A chapbook can be like a mosaic, or even a collage, of thoughts and illustrations. As the illustrator of the recent chapbook “Sunset Reflections” by poet Lenore Plassman, I had an interesting challenge. I needed to illustrate each poem in such a way that it evoked or at least illustrated the feeling set down in the words. Sometimes I felt successful at this, other times I’m not sure I hit the mark. The author was happy with my work and I was fairly happy with the result. At each step, though, it was a partnership, my images with the poetry, different feelings and pieces coming together like bits of paper forming a collage. Here is one of the poems from the chapbook. Click on the image if you want to learn more about it.
Three-lobed prints sooted my cheeks forever
in that first awareness,
the flapping incredulity
and then the caws flooded
their tide never ceasing.
I ran to make the first entreaty
to an unseen 911 employee
and finally stood there at the apex
between garage and back yard;
It’s just a crow but can’t you do something?
The economics of a possible blown transformer
caused the officer to pose the crow’s plight
to the power company;
back to hoeing weeds and seeding lettuce,
fellow crows echoed distress
and warning to strafing starlings
as the morning waned.
My voice then woke the power company
my inquiry as to their whereabouts
the male voice telling me
that the officer had related
a dead crow incident
and my avowal that he was not dead;
his wing beats penetrated the air even now.
Glad tidings rang from crow outpost to crow outpost
when the lineman nudged their caught comrade free
the maiden flight shortened as he fell
from a pine
his leg bent and broken.
Crow drums continued to throb through the night
and the following day
as their maimed companion hopped through sprinkler water
cat kibble and bread proffered
another black friar would keep vigil.
Odd now this entity that is normal
this lack of strident whistle blowing;
left within my sphere of earth bound garden
bereft at not knowing for sure
the end of the tale
of my black one legged monk,
I bend again to hoe
the absence of the crow drums
palpable in the creases of my fingertips.
Now, I was supposed to post a photo, so I’ll do that too. Here’s the true collage – the beautiful cover. The artist who assembled that, started with a photograph of a somewhat cluttered backyard and turned it into a peaceful waterscape that was perfect for the book’s cover! Turning one thing into another at the same time as you combine different elements – that’s a true expression of what a collage can be.
Poem by Lenore Plassman
Once common, now laid aside
a bow and arrow in the corner
once the stuff of little boy dreams
his sights now shooting higher
he wings his conscious on the other,
love and not blood and sorrow,
the deer walking into the forest a shadowed beast
its heart beat strong
the boy-man lithe as he extends his fingers to Her.
the raw bare foot in the snow
bled and bled as eons pass
that need of crackling paper positioned
the urge to chew on sentiment
never tamped under
crunching we must go if we are to live!?
Inner heart strung, we listen to a harp strummed
spider webs and flinch flight
memoried snow banked, thawing,
we catch each note avidly
a drop of boiling taffy in a common glass
are we at this thread or perhaps that?
Warmth out of season, a stubborn petunia bloomed purple
a man in Home Depot stared up into an artificial tree
I scooted by, wondering what artificial thoughts matched
Joni Mitchell’s If I had skates to skate on,
words printed on a page siding with daughter’s illustration
pups demanding I toss the new ball
I run into a friend I barely know from Facebook,
I smack into her account of holding a pitbull
holding and crying as it died there in the road
and cherishing what was leaking out.
“Cry me a river!” as another sun sets
and a soon to be president ignores and ignores
the sight of that dog prostrate
a bit of Jesus there, hard,
that fake tree a treasure or a bill to the hardware man.