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monarda didyma

Summer is here!

All winter  I imagined days so long long long I would have nothing left to do by the end of them but wait, far into the evening, for the light to finally fade.

All winter I imagined today.

Let’s stir up some spirits; spirits of evergreens, angelica, ice.   Blesséd spirits cool the hot temples.  Phoenix fire will lure the fire-flies to the obelisk;  I look forward to the show.  Black Swan is undoubtedly bringing me a beak-full of beebalm, little red firecrackers just for me.   Hawk is hoping to celebrate the solstice with a squirrel.  Well, not exactly “with”: the squirrel won’t be celebrating.  Hawk promises me the tail–I am supposed to wear it somehow.  I don’t want a squirrel tail but Hawk doesn’t listen.

Owl, who knows everything I think and feel, promises to swallow the tail when Hawk, drowsy full with squirrel not-tail, falls asleep.

Owl, oh owl, the-one-who-fills-in.  Owl dreams of newborn spring rabbits, velvety soft sausages wriggling through an Owl esophagus.

Dinner can be pretty disgusting around here. It’s not my fault: I only eat art, mostly painted by dutch masters.  Very civilized I am, dining nightly on lustrous silver, pewter and crystal.

Black Swan floats upon the table, neatly munching duckweed.

But tonight!  Beyond spirits, a fast.  I will break-fast tomorrow, perhaps on a Manet bun.

Yes.  I will have a Manet bun.

I can make tea from the beebalm leaves, without disturbing the flowers.

They are a favorite flower.

 

 

icy spirits

The days only get shorter from here but let’s not think about that now.  It will be warm for some time yet.

Happy Summer Solstice!

–The Odalisque

PS:  Crow is hopefully being crow, not parrot, off performing his own rituals.  Crow-as-crow, upon a heap of stones.

The starlings are raising their nestlings.  Lots of little mouths practically an insecticide fumigating the marsh.

 

warm

the ice has melted, unchaining the cold.

do you think I don’t care?  The dictionary inelegantly defines vortex as “a mass of spinning air, liquid, etc., that pulls things into its center”.   it is good to be centered, but not when that center is supposed to be your north pole.

in the summer, the poles will miss this cold, and the ice will melt more than it ought too, exposing corpses, campsites, fossils of people who lived there thousands of years ago.  they will decompose before we learn anything from them.  they lived in the climate we soon inherit.   who died and left it to us?  a miniscule planet’s ecosystem, exhausted by our habitation.

so much sadness.  salt waters rise.

do you think i want this?  i wanted to throw open the window and throw a  dazzling balcony smile at a sparkling sea.  but i got hit in the teeth with cold like the sea threw up a handful of ice (or was it you, did you do this to me?).  I am sitting on the middle of the earth under a lopsided arctic wind and I don’t have the right clothes.

crow/parrot and phoenix are conducting experiments.  crow is flash-freezing eggs on a branch outside, then phoenix slowly heats them on the stone sill.  owl tells me this is the latest in culinary technology.  that’s interesting but will it be ready for teatime?

maybe I’ll burn myself some fossil fuels.  put the teapot on the fire and crawl inside.

i’m so cold i think i can feel the heat reflected off the moon.

odalisque_warmhandsmeager ———->  adequate
–The Odalisque

home [page]

figure (anamorphosis) was my 100th scrapbook page!  One hundred is a special number because I have ten fingers and a hundred is ten to the second power.  I will have to publish 1,000 pages before I reach another power of ten.

post100_1000One thousand scrapbook pages!  Taped in a line on the walls…or bound into a book?  A record of the evolution of someone called “I”?…or ever-more intimate layers, papery tissues, peeled off with each page turn?  If the pages only reveal what was always there, what will be unveiled when the last obfuscation is lifted, the last page turned?

A funny endpaper, the edging of a book.  The knobby surface of my old desk, slid up beneath the window of the obelisk.   For you…a still, illuminated screen?  What lingers in the mind as our eyes lift to the view…who will sit, unveiled, in our thoughts, perplexing and welcome, when the scrapbook is at last closed?

centenary invitation

www.conversewithbirds.org

Now Featuring

post100_aslideshow

of my favorite pictures

AND

post100_aboutmeandmyscrapbook

where you

post100_youyesyou

can read an odalisque primer, hear my dreams, watch my movie, and browse some of my favorite pages from each obelisk year.

