Saturday, February 17, 2018

beautiful the dead

beautiful the dead

this is what memory does best

anointing ordinary days
into something royal and rare

royal and rare but ours once

all sundrenched and purple

and of course it is a lie
but not a lie

once memory
gets ahold of it and

and what is the past anyway
but a journey that no one


--jel 2-17-18

Friday, February 16, 2018


One never knows where inspiration may be found. Take the beautiful green paper in this collage. A little darker than grass; a little lighter than forest. I saw this paper—yards of it, stuffed into a box—from across the Faculty Area at my school. I was busy preparing for a class and thinking about the work I needed to do for next week. But that green.

I took several minutes to smooth and carefully fold some of this paper whose color makes me feel as if it has been a long time since I've seen green. Starved for color, which is a symptom of February here in the northeast. Sometimes when we need beauty, beauty is there.


Saturday, February 10, 2018



the paint when the water

the sky when the clouds

the page when the reader

the bird when the hedge

the sentence when the verb


the when
torn papers, metallic watercolor paint, ink

Saturday, January 6, 2018

What Are We Making of the New Year?

Politically: The sick, cruel joke grows sicker and crueler, with no relief in sight except for a moment's mirthless snicker of disgust. Still failing on that front.

Artistically: Artists always move forward, somehow finding ways through the sickness of the times (and the times are always, in some way or ways, sick) into newness and awareness and meaningfulness. Find yourself an artist to love.

Poetically: I have attended one poetry reading so far this year, and been inspired. Next week, I think I'll be discussing poetry and the process of getting it onto the page with a friend, so the year is healthy in terms of the practice of this art.

Personally: Reading continues to open my eyes. I just re-read one of my favorite novels, Persuasion by Jane Austen, and this time through I zeroed in on this sublime and subtle truth: one of the characters becomes conscious of the difference "between the steadiness of principle and the obstinacy of self-will, between the darings of heedlessness and the resolution of a collected mind."

The resolution of a collected mind! I hope my stubbornness is of that order, though I fear it is more "the obstinacy of self-will." But now at least I am aware. And that brings us back to the political, for what better description is there of all that is wanting in our political leaders than that very lack of discernment of the difference "between the steadiness of principle and the obstinacy of self-will, between the darings of heedlessness and the resolution of a collected mind."

Onward we go.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Joy (sort of) of Cleaning (sort of)

There is one corner of my room which my husband uses as evidence that, in the event of his untimely and greatly-to-be-mourned demise, I will become a hoarder. So on this first morning of 2018, I vowed to clean my "hoarder corner." In the process, I found a 3x5 card on which was written one haiku and two tanka. The haiku reminded me of a photo I had taken on the High Line in New York City a few Octobers ago.

A haiku of indeterminate age + a photo from a few years back = the first haiga of the new year.

Finding beauty and light in unexpected places...not a bad way to begin the year.

I highly recommend cleaning a neglected corner of one's room/mind/hard drive/life every once in a while. There's probably a poem there!

2018...Onward we go...

Sunday, December 31, 2017



I don't make them.
I make them every day.
I keep them to myself.
I break them all, then remake them.

The core ones never change:
Take more walks.
Chase dragonflies.
Do art stuff.
Find wildflowers.
Watch birds.
Study the interplay of light and water.

Onward we go.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Joy of Crappy Photos

Of course I love having taken a photo that is clear, sharp, focused, perfectly composed—a photo that makes people ooh and ahh as they flip to the next month on the calendar and see it (the photo) as the image for a bright and promising thirty days of prosperity and good fortune.

I've taken approximately five such photos in my life.

So this is to celebrate photographs that are not simply out-of-focus, but had no chance of ever being in focus: photos taken from a moving car; photos taken at night from a moving car; photos that just look like the proverbial waste of film but which, thanks to digital photography, I can amass by the thousands. And of those thousands of blurry, grainy, compositionally-challenged, and just plain odd little moments, I find gem after gem.

These photos often inspire me to stop and write a haiku; when added to the photo image, they make a haiga. The two included in this post are from photos I took just last night, from the car, as my husband was driving with great skill and patience through the streets of Manhattan. The mannequins in the window I knew I loved; the man pacing in the foyer of a building waiting for someone, perhaps dreading having to go back out into the cold, was a gift. I just love photo ops such as these. Postcards of real life, out-of-focus, hurried, compositionless, ephemeral, beautiful, gone.

Sometimes I cheat a little and crop the photo. So a wee bit of composition may happen later. Like a memory, new with each remembering.

I included some of my crappy photos—which I guess I should call (for promotional purposes) "accidental postcards of real life"—in a small book I made several years ago. If you are interested, go to and perhaps order a copy of Images for your very own.

Accidental, ephemeral, beautiful, gone. Life imitates art, yet again.