Tuesday, April 21, 2020

the quill is a cleft in earth

In my widow-way I held allegiance 
to the pomp of heraldry.

I wore it well, my lozenge shield 
garlanding the instruments of passion.

My arms–
did little to protect. Bespoke dissent,
the fall & flowering.

The nails were thrice gilded & split 
at their centers to pierce, 
to give gravity 
to hands & feet & heart.

Would prop—
Would point to lapis, a diamond suspended there—
Would demur to that.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


An enthusiasm for measurement and quantification was a new characteristic of fourteenth and fifteenth-century culture; the counting of Christ's wounds and the exact calculations of indulgences surely reflect this. But the sense that length is a metonym for person has far older roots. [...]

We are told, for example, in a 12th century account of wonders at Becket's tomb that a certain Ethelburga wished to give the martyr a candle made to the length of her gouty left arm, in the hope of a cure. The miracle consisted in that fact that she "had scarcely begun to measure [the limb] with a thread than.. she felt all the pain receding."Because made to her length, the candle was Ethelburga. If made to the dimensions supposedly given in a vision or brought from the Holy Land, and image of the wound was Christ.
--Caroline Walker Bynum, "Violent Imagery and Late Medieval Piety," German Historical Institute Bulletin 30 (2002).

"... a method of healing was called measuring the pentacle. It consisted of stretching a string to the patient's five extremities shown on Microcosmic Man's pentacle, then steeping the string in healing waters, or burning it and mixing the ashes in water, to make a potion for the patient to drink."
--Barbara G. Walker,  The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects

"Unique in horizontal measurement, and very rare, is the method of measuring an asthmatic child n Illinois. Here stakes were driven at the head and at the foot of the child lying of the ground under the eaves of the house, and  it was believed that, as the child outgrew the distance between the stakes, he would outgrow his asthma."
--Wayland Debs Hand, Magical Medicine: The Folkloric Component of Medicine in the Folk Belief, Custom, and Ritual of the Peoples of  Europe and America

Monday, November 18, 2013


Dividing is divining, is deforming
to patch into
Inward Oracle,
the all-seeing I.


To make a hairshirt:

first take the lace-edge you used once

for your burgeoning

find your sharpest needle, avoid the chaff of dull

take from your head enough hair

to satisfy a betrothal thrush mat--

now, recall, the lace is you, at age 12. begin to sew.

stitch bundles as if your body was a storehouse for a coming winter.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

of the interior (from the archives)

Columbus wanted the familiar of Jerusalem. Instead found the edge: Wilderness.

Wilderness, not so long ago. A train came by tracks, 1853. The wolves were bigger then, had more hunger. Not just for women in red, but women in white.

Now wolves are holographic taxidermies in a simulated forest. Some maps take time.

The chartless physical coming to a close. Telescope, microscope, Master. How do you do & undo.

Geography accounts for the exterior & the borders are sealed.

Borderless, my Jerusalem of the interior, where the Calvary was always my own.

--2009, Chicago

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

earth invocations

glory be

photographs/invocations from years past -- beaches of the atlantic & lake superior, taken with a lomo lc-a 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

every dawning like a prayer


I said, "Show me the ladder, that I may mount up to heaven."
He said, "Your head is the ladder; bring your head down under your feet."
from Rumi: Ghazal 19, trans A.J. Arberry

Friday, May 25, 2012

signs becoming what they signify

the museum of agriculture, cairo. march 2012.

church in cairo, march 2012.

street in cairo, march 2012.

the red sea, egypt. april 2012.

moon over mount sinai, egypt. april 2012.
sunset in the black and white desert, egypt. april 2012.


I’m haunted as though I were the only home for something unknown -- Unica Zurn

Friday, November 4, 2011

some diamonds of turkey

Mosaic of Ananeosis (Awakening), from Antakya, 5th Century AD. In the Mosaic Museum of Hatay.

Ceramics Studio, Cappadocia.

Graves, outside Mevlana Rumi Mausoleum and Museum, Konya.

Stadium of Myra, present day Demre.

Aphrodisias Archaeological Site, near Geyre.

Ephesus Archeological Site.

Ephesus Archeological Site.

Ephesus Archeological Site.

Basilica of St John, Ephesus.

Basilica of St John, Ephesus.

Basilica of St John, Ephesus.

Altar of the Domitian Temple. Ephesus Museum.

The Obelisk of Theodosius, Istanbul.

House in Fener/Phanar, Istanbul.

outside the Little Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.

Istanbul Archeological Museums.

Istanbul Archeological Museums.

Istanbul Archeological Museums.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

two fingers

The Ladder, #86, The Two-Fingers, #82. William Thomas and Kate Pavitt, The Book Of Talismans, Amulets And Zodiacal Gems, 1922.

[The two-fingers amulet] was intended to take the place of the two fingers of the god who helped Osiris to ascend the Ladder of Ra. [...] The Ladder amulet, provided the deceased with the means of ascending from earth to the floor of heaven, i.e. the sky. An ancient legend says that Osiris wished to ascend to heaven, but had not sufficient strength to do so. Ra seeing his difficulty provided the ladder, and he and Horus standing, one of each side of Osiris, helped him to ascend. [...] The legend is referred to in the text in the Pyramid of Pepi I, lines 192 f, 472 and 473, and in it we are told that it was the "two fingers of the Lord of the Ladder" which helped Osiris to ascend to the sky. The Egyptians presumed that the deceased might not be able to obtain the assistance of the "two finger," and they made the amulet [...] to take their place.
--E.A. Wallis Budge, Amulets and Superstitions, 1930.

British Museum, Obsidian amulet in the shape of two fingers. From Egypt, Late Period, after 600 BC.

The 'two-finger' amulet shows the index and middle fingers, with the nails and joints clearly indicated. They were placed on the mummy near the incision by which the internal organs were removed before embalming. This may suggest that the amulet was intended to reaffirm the embalming process, the fingers representing those of Anubis, the god of embalming. However, the amulet could also have been intended to 'hold' the incision sealed, to prevent malign forces from entering the body, like the plaques sometimes placed over the wound.

Brooklyn Museum, Amulet Representing Two Fingers. Egypt, said to be from the area of Memphis. Ptolemaic Period, 332–30 B.C.E.