All this, and we are not even finished with year 2.

handwriting_thankyouforlooking

–The Odalisque

jacket? tie?

I showed off my party dress.  So the birds are ready to dance.  They’ve brought out their best.

If I could only dance with one, which would I choose?

fashionable black swan (2)

I like that black swan brings me fetid flowers.  The book could be a gift or maybe black swan intends to read to me later.  I hope not.  There’s nothing worse than long phrases comparing odalisques to astronomical bodies, natural phenomena, or flowers.  How can you enjoy yourself when everything you do reminds someone of the moon?  I’ve been to the moon, and it’s nothing to throw garlands at.  Stop talking about the moon.  I am The Odalisque!  transparent bar

drastic / fire-fair/ one two three one two three/ we / combustible

Fetid flowers or… a dead branch?

The branch is for me to hold when we dance, so I don’t catch on fire.  That might be a trick, though, because Phoenix really wants me to burn.  At least if I dance with Phoenix, there is a window nearby.  I will need to stick my head out into that high, clear air, after a whirl in Phoenix’s flagrant embrace.transparent bar  fashionable crow-as-parrot

Crow-as-parrot offers to lead me through greener pastures.  Crow has a message but I’ve already opened it.  Or did Crow open it first and scramble the intended meaning?  Crow wears the fool’s hat.  Crow, where are we going?

transparent bar fashionable starlings (2)The starlings clothe themselves in the soft robes of nightfall.  It is the hour of murmuration.  Behind them, obscure.  If I allow myself to be taken in their arms I will be the space between earth and sky consecrated by their hushed, joyful swarm.  I will be the ever-evolving absence of thousands of birds.

transparent barfashionable hawk (2)

Hawk, discretely, but superbly dressed, waits beneath an ordinary chandelier. The silk dress is for changing into when Hawk tires of leading.

Hawk carries a scarlet fan for me: when I want everyone to go away I will hide my face like ostrich sticking its head in the sand.  Everyone knows: leave me alone.

Hawk is thoughtful in that way.

I will dance with Hawk.

Black Swan, aghast, is sputtering phrases from the book.  The phrases aren’t about me or the moon!   They’re all about Black Swan!  Typical.  Black Swan, do you remember how to call out, over the marsh, the wild, mute cry of your forebearers?  If so, I will dance with you.

Fashionable birds.  See how they first made their fashion fetish known here, or click the Fashion tag for that and more.

–The Odalisque

rent

A reader has asked if buying an obelisk is expensive, or if I just rent.

Obelisks are like Brigadoon; they appear at the moment needed, but otherwise are unattainable.  That’s why I am reluctant to leave–if I do I’m not sure I could get back.   I really have to be convinced that it is worth the risk.

Some people would feel stuck in this situation but I like it fine.  I’ve stopped expecting anyone, besides the birds.  So now, I guess, I could really be surprised!

Which is evasion:  staying or going somewhere else?

  1. Some people stay where they are to evade what they could be.
  2. Others keep moving to evade who they are.
  3. Does it matter where I am?

Here’s a sentence I read recently:

But actually               unlike the snail                    we carry our homes                  within us

which enables us                                     to fly                                                               or to stay

,—                                 to enjoy                                   each.

Thoughts like these are  the price one pays for living in an obelisk by the sea shore.  Their consideration is the cost of rent.

I’m curious if any of you live in similar structures.  Perhaps in other shapes or materials?

A chunk of the obelisk fell out when I was painting, and it sits on my desk.  Do you know what obsidian feels like?  It is dark, glassy, a mirror cast in blackness, not in light.  The obelisk is very grounding.  It channels atmospheric and astronomical energies into the earth out of the sky.  Kind of like a lightening rod during a storm, but it works on more subtle energies, as well.

The tree that can sometimes be seen growing out my window, flourishes upon that same earth and air.

Soon it will be the equinox!  We are going to conduct an experiment on that day.  I’ll post the results next week.

Sorry I’ve been so absent these last few weeks.  I was tending to the tree.

You can ask me anything anytime as a comment or at handwriting email address

DoIgoOutAgain

et tu, teapot?

I came to my desk to write you about my teapot.   I set my teapot on the desk and sat myself at the desk and lifted my pen from the desk to place it upon my scrapbook which sits upon the desk.

