Archive | Fall 2014 RSS feed for this section

Amy Blythe. In Exile.

10 Dec


after In der Fremde by Heinrich Heine

I once had a place to call my own,
I went there for the peace,
to see the crawl of the trees
and watch flowers grow for me.
It was a dream.

But it touched me as if it were mine,
spoke to me as if I owned it,
loved as if it were real
and brought breath for me.

It was a dream.





An interview with artist Ashley Macias.

5 Dec

Ashley Macias’ artwork is often a reflection of nature and ourselves. Her work explores the complex nature of organic fluidity, the deeper consciousness, and appreciation for beauty that is existence. She uses acrylic and spray-paint to create an organic, surreal element associating with natural elements of color whether earth tone or vibrant, passionate arrays. The eyes are a common association with the Pineal gland, and her work is an expressive portrayal of a deeper insight to our living selves.

We caught up with Ashley after she returned from Burning Man 2014.


Do you find your style evolving as you continue to create art, or do you find yourself continuing to explore and perfect certain forms, with all their depths and complexity?


My overall style is definitely progressing the more serious I become about the quality of my work. It’s not as apparent until many months have passed and I rummage through prior works. I tend to find internal conflicts in my work when I feel as if I am not advancing. Ultimately, it’s that very realization later on that teaches me where my process of creation is headed, and that I have in fact been making progress through these challenges. I’m always looking for a new direction without losing the very essence of my technique. When I am faced with conflicts of growth in my work, I become more radical and chaotic in my attempts. Deviating often helps me understand this. My style is becoming more defined and clear with more effort and time.


Do you have a process for approaching a new piece? Do you tend to plan in a formal way, or do you just start sketching?


I try to be as organic as possible, but it often begins with a eye. There’s a deep essence that consumes me in the awareness and internal consciousness that mystifies my mind when I draw eyes. I try to be as fluid as possible when
creating a world around the eye and most often will paint a piece inspired by it. Organic lines, people, and dimensions consume me further. From a simpler perspective, I tend to plan through my drawings. They are all the things I wish to paint with time and planning. Sketching is like someone’s daily cup of coffee for me. It’s how I begin my day. I try to be as free as possible with my ideas on paper or canvas. I will sometimes intend something on canvas and find myself painting something completely new. It’s all about how I feel that determines the movement in my lines.


What is your current project?


Organizing my projects seems to be my current project. I often take on more than I can handle. I have a deep willingness to try everything and be better than myself. Besides applying for upcoming grants and planning group shows with other local artists, I’m trying to become more involved in public art with youths and public mural work. So naturally I converged the two and will be working with non-profits to beautify walls with young minds in hopes of inspiring them through art. I’m also currently in the process of starting a more detailed and imaginative series as well. It’s something I am more privately evolving with time. I can’t quite grasp this new direction in my personal work, but I genuinely feel this will be very different from my previous conquests. It’s going to be special for me and hopefully for those with whom I share it.


When did you first know that you wanted to create art?


Always. I was not always conscious that I could actually be a working artist, but I knew it was what I believed was my true happiness and that art was the only way. Being little and creating was my internal home. Nobody really told me I could do these things. As I got into my teens, I had more guidance with the help of teachers, which ultimately led me into an artist internship that changed my life for the better. Through artistic advances, my feelings about creating my work became more concise; therefore, I would challenge myself and become greater with effort, patience, and resilience. It’s who I am, and I’m proud it is the path I will walk my whole life.




Who are you reading right now?


Currently The Mission of Art by Alex Grey. It is always a great guideline and art inspiration book to pick up and read every so often. He has a lot to say about the creative process, and I tend to connect with his vision even if our work is not necessarily the same. I have other current interests in books such as The Resurrectionist & anatomy related texts.




Which artists and periods/ styles inspire you?


I enjoy Romanticism & Surrealism overall. Both have a dramatic complexity I can’t quite explain but I feel through. I feel more attached to the subject matter. I don’t feel hugely inspired by particular artists. I enjoy some of the common greats like Dali, Basquiat, & M.C Escher, but they don’t necessarily define my work. I really try hard not to obsess about a lot of artists and their work in hopes of creating more of what’s internal in myself.



