Thursday, June 22, 2017

Five Note Scale

Five Note Scale

Is it true classic Chinese
music is built of five

basic notes? Or is it
wishful thinking on my part

that my simple clusters of
five words or phrases or

letters or stanzas or blocks
or dots can invoke an

environment in which our minds
may pause?Give me the

five notes. Hum for me.



Sandy Kinnee

Traveling Quietly

Traveling Quietly 

Quiet and peaceful on the metro
as if I am moving
underground with hundreds
also meditating

Silence augmented
Not broken
by the playing of a non-disruptive
santouri

It gives one time to examine
little things such as the cerulean
blue laces on the black wing tips
of a business man heading to work



Sandy Kinnee

Impressionism and Air Conditioning


Impressionism and Air Conditioning

Early morning resting my posterior
on a charcoal leather bench
surrounded on four sides
by Degas, Caillebotte, Renoir, Monet.

I am a happily spoiled man
Lucky to be alone
in the Orsay museum
a solid hour in advance of the crowds

Plus I do not have to share
this glorious air conditioning
with anyone except a few guards
who are chatting.

A girl with a sheaf of papers
wanders into the gallery
and I understand that horde
will follow too soon

sucking up what had been mine alone:
the brush strokes, dappled light upon
some canvases gas light and sunlight 
through unseen windows on the remainder.

All these paintings illuminated by
 spotlights and indirect sunlight
and bathed by controlled humidity
and delicious air conditioning.

I take it all in and smile back at those
haystacks and the Japanese Bridge.




Sandy Kinnee

That Could Take a Lifetime

That Could Take a Lifetime

The only one of my grandparents who wasn't born in Canada was the one who put me on the front seat of her Desoto and took me over the bridge to that foreign land. She was born in the United States, her other siblings in Prussia.

Living on a border, or living in a border town lets one see differences without fearing them. The people across the lake and river were known as Canadians. 

The same might be true of folks who live in neighboring states or towns or perhaps live in the city and visit their cousins dairy. They probably cross into unknown territory and discover that a different way is just a different way and not dangerous. Differences enrich us and my grandmother wanted to show me that there was a world to discover. 

We left the American side of the border and before entering Canada had to answer the questions of the Canadian Douane, border agent. The three questions were simple.
Where were you born? What is the purpose of your visit? Do you have anything to declare?

The first and last questions had short answers, USA and no. The middle question was answered by my grandmother this way "I want to show my grandson what is different and special about Canada".

The Douane bent forward and rested his forearms on the frame of the car window, poking his head inside, "My dear madame, I fear that would take a lifetime."

My grandmother shook her head in agreement.





Sandy Kinnee

Oh Show Me

Oh Show Me

Oh show me
which image
has caught your eye
and let you slip unseen
around the corner
and out of this
version of reality







Sandy Kinnee



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Room Enough For Small Painting

Not Room Enough

While there is no where
near the amount of space
in this Parisian apartment
to paint on the scale
I have been working,
I have made use of my time
to work with words;
more easily shoved
into my laptop.

Yesterday something
happened to change things.
A gear or flywheel or
mechanism in some
damp part of me kicked in
and began making marks
upon the pages
of the stack of large notebooks
I brought along.

Simply small and limited
to black ink,
yet visual in that you don't
look at them,
the way you do
with written words,
and let the eye shuttle
the marks to your ears.

No, these are fully visual
things without sound,
not read by sounding-out
the marks in your ear.
These bypass the ear and
the nose and the tongue
and plug into some primal part 
of your brain.
Possibly it also visits your gut.

Look, mom, I'm riding
two bikes at the same time.

There is room enough
for small painting.




Sandy Kinnee

The Frozen Pea Trick

It's Not That Hot Yet

Those nights when ones skin melted
against the sheets
and there was no chance of sleeping

except to pass out from exhaustion
or to get up,
change the sheet and pillow case

and walk to the lake.
A quick dip on a moonless night,
then back on top of dry sheets. 

In Paris, I can change the sheets,
take a walk along the Seine, 
but no quick dip.

A cold shower
back in the apartment
with no air conditioning.

Hotter nights are forecast.
Time to use the frozen peas trick.
Bring many bags to bed as lovers.




Sandy Kinnee

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Excitement of Laundry Lists

The Excitement of Laundry Lists

You have never been tempted to read
other peoples shopping lists
or laundry lists.
It is better to go shopping
for yourself.
I recommend against sorting
a stranger's dirty clothing.

I can understand how few
might want to read a strangers poem
or short story unless
threatened with a sharp object. 

Who, otherwise, would be foolish
enough to waste even three minutes
reading a stranger's writing,
unless they guessed that
the conclusion might culminate
in a tiny smile crawling somewhere
between their chin and nose?

Not face scrubbed with sweaty socks.





Sandy Kinnee 

Wretched Pen-Pusher Or

Wretched Pen-Pusher Or


I shake the handle. Ring the bell.
The door is locked to me.
I need a key to get
inside J.K. Huysmans’
Against the Grain.

Here I sit with both
an American and an
English translation.
Some French words and phrases
too pregnant and succulent,
magical locks require
magical keys.

Each translator unlocks
meaning.
I cherry pick some
enchanted juxtapositions that the
translators offer as their
interpretations of the writer’s intent.

A shower of sparks
the abuse of miracles
groans and grimaces
a taste for the marvelous
enchantments of style

black mercury ointment
languorous dejection
delightful sadness
shameless gyration
feverishly awaiting

a god who protects scoundrels
humdrum happiness
delicately tinted soap bubbles

a handful of poets sparkled
                               
achieved through artifice
impact of galoshes

Two translations
neither more correct than
the other, each in their own way
enchanting and colorful.

