Lenticular

Lenticular


A lens of air and vapor held in air
shaped by air
suspended in air
Perceived from earth by way of light
through air
through albumen

through surging ions and shifting envelopes
Earth and æther
Either/Or
Auroral order overboard
A cloud

Unknowing
Wand'ring lonely
An unhoused king of importunate space
Inflowing
Faded finery
Adherent arcing tortoise carapace

Wing of swift, wing of swallow
Your shining copper shield, Achille
Nothing strikes right
In this striking light

A lens of air and vapor
held in air
Perceived from earth by way of light
through surging ions
Earth and æther
Swiftly swallowed
Albumen

A strike a stripe
a lens
all blends
Lenticular

~~~

© 2017 George M. Wallace; all rights reserved.

Photo [we know: not in fact a lenticular cloud] by the blogger.


Power and Light
[Updated! With Video!
And Exclamation Points!]

Powerandlight

The Knoxville Gay Men's Chorus will  be celebrating its 5th Anniversary with its Spring Concert on Saturday night, May 20. In amongst songs made famous by Simon and Garfunkel, Madonna, Cindy Lauper, and the Pointer Sisters, the concert will include the premiere of a new piece composed by Dave Volpe: "Power and Light". In 2014, Dave was the composer of "Nebula of Angels", which was commissioned and premiered in Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the 35th Anniversary concert of the Los Angeles Gay Mens' Chorus.

This fool provided the text for "Nebula of Angels," and when Dave Volpe received the Knoxville commission he graciously requisitioned another pile of words, in a celebratory/anthemic vein, and it was this fool's pleasure to oblige. I have yet to hear a note of the music Dave hath wrought this time, and I will not be in Knoxville when the final product is rolled out, but here, for whatever delectation they may provide in the absence of Dave's music, are those words as I compiled and piled them.

~~~

POWER AND LIGHT
 

Out of our watery refuge

And into the unsettled air

The earth and the fire await us

In their time
 

Adrift in the wake of that secretive sea

An inner spark lights the fuse for flight

Striking a match, the heart is still grounded

Stoking our personal flame

and generating
 

Power and Light

Power and Light

The club and the fist are no match for the bliss of

Power and Light

We are sowing Power and Light

Power and Light

Power and Light

The lift and the laughter lasting hereafter

Power and Light

Warm and glowing Power and Light

Under the star-shadowed nightfall

And into each uncertain day

The labyrinth lies before us

Every time

At risk in a mist amid pitfalls and traps

Our inner spark lights the fuse for flight

Passion and voice, as beams in that darkness

Arcing like coals to the torch

and resonating
 

Power and Light

Power and Light

The leap from the shoot to the trunk to the fruit

Power and Light

We are sowing Power and Light

Power and Light

Power and Light

Exploring, divining the glory that’s shining

Power and Light

We are showing Power and Light
 

Our lives will not be silent

We will never shun the fight

For hearts and hopes and love and freedom

Standing striding echoing on

Tracing, replacing all that is gone

More than before reaching up and beyond

Renewing the world with the force of a song

Refilling the world with

Power and Light
 

Power and Light

Power and Light

The club and the fist are no match for the bliss of

Power and Light

Warm and glowing Power and Light

Power and Light

Power and Light

The lift and the laughter lasting hereafter

Power and Light

We are sowing Power and Light

~~~

© 2016-2017 George M. Wallace; all rights reserved.
Photo by the blogger.

~~~

Update - May 23, 2017:

A good soul in Knoxville has uploaded video of the premiere performance. Behold!

 


a musical box

Musical box

slow light
draping
the spiked cylinder
the gears’ teeth
the spinning vane
the torquing key and vertiginous spring
from whence this once
and once again
springs Lohengrin
or Brahms perhaps
some music anyway
some old and toothsome sound
come round
again and still again
unlocking still
and yet again
the unlocked stillness
teething sweetly
teasing out the inner ear

[jocular cochlear jiggery pokery]

tricking and trickling
out from the
tight grained
tight wound
spring loaded
shine varnished
mite box of musings

or muses
what use is
a box without

soul love
and slow light

 


indifference, like shells

Blue

O rare and clarifying day, 

    good day:

Your raiment of the moment washed in blue

Illumes a softened, sadder rumination

Among despairing men

Who watched each hair go grey.