You have also done collaborative and performance work. Where do you find the intersections between that work and your solo art, if you draw connections or lines? Is there significant bleed-through? Does one feed the other?


I find plenty of inspiration in performance art. There’s something about the physical action through motion that allows me to grasp a better concept of what I am trying to convey in some of my work. Everything flows and has a process of natural fluidity in my eyes. Performance and my art are best friends. They compliment one another in my style of work. I find a lot of my technique comes from people such as dancers being physically creative. The form, the delicate gestures and the swiftness all compel me.They are so free and fluid in their craft. I recently brought my work to life through wood cutout figures and a group of dancers in the Scottsdale Public Art Water+Art +Light event. I painted them as surreal organic figures emerging from the water, and they performed as water with such dynamic presence and desire for our precious resource. It was a push into another direction for my art, and that has created more possibilities in the future with performers. I can take my solo work and incorporate it into actual living beings in various ways and interpretations, and that is exciting. I really want to become more involved in public and performance art. Collaborations allow me to break out of my comfort zone and gain useful tools while working with other artistic minds.


So I have to ask this question of everyone. If you could become a different animal, which animal would you be? And why?


The first thing that came to mind was a Tiger like coated monkey with a Lion head feature and the eyes of a hawk and the heart of a child. It just sounded right, and then I laughed. I think I just prefer my own imagination.




ASHLEY MACIAS is a downtown Phoenix based artist born in Laguna Niguel whose artwork is strongly influenced by everyday interactions and complexities of life through nature and consciousness. Self taught at a young age, Macias’s mind always runs wild with imaginative ways to translate the things we see, think & feel. Her techniques in bold line work are often inspired by the natural raw organic flow in plants, the aging of people, and a deeper awareness of complex human emotions.

Chris DiCicco. Why Wolves Take the Calves First.

2 Dec


She should’ve been the one.

From atop my horse I scanned the mountainside, sweeping my eyes over the herd of cattle navigating down its bend.

If Mother Earth had a son, he’d be named Montana. She’d watch over him, never let anything happen.

But it would anyway.

Watching the last head of cattle, a small steer, become part of the moving train, I’m reminded of the missing calf from last night. His mother weighed eight times as much as him, moved slower.

It never seems right.

The wolves come down the mountain. They separate the herd—and they take the calf every time.

You never see it, only imagine how they do it.

Except when I play it out in my mind, it’s not always the calf they take. It’s her.

Even if it never really is.


The torn ground where the herd spent the night, the trampled grass, the blood, it tells me what happened.

The small hoof prints stop. From the looks, the wolves dragged the calf the rest of the way, pulled him off his feet. The imprint of the poor thing’s body across the mud looks like it goes on for some five more yards. The mess of blood, it’s an easy enough trail to follow. No point in arriving at its end.

The wolves are somewhere on the mountain, somewhere between the very bottom and the very top—I’m somewhere between that, between a herd of free roaming beef and them—so I reload my rifle because it makes me feel better.

Somewhere else, between all of this, is my wife Sue.

I wipe my leather saddle glove across the mud-caked denim of my work jeans, smearing the calf’s blood on myself.

No point in staying clean. Sue’ll know.

Should have sold the mother. Now she won’t eat because her calf’s gone.

Should have sent her off with the last order. Would have, if Sue hadn’t been convinced that time spent with the mother would guarantee the calf’s success on the mountain.

She was wrong.

Shouldn’t have bothered trying to keep a calf anyway. Not our business.


We make a living raising free-range cattle. Beef rich from the green Montana grasses they feed on. Our card says so.

It isn’t Chicago.

It isn’t a life either of us expected. Not at this point. The costumes fit though and the work keeps us busy. I put on the boots, ride the mountain. I wear what I’m supposed to. I keep doing it, all that I can, what I can, keep my mind away from cities, whatever memories lurk there. No more Chicago.

This. I hope it can be enough. It needs to be. Enough to make us smile once and awhile when the weather seems nice or the sun dips down behind the mountains.