Fiddle-faddle versus mish-mash
And twaddle
festive or voluptuous
like fire versus red hot needles
besotted or befuddled
shilly-shallying

the weather went from bad to worse
the weather was becoming very unsettled

This pitiable autumn or this lamentable autumn
moralizing nonsense or balderdash
Wishy-washy or ho hum

wretched pen-pusher or scribbler
or one who lackadaisically slaps the keyboard
not of a piano forte,
but his laptop

Wretched pen-pusher that I am





Sandy Kinnee

The Bed Loop

The Bed Loop

She awoke
True to form
She immediately
made the bed

The act of
Making
the bed
So tired her

That she
lay
back Down
To rest

When she
Awoke
She made
the bed





Sandy Kinnee

His Muse Appears in the Grocery Line Again

His Muse Appears in the Grocery Line Again

Not always, but often enough,
he would look at what the shopper before him
took from his or her cart
and placed on the check out belt.

As he observed he might imagine a possible
thread uniting the various ingredients
into a meal or a party.
He conflated a scenario that may be probable
or fantastic.

The moving belt of the checkout lane was his muse.

Each combination of groceries was unique.
He recalls one pleasantly dressed man
purchasing a decorated birthday cake,
paper napkins,
a number of rolls of paper towels,
ice cream, Jello pudding,
two cartons of rat killer, and six gallons of bleach.
.
The man also bought a ski mask and a chain saw.






Sandy Kinnee

Models and Muses

Models and Muses

So much jealousy is self generated, as product of a fantasy that others are getting more, having more fun, taking more drugs, behaving badly, getting more sex, enjoying life too much or at least more than I am.

Most of the time the jealousy is its own worst enemy and what is imagined holds no resemblance to reality. For instance, when I speak of muses and models the general public conjures up sex, sex, and sex. All that sex would possibly inspire, but where would be the time to express or follow up on the creative exploitation of the inspiration from sex, sex, sex.  For example, my aunt is a painter. She is single and if you look at her paintings you notice the portraits of many men, handsome and sexy men. These are portraits she has kept, not commissions.  Why does she have these men on her studio walls? Some may or may not have been lovers. But they each have been models. I modeled for her several times in my life. Painting is not a slap and a dash, artist in a garret, starving for art. Art takes the time it takes and if you are sitting for a portrait, it seems to last eons.

My aunt told me why she painted so many men. It was to place them across from her, where she could watch them and they couldn't be grabbing her, yes, grabbing her ass. In fact, she said, while she painted these portraits she would be working on two paintings on two easels. The model could see the face of neither canvas as she worked. She also had a rule about unfinished paintings. No one was allowed to see a work in progress. It always gave the wrong idea of the work and invited unwanted suggestions. Only after the painting was signed did she show the sitter.  Otherwise, she covered her work with drapery.

Did she have amorous relations with these men? That was her business. I know of one model where this was not a question. People fantasize too much about what they don't know.

The same is true or truer about muses. I have gotten to the point that to call someone a muse is a no no. There are too many wrong assumptions made by those who do not need the fuel that inspiration provides. So, how can I explain that a painting or a piece of music or a cherub in my dream or a fragment from an email has sparked a thought, leading to a new work.

Or that my cat, Lucy,  still pops up in my dreams to point out something only an old cat might know.

Lucy was not a model. She remains a marvelous muse.







Sandy Kinnee

The Stonepecker

The Stonepecker

The stonepecker is a rare bird. 
Only the metal ones survive
the harsh winters of Paris
clinging to limestone facades.

One expects that like
the woodpecker they peck
for food hidden in rotted stone. 

No, they eat gnats and lick
the stone for their
mineral supplements.










Sandy Kinnee

Sailor Watching For the Next Metro




Sailor Watching For the Next Metro

He stands spyglass pointed down the tunnel
awaiting a metro car that will pick him up. 
Doors of each train open,
but he is committed to the perfect car,
one filled with all his friends.

It is an obsession.  He watches and waits. 
He is in no hurry.

He will keep his eye glued to the tunnel 
for thirty days. 

Only then will the person with the little
aluminum ladder stop his crazy obsession.

Pasting a new poster over him.
Putting to our sailor to bed.






Sandy Kinnee

Mating Call of the Cherubim

Mating Call of the Cherubim

When we see cherubs with their tiny wings
fluttering to hold up their chubby baby bodies
do we think, my, such cute naked flying babies?

No

So, what about cherubs? Are they really babies,
just now born from nowhere with wings
destined to be terrible two monsters,
then later on teen angels?

Is there a life cycle for them
or are they cherubic forever?
On little boy cherubs we may identify
teeny genitalia. There are girls as well. 

Is it possible that cherubs remain this size
all their natural lives?
And do they reproduce as humans do?
Or is the genitalia merely decorative?

House cats don't grow up to become
full size lions and tigers.
Domestic cats are domestic cats.
Cherubim are cherub-size.

I imagine the cherubim live hundreds
of years and are as private in
intimate moments as other animals
and supernatural beings. 
We only see them when they flutter.

Undoubtedly they know more
than fluttering around.

Isn't Cupid a cherub?
Are not his arrows those tasted
by Saint Teresa during her ecstasy ?







Sandy Kinnee

Lists as Poetry

Lists as Poetry

While I wish to present to you a list of obsolete jobs, tools, activities, fads, fashions, technologies, and such; I recently witnessed a poetry reading of a list of cuts of meats and do not want to be so self indulgent. Listening to someone else reading a list can test the patience of anyone.

I recall many decades ago how testing the commitment of an audience was not uncommon. A very clever young writer illustrated this using a fictional artist who demanded the full attention of the buyer of one of his artworks. The artwork was the interior canopy of a parachute, only visible to the parachutist between release of the chute and eventual landing. The story was in Another Roadside attraction, the writer Tim Robbins. 

