, assess, monetize, trade, hedge, and rip and tear and crush and extract and sell for as much but replace for as little as nothing as we can. It’s mine. I see it and I buy it and I consume it and I shit it.
But I do not forget about it and I am my great inward digesting of my diminishing resources.
Well, that is how my farm born mother reared us in our post World War II pre millennial eras

19 June 2016

Prompt: 2

‘That summer…’ was new. I’d never worked anywhere, well, except in school, school and study had always been my summer work and I’d never worked in any theatre. I did not know what an apprentice was. I just knew an apprentice was exotic, my sisters lover Shev would be there and I did not know my brother would show up after he and his x-country traveling buddy discovered they didn’t like harvesting potatoes in an Idaho field.
It was all pretty improvisational and I was 16 and I didn’t have to worry about working for money. Money was nothing. My parents still funded me. I did have to work, that’s what a theatre apprentice did, for all I know still does, all for no pay, but instead for the thrill of being immersed and marinated in the stew of 1-week summer stock theatre, this just happening to be in the Catskill mountains of upstate New York in a village named Woodstock.
To say I was naïve, an ingénue, though, by definition, males are not ingénues, wow, that word's  archaic, understates my being. But chaos and libertinism were normal conditions and being so did not seem without boundaries and somehow seemed to add to our quasi-focused creativity. I think the purpose of theatre being at all, the control, now, for all of us, then, was to immerse ourselves into our stage part and purpose as profound grounding and relief from what existed off the stage and beyond the playhouse. I could not articulate any of this, at all, in 1967. I just was being for the first time outside of school, study, reading, exercise, and eating.


Birds call, trill, sing out, and thunder rumbles as like its own atonal base coda. Now I cannot name the birds that I hear, they just are and yet I am made real by their song.
I see green leaves and I see packed brown trail dirt, beaten down, and I see the oak with its vertical rutted grey bark. The oak feels solid, looks rooted, not a flimsy sensation within it from it, its own mountain unto itself yet could be without the bird trills and brown dirt.
The air now is thick; humidity blanketing green leaves the grey bark and the tramped trail dirt. The air tastes as a soup with too much starch, or too little broth, heavy and hot with wee breezes slicing through. The broth is too thick for a taste of any sort, of taste absent spice, tang, or sweet. A taste only heavy a cloying scarce taste with too over baked and dry even 80% dark cacao cannot pierce.
Only the bird song feels bright, light & happy, painted with a thunder underscoring it all.

17 June 2016


In this time of the me I know people can walk right up to me, though this has only begun to happen since strands of my hair have turned shades of whitish grey and have congregated in clumps at my temples and sprinkled within the rest of my still dark mane, never as a younger man, and I don’t appear to care, since I’m in the midst of some inner bumfuzzlement I am transfixed by or do not seem to grasp.
It’s as if my sensate wiring overloads my brain and I don’t quite sort
or identify
or categorize
or process
or rationalize
as rapidly as
I’m in a shock to my system.
Any sorts of beauty or sound are my usual culprits.