A redefining of tranquility, if never peace.


The calf’s dried blood on my leg reminds me of the crushed red stone in the Montana quarry we passed when we first drove from Chicago to the ranch, when we rode in silence because Sue didn’t say a word to me the whole drive.

The red in those open mountain veins looked so natural and deep. It’s easy to mistake it.

I need to get off my horse, back in a car before I forget how to tell the difference between quarry dust and blood.

How natural it all seems here in Montana.

The herd has moved on. Maybe to put space between them and what happened last night. Maybe to eat.


A deep winkle forms on Sue’s brow at the news.

I don’t want to tell her it was one of the two calves, and I don’t have to. She knows.

The loss makes her face twist and show something. What it is depends on how well you know her. Whatever it was on her face disappears as quickly as it surfaces.

Where does she bury it?

Does it matter?

“Well, that makes three,” Sue says, sitting down at the kitchen table, pulling out her yellow legal pad.

“It does.”

“We’ll have to replace our loss and make up the difference by selling higher. Fatten them up.”

“Hard to fatten up free-range beef, Sue.”

“Well, they’ll have to range longer. Maybe go up along the northern side more.”

“Can’t. The wolves.”

“The Jonsons do it.”

“Yeah, the Jonsons sent the wolves our way.”

“They’re managing because they stay out there, camping, keeping an eye on their property—protecting it.”

“Sue, do you think any other Montana rancher who loses a calf to a wolf would begin protecting his livestock by sleeping with them up in the hills?”

My wife stands up, stares at me. She thinks it’s my fault, that I can’t protect them.

“It’s not possible, Sue. You know that. If wolves want one, they’re gonna get it.”

“The Jonsons stop ’em.” Her eyes refuse to meet mine.

“Yeah, and they do a much different business than we do. They raise calves. Their whole world is calves and making them into something the rest of us can decide what to do with.”

I sit down at the table, wrap my hands around Sue’s.

“We decided to sell free-range beef, that’s steers and heifers. The occasional calf is something we can handle. It happens. But we’re better off selling that last one to the Jonsons.”

“No. We’re not selling it to the Jonsons and losing a good investment. It’s a natural gain. And you want to throw that money away on the basis that it won’t survive here on our ranch.” She flings her words. Her eyes are wet.

I understand.

“Alright. There’s no reason we should throw away good money. It’s our good fortune to have a calf. Free money, right?”

“Why don’t you take the rifle up there, Mark? Just see if you can find them.”

“I’ll try.” Something flashes across her face with my last word.

“They’ve got a den somewhere on the north side,” Sue says, “where the pines get thick. I know it.”


Trotting off in the distance, disappearing further up the mountain, the wolves melt one after the other into the tree line, leaving her behind.

I check my rifle, pick up my binoculars.


We packed up our small Chicago apartment. We tried downsizing to a smaller, one room, but it wasn’t enough. We left. It was better than a divorce.

We didn’t save any of his things. No boxes full of toys. Possible hand-me- downs.

A friend came, took everything while we checked out the ranch.

We moved.


I lined her up. Put my finger on the trigger. She pushed her muzzle back and forth over her meal, not finished eating.

I almost shot. Refocused to be sure of the kill.

The wolf rested her muzzle on her dead pup. I was wrong. Then on another. She licked and nudged their small paws. Her entire litter. Three little pups. One moved, vomited, was still again.

I put down the rifle.

With my binoculars, I watched the wolf brush her nose over the last dead pup, holding it there until there was nothing left to do.

She melted into the forest away from the den. I would have left it at that, but she came back to stand over them, nuzzling and waiting.

I picked up my rifle, aimed and shot.


There was no way I could’ve known it’d be the last time I’d see him. In Chicago, they told me, reassured us. It wasn’t our fault he was taken. It wasn’t Sue’s.


“Don’t look so upset Mark.”

“It’s illegal.”

“Well, what if it is, there are plenty of other ways you’re allowed to kill them.”

“Poison, Sue?”