I do not demand you pay attention.  I hope you do pay attention and will be rewarded for sticking around long enough to find the conclusion.

So, it is not my way to test your patience.  The short list I would have presented would be of the comings and goings of technologies and how one concept pushes another aside, while taking part of the older method into the newer. The typewriter surrendered its keyboard to newer technologies.

What changes changes and evolves. What doesn't change are the technologies of the human condition and the heart and mind.

And in the end I contradict myself and speak of lists.  While reading a list aloud may try the patience of an audience, list making is essentially a craving for order, the making of sense of the world. Lists were the earliest uses of written language.  Lists led to an awakened and widening of concepts that have never gone fully out of use.

Lists are meant to be in written form, intended to be read a line at a time.

That’s it. That is all I wanted to say. Trying to make sense of the world is useful from time to time.







Sandy Kinnee

No One Wants

No One Wants

In a parallel life I would create a big machine as large as a desk with which I could send a facsimile of whatever is on a sheet of paper to someone who might have an identical machine. I might build a metal thing with twenty-six or more little disks which I could depress rapidly, sort of banging upon these disks with either of my index fingers. I probably would use a tiny ink roller and apply ink to each of the individual twenty-six letters of the alphabet just moments before striking the disk. Or possibly some sort of inky ribbon to sit patiently between the alphabetic ends of the depressed  disks and a sheet of paper upon which I would be making marks to send in facsimile form from one desk-size machine to another.

Or, in this other life I might also make other machines and paint things or put words onto paper by some simple means. These things and activities could also be as unneeded and undesired as those products I make in so-to-speak-fancy life. My fancy life is the one from which I compose this collection of sequential words.

In the future the old becomes new. Peacock feathers will be carved into writing quills, dipping their points into bowls of ink from squid.  The skins of lambs will be bound between calfskin flaps. People will find new uses for parking meters. Babysitting and dog walking will become obsolete skills.

Until these things come to pass, I will continue to make things that no one needs, until they need them.

Each painting and every written piece an island of escape.







Sandy Kinnee

This Paris Climate

This Paris Climate


My fingers are trying to tell me
something I already know.

This climate agrees with me.
My fingers are never so supple
as when I am in Paris.

My fingers want to live here always.

Unfortunately, there is no room
to paint.








Sandy Kinnee

Grandma's Teeth

Grandma's Teeth

My grandmother kept her teeth
in a glass by the bed.

My grandfather's leg was
somewhere in the back yard

true







Sandy Kinnee

Six Old Handkerchiefs

Six Old Handkerchiefs

A lady at the antique market
sold me six handkerchiefs
for 5 euros.

To me, that's a good bargain.
It's like a bottomless
box of Kleenex.

No one uses hankies any more.
They come from a different
time and place.

Think of the romantic young lady
who intentionally drops her hankie
for a gentleman.

Or, how a gentleman offers
his handkerchief to a gentlewoman
so she might wipe away her tears.

That is so opposite to the monk
in the John Cage piece, who hits
the lady to give her something to cry about.

He certainly does not hand her
a crisp new handkerchief,
only more grief.







Sandy Kinnee

Checkout Lane

Checkout Lane

This is the checkout lane shuffle or how to maximize your visit to a Parisian grocery store without doing much in the way of shopping.

It was my intent to get in and get out quickly. No searching was involved. Each of the items was exactly where they should be.  I put Kleenex, ham, cheese, cranberry juice, and Canada Dry ginger ale into my basket then headed toward checkout.

Shoppers are not cattle, but sometimes it seems we are treated that way, today in particular.  There are ten check stands, only three were open.  Each had a line of six patrons.  Then suddenly there were two lines of nine, when one check stands register broke down.  Which line was I in, you ask?

I was now at the back of my second line, as patrons fled from the broken register.   Wouldn't you know that I picked the wrong lane a second time!  The patron checking out got into a fight over two things.  She was upset about a charge for one of her many little items and demanded the bill be nullified and checked out again.  The cashier got out a phone and called the manager. The manager authorized the procedure and went away to attend a problem at the other check stand.

There were by now fifteen people in each stalled line.  I was still number nine.

The groceries were checked out again and the total was the same as before.  Now, the woman wanted to remove some of the items to lower the total bill.

A new cash register was opened making for three again, and those at the end of the lines rushed into the new line.  There was no point for me in changing lines again.  I stayed where I was, expecting to shortly be eighth in line. Are you laughing yet?

When the woman who had just put back what she didn't want to pay for, a new total was arrived at and the woman opened her purse.  The bill was for 47 euros.  She handed the clerk a 500 euro note.

At that point I fled to the line that had just opened.  I knew the clerk was going to have to call the manager and that more delays would follow.  No, the woman did not have a credit card.

Remember that third original lane? They had been moving at glacial speed until a client, also with no credit card or identification tried to buy a package of chewing gum with a fifty euro bill.  I had a front row seat as three police officers accompanied her to the store's office.

Being ninth in line makes for good seats to drama. My new line worked like a charm and the cashier was pleased that I had exact change and my own bags.

I paid with American Express. Don't leave home without it.








Sandy Kinnee

Upon Viewing a Standing Mattress

Upon Viewing a Standing Mattress

When one sees an old mattress standing vertically,
leaning against a brick wall or a dumpster,
it makes little or no sense visually or otherwise.

Guttural and mental reactions
to a discarded mattress are never positive,
especially when the smell floats like a putrid cloud
or stains are visible, especially identifiable discoloration.

Can one reach a point of neutrality
regarding a used up bed to consider the function
of this thing? 

It was designed with a purpose which
it undoubtedly has served, a platform
for human relaxation,
a surface familiar with both pleasure and illness.

