Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Week 43: Captain's Log: Soundings in Fathoms and Feet

   This week's book, the second part of the Captain's Log series is titled Soundings in Fathoms and Feet. This poem is handwritten on a depth soundings map... as was the previous Captain's Log entry. In this case, the map is a digital copy of a vintage December 18, 1976 map of the ocean around the Bahamas Islands in the Caribbean Sea. The original map, measuring 30 inches by 56 inches, has been reduced to 14 x 17 inches. The book can be stored rolled up as a scroll or tacked to a wall, just as a utilitarian map might be posted.


handprinted poem on the map

the map title and date

close up of the Berry Islands to the Andros

Soundings in Fathoms and Feet

Past the Berry Islands
to the Andros,
the soundings in fathoms and feet
map the Tongue of the Ocean…
Who knew 
one day this would be
some Shangri-La
some Eden for the rich and famous 
to cavort and commune.

A wilderness isolated 
by wind and water with 
blue holes of mystery and mythic monsters.
Once there were towns 
built on dreams of glory and gold
but they crumbled in antiquity
because the soil wasn’t fit
for anything but salt.
From the sea or from tears,
it’s all the same.

In those days, there stood outposts
built for warriors, smugglers, and pirates
until the wars were over, the goods were freed, 
and the pirates rehabilitated, or not.
Now, new castles have been built 
amid the palm trees and sandy beaches.
They shimmer and gleam in the Caribbean sun
Their beaches and tiki bars
are filled with the sun worshipers of modernity.
Seeking respite
from the stress and boredom of their lives,
they lie on the golden beaches
sipping rum-spiked fruit juices 
with colorful umbrellas perched in the glasses
matching the patterns of their island clothes, 
their pink cheeks and bellies, their bold daydreams. 

Elixir of pleasure bubbles up from the blue holes,
shimmers in the cays and channels,
and floats on the Tongue of the Ocean
as the Bahama Islands, a small string of gems
shines from the belt of the Earth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Week 42: Captain's Log: March 7, 1988, How Low Can You Go?

   This week's book, How Low Can You Go? is actually one part of a series titled Captain's Log. The series is inspired by several 20- to 40-year-old nautical maps of the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and areas around the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. How Low Can You Go? is a poem that focuses on Key West, Florida.. However, it might be about a wider area. The poem was handwritten on a digital print of one section of a 27-year old depth soundings map of the Intracoastal Waterway between the Florida coast, Sugarloaf Key, and Key West, Florida. When maps are involved, one tends to think the boundary lines and landmarks are actually independent of each other... but often the perceived differences that labels create are only imagined... or simply a matter of perception.

the log entry...
This is the poem.

The map rolled out on the table
shows the depth soundings in feet,
2, 4, 1, 10, 8, 10, 4, 4, 4, 7, 2, 1, 1, 3, 2, 2
of the intracoastal waterway between Florida’s shore, 
the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge,
and the islands of the Florida Keys to the south.

The most famous key, Key West,
arrived in modern ideology
through the drinking spots and ramblings 
of certain writers, musicians, and actors;
and the close-gated compounds 
of a few presidents, politicians, and backroom big-wigs.

An area no greater than 7.4 square miles...
Key West now hosts a carnival 
of tourists and snow birds, 
who amble along the little streets
past the Sloppy Joe Bar, kiosks of flamingo snow globes,
and Key West’s most famous landmark,
a once useful cement sewer drain 
painted with the words
"Southernmost Point Continental U.S.A."  
Ballast Key, 9 miles south, is the REAL southernmost point.

close-up of Key West and the depth sounds around it
a transfer print of the cement sewer-pipe marker

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Week 41: Map

   This week's book is another poem... Map.

the book in it's paper wrapper

marbled cover paper and handmade paper title plate

accordion pages of pastepaper and letterpress

Coming to this place

turning turning turning
Where was I going?

Where am I going?
as the earth spins
I stand lost  
at this crossroad
seen at a crossroad

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Week 40: On Sammy's Street

   The book-of-the-week for Week 40 is a small accordion book titled On Sammy's Street. The cover paper was hand-marbled and the title plate was handwritten with Sharpie® marker and colored with watercolor pencils. A yellow satin ribbon wraps the tall, thin 9 by 3-inch book and ties with a bow at the midline.

The front cover board and a satin  ribbon

Open the covers and see a folded, single-page map inside.

Inside  the covers is a black and white lithograph print of a map, hand colored with watercolor pencils  and with text handwritten with Sharpie® marker. The story is centered on a 16-month-old's memories of his small world of four streets, a golf course, and a park.

a bird's eye view of the route to the park...

a close up of the map and it's story

   Neighborhoods are geographical areas that are essential to people's lives. Everyday life occurs in neighborhoods. Routines, comfort, and a sense of identity are all integral parts of neighborhoods. When a child is very young, the neighborhood is practically their whole world. The sights, smells, and feel of that first neighborhood are often imprinted on the subconscious of a person for their whole life. The story of a first neighborhood will often be a magic key to the choices, fears, and preferences experienced in later life, long after the first neighborhood is years in the past. 

   On Sammy's Street doesn't have a great plot. There are no chase scenes and no romantic episodes. There is no mystery and the characters are not fleshed out. The story is told in the stilted simplistic language of a 16-month old child, Sammy. He takes about Mommy and Daddy, Pop-pop, and Gram Kathy. His biggest accomplishments are pouring water into his pool, eating cherry tomatoes he picked himself, and driving his little red plastic car. His adventures are going to the park in his blue wagon or going along when his Daddy and Pop-Pop play golf. There is no real danger in this neighborhood. It is filled with natural beauty and places to play and find joy. Sammy is a pretty lucky little guy. Hopefully, all of his neighborhoods will be this way.