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Inner Ocean Fantasy 2011
25” x25"
by John Babcock

Photo by Linda Babcock

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Wilma Marcus Chandler

Beethoven's Hands

                       from a painting by J. Danhauser 3/28/1827

In death, Beethoven’s hands
were painted by Danhauser,
an oil sketch of them quietly clasped,
thin and pale, with perfect white nails.
It was a March night, winter in Bonn,
and this, a testament to the great man
whose hands are not the pure white
of white stone, but flecked with blue, rose,
shades of muddy green,
slashes of colors that seem to indicate
the hands are merely paused
between musical ideas.

Here, on this winter night,
sound and color are everywhere.
The distant line of mountains
seem to shift, rearrange,
the hum of roads still reverberates
from the traffic of the day,
and skunks cross the road
soundlessly, unless you are near enough
to hear the tiny padded feet as they go by,
the stir of their shako tails,
the thin tapping of teeth.

Even on almost windless nights,
when bodies ache and long for sleep,
the world is never silent or at rest,
not even the intransigent stones.
Grasp one and it will become as your own heat.
Go outside. There is never silence. 
In the night there will be the music
of a feather of air, a pale leaf pulse,
the opening sway and murmur of top boughs,
then down, into the weeds, the hum of ochre earth,
and all the underground. Danhauser knew.
Never silence - only pauses in the melody –
and then the surprise of light,
a single car coming along road,
gouaches of fog, the moon,
the sky made gold, indigo, aubergine.

Through Steve's Window

                                             On a visit to Missouri- 6:oo AM

Here, I am the only one awake,
waiting for a light to pop on
in a nearby house, a car to start,
a neighbor to walk the dog
or fight the cold and start a run.
Porch light illumines the cul-de-sac, lawn,
a thin cover of ice over everything.

Steve’s window has twenty-four squares,
four divisions of six,  each square
a perfect little painting of its own.
In another life I might have wished to be an artist
to capture this space and every change in the light
as though each brought a memory and answered a need,
or an artisan who worked in the painters’ guild
learning to grind and mix the pigments,
to discern which were basecoats
and which gave shadow or glint.

The sky turns from gunmetal to dove gray
and I think of my father, dying too young,
never needing glasses, his smokers’ cough.
In the pale light I think of my daughter
taking her son to school a thousand miles away,
and here, in Steve’s quiet front room, two pale chairs,
two bleached pillows, a low table with a vase of dried leaves.
In another life I would have wished to paint all this,
colors, textures, things most holy and lasting,
as though each were the final thing I  might ever see.

When I Dream of Traveling These Are Some Dreams

In West Africa the green land weaves
past the thatched houses, kraals,
and a tall man walks toward me quietly on the dusty path
singing, a child at his side.
He carries a stick and a basket
for groundnuts and palm wine
and the child hums along, a sliver of staccato,
and I join in while crowds in lorries pass
and  soldiers, boys really, smooth-faced and lean,
run with their guns through the hills.
In Vienna, in the opera house, there will be a seat,
purple velvet trimmed in gold,
where at 8 o’clock, after riding the trams
through the wintery city, drinking café mit shlag,
and hearing the echoes of great grandmothers
from the old stone buildings in the narrow streets,
I will remove my heavy coat and long gloves.
My silk dress will glimmer, the rope of pearls
still be warm next to my skin. Then the lights will dim
and everything will be soft and silent
for just a moment as, like entering angels
whom I believe dwell here, the Diva and Basso
will step onto the stage and begin to sing.

In Lapland, the Sami herdsmen
are dark-eyed and quiet.
Some little village, that holds perhaps
a grocery store, a church or two, a bar
where the whole town gathers in the evening,
will have an inn with a fireplace and warm rooms.
I will have the seen the reindeer herds on the hills,
and at night watch the men, cold and thirsty,
fall into the bar, smelling of hides and snow.

In Australia a woman is waiting in the road. She wears
a pale blue washdress, smokes her pipe, has come far
in the back of a truck to tell her long stories
of the dreamtime, of ant and turtle.
There will be endless sun and the day will go by slowly.
She knows I will meet her here,
sit beside her and listen
while the wind blows sandy and dry.

If I go to the Aran Islands I will never come home.
The sound of the sea
strong winds off the water and the seabirds,
the stone walls, stone roads, stone huts,
the infinite gray and green of it all.
I will wear a red petticoat
and join the next procession
toward the church
where no matter whom they are burying
it will be like my own.

Wilma Marcus a director, theatre teacher and writer. Emeritus Chair of Theatre Arts at Cabrillo College, she is artistic director of the 8Tens@8 Theatre Festival which will celebrate its 21st year as of this coming January. She is the founder and current director of THE CELEBRATION OF THE MUSE poetry festival and is delighted to be part of the phren-Z reading and issue!!!

Karen Ackland
Paul Skenazy

Wilma Marcus Chandler
Dane Cervine
Dion Farquhar
Lisa Allen Ortiz

John Babcock

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