Then my teapot spit-up a postcard.

At first I thought it was steam, which was a little odd, even for my teapot, as I had almost finished its now-tepid tea.  But the steam unfolded like a leaf, and drifted down upon my scrapbook.  It was not a leaf.  It was a postcard:

Postcard back--Black Swan

I don’t want to write an ode to my teapot anymore.  Summer is almost over and I haven’t gone to the shore…soon it will be too cold, which will be a great burden off my shoulders.  The burden of “maybe now?” is unendurable.  I’m tired of being asked where I’m going.  When the grasses change and the ocean foams upon the shore like the maw of Kerberus dragged up from hell, maybe crow will stop being a parrot and the birds, wistful for longer days and safer climes, will be happy to fluff up their feathers and stay inside.

Flipping through my scrapbook, it’s evident that last summer was much nicer than this summer; last summer we had fashion shows, I sported my swim-suit and drank fizzy beverages and learned how to watch movies.   This summer has been one long avoidance of crow-who-is-parrot’s persistent questioning: WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

Now my teapot, my abiding paraclete, is spewing forth postcards.  SPEWING FORTH.  Like the ocean spews forth the drowned and the dead.

Why, why would I want to go back there?

I want a real postcard from Henriette, soon.

–The Odalisque

 

choosing your parrot’s vocabulary

So, now I have a parrot.  Its name is Crow.  Crow used to be a very interesting conversationalist, but all Crow Parrot can (will?) say is “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.”

Odalisque sits at her desk.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.”

Odalisque steeps her tea.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.”

Odalisque leaps to the window when Hawk or Black Swan or anybird, anybird at all, blessedly arrives in the window to save her from Crow.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING,” says Crow.

“Hello,” says my bird guest friend.  “HELLO,”  squawks Crow.  Shut up Crow!  I don’t know where I’m going.  I’m in an obelisk for solstice’s sake, and it was a lot of work to get up here.   (as portrayed in my movie.)  Leave me alone!

Despite the fact that I did not choose Crow’s vocabulary, Owl, in an attempt to be helpful, brought me this:  Things to keep in mind when choosing your parrot’s vocabulary.

1. Avoid Profanity.

Profanity is the use of profane language, and profane language is that which is not concerned with religion, unholy because not consecrated, or that which debases what is holy.   I was once considered profane, especially as compared to, say, a Madonna.  So perhaps I should not try to teach Crow my name, The Odalisque.

2. Stay away from “catch phrases”

It’s always cute when talking birds chime in with something to say, but you want to make sure that what you teach them won’t get old or annoying after a while.

I take a book from my bed and flip the pages.  How about:

I would like to step out of my heart, and go
walking beneath an enormous sky.

or

From you to you I go commanded.  In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up look!  All becomes festival!

or

For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,
which we still are just able to endure.

or

If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

or

Is love: a murderer without a knife?

or

She moves the way clocks move.

I can’t imagine even lovely, ravenous phrases  could preserve their dewy hunger if repeated as often as Crow says “Where are you going.”    If I teach poetry, will Crow use it sparingly, with the wisdom & ken to perfectly brim a fine distillation into each moment’s goblet?

3. Think long-term!

There are many things that will remain constant in your bird’s life, and these are often the best sources for inspiration when trying to decide on the types of words and phrases that you’d like to add to your bird’s vocabulary.  For example, your or your birds name…

CROW!  squawks my parrot.  ODALISQUE ODALISQUE ODALISQUE!  No Crow, you can’t say that it is profane.  OBELISK OBELISK OBELISK!  Nor do I want to encourage any creature in my care to believe that anything in its life is constant.  OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN.  UNIVERSE UNIVERSE UNIVERSE.  No Crow, all is in constant creative & destructive flux.  MATTER MATTER ENERGY!  MATTER MATTER ENERGY!  I do not know, crow.  I do not know.  It is best to assume all, all will pass but nothingness, from which materiality and warmth may inevitably emerge.

4. Choose songs/music wisely

It’s best to select songs that are “classics.” Popular choices for many bird owners are nursery rhymes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and various oldies from the 50’s and 60’s.

This guidance is very intriguing.  It reminds me of Beckett who imagined mothers squatting to birth babies into their graves.  Nursery rhymes & oldies…everything in between is tedium.

