Seagulls on Main Street

launch1 by Mark Harrison

launch1 by Mark Harrison


Seagulls flying down main street
Why does it seem incongruous today?
Reason would suggest that they’re the same ordinary lake gulls
that buzz our parking lots & pick at our garbage
And yet, today it seems as if there might be
some grand conspiracy, some avian plot
as they dip and dive, casing out the buildings, measuring traffic flow
all in preparation for some secret rebellion, some white-feathered coup.

(The young man who brought me my bureka called me “madam”
Does that mean that today I look my age?
Or is it a cultural transplant of politeness?
Would he say that to a fresh-faced young student
still learning the maze of our one-way streets and hellishly steep hills?)

Meanwhile, mother-of-the-year award recipient
hangs back and smokes, while her child plays in the street

Trying to remember the vagueness of cars at that age
knowing they’re big, and fast, and dangerous
but so easy to forget, as you move from one fascination to the next
today, in this moment, it’s watching the leaves collect in the gutter,
multicoloured fly-weight boats riding the cold currents of November winds,
congregating around the sewer grates.

[Could you read the future in the way the foam striations
adhere to the porcelain curves?
A map of subtle imperfections,
and the rate at which things cool:
liquid, solid; love & friendship;
memory and passion.]

Why is it, that to feel strong
people need to make someone else feel weak?
Imagine what the world would be like
if we could all be strong together.

- T.H.
(11.13.14, @ Dreams of Beans)

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Filed under Art by Mark Harrison, Musings & Miscellany, Poetry

Fire and Water

I like the juxtaposition in these three between the concepts of fire/heat and water/coolness. These are all examples of Mark’s digital “paintings”, which combine original photographs with digital layering and manipulation (you can find a brief explanation of the process he uses below the pictures). All can be clicked on to see a larger version.

City Lost by Mark A. Harrison, digital painting

City Lost

Fireset by Mark A. Harrison, digital painting

Fireset

Heat_72 by Mark A. Harrison (digital painting)

Heat_72

The Creative Process:
Mark starts by taking a ton of original photographs, using his trusty Canon Rebel (an old model, but good). When collecting “fodder” (as he likes to call it) for his digital art, he is often drawn to things with intriguing texture and contrast (so his collection includes a lot of close-up macro-photography of things like rusted metal, weathered antiques, moving water, and so on). The digital manipulation process ranges from something as simple as punching up the contrast and saturation, to many painstaking hours of layering (sometimes using dozens of different photos) and playing around with all manner of different filters and tweaking, most of which is well beyond what mere mortals can comprehend (he has more than once shown me Photoshop tweaks I didn’t even know existed; I think he has access to a secret Photo-mage level of menu not allowed to the likes of us regular folks).

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Light through the leaves

Light through leaves, photo by Mark A. Harrison
(click for bigger)

In the best laid plans category, I had one a while back to start featuring more of Mark’s art here, since he doesn’t have a blog of his own – something I’ve been sadly remiss in keeping up since the intial posting of a selection from his beautiful Planets series. As part of this year’s November challenge, I hope to rectify that lapse on my part. More to come in the near future.

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November challenge: Day 4

The dark has come, riding the chill, rain-spattered winds of November, leaving wet leaves clinging to the soles of our shoes, and spawning intense cravings for hot chocolate and home-made soup. What better time to huddle in front of the warm glow of the monitor and let the flow of words take you into another world.  A sunnier one, perhaps, somewhere far south of here.  Or, in my case, somewhere even darker, and much, much scarier.  I’ve given myself a couple of November challenges, one of which is to write every day (or close thereto). This evening I braved the damp and the (okay actually relatively mild) breezes (which nonetheless kept trying to turn my umbrella inside out) to write at my favourite cafe.  Here are a few random sentences from the last few days of editing that fit oddly well together, despite being from two different chapters:

The trees were moving. A deep, undulating ripple, travelling toward them at a speed normally reserved for supersonic aircraft.

At least two things were certain. The storm had come, there was no doubt about that. And Bryn was going to be more than a mite displeased when he informed her that he intended to keep his word.

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I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Following the prompt for this week’s reading night.

I wish someone had told me
that it would burn this brightly
that the shadows of the dead
would cling to my heels
no matter how far I travelled.
Wherever I settle,
they settle in too
hang their shrouds
by the smouldering hearth
set their shoes in pairs
by the doorway
gaze out through my eyes
flinging blithe commentary
their sage sad opinions
like seed for the birds
their half remembered songs
woven through the bars
of my rib cage, etched
into the wax record grooves.