“Yeah, and we’re safer for it. We can keep the calf. I took care of it.” “Just the cubs.”


“The cubs got to it first, I suppose.”

“What? How?”

“Did you put it by the den? That would do it, Sue.”

“The others?”

“Out hunting or too smart.”

“The mother?

“Can’t be around all the time.”

“Oh my god, she’s still alive?”


Jason Mosser. Time Beforetime.

26 Nov


What is the word, or is there one, I wonder,
as my wife rouges her cheeks, sips white wine,
and I mix whiskey and water,
the word for this indeterminate period we spend
getting ready to go out for the evening?
What is this lacuna? This present that,
nothing in itself, exists solely as prologue
to an imminent future.

It’s pretentious to say “pre-prandial”
because nobody knows what it means,
which is why nobody uses the phrase,
and shouldn’t it be as common as “cocktails”?

And it’s not happy hour, too intimate;
here, it’s just me & my soul mate.
And it’s not quite cocktails either.
Cocktails are drinks at the bar,
in a restaurant, waiting for a table,
or cocktails are what we’ll have later
with our friends after dinner.
No one says, “As I told my wife over
cocktails in the bedroom….” Sure,
you can say we’re having cocktails,
but it’s not about what we’re drinking
that I’m thinking, it’s about where and when.

It’s like before a play, with the actors
putting on make-up and costumes,
preening & psyching themselves.
Then it’s curtain call. One final
“How do I look?” “Fabulous, doll.”
Then we exit the dressing room
and enter, stage left, our scene, our city.

Richard Foerster. River Road.

20 Nov


Let’s take the scenic route, he’d sometimes say
on our drives back to my house from Ogunquit
before he’d leave for home. Spur-of-the-moment,
or so it seemed, his impulses forced me to break hard
and swerve well short of our usual turn on Rte. 1A.

Instantly, the mortised angles of our days
would loosen as I shifted to take the curves
past the corner baker’s shop. The road
would open then like a mother’s oven door and spill
a brief aroma apple-warm across the asphalt.

One time at the bend where the Baptist church
perches on its knoll, he asked, as if insisting,
Wouldn’t you love to live on this road?
The bell tower’s lead-white caught the sun
and cast a blinding glare upon us.

At the opposite curb, the old colonial
we admired, with its weathered shakes,
squatted like a hen half-hidden in shadows
among bee-balm and a blare of orange lilies.
Yes, I admitted, past the graveyard and the bridge

where the estuary begins to broaden
toward a glimpse of lighthouse and the sea.
The blacktop shimmered that day before us,
itself a flow of water ending at the shore.
We’ll build a home here when I’m free.


Rohan Garg. Daisy at Dawn.

17 Nov


Jeffrey Alfier. Down Culmore Point to River Foyle.

14 Nov

                                            Londonderry, Ireland


Tendon and bone ache from all your years
walking hard stone seaward. Still a mile inland,

you already sense the surf unfurl beneath
your keel and rudder, just beyond that break

in the stone wall where a slipway releases
you daily to the gibbous curve of the lough.

Trawlers will whisper their passage north
beyond Magilligan Point. Seabirds will run dark

against graylight and mizzle, tethered to wind,
communicants ghosting your homeward wake.

Matt Rouser interview.

9 Nov


We first met Matt Rouser at a conference in Sweden, where we were both presenting our work on participatory media projects. He continues to imagine innovative uses of urban space. His recent work has been focused on revitalization of underused and empty urban space, specifically in Landskrona, Sweden and New York City. Mobile technologies and new media are his tools of choice: maps, location-based services, social media-platforms, and AR.

Some of his projects include City API, for Landskrona city, Sweden; Made in the Lower East Side in NYC; The Boston Barometer, a look at tax assessor’s data and indicators around the city; and Ungentry, a web map of gentrification indicators in Boston.

We caught up with him in July 2014, in the midst of his current projects in Boston.




Do you find your sense of the locative evolving as you continue to work, and have you found that client/community requirements and expectations are more location-centric now than they were, say, 3-5 years ago?