This is a discarded object, used up and rejected,
absolutely devoid of grace or beauty and yet,
there is a sculpted shape, relaxed form,
the way it bends,
a distant cousin to van Gogh’s painted portrait
of an old worn pair of brown boots.

This cast off vertical object, fatigued bed standing
perpendicular to its natural state,
marking time until it is hauled to the dump
or salvaged by a homeless person who dreams
of sleeping on other than cardboard.

A tired old slab stuffed with memories
has served its purpose.

Are there tales to tell about those who slept here?
Was there love, betrayal, or just simply the need
for a better nights sleep that has led
to this mattress being tossed out?

Left slumped outside.
                              
How neutral the smell of a new mattress.
Like a fresh notebook with not a scribble
not yet the ring shaped stain of a coffee mug.







Sandy Kinnee

The Size of a Walnut Shell

The Size of a Walnut Shell


I wash my face in the morning
some soap
and the hottest water I can tolerate,
then rinse with hot again

the purpose to soften my whiskers

some ancient can of shaving cream
bore instructions for use: 
all you need is a walnut size
dollop of foam
to slather over cheeks,
chin, and throat

I shave, shower, dry off.

The shave cream did not say shell
did not say kernel

only walnut size

The deodorant has
no directions or suggestions






Sandy Kinnee

Increasing Imbalance

Increasing Imbalance

She was walking toward us
on the cobble stones
an ice cream
cone in each hand.

One cone she held
at the end of
an out stretched arm,
carrying it to an unseen recipient.

The cone in her left hand
she pulled to her lips,
then away.
And repeated lapping

As one cone diminished
in mass she seemed to struggle
against a greater imbalance
in her forward staggering

Rum raisin?





Sandy Kinnee

Learning to See Again

Learning to See Again

When I was a little boy I lost the ability to walk. Perhaps you have read that story. It was due to a strange accident that no one witnessed. Eventually I relearned how to crawl, stand, walk and run.

My eyes were different. It was no accident unseen. It was a gradual change that made reading painful. My vision was as normal, as far I knew.  I had always had good visual acuity.  I had no problems with my cones or rods. My depth perception was as it should be.  The issue was a matter of focus, but only gradually, over years and years.

During high school I rode the bus an hour each way from home to school, plenty of time to read. I devoured books. I breathed them. I wanted to read so much that I learned to speed-read. Speed reading was for assigned, not pleasure reading. Speed reading was for homework and assigned material. At some time, off in the future, I began getting headaches brought on by my reading. I did not choose to cut back on the reading, the displeasure made it a matter of survival. Eventually I only read what I had to read.

At some point, hearing me sigh about a favorite book I hadn't read in decades, a friend suggested I try reading glasses. I did and the transformation was fantastic. I could read pain free. Buying reading glasses was as easy as it was cheap. I could pick up a pair most anywhere; the bookstore, pharmacy, or sometimes even the grocery.  But cheap and common means I could sit on a pair with no remorse, drop a pair while standing up and step on them with no concern, could forget them in a restaurant and feel no guilt. Sometime the arm might fall off or a lens pop out. I was perpetually destroying or losing my reading glasses.  I spent a minor fortune on them.

Then, in Venice for the Biennale, I was looking for a recommended restaurant when I saw a small eye glass shop with round glasses on display. That day my life changed. I have that same pair of blue glasses and many more all purchased from Lorenzo Urbani. I'll see what color he has for me this year.

I read like a demon as I once did. But, now that I can see, I have also learned to write.  At least I call what I do writing.

You wouldn't be reading this if I didn't have glasses.







Sandy Kinnee

Two Television Stories

Two Television Stories


There are other television related stories, but my mother repeats one like a broken record. She tells it so often that I wish she'd put it in written form, so I didn't have to do it. I have a vague recollection of the event.  In my memory the material in question was fiberglass insulation and I made a pink fiberglass beard for myself, a disguise.  I was master-of-ceremonies, or MC. I was also director, illustrator, and marketeer. I itched for days.

Here is how my mother tells the story. My father had some leftover construction material in the garage. It was basically fancy tar paper, with a layer of thin aluminum foil on the face. As a child, much as today, I mess around with things I have no business fooling with.  I dragged my finger nails over the slick aluminum, noticing when I scratched through the foil the black of the tar paper was revealed.  A steel nail served as my pencil to create black lines, incising the foil. I drew pictures, one and another. I kept drawing.  My mind rushed forward to a really, really good use for this foil covered tar paper.  I would create my own television show.

Already I had a make-believe television set, as my little brother had outgrown his walker. It was like a short table with casters on the table legs.  The walker was a wooden square with a big-baby-size hole in the center, just the size and shape of a television screen.  I tipped the walker on its side and voila, a blank television screen. I had already done plenty of live television shows, mainly with hand puppets and sticking my head through the screen and pretending to be a weatherman.  I liked doing the weather because I could shake a metal sheet and do sound effects, such as  thunder or pour water from a watering can onto a pie tin. Live television is a one-shot deal.  I wanted something that could be repeated, due to popular demand. Sandy’s Foil Show could be repeated ad nauseam and it would be. The silver foil also rendered another problem with live television moot.  The background was no longer the living room wallpaper.    It was silver.

The aluminum foil covered tar paper would take the place of the picture tube. I would make a scroll and the opening in the inverted walker would display one frame of the scroll at a time. Somehow I figured out the best way to show the scroll was like unrolling toilet paper. Right to left wasn’t going to work. Scrolling down was easy.