If anyone were to find me,
later, when all has been
lost, or given away,
I wonder if they could
play these tunes
What kind of needle
would they need?
what switches and buttons,
what molecular magic
to make those notes
sing true again?

The ballads of the dead
are not, as commonly claimed,
the harsh whispered sighs
of sand crossing stone
nor the mournful howls
of cold winds harrowing
the gorse bristled,
heather softened moors
under the shipwrecked moon.
Not for me, the cold laughter
of half-frozen streams;
For me, there are only
memories of sweetness
moments of agonizing tenderness
made all the more terrible
for their absence on waking.

If you place a dark
stone on the snow,
the snow will melt around it
if left in the indifferent
embrace of the sun;
The hole that’s left
when the stone is plucked free
ragged yet soft,
edges crumbling at first touch
may resemble footprints
when exaggerated by wind
but to those who know how to look
they see only where the stone
should be, but isn’t.

These are the things
that propel me into the light
into the blazing heat
that pulls sweat from skin
drenches the thin shirt
stretched over a too-thin frame;
In those moments of casual distress,
of calculated carelessness,
it is what keeps me moving
fast as my lungs will carry me
onto the next beckoning path
no matter how dark
(the shadows are always darker,
in any event, one of their
more charming characteristics)

And yet, one finite breath
can only last so long
and the graces of Serendipity
are not always as generous
as they once were; and so
there must be moments like this,
a pause to reconnect
oxygen to the brain,
calories to the bloodstream,
the heat enveloping me
in a deadly game of wills:

Who will capitulate first?
Will I wait until my eyes
are blinded by sweat,
head ringing dizzy,
throat salt croaking dry?

Or will the sun at last surrender
to a wandering cloud,
and break the spell?

What will run first?
The ink, shedding long
black tears across the bleached
hot-to-the-touch paper?
Or the melting snow,
over the toes
of my vagabond boots?
Or the light itself,
fleeing the oncoming night?

I wish someone had told me
how it would feel
as the rushing murmuration
of a thousand thousand starlings
fills the sky in a controlled
chaos of tornado sound
the vast stippled black cloud
flowing over and through me
as I run headlong through the field,
arms outstretched,
leaving jagged threads
and rags of shadow
caught hanging
on the autumn dry rustle
of pale dead stems,
one final ecstasy of flight
into the burning sky’s embrace.

– T.H.
(written at Dreams of Beans, 10.24.14, in a sunny window)

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The Sagan Series: The Gift of Apollo

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Fantastic series, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.  This one always gets me a little choked up.

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Filed under Music, Videos, General Media, Musings & Miscellany, Science, Space, Nifty Tech

Living in the Future: 3D Printing, the next stage

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Filed under Living in the Future, Music, Videos, General Media, Musings & Miscellany

12. Yellow Boots

girl in bright
yellow rain boots
pilots her scooter
over cracked uneven
concrete, with all
the guileless skill
and grace of swallows
chasing twilight over
waves of wind-tossed grass

the variegated fashions
of this striding
peacock crowd
are nothing set against
a farmer’s field, riotous
with dandelions,
chicory, and the
buzzing symphony
of bees

- T.H.

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Filed under National Poetry Month 2014

Birds of a Feather

Tilda Swinton is my new official role model. For life and well, pretty much everything. Not all real women have curves. Some of us are born thin and bony and pale and flat-chested, and that’s just the way we are. We may be in the minority on this planet, but we’re just as ‘real’.

tilda-onlyloversleftalive_sm

(Seriously, though, if someone can tell me what secret home planet/dimension Tilda and Tom Hiddleston come from, I’d dearly like to know. I’m sure I’d feel right at home. I suspect the portal to it might be somewhere in Scandinavia.)

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11. Between the shadow and the light

In between the shadow and
the light, be we ever so
humble, revelation wakens as
drunken laughter between kinsmen,
or an enemy well met
on crumbling walls, a
balm to cover the endless night;
Not long ago, we
sat by the Ganges and talked
as lovers do, between
the billowing sheets, the
tablecloths hung out to dry, rooms
long empty, filling up until
our hearts were overflowing with the
half-remembered songs of moss
green tufted soft beneath your head; had
we but walked a few more steps, reached
out to stir the water with our
skin-starved fingertips, our lips
dry river beds soon flooded, and
all the clouds in riot; yet covered
we our staid and sainted eyes, cast up
to the heavens our apologies, and all our
secrets kept, save one: our own true names.

- T.H. (& Emily, with a nod to TSE)

Read the full poem by Emily Dickinson here (“I died for Beauty — but was scarce”)

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