It is definitely ever-changing and evolving. I brought myself into this field because I was fascinated by more philosophical questions surrounding space. How do we assign meaning to space? How do spacial characteristics influence our interactions with each other and with the space itself? From there, how do we broaden or focus the scope of possibility for interactions in given spaces. How does a space become a place which is amenable to these various forms of interaction?

As technology rapidly evolves, I am finding that there are new possibilities opening up on almost a daily basis. From the whimsical and momentary to the rather profound. Further, the locative is more and more becoming embedded into daily activities. A picture uploaded to Facebook can automatically be tagged with your location. Yelp can quickly give you suggestions based on your location where you might have needed to rely on verbal recommendations or otherwise before. Entire forms of social interaction are being replaced with processes that begin by looking at your Lat/Long coordinates.

5 years ago, smart phones had not yet reached the level of ubiquity that they have now. Facebook and Twitter were just hitting their stride. A large portion of my friend circle were creeped out by the idea of a social “check-in” that gave their location. This is something that is now often taken completely for granted. Not much consideration is given for the deeper social implications when iOS ask you “This app wants to use your location: OK/ Cancel.” That becomes part of my role as a designer and creator; to look to integrate the locative in a way that serves the purposes of community in a healthy way.


Do you have a process for approaching a new project?


My projects are generally either purpose-driven or exploratory in nature. For an exploratory project, I work to develop a framework that will allow for unexpected discovery and build in as few restricting factors as possible. For example, in mapping a set of data for 311 calls in a city, I work to let the data show through on its own and provide complimentary data so that correlations can be explored.

Purpose-driven projects take a much finer grained approach. Each component of a platform or an installation has a determined role, leading to greater engagement or eliciting a purposeful response from the user.

In each case, I draw from geographical, sociological and data-driven frameworks to guide and instruct the construction of a project, along with industry best practice and carefully chosen collaboration points.


What is your current project?


Currently, I am leading a project through the Code for Boston volunteer brigade. It is called Ungentry, and it maps out various demographic indicators in Boston related to gentrification. It is in the early stages, but we are working on combining census data with data from apps like Foursquare to get a picture of the location and pace of change in the city. Everyone “knows” that Boston is changing rapidly, and quickly becoming too expensive to live in, but the statistical evidence has not been put together yet.


When did you first know that you wanted to work with location-based software+apps?


When I was working on my grad degree in Urban Planning, various forms of social media were beginning to flex their muscle as drivers of social change and paradigm shifters in communication. I began an independent study on its relation to space and while I was in process, I downloaded Foursquare (now Swarm) along with a few other locative apps and was hooked.

Most have not delivered on their initial promise of increased social connectivity and serendipitous interaction. Instead, most have followed the path to monetization through exploiting users’ social patterns to create personalized recommendation engines. The possibility of greater social utility still exists, but it will take continued iteration, exploration and technological evolution.


Who are you reading right now?


I’m reading Code/Space by Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge. It explores the permeation and inescapability of code surrounding us in everyday objects and actions. Code plays a integral part in the production of space and vice versa, and they deepen the understanding of this important relationship.


Which writers and genres inspire you?


When I am not reading about code/tech in space, Urban Planning case studies or geographical analysis, I tend to enjoy literature in the absurdist tradition. Camus and Kafka are favorites along with a plethora of short fiction.


I love the gentrification mapping project idea. Where do you think you (and others) will take it?


We will take it as far as the data allows us. We do not have a particular axe to grind re gentrification, but we do want to help people have a better idea of the ways that the city is changing.


What are some uses you can see for the project and its maps as people start studying the implications of this work?


Its goal is to be an informative tool for both community members and policy makers in the city. We have the ear of a number of people in government and other positions that have a hand in development, and they have shown an interest in examining data in this fashion.


And since this issue is focused on the burden of home, and you are the location/mapping mastermind, how has your own sense of “home” shifted since you’ve begun work with this emphasis? Or did it begin with a desire to interrogate what geolocation and mapped/mappable relationships mean?


My initial interest was related to what I recognized as a rapidly changing landscape, and a desire to examine the possibilities of where that could lead. However, over the last few years it has certainly colored my thought process related to concepts of home, place and belonging.