The construction material was a big roll on the garage floor and Dad wasn't home, so I took off a quantity he'd never miss, perhaps ten or twenty feet.  Being only six at the time, it was a considerable project to make up a story and animate a progression of cells with only a large rusty nail. If only I could remember what story I chose to illustrate. For all I know it could have been Little Red Riding Hood or a tale about a little boy who drew his own television program with a pointy nail.  When the cells were finished I tested to make sure the faux-TV and movie roll worked. Then I made posters and tickets. I went door to door promoting my show. Ticket price was one cent. The entire neighborhood showed up to my show.
It makes sense they would all come to my house because back then there were no activities, no clubs, no facebook or twittering  to burn up the day. Mothers happily sent their kids to see Sandy's Foil Show for a penny. One cent was a bargain for a moment of peace. Mom told me to let the kids who just arrived from Europe in for free, as they didn’t understand English.  There were no words of any language in my television show, just images scratched with a rusty nail.  Even the biggest kid in the community was sent with a penny. His mother was happy to get rid of him and I would also be.

No sooner did the first showing conclude when the big kid wanted his penny back. He said the show was a fake, only drawings on silver paper, not real television. He pointed to me and demanded a refund. My mother says I shook my head NO and pushed him off the porch.

Two weeks later he still wanted his penny back.  I no longer had his penny, so he beat me up.

The other story is about color television.  My mother had nothing to do with this one. We had a normal size black and white television set. The exterior of the television had doors on the side with the screen. You could close it up when not watching television and it looked like a big wooden box with doors on the front, like you were hiding something in a wooden box that was in your living room.. I think it was was so we could hide the fact we had a black and white television while next door was the future.

The Barzones were one of the first families in town to own a color television set. Their television did not have a big box disguise. It was proud to be a color television.  We could see their television from our picture window.  While my dad was friends with the husband, his wife thought we were spying on them when we all leaned against the window to watch color television. We weren't peeping toms, just wanted to see their television. When she saw us watching she drew the blinds and we went back to our black and white. It might be obvious we still needed our television set on for the sound as we watched through the window. When we weren't looking through her window she kept the curtains wide open. This was a problem. If we seemed to be watching she drew the drapes. If we weren’t the drapes were open. We could only watch if we weren’t looking through the window and if we looked through the window she’d fix it so we saw nothing. It was a predicament.

Dad used his carpentry skills to an equitable solution. No one needed to look into the house next door once he set up what amounted to a series of mirrors and easels that channeled the reflection of the color television across our living room and onto the screen of our black and white screen. When we wanted the picture to be in color we taped a sheet of typing paper in the middle of out television. The neighbors picture would magically appear on our television, even if you closed the two wooden doors, so long as the typing paper could act as a movie screen.  Of course the image, by the time it reached our screen was postage stamp size, so it didn't matter that the picture was also backward and fuzzy. So, what wasn’t out of focus before the advent of high definition imagery? Back then I learned the phrase: necessity is the mother of invention. We needed color television.






Sandy Kinnee

On Being Lazy

On Being Lazy

I do have to get out of here, this cozy apartment,
otherwise I won't write a word today.
I managed to sleep in until after six and I don't feel guilty.
I'd say woo hoo here, but I'm still groggy.
The coffee hasn't done it's magic yet.

So, here I sit in front of my laptop
and notice I need to shave. It isn't much stubble,
but it makes a reasonable excuse
for getting up and not looking at my computer.

I'm back from my attempt at shaving.
The water heater isn't running.  I'll wait before shaving. 
Let me sit and stare at the screen some more
and hope some electronic muse sends me an email.
Not likely.

Obviously, I'll have to self-start.
Let's see, yesterday I wrote about a painting in the Louvre,
one I know quite well and understand
some of what is invisible to first time viewers. Done that.

Last night's dinner conversation was interesting.
How about that as a source for a poem?
We spoke of the experience of death and few at the table
had much with death or even danger.

There was the question of what famous person
they would like to have dinner with
and no one had ever heard of the person I named
and each of the others spoke of TV hotties I didn't know.

Finally, one rich topic came up that engaged everyone:
what was your favorite breakfast cereal growing up? 
All named well known products: Fruity Pebbles, Kix, Coco Puffs,
Honey Frosted Oats, Frosted Flakes, the one that has the toucan on the box,
and another said she just liked a bowl of milk with a quarter cup of sugar. 
Then they wanted to know how I started the day as a child.

I told them that having a carpenter for a dad meant we didn't have money
for fancy cereals. In the morning, dad poured me a smaller cup of black coffee
than what he drank. Then I ate nails with sawdust.

The water must be warm by now. 
I'll shave and go out and find something to write about.

I Don't Know Much

I Don't Know Much

I don't know as much as you think I know.
If you ask me a question, do not assume
I am correct.

Is the film "8 1/2" a French or Italian movie? 
If you have your smart phone why not check.
My data bank is flawed or empty.

I am like most other human beings.
I will say whatever pops into my head.
Yet, I don’t deal well with pressure.

So, I’ll never be a real contestant,
but I frequently enough find the right question
to the answer on Jeopardy.







Sandy Kinnee

The Smallest of Audiences

The Smallest of Audiences

Being a painter who happened to also tell stories, I searched in vain for someone to record my words. I did not write.  It was Jim Moore who encouraged me to write my tales, to become a writer. Who would read them, I wondered? Who indeed did not matter.  I knew that question would have no significance until after the words were written. Jim said that I could count upon a small audience, nothing more. This seems true in both my word and color worlds. The number of those who look at my paintings could probably be counted on one hand, five max.  That may or may not be the number, I’ll never know.

You, on the other hand, are certainly the only one who reads my writing. One day I may begin reading what I have written. Then there will be two readers.








Sandy Kinnee

Speaker Phone

Speaker Phone

As I entered the courtyard my hard-to-hear and pedestrian upstairs neighbor
was involved with a back and forth phone conversation.
His voice was more garbled and not so crisp
and loud as the woman's voice over his speaker.

When your speaker phone conversation is clearly visible
to all in the building it is probably set too high.

I regret no one has let a cat into the common area. 
A howling cat would be good.

