138.1: Brian Teare:: watercolor and graphite on paper, fifteen by fifteen inches & There are an infinite number of different kinds of happiness. & And to think I am small and the work is small. & Like a dignified journey with no trouble and no goal on and on. 138

As digital forms of publishing continue to proliferate, those of us who love the book as a physical object can only feel somewhat uneasy. Will that visceral pleasure I get from holding a book, feeling the weight of the pages, and understanding that writing is the creation of an object begin to vanish? (I say this knowing that, as an editor of an online journal, I am part of this evolution.) But then I see poems like Brian Teare's here, and I wonder if the digital form will spawn a new poetic approach that seeks to create writing as an object through form and content. The title of the first poem is not a title at all; it's a description of the form on which the poem is written: "watercolor and graphite on paper, fifteen by fifteen inches." The poem is formally constructed so that a page becomes visible within the poem itself; the digital form of publication falls away, secondary to the object that the poem creates of itself as it is being read: "thought takes shape." And the thought that takes shape through the tangibility Teare fashions is the knowledge of the body, "a strangely spacious framework / in which to consider the mortal." The poems create bodies as the bodies in the poems struggle with survival. Teare asks "how can I own something I am?" The devastating answer these poems hand us as we leave is: "our looking is what we see / its tension its signature." Andrew Wessels

watercolor and graphite on paper, fifteen by fifteen inches


               ::              I had a headache a sort of tea-colored leakage a color field ::

               ::              the texture of paper bag and over it a grid in graphite fitted ::

               ::              to a grid of white pencil an almost subliminal flickering ::

               ::              where my body first entered the picture the inscription ::

               ::              of conflicting readings the work’s surface touched by ::

               ::              the brush all pooled color and puckered grain a form ::

               ::              narrowed down to its final iteration internally organized ::

               ::              and complete because of its tensions I was speaking ::

               ::              of illness and the critical situation it reveals as our own ::

               ::              embodied gaze the loom upon which materiality turns ::

               ::              pictorial its likeness to fabric heightened by fibers swollen ::

               ::              torqued by tint caught in its operations I insert a knot ::

               ::              between the warp and weft of the observed surface I look ::

               ::              away from the abstract toward the window toward the door ::


                                                                                                    for Martha Ronk



There are an infinite number of different kinds of happiness.


the grain of the page softened

by cotton     the hand-drawn
line like the poetic line implies

a law of perspective     a body

 

a strangely spacious framework

in which to consider the mortal

 

 
somehow

dim daylight

buildings

higher up

shading off

into fog
walking to the hospital

I stop to watch sunrise

fat finches sit by the ER

in stripped twigwork

late hawthorn berries

frayed red gray feathers



                                                                                                    for Stephen Motika



And to think I am small and the work is small.


     ( sonnet )



                         /

                         /
consciousness is spatial
                         / a really empty painting

                         /
white hospital bed
                         / before I get into it

                         /
thought takes shape
                         / where is this headed

                         /
sheet blanket sheet
                         / intravenous shiver

                         /
the picture fills up
                         / dressed for a visit

                         /
soft graphite lines
                         / a gown worn backwards

                         /
soft graphite lines
                         / a gown worn forwards

                         /


                                                                                                    for Lisa Russ Spaar



Like a dignified journey with no trouble and no goal on and on.


dismiss the guardians of the body


how can I own something I am?




iron boat upon the water


the impossible serves as a lamp


our looking is what we see


its tension its signature