“Home” is still a concept that I ponder on a regular basis. To be frank, I have yet to obtain any real sense of assuredness when it comes to my own definition. In a working sense, I believe that home is something that you take with you. After going through the immigration process in Sweden and becoming a dual citizen, I have gained an even stronger sense of the elements in my life that are still so foundational and were derived from my upbringing in Michigan. To feel “at home,” there is a certain percentage of those elements which must be present, along with a level of social connectivity and intimacy that supports and nourishes.

As I stated before, geolocation has not yet delivered on its promise of greater social utility, but I take that pursuit into consideration with every project I take on.


So I have to ask this question of everyone. If you could become a different animal, which animal would you be? And why?


I have an affinity for the woodlands of the northern hemisphere and the creatures therein. I would choose an owl, probably a great horned owl. They embrue a certain sense of dignity and gravitas that is admirable. Plus they’re just really cool.


matt rouser

Michael Lythgoe. Born Upriver.

8 Nov


from Tornado Alley
he knows the Ohio River valley
east of the New Madrid fault line,
east of the funnel clouds
twisting apart Kentucky barns.

His storms were never twisters,
more monsoons near
the Mekong, or hurricanes
cooked up off Africa to flush
Caribbean islands, volcanic peaks.

His seasonal storms
have been wars. He was spared.
But you never know
what the meteorologists
will say next. Burns in Colorado.

Something is blowing in.
The hurricane hunters
are even now airborne
piercing storm clouds
to get a reading.

Out west, snowmelt
runs over Montana.
Floods in Crow Indian Reservation.
In Waco he chokes on smoke.

Win Bassett. Only You Can Prevent Nothing.

2 Nov


Each time I see the pointing bear
peering from under his hat on the hopeless poster,
I want to punch him in the face

like the one boy did to the black bear
that stormed into his tent in Cimarron,
in the summer of ‘01.

We heard about the attack
while we ignored the dew the next morning
and boiled water in the campsite
just over the ridge.

They said the other boy in the tent was sick,
and his throwup bag lured the beast
to his tent overnight
like a Bluetick on a blasé scent.

They said the unsick boy punched the bear
in the face, and the animal
turned to the ailing one,
dragged him out of his tent,
and tore him up.

My buddy Hill wasn’t afraid of bears,
but I didn’t sleep in our tent
for a good portion of the ten days in New Mexico
after they told us, before setting out,
that the fires had left the bears
without food.

I made sure not a scent existed
outside our bear bags
hung high and far each night.
Before we bedded down for the evenings,
I made sure everyone hung up their toothpaste.
I bet those boys did the same,
but they forgot about the throwup.

Bears wouldn’t mess
with a judge’s son, I thought.
Hill wouldn’t get into any trouble, of any kind,
and that’s why I asked him
to tent with me
several months out.

I was right
until the very thing that hurt the bears
that summer of ‘01
hurt Hill two and a half years
down the road.

I heard about the fire while I
walked out of a class
during the first week
of my second year at State College.

They said Hill hadn’t been found,
and no one had seen him
since the party last night.

They said it must have started
in the early morning hours,
and no one knew how.

Hill wasn’t afraid of fires,
but I didn’t sleep until after I wept,
I mean bawled,
in the church that sat in the town
where my parents and the judge still lived.

They said rangers killed the bear
the week after it attacked those boys.

Fire wasn’t afraid of bears or Hill.
That’s what the Poster doesn’t say.

← Older Entries
Newer Entries →

Badger, Party of 7


james (w) moore

poems, and the poet who poems them

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

(Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction

Vinita Words

It's always about writing...

David J. Bauman

Co-author of Mapping the Valley

MarLa Sink Druzgal

Freelance Creative Professional

Beth Gilstrap

Writer * Editor * Educator * Weirdo

Anthony Wilson

Lifesaving Poems


Just another site

Grant Clauser

(poetry and other stuff, but mostly poetry)

Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

Just another site

Largehearted Boy

a roominghouse for the servants of the duende