At least a cat would never broadcast a dull, public conversation
about some rudeness on the bus.








Sandy Kinnee

Shipwreck Scene

Shipwreck Scene

Neither that rainstorm in the middle of the night
nor the brilliant sunlit day changes a thing.
The castaways are doomed.

Those well fed victims clinging to a black raft
mounted on the wall in the Louvre
will float adrift forever waving at that distant ship.

Never to be rescued.
Yet never to eat or starve.
And I say well fed because those are models

Parisians with full bellies and not those
who at the moment depicted
had not a nibble or sip for two weeks

Always in torment much like a frozen ball
of worms or tangled marionettes smeared
with tar, painted with bitumin.

And their tipsy raft is lost upon choppy water
meringue on lemon pie not yet cut into wedges
Never placed on the table with fork and cup of tea

Just a raft of people who have perpetually
lost their boat and are fated to float till the end of time.
Last nights rain won't quench their thirst.

None of the thousands who walk through the gallery
may pause for a moment wondering what is going on
 will ever come to rescue The Raft of the Medusa.

Sinking and never sinking
under the weight of inky paint.







Sandy Kinnee

John Cage Passing By

John Cage Passing By

A beautiful fish which gives pleasure to fishermen
serves only to frighten the bicycle.

This is not a poem about John Cage
He simply illustrates my points
concerning people who pass on the street
or stop and interact.

Listen to Cage’s voice:
“Kwang-tse  points out that
a beautiful woman
who gives pleasure to men
serves only to frighten the fish
when  she jumps
in the water.”

On the street I watch men swivel their heads
to watch such a woman
walk past
knowing that if she turned around
and came back
they would scatter like fish.

Or, those who might stand still perhaps should run away.

In another of Cage's recitations he ends:
“There, that’ll give you something to cry about.”

It goes like this: “Another monk was walking along
when he came to a lady who was sitting by the path
weeping. "What's the matter?" he said.
She said, sobbing, "I have lost my only child."
He hit her over the head and said,
“There, that’ll give you something to cry about.” ”

Our own experience of hell depends upon much.

You hit me with a stick
and I hit you
with the same stick.
Or if not the identical stick, some comparable tree branch.

There, that will give us both something to cry about.

A beautiful fish which gives pleasure to fishermen
serves only to frighten the bicycle.

Keep walking. Or stand still and wait.
Life will find you either way.







Sandy Kinnee

Hitting the Pillow

Hitting the Pillow               
                                   
I am virtually guaranteed,
as it happens again and again,
that no sooner
does my head fall onto the pillow
when a brilliant thought
or startling line flies into
and then out of my cranium. 

I no longer close my eyes thinking
I'll record these words in the morning. 
What is obvious
is the thought will be lost,
buried under whatever dreams will
play in my head while my body rests. 
As I snore the words melt.

In the morning fresh
coffee fueled words percolate
and rise to the surface,
tumbling from my brow,
through my finger tips and onto
an unwrinkled sheet of paper. 
How sad these words do not have

the grace and beauty of those
that visit me while drowsy.






Sandy Kinnee

TomTom and the Farmer's Dog

TomTom and the Farmer's Dog

We'd heard the story about the GPS navigation system that doesn't understand how wide your vehicle is and that a route it sends you on in an ancient city may be completely impassable. We did not hear about the cow paths that show up as roads, so dutifully, when our French GPS, Tom Tom navigation, told me to turn right, I did and followed a cow path across fields, up and down hills and around a bend into a farmer's back yard, between the barn and house. The farmer's old dog did not know what to make of us and just stood there, acting befuddled. He didn’t bark or growl.  The farmer must have been away or no one noticed us. The dog was the only one there. The cows were likely off in a different field than the one we toured.

After a moment of exchanging glances with the dog, I spotted a proper driveway that lead to a one lane unpaved road. Then I carefully and slowly backed up and turned the wheel, rolling gently in case children or cats might also venture out to see the unexpected visitor.  I turned off the Tom Tom as we wound our way along the rutted lane, under a thick green canopy that blocked out the sun and sky. This ethereal verdant glow was supported by the stems of gnarled trees. We drove up and down under emerald light until, at last, we found a paved two lane road.  Then we turned the Tom Tom on again.

That was only the start of our day and our visits to the painted prehistoric caves.   We wandered back 25,000 years  where the Tom Toms would again have been useless.




Sandy Kinnee

Back Up Feline

Back Up Feline

The back up cat showed up
as I was heading out. 

We had not seen him or
her or it in four days.

Mewing at the door, 
not necessarily for me,

the unknown interloper
who doesn't quite know

how to interpret
French chat mews.






Sandy Kinnee

Soggy Bread

Soggy Bread


The cobblestones in the courtyard are a chorus
singing their raindrop song.

The birds are in hiding.

The crust on the baguettes will be flexible this morning,
no sense taking an umbrella,
zipping up a raincoat
sloshing to and from the boulangerie
on a day like this.

The croissants will be limp.







Sandy Kinnee

Whispers of Dreams Over Older Dreams

Whispers of Dreams Over Older Dreams

Posters down in the metro are torn off in interesting ways, usually when their advertising contract has concluded, preparing the poster space for a newer image. Sometimes by people who object to the image or product or simply see a loose piece of dangling poster to rip off, revealing the layers below of older posters.  The strata of posters are in fact curiously random. 

There is an art to the pealing off of making them into collaged fragments of dreams. After all, posters aspire to be fantasy dreams telling your soul that you need more of whatever they are selling. When you get one dream plastered over another and rip partial layers off of  maybe six such paper dreams, you get dreams within dreams.
Consolidated dreamscapes.







Sandy Kinnee

No Photos Allowed

No Photos Allowed

Each morning, before the city awakens,
I set out to one boulangerie or another,
camera in hand.