Twinkle twinkle little star how I wonder what you are, up above the sky so high.  Like a diamond in the sky…

Crow before he was parrot would definitely have thought of the stars as diamonds, and coveted one for his stash.  But Owl would bring us a book on astronomy, show Crow that the stars are luminous bodies of charged particles held together by gravity and fueled by thermo-nuclear fusion, and that would have been that for everybody but Phoenix who would know, as if in ecstatic vision, the nature of heaven.

True singing is a different breath, about
nothing. A gust inside the god.  A wind.

5. Avoid alarming phrases.

Even if it seems like a humorous thing to do, there is a genuine risk that your bird could incite a fair level of panic given the right situation.

There are so many things that should incite a fair level of panic, but fail to.  Related to number 3 above, perhaps I should teach Crow to regularly incite panic with words that remind me of my impermanence.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.

Oh, hermetic Crow.  Even as parrot, you outpace me.

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it will your heart survive…

…To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums, joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

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–The Odalisque

ghost hand

(all bold text  from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rilke)

ruined valentine

I’m not writing anymore about love, but I did make a Valentine.   My valentine has ruins in it.   Owl tells me there’s a fetishism for ruins called “ruin porn”.   Amidst the outer-world’s compulsion towards youth, development and progress, there is a counter-fascination with what has fallen apart somewhere so unprofitable it is allowed to remain-an aesthetics of inevitable capitulation, a poetics of collapse.   The stones that have crumbled, the rotting curtains, the empty rooms, the sunken roofs, all, all are ephemeral garlands upon absence.  Absence: the presence of what is no longer present remains, a meta-monument to impermanence.

my valentine has a hole in it

This valentine reminds me of an early conversation with the black swan:

…Is there a love otherwise made?  Of stone?
Its architecture, yes, toppled in weeds,
though an entablature on slipped columns
remains to frame the inorderable sky.

I could think:  Marking a grave.  Or
Its austere grace!  What time cracks falls away
to reveal a more essential beauty.

The ruins memorialize themselves.
Two might still walk among them hand in hand.

“Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”   Let love, in its ruin, grace forgotten spaces, defy the spirit of our age which points, it would appear, only to annihilation.  Its shrill, destructive euphoria spares no room for soul-deepening ruins, lovely and bittersweet.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  May your love exemplify grace.

–The Odalisque

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I now operate on obelisk time, and today is January 31…one year ago I moved into my towering astronomical clock.  To scald out the old and wring in the new, the birds and I took a bath.  Here the birds are in their bathing caps, I in my flaming sword:

bird bath

You will note that crow showed up as a parrot.  I have no explanation for this; crow delights in incongruities.   I trust that parrot-hood is only a temporary condition intended to confound everybody.  Once we’ve grown accustomed to this guise,  it’ll vanish, like the shadow of the circling bird when clouds occlude the light.

When I started this scrapbook I did not know that my measured and even conversations with the birds would become silly, intense, with fashion shows, flaming pillow notes, cupid costumes, and a very bad day for the black swan.    I had no idea, when I started, what I looked like, or that an accurate depiction of my life required a queerly elaborate picture language.   I discover my voice speaking to you.

Here are my ten favorite pages from the 72 I made this year (click to view):

  1. Beauty in ruin…a conversation with the hawk
  2. The FASHIONABLE BIRDS
  3. The stag & the unicorn
  4. Portraits of the odalisque as a young girl
  5. Learning to wait
  6. My swim-suit
  7. A WOMAN THERE WAS starring Theda Bara
  8. My first letter from imprisoned odalisque, Henriette
  9. Publicity photos from my movie
  10. MY MOVIE!!!!!

Which ones did you favor?

Not fare well, but fare forward, dear voyagers,

–The Odalisque

Fig. 1 (enough) questionnante

A series this week!  On the complex concept, “enough”

[click to enlarge]

[Fig. 1]

[Fig. 1 DETAIL]

[With words a beautiful, strange creature, all scales and song and shimmering fins, I bring out of the deep]

[for you to give you con       ]

[The beast sings in the air then submerges.  The sea folds over it.]

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Fig. 3 (enough) enough

Part 3 of a series this week!  On the complex concept, “enough”

[click to enlarge]

[Fig. 3: Perspective]

enough frayed rope flayed eel

enough_text_etc

[for years a frayed rope tied to a timber]

[floats in the tide like a flayed eel]

[etc.]

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