Demeter’s Kitchen

August 27, 2011 § 10 Comments

Here is an example of how these strange little sentences I’ve been composing have, in turn, affected the things I paint.  This is the kitchen attached to the porch from the Tricky-Dip poem (see yesterday’s post).

"Demeter's Kitchen", oil, 12" x 24", $2500

I have not discovered the name of the woman the kitchen belongs to, but since the painting is hanging in a gallery right now, it needed a title, so I called it “Demeter’s Kitchen.”  The imagery was inspired by some very old and crumbling cabins on Isle Royale National Park, one of my very favorite places on earth.


Tricky-Dip Is Good For No One

August 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

In my last couple of posts, I explained a bit about the characters who were emerging from the mass of words and phrases I’ve generated using the sentence-combining technique.  This poem is an alternate version of the one in yesterday’s post, and it is spoken by the older woman I mentioned there.  She is addressing the three boys described in an earlier post, the ones who threw their experiments on the front porch.  It was her porch, I now realize.  Perhaps she is an aunt and the science boys spend summers with her.  At any rate, she is in some way a maternal figure to them.  Her house is a shack, in a rural setting.   She has just discovered the stuff that they had hastily abandoned in alarm.  She says (in trochaic tetrameter, because I am a fan of Longfellow):

“Ah, no, what’s in this concoction?

Tell me now you didn’t use it!

Tricky-Dip is not for students,

Tricky-Dip is good for no one

‘Cept perhaps that vile dump man

For that’s how he makes his money,

Selling Tricky-Dip to dummies.”

Saying this, she grasped the bottle

And it trembled while she held it

“It’s about to blow,” she bellowed

“Run away, behind the outhouse.”

These last words she shrieked, but bravely

As the students ran for cover

To the sound of seagulls squawking

And a mighty fearsome rumbling

With its volume still increasing

That now made the forest tremble,

That now made the front porch rattle.

They were deafened by the roaring

Of the Tricky-Dip exploding,

Saw the porch projected, airborne,

Clutched the seagulls for protection,

Cried aloud in shame and sorrow

For the woman who had saved them.

A Wisp of Smoke Becomes Voluminous

August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the last post I described how I combined sentences from my ever-growing collection of oddly-generated phrases into short poems (I’m using the word “poems” loosely).  If you look below you can see that the poems have to do with experiments, seagulls, the town dump, and a dangerous substance called “Tricky-Dip.”  I want to make sense out of these fragments, so I’ve tried combining them, along with other phrases from my notebook, as follows:

Boiling water on coils of rusted wire,

Condensed moisture vibrates on the refrigerator.

“What’s that noise?”

She opens the door slowly.

“Nothing here but boiled eggs!”

On the porch on her hands and knees,

Scrubbing the tilted floor

A shimmering in the broken boards,

A wisp of smoke, blown by the wind,

Turns blue, becomes voluminous.

“What was in that concoction?

Ah, tell me you didn’t use Tricky-Dip!”

I don’t know who she is, yet, but I don’t think she’s a spring chicken.  She probably lives alone, is a bit weary, resigned to the hardships of life, but also strong, kind of stocky–someone who’s worked hard all her life.  Like one of my grandmothers.  I like her already.

Clutching Seagulls

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the last post–the one about Holmes wearing a wig–I tried to describe how I had stumbled upon an interesting way of combining words to form unexpected sentences, which in turn could provide inspiration for more writing, painting, etc.  Here is the description of one chain of events that began with some of these odd sentences, and have, so far, resulted in two longer poems and a painting.

One day when I was supposed to be working on something else, I was perusing the pages of sentences I had composed, and saw that some of them seemed to belong together.  I could arrange some of them in a way that told a very short story.  I also was interested in the sounds of the words, so I attempted to assemble them so that the sounds were pleasing, or at least not too clunky.  I came up with:

They throw their hands up in the air,

Throw their experiments on the front porch;

They clutch their seagulls for protection.

Okay, who threw their experiments on what porch?  I am guessing three earnest and geeky pre-adolescent boys who look like they belong in a George Tooker painting.  What were the experiments?  Something must have gone awry.  Were the seagulls pets?

Here is a second one, which is a conversation between two or three people:

Don’t be alarmed by the odor of Tricky-Dip.

            It smells like a swamp at low tide.

Fantastically strong smells.

            It complains when it’s left in the bottle.

            Rotting disaster!

            I need a mask…

Mix up a puddle.

           …Wallowing in industrial wastes,

           Shovels, drainpipes, typewriters. 

What is Tricky-Dip?  Yes, I know it kind of sounds like the nickname of one of our former presidents, but I don’t care, it presented itself to me as “Tricky-Dip” when I was combining words, and it intrigues me.  It sounds like it is a liquid, useful but toxic, maybe dangerous.  Yes, definitely dangerous.

Here’s another one:

For years, deadlines forced me to the town dump.

Impossible, circuitous route!

To keep my sanity, I found plunging ahead satisfactory.

I’ve never been accused of a slovenly habit.

Who kept going to the dump, and why?  The speaker sounded rather defensive about the “slovenly habit” bit; maybe he was kind of sensitive about the fact that he was forced to visit the dump on a regular basis.  Perhaps he was especially careful about his appearance so people wouldn’t think of him as “the dump man.”  When I try to visualize what he looks like, he wears a grey overcoat and a hat, sort of a cross between Leonard Cohen and “Spy vs. Spy”…

I assembled lots more of these pseudo-poems (some can be found in the “Generated Works” menu at left–I’m still trying to figure out how to make them easily accessible), and from them, characters and situations have started to emerge.  To help them take form, I assembled a larger segment of writing, which will be the topic of the next post.

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