It is not unlike the quiet time
back home at dawn,
facing my laptop.

There are no concerns
other than requiring coffee
and a couple refills .

I walk, eyes open
for visual anomalies.
Nothing out of the usual

except for the bomb squad
dismantling a silver Peugeot;
under the protection

of twenty guards wearing
full body armor, automatic weapons
pressed against their shoulders






Sandy Kinnee

Always the Unexpected

Always the Unexpected

Why does that picture look disjointed? Off kilter?

There is that possible excuse: The unexpected consequence of living in a former stable occupied by the spirit of a saint or when that saint is not poking with a bony finger, there is the photographer's spirit.

Man Ray lived across the street and by across the street, I mean about the width of one of my canvases across cobblestones. I did not intentionally take this distorted photograph, or rather I did not expect it to be distorted. I was photographing the courtyard and the camera must have been nudged by Man Ray.

Or the saint goosed me.






















Sandy Kinnee

Just Like Magic

Just Like Magic

Within moments of writing
about a lack of furry creatures
in the building,

two women and a
pale orange cat appear
in the courtyard.

I wish I could have
that kind of success
when I write about having

no luck finding
a bag of money.
Or two bags






Sandy Kinnee

Paris Poem #3

Daily Poem #3

Today's poem will be written in rain drops
upon an aluminum pie pan
not catching drips from a leaky ceiling,
but those rolling off
an umbrella left to dry in the foyer

Daily Poem after #3

The market offered only sad salad ingredients
in cellophane bags
marked with promises
unkeepable by their contents.

Daily Poem even after #3

This is day three and still no evidence
of cats in this building normally teeming
with felines and a small dog,
not to mention the monkey
on the top most floor.

And yet, there is silence.
Not a bark or a mew or a faint
distant purr.







Sandy Kinnee

Cat Scratch

Cat Scratch

I will be away from my cat
for eight weeks
More than enough time

for the scratches
on my ankles to heal.

Making a clean slate for
new bite marks
upon my return

These badges of love

I have no memory of when
he slashed my knee cap





Sandy Kinnee

First Poem Upon Returning

First Poem Upon Returning

I am back here again and
must be settled in
somewhat
because here I go writing
my first poem upon returning

Whenever I come back here
it feels as though I never left,
except for the part
where I awake at 3:30 in the black
and immediately remember why.

Those here see me often
and once long ago
probably heard me speak
assuming I was Canadian.
I wasn't born here,

but I wasn't born in Canada either
they just were commenting
on my accent
which is not so pronounced
as it once was.

I wasn't born here, but it is as if I was.
When I count the years,
the numbers add up
and I realize I have been here
longer than in my birthplace.

So, here I am once more doing
my best to stay awake among
the locals, to get in sync with their
clocks until I find myself back
to my old schedule of turning

on the coffee and sipping
the results with the white glow
of my lap top screen illuminating
my keyboard once again
at home in every possible way.

There it is and now I have gotten
that first poem done and am free
to proceed with the next.
When it arrives there will be
no fumbling around.






Sandy Kinnee

The Knife Grinder

The Knife Grinder

Old modes of employment fade away without much notice. Sometimes all that remains is a word or phrase that lingers, a descriptor such as milkman or iceman or lamp lighter, or knife grinder. More often the knowledge that some obsolete occupation ever existed vanishes with the job, poof.  When I was seven I saw a horse drawn milk delivery wagon. It is hard to believe that some old man in 1954, in Sarnia, Ontario, was still bringing glass bottles of fresh milk door to door.  His wagon dripped a trail of melted ice as his horse slowly pulled the cart into oblivion. I never again saw such a thing. The horse replaced by horse-power and rubber tires; and now home delivery of milk is more nostalgic than actual.

I think of the last of the icemen and how my grandmother had not a refrigerator, but an ice box to keep her perishables cool.  I never saw the iceman.  But I do remember the wooden chest lined with metal.  Was it lead or tin? Superman could not have seen the melting ice without opening the door, unless the lining was tin. I have an image of the shrinking block of ice in that dark box.  Was I there when the icebox was hauled to the trash and a white enameled Frigidaire took its place? No.

Another defunct occupation I never saw was the ragman. A rag picker would gather discarded cotton or linen scraps, bundle his accumulated fabric and sell it to the papermill. From the rags fine paper might be made.  In a way, I suppose I am that rag picker, the reincarnation of a long dead breed.  The old lamplighter was way before my time as well, but in my house I am the one who flips the light switches off.

When my daughter was very young she played in the park of the foreign missions, quite close to The Bon Marche, in Paris.  On three sides of the park were residential apartment buildings. One lovely morning, as I watched her play on the slide with a little English boy, Sam, I heard the regular dinging of a bicycle bell. The ding, ding, ding was not a warning. It was meant to draw attention.  The last itinerant Knife Grinder was announcing his availability: “bring out your cutlery, let me sharpen your meat cleaver”.  His mobile shop was a red, three wheeled bicycle, with a grinding wheel run by the turning of the same peddles that spun his wheels.  A tripod stand lifted the back tire off the pavement, allowing him to sit in place as he sharpened knives. He lingered in front of each apartment building, spinning his grinding wheel and pretended to sharpen a prop, sort of a stunt-knife. No one ventured out to employ him. He rode on to the next apartment building repeating his act, working his way down the street and eventually disappeared around the corner.   I felt sorry he had no takers.

One week later, at the same park, Sam had gone back to London, and my daughter played with a little Polish girl.  I again heard the ding ding of the knife grinder advertising his availability. Again he had no takers.  I patted my jeans, remembering my little pen knife.