 

Whichever course they plot they face the sun

In unimpeding drifted winter air

Lashes, squinting eyelids: unavailing

Against that ageless burst

Frigid, Promethean.

 

Out many miles from shore a sudden shower

A sodden shudder weeping on the sea

Mere meters wide

    a drenching isolation

A pure vertical rain

Repeating every hour

 

This shined and shattered shaft of splint’ring light

That draught of water from a cloudless sky

Alludes to sullen shoulders wracked with sobbing

A smudged and doubtful map

Disperses lines of flight

 

O rare and clarifying day,

    good day:

Your raiment of the moment washed in blue

Aloft a soft'ning shy manifestation

Engrained with faded care

Dispensing with dismay.

 

 

© 2017 George M. Wallace; all rights reserved.


A Figure of Speech


A figure of speech4

1

The figure standing always on the beach

Even when there is no sand

Even when there is no sea

Even then there always is the beach

An even sheen of water without water

An even shine of sand    without sand

The line and the limit    always there the line and limit

The shifting line   the long withdrawing sigh    the boring advancing roar

This far no further no no no   no further no  no further

Futile     unavailing   still and all

And always still   so still   the figure stands

 

2

The figure standing always on the beach

Does not disturb a grain of the never present sand

Does not divert or shift a wave adventuring out of the never present sea

Does not assert a space on the ever present beach

No grain is moving nothing ever moves

No wave is breaking nothing ever breaks

The shift and the sheer  always suggested the shift and sheer

This slicing light   the spark and the kindling   the dim implicit flame

More light is need need needed   kneading light

Futile    unavailing   still and all

And always still  so still   the figure stands

3

The figure standing always on the beach

Informed by light takes nothing from the sand

Refined by shadow cares not for the shimmer of the sea

Above the beach the sky   the sky is a desert sky

Above the sky the clouds   the clouds are jungle clouds

Above the clouds the light     the light like words made light

A plane like paper     spread like parchment     clothing the limit

Sprinkling glints      brazen Klimtische gold    a span of flattened wrinkles

One sees these things by hearing them   by picturing pictures of words

Futile     unavailing   still and all

And always still   so still   the figure stands

 

And an absent unseen seer evocates

The figure standing always on the beach

 

~~~
[Photo (which is unconnected to the poem) by the blogger.]

© 2017 George M. Wallace; all rights reserved.


Burred

Burred

 [she says]

 

Hollow my bones

Inject them with air

Marrow once out, atmosphere fill me

With latticework socketed pockets of sky

Laced amid faceted boxes of calcium

 

Each wall translucent

Veined and accented

                                        paper thin agate

Skylight beneath an encircling sheath

 

Calcified, drift-white

                                        bored out

                                        burred clean

hollowed out zones

                                        Emptied and filled

Essence ineffable rudely infused

A plenum a vacuum awash with a way

 

Envelope

Bonded to tendon to muscle to flesh and to

Skin under

Feathers and pinions

 

Clockwork and talons

Engaged or imagined

[she postulates rising]

                                        Rising is purpose

[she execrates falling]

                                        Falling is not possible

Each move beneath

directs itself up

to a still

             farther starting point

poised to plunge higher

 

~~~

 

[she says]

 

The earth and air were not made to be neighbors

Cast athwart one to the other smashed hastily

 

Lean into potent uncertain futurity

Push off on high on invisible potency

Riverine flow

Crystalline luxe

Cerulean   

                Void 

~~~

 

I spread I flap and I flail almost floating

A gasp then the chirping         

                                       songs and screams

A fall

aflutter

                                       fleet and fleeing

Fascinated plummeting   

                                       alive and leaving….     

 

                                                Casting off

                                                Casting off

That caged and perching life

That human beastly scuttle

For this

 

                                        fleet and fleeing

                                        alive and leaving

                                        arc and contour

 

I will fly and I will rise

                                        until the darts strike home


[more she says not]

 

~~~
[Photo (unconnected to the poem) by the blogger.]

© 2017 George M. Wallace; all rights reserved.


