Frames and Paints

Apropos pickle
Butte barely there in tumbleweed distance
Colloquial circus on edge of town
Drab hard rust
Emergent sea
Fish scale sliver
Glass stippled bass dress
Hercules sleeping like a cat
I don’t know slick
Just relax
Kairos
Let there be dark
Maroon full of water
Noun ironing board
Oh peel up
Preen winged words
Quick thick sailboats pass across a canvas
Red banal rose
Startled pimientos brush along a landscape
Thesis slope mint
U-pick raspberry squeeze
Very faraway pink
White lime yellow summer clouds
X marks tableau vivant spot
Yield sudden silk
Zeus striped sock lint

At the Beach with Peepa and Moopa

At the Beach with Peepa and Moopa

Meet Peepa ‘ and Moopa ‘`

They like to play on the beach

The waves are pipes made from sea foam ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The lifeguard looks like

?{   Alfred Hitchcock with a pipe   ~{

Peepa jumps off the end of El Porto pipe pier ‘~~~

—|—|—|—|—’`~~~ Moopa jumps kilter and akimbo

|’——–~~~ Peepa runs and dives |——–’~~~

\~~~~~~’~~~’`~~~ They swim back to shore

In the evening when the sun goes down ~~~,~~~

they sleep on the beach and dream of waves

‘` ‘    \~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~’~ sleepy wave eyes ~’`~

Peepa walks alone down to the water  ‘ \ ~~~

Moopa awakes and cries ‘` Peepa, where are you?

Peepa comes running back to Moopa  ‘`   ‘    \~~~

A Cat’s Argument

A Cat's Argument

“Aren’t you hot sitting on that heater vent?”

“Alas, summer so fast has passed.”

“Yawn. Fall curls my tail and bristles my fur. Just yesterday you were complaining of the heat and wondering if summer would never end.”

“Shelley was right: ‘We look before and after and pine for what is not.’”

“I once lived in a basement room paneled in knotty pine.”

“I’ll bet it was not when you finished with it.”

“I rebut that. The finish was sprayed shellac. I used to rub against it a good polish.”

“Why can’t cats live without argument?”

“Who says they can’t? Cite your sources if you’re going to talk to me like that.”

“An old cat’s empirical knowledge.”

“Remember that imperialist cat came into our yard?”

“Can facts suffice? Or must cats argue?”

“Argument is a fact of life, a must.”

“How does meaning behave in an argument?”

“Meaning is an alley cat on the prowl and up to no good.”

“Is every text an argument, every argument a trick, every text a test?”

“You ask a lot of hollow questions.”

“I once lived in a hollow.”

“Have you ever been back?”

“Does Theory eschew the behavior of meaning?”

“Go ask a theorist.”

“Do theorists like cats?”

“I suppose some might, but they all want to know how and why we purr.”

“Where do assumptions come from?”

“Assume I don’t know, and wake me up when winter has passed.”

“What a flock of lucky theorists who can fly south for the winter.”

“Have they anything to say to us?”

“I don’t know. Anyway, it’s too hot in the south.”

“It’s going to be too hot in here, too, if you don’t move off that heater vent.”

The Assumption: A Graphic Post

We’re in primary school art class, where the students have been told to draw a picture of a house.

Francine draws this:

Sun Over House by Francine

“What’s this?” Missus Portmanteau, Francine’s art teacher, asks, pointing to the big red circle in the sky. “It looks like a big rock is about to fall on your house.”

Francine is nonplussed in the face of a teacher who doesn’t recognize the sun.

“The sun,” Francine explains.

“The sun isn’t that big,” Missus Portmanteau says, and enters a note in her red book.

The following week in art class, Francine draws this:

110820141928“What’s that?” Missus Portmanteau asks Francine, pointing at the orange and red circles over Francine’s house.

“Mister Sapidot [science teacher] said the sun spins,” Francine answers.

“Your sun is too big, your house too small.”

Francine feels like the rock has fallen on her house.

110820141929

“Now what?” Missus Portmanteau asks.

“Someone is taking a nap,” Francine says.

Missus Portmanteau doesn’t say anything, but she makes a firm mark in her red book with a red pen.

It’s the final art class before summer vacation. Francine’s father has promised a special surprise if her report card looks good. This week, she nails the art project.

110820141930

Francine has learned that to do good in school and please her father she must conform to her teacher’s view of reality.

Two Graphic Novels: Gipi’s “Notes for a War Story,” and Rutu Modan’s “Exit Wounds”

Graphic Paintings Beginning with the Letter A

“Notes for a War Story,” a first person narrative by Gipi, is set in a nebulous country where villages exist one day and disappear the next. Three young men band together to survive on the margins of the country, doing petty crime. But it’s an odd man out story. The boys have only vague notions of what the war is about. The frictions within their trio mirror those in the country at large. The brutality and violence inherent in the state where social law suddenly fails is drawn close up. What is politically correct is what gets you through a day and a night, a falling spiral that soon shortens days and nights to hours then minutes in a manipulated clock, and peace is an expedient agreement easily broken. The drawings, green, often olive drab wash panels, convey bleak settings and desperate tones. The dialog is quick, the story clear, the narrator Giuliano’s reflective notes the distinctive difference between an existential hope and a despairing nihilism. But what gives Guiliano this capacity to reflect the others lack remains ambiguous, while lawlessness explains only part of the free-for-all atmosphere that characterizes war. Each faction quickly establishes and evolves its own laws to satisfy its needs and wants. When values and desires change, one finds oneself outside the law. Rules, both formal and informal, are created and broken in every part of society: the family, church, village, corporation, military, language and literature. Published by First Second in 2004, and translated to English from Italian in 2007 by Spectrum. Afterward by Alexis Siegel, 2006. A 125 page, sturdy paperback with fold in cover flaps. Here is a 2008 Interview with Gipi at Words without Borders.

Rutu Modan’s “Exit Wounds” (Drawn & Quarterly, 2007) takes place in Israel. There’s been a bombing, and there is a missing person. The themes are familiar and familial. A son is estranged from his father, angry. A kind of detective story evolves, with hints of noir, as Koby engages to find out what’s happened to his father in the aftermath of the bombing. Along the way, Koby discovers love, another theme, mostly unrequited, unresolved, while the characters confront the antagonist of ambiguous relationships. “Exit Wounds” is a comic book told in four chapters of color panel drawings. The details of the drawings act like descriptive prose in a conventional novel. The drawings are realistic but also suggestive. The sequence where Koby and Numi go body surfing is a good example of the lovely and patient interludes that give the novel its grace and gifts. Interview with Rutu Modan at BBC 4, and another at Words without Borders.

Costume Chitchat

A Cat's Halloween Costume

“Are you going incognito again for Halloween?”

“For Halloween this year,
I’m going as myself.
No one will recognize me.
Won’t that be scary?”

“Last year, you might recall,
I went happily as you,
boo-b00ing and who-wh00ing
up and down the haunted block.”

“Once, I went as my father,
and was tricked to snake out
a bewitched litter box.
Dad thought that was a treat.”

“I used to go as my mother
and stay home and pass out
the treats and clean up
after the tricks.”

“Remember the year you dressed
as an octopus? Your purple pelisse
swept the falling leaves, the swish
the only sound across the street.”

“It’s been my habit lately
to sneak out as a house cat,
playing with the position
of my ears and tail – Purrr.”

“Well, for Halloween this year,
I’m going as I am.
No one will know me.
Won’t that be ghostly?”