Speaking of defunct work, when Emil Weddige taught me the craft of stone lithography he suggested I buy a good quality pen knife. A sharp knife is a handy studio tool and cheap knife is not worth having. He recommended a bone handled, single blade Henckels. At the point I patted my jeans, I had had that knife for twenty years. It kept it’s edge and I rarely needed to use a whetstone to maintain the edge sharp.    Still, I wanted my daughter to see a rare sight, a street knife sharpener at work. Even though she was very young she might be able to look back and recall she had seen the last of a dying breed.  I pulled my pen knife out and approached the man who was getting no customers. As I got closer he did not seem as old as I expected. He was possibly only in his twenties, yet could have been any age. He looked like someone who had a hard life. His face was wrinkled and motionless. He reached out for my pocket knife, clearly understanding I wanted it sharpened.  He began to pedal the bike and the stone spun slowly.  He laid my blade against the abrasive stone and ground the edge down at least a quarter inch. He was not sharpening my pen knife, he was grinding away the metal blade.  I winced at the sad sound of my fine little knife being destroyed. I reached out asking for my knife back. But the knife grinder wanted to be paid before he would hand the knife back to me.  I owed him, for his work, a sum twice the value of the knife.

I paid his ransom.  Times change and some occupations disappear. I now understood why.  I wish the knife grinder had gone the way of the iceman without me ever any the wiser.

My ruined pen knife is in a box in my basement. Better a dull knife you don't pay to have sharpened than a duller one you did.






Sandy Kinnee









Fluttering

Fluttering

I saw a row of American flags
fluttering in the wind.

All flags identical,
spaced six feet apart,
flapping differently

as if each had a distinctly
different personality.

All that differed
was the way the wind
fucked with them.





Sandy Kinnee

A Few Not Very Good Ideas Rolled Into One Poem

A Few Not Very Good Ideas Rolled Into One Poem


Flags Fluttering and Red Plus Green

During the blizzard the entire world seems to those inside the storm to be a uniform horizontal white and I forget those summertime sun showers when a cloud unloads across the street like a dog that knows how long his chain lets him roam

Mean while I will sit beyond his reach and read the morning paper without so much as  a drop. 

Yesterday I saw a row of America flags fluttering in the wind.  All flags identical, spaced six feet apart, flapping differently as if each had a distinctly different personality.

All that differed was the way the wind fucked with them.

And grade school and art school informed me that red and green mixed together did not make yellow.

And yet it does.





Sandy Kinnee

Concerning the Stable Walls


 Concerning the Stable Walls


Maybe I want these murmurs to mean something and to be perfectly clear neither my French nor Latin are very good, especially when listening through stone, so much of what I hear may be prayers or muffled masturbation or old rocks doing what we expect when we put a conch shell to our ear.

When we first began, more than a decade ago, staying in the ground level apartment on rue Ferou, we had no idea it had been the horse stable of the convent that housed a canonized Saint. It had not been a convent for some long time, but that did not keep gangs of curious Catholic tourists from peering into our courtyard. One day, returning with groceries, I caught a group of these pilgrims in rapt fixation. Several were clutching rosaries, which I later discovered was the key to this particular Saint. She had founded a society for the praying of the Rosary.  As a child, I considered the rosary to be more or less a gaudy, hand-held necklace. I was unaware of its symbolism.  If only I had known about the significance of repetition, rows of beads, and the timelessness of putting dots into alignment.

Probably the building had changed much or maybe not at all from the time when this modern era saint occupied the convent. Certainly the stable was no longer there, converted into the apartment we visited each summer for a couple months at a time.  We rent the apartment from an elegant woman who lives in Provence, St. Remy to be slightly more precise. In all these years we have never met her, only sent her rent money.  She stays in her Paris apartment a short time each year.  It was converted from stable to a living space some time before she made it her pied a terre.

The stone walls of the convent stable most certainly have soaked up as much sound and history as rocks might absorb. Or, as boulders are not known for their absorbency, it could be the sound waves that have glanced off these hard surfaces continue to reverberate selectively. The sounds are not made by the current occupants above and across the courtyard.

There are no neighbors on the other side of the wall. Of that I am certain. There are people who live above the apartment whose main amusement seems to be rearranging the furniture by dragging or pushing it across the wood floor.  If the floor were carpeted or they lifted the chairs and table we might never know they were home. There are other inhabitants across the courtyard and some can be quite vocal or play their music with no consideration for others. A monkey on the top floor could be expected to howl much of the day while its keeper was away. Fortunately, none of the other residents worked at home. Only those who ate their lunch in their apartments heard the monkey.

The violinist, two flights up and across, practices her instrument when it is appropriate. Most who live in the former convent have an awareness that others might hear their actions, whether vacuuming, talking on their phones, or more intimate relations. I recall a mother explaining to her little girl that the sounds coming from across the courtyard were not of someone being hurt. She told her daughter that it was more an expression of happiness that she would someday understand. The little girl returned to bouncing a rubber ball on the wood floor directly above me, as her mother quickly closed the windows.

No one lives on the other side of the stone wall.

Possibly the wall is filled with characters created by Alexandre Dumas. After all, he used our address in a number of stories. For instance, The Count hid in our stable, disguised as a priest. Yes, That Count.

Edmond Dant├Ęs acquired the ability to speak and hear through rocks over many years of forced practice.       




Sandy Kinnee

Changing Horses

Changing Horses

There is an axiom against changing horses
in mid stream but I have no real choice
Fortunately I am on dry land
and although I have been galloping along,
paintbrush in my front paw,
I will dismount and saddle up
my writing pony.

Let me roll the finished canvases
and stack the dried paper
before I depart to Paris where the room
I have to paint is limited to
the spread of my lap.

I will paint in words or scribble
in jumbled letter-form.

Did I mention that the apartment
I have inhabited these past ten plus years
in Paris had once been a stable?





Sandy Kinnee