The Watcher Watched

Spotted a spy who spotted a bird
Who spotted the bird-spotting spy

The spotted bird espied a spot
Where the spy could not see the bird he sought
The spy could not spot where the bird was not

In a birdless and unburdened sky

 

 

© 2016 George M. Wallace; all rights reserved.


"Nebula of Angels"

Angels Flight and Ziggurat

If you had asked me six months ago when I would be making my debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall, I'd have chortled and wondered what in the name of the Muses you were on about.  But wait....

This weekend (Saturday July 19 at 8:00, Sunday July 20 at 3:00) it seems that I will be making my Disney Hall debut, as a piece for which I crafted up the text will be on offer as part of the massive 35th Anniversary Concert of the Gay Men's Chorus Los Angeles.

And you may ask myself: "Well, how did you get here?" And I may say to yourself: "Well, it was like this...."

In March, my previous collaborator/composer Garrett Shatzer dropped me a line with a potential referral to composer Dave Volpe. Dave, who is also a GMCLA member, had the opportunity to contribute a new and original piece for the 35th Anniversary and was in need of a text. A piece d'occasion was required, something evoking Los Angeles and 35 years' longevity and pride and aspiration and suchlike themes appropriate to the ensemble. The sort of assignment, in short, that lands more often on the desks of poets laureate than on the desk of a simple country lawyer in Pasadena. How could one, if one were this one, say no? One could not. Dave and I connected, chatted, more or less concurred on the scope of the thing, and I set to work.

There are two principal versions of the resulting text: the original "poem-poem" version and a version revised to be more workable, more settable and, above all, more memorizable, as the Men of the Chorus sing from memory without scores before them.

The underlying inspiration for me was visual, a sort of view that is particular to Los Angeles: a view across the basin at night, the lights below so bright that the light of the stars is subsumed and absorbed from beneath. Among others, I had in mind certain Julius Shulman photos, particularly the famous nighttime image of Case Study House #22.* Feeding in to that idea were variants on the notion of Los Angeles as the "City of Angels" and, because the idea of occluded stars was in it, memory dredged up an old slogan from the glory days of MGM.

The original version of the piece, with that studio slogan for its title, came out rather like this: 

Sky and line

More stars than there are in the heavens!

Two bowls inverted each on each

One bowl the earth
Another bowl the sky...

Amid the City’s blaze and burn,
Amid the City’s glare and hustle,
Amid the City’s noise and heat and roaring, stand!

Stand upon this earth
surrounded,
Stand upon this earth
All bathed in this great City’s lights

Stand and seek
And search a sky whose former lights for now are
    hidden.
 

Lift your eye to see and scan
An empty sky:
No stars above?
Standing on this earth, look up:
No stars above?

Step out,
step up,
climb up,
stand still,
look down:
Behold what’s spread before you, at your feet 

Step out,
step up,
climb up,
stand still,
look down:
From any hill behold a bowl of stars

A vast expansive basin full of stars
From mountains down the foothills to the sea 

And with each star, an angel
Light for light
And with each star, an angel
Life for life
And with each star, an angel
Love for Love 

More stars on earth              More angels
than as it were in heaven      More stars 

stars not fallen                    angels not fallen
stars and angels
RISING
RISING
RISING
to the ground and to the world 

For every eye a soul
For every soul a star
For every star an angel
in this city that’s a nebula of angels 

