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Swoon, Inside the Invisible, and Creating the Faces

Swoon, Inside the Invisible, and Creating the Faces

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Daniel Simpson (Propel Award Winner)


Why We Need New Year’s Day and the Passage of Seasons


Because we are iron in a smithy world

which heats and hammers us beyond self-recognition,

leaving us slow to learn renewal,

too grumpy or fogged most mornings

to notice that our hearts still surge blood

to every point along the body’s map,

and that our minds are still what computers emulate.


After all, even monks with no other life

cannot harness themselves to awareness every second.

And yet, a garbage collector I know

carries his life like a diamond,

and an exhausted mother

immersed in four-child babble all day

hitches her mind to a book each night,

if only for five minutes

before she careens into sleep.


Praise, then, to the policeman who paints portraits,

and to the bank teller who keeps a journal.

Praise to the thwarted shop steward who keeps

his standing appointment to play catch with his child.

Praise to the heartbroken social worker who subscribes to the symphony.

Praise to the math teacher who photographs birds,

and to the roofer who, hoping for hope,

believes that next year his team will do better.


Praise the toddler and the hospice-dweller

as they stumble in new passages.

Praise all who breathe.

Praise all who once breathed and now nourish the ground.

Praise all whose stories have already been written,

and all those who still have at least one more chance.

(Seventy times seven, says Jesus,

are the chances we each should have.)


Let the fireman remember his own life as he chops with the axe.

Let neither the minister neglect his wife,

nor the doctor her husband.

Let none of us simply swallow our lives whole.

But if the minister, the doctor, and we should fail,

let us have new years and fresh seasons.

Let us have seventy times seven chances.


DJ Savarese


Studies in Brotherly Love



After Malcolm Corley, Ginger”


The woman looks a little nauseated,

maybe even seasick

or morning sick.

She’s chewing ginger to calm her stomach,

which is like a dog

that will not stay or sit.

It just rolls over and over.

It needs obedience.

It needs a bath.

Please stop barking, stomach.

The mailman is a cup of broth;

he approaches—

you guessed it—gingerly.

He’s like the Pharaoh Ramesses

or Homer’s Menelaus:

a redhead,

which means,

the Greeks would tell you,

he’s courageous.

My first Christmas out of

foster care, I got the stomach flu.

My body emptied like a garbage truck;

fluids departed as on a tidal flat.

I had never felt so miserable.

Because I do not speak,

I had to use my hands.

“Help me,” I signed to my new father,

“help me,” and I could tell

he wanted to,

rubbing my back

as I wretched.


Tito Mukhopadhyay


The Beginning


I can begin with darkness.

I waited for a perfect kind of darkness, enough to make it turn into a canvas. As if my hand had turned into a bit of chalk; as if the air from the fan was an inspiration fanning my restless hands.

As if the darkness would begin to breathe any moment.


And then darkness would begin to feel as if a face was drowned with me inside the room. I would shape its outlines with my restless white chalk.


Visual imagination turned dilute. Several imported images of faces and face-ness began to evolve and flow away with colors familiar to the eyes. Memorized faces, replaced by something else like medieval masks - some of them turning into shapeless questions. I doubted my visual capabilities related to faces.


In my head, I excavated a pyramid from the picture I had once seen in the National Geographic magazine in black and white image - how they operated on a pyramid and pulled out the boxes into the world of light . As if I was ready to probe the face of a sarcophagus.


I wondered whether the face needed to look like a face at all.


Any moment I could be creating an absolute face smeared across the room - breathing, pulsating in the dark. Darkness would be its skin. It would absorb stories which I would tell.


My stories will have flaws because perfection isn’t a goal to stress upon. Flaws wouldn’t matter. Flaws are scrutiny of light which darkness can readily hide. World of light is overrated. I interact with darkness. I reveal my flaws without hesitation.


So let darkness begin to smear its own definition of perfection.

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