better angels
better natures
better living
better lives 

Rise up, step down, step out
Engage, expand, explode
and shine
 

~~~

There followed from this draft a quick bit of give and take in which the poem was compacted and reorganized along more verse-chorus-versical lines, and in which it gained a new name: Dave Volpe didn't much care for my loose baggy first title but expressed a liking for one of the phrases within the poem, so that phrase became the new and final title. While it is still a Los Angeles piece, it is now less explicitly so than when it started ... the sort of thing that the Chorus of Your Metropolis, Gay or Not, might perhaps embrace?

The piece is being set for orchestra and, I do believe, for both the main and youth choruses of GMCLA. I've not heard a note of it yet, as it has worked through the rehearsal process, and I am witless with anticipation. I had the chance to attend GMCLA's last major concert and I will attest these gentlemen can saaaainnggg. I'm pleased as can be to give them these words with which to work their magic, and extend to all at GMCLA my heartiest felicitations on the occasion of their 35th year.

This then, or something closely akin to it, is the version of the text that Dave has actually set and that will premiere on Saturday night (repeating Sunday). I canna' hardly wait. 

Sky and line noir

Nebula of Angels 

Step out, step up,
climb up, stand still,
look down:
Behold what’s spread before you, at your feet 

Amid the City’s blaze and burn,
Amid the City’s glare and hustle,
Amid the City’s noise and heat and roaring, stand!

Stand upon this earth
surrounded,
Stand upon this earth
All bathed in this great City’s lights 

Step out, step up,
climb up, stand still,
look up:
Behold what’s spread above you, in the heights 

Standing on this earth, look up:
No stars above?
These lights below so bright
Their shine outshines the skies.

From any hill behold a bowl of stars
From mountains down the foothills to the sea
A vast expansive basin full of stars
More stars on earth than once shone in the heavens 

Step out, step up,
climb up, stand still,
look round:
Behold what’s spread about you, on all sides 

And with each star, an angel
Light for light
And with each star, an angel
Life for life
And with each star, an angel
Love for Love

stars not fallen             angels not fallen
stars and angels RISING
to the ground and to the world 

For every eye a soul
For every soul a star
For every star an angel
in this city that’s a nebula of angels 

better angels
better natures
better living
better lives 

Rise up, step down, step out
Engage, expand, explode
and shine

Halle disney en bleu

~~~

* In a bit of happenstantial synchronicity, another fine example of the form appears as the cover image for Gabriel Kahane's The Ambassador. [See preceding post.] The Kahane photo was not released by his label until a week or two after my verses were essentially completed, but it is more or less exactly what I had been picturing as I wrote them.

"More Stars Than There Are in the Heavens!" and "Nebula of Angels" texts Copyright 2014 George M. Wallace.

Photos by the blogger.

~~~


The Map of the Clock

Street clock
Another opening, another show....

On Sunday, May 18, as part of the Spring program by the Sacramento Children's Chorus, one of the five choirs making up the Chorus will premiere "The Map of the Clock," a piece composed by Garrett Shatzer on a text by this blogger. In July, the Chorus will be taking "Map" along for performances in Eugene, Oregon, and "on the green" at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. All of which is rather satisfying, as perhaps you can imagine.

The commission from the Children's Chorus came Garrett's way as he and I were collaborating on "Beset" and he kindly offered me the opportunity to craft up the words. Not having been so young as these singers in a very long while, I found myself thinking about Time and thinking in particular about how differently things appear when one has more future than past in one's life. That notion somehow conjoined in my mind with the idea that "the map is not the territory," a title emerged and, from that, a poem and, from that, a composition which I will hear for the first time on Sunday.

Here are the music-less words:

~~~

THE MAP OF THE CLOCK

 

The map of the road ahead

is not the road ahead

 

The clock on the wall knows

nothing at all of Time

 

This moment’s monument is not

the thing you said

this moment

 

It is not the thing you thought

or meant to say

 

The road alone knows where

the road is leading

 

And once each mile is past,

Time blocks return

 

Old trickster Time, you prankster,

with your secret plan

 

Will anyone here who hears me

hear me again

in time

 

The road the time

the moments that pass

the song the speech

the road the rhyme the time

And on and on and on

or on and off

an end

 

Copyright 2013 George M. Wallace

~~~

Photo: Streets Clock by Flickr user Individual Design, used under Creative Commons license.

Incidental: "A moment's monument" was Dante Gabriel Rossetti's description of the sonnet form. It appears here as a backhanded reference to my first, and most ambitious, collaboration with Garrett Shatzer: "The Kissed Mouth," an as-yet unrealized song cycle for tenor and soprano—more of a chamber opera, to my way of thinking—involving Rossetti and certain supernatural elements, of which I will say no more. Mayhap I will be able to announce its premiere here someday. In time, as it were.

~~~

UPDATE [August 5, 2014]: A recording of the premiere performance of "The Map of the Clock" has gone up on Garrett Shatzer's site. I could not have asked for better treatment of this text than Garrett gave it, and the youthful singers of the Sacramento Children's Chorus (the subchoir that performed here is Jr. High/High School Freshperson age) sang it gorgeously. Listen here.

~~~