In the Calder Room

Hey! Not to shamelessly self-promote too much, but if you go to lulu.com and check out my chapbook for sale, they are having a sale through tomorrow (Friday at 11:59 PM they say), 20% off sitewide. So if you want to pick up GBG for $8.00 instead of its usual steep $10.00, now’s the chance…

And I also don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but given a lot of the offline writing I’ve been doing lately, I think there might be more on offer from me on Lulu in the near-ish (or at least not-too-distant) future. We’ll see. I have a trip planned to the Northlands in August, and I plan to disconnect as much as possible.

But for now, this is for Victoria’s dVerse prompt about “balance” in many forms. I decided to do a fairly balanced form (the terza rima, with its iambic pentameter and ring rhyme), using ekphrasis of Alexander Calder’s mobiles (which are pretty breathtaking examples of balance and stillness vs. motion; and people don’t do ekphrasis for sculpture enough!), on the topic of staying balanced in life, in general. Apparently, Calder invented the mobile? I thought it had been on cribs for ages, and he appropriated them, but it seems to have been the other way around, or so Wikipedia claims. All I know is, I’ve been a huge fan of his art since I was a wee lad.

In the Calder Room

We hold our breaths, afraid we might disturb
this jungle. Shadow-trees paint ivory walls:
their fruit sways slightly, and the light’s superb.

The leaves are fixed the instant of their falls,
while schools of fish, suspended, orbit slow.
A herd in yellow metal peals and calls.

All revolutions sway, move to and fro,
in time and painted colors. Scrap and wire
maneuver: redbirds come, piranhas go.

And from the door, unfurled with steel-blue fire,
these Libra woods seem candle-bodied things.
They puppet out the light, and never tire.

Some lesson’s beaten in those sharp-edged wings:
perpetual motion, secret upkeep, on
and on. Grey arias that gravity sings.

This is a life, with all its daily spawn
that tug and shift, hung from the ceiling beams.
Where is our point of tension, stretched and drawn?

Exhale: the apex, highest of extremes,
considering all at once. The unmarked verb,
the axis mundi, weighing days with dreams.

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5 thoughts on “In the Calder Room

  1. charityv says:

    Love the tension and swing of Calder, and your work! Looking on Lulu!

  2. brian miller says:

    very nice rhythm and meter….you def get points for balance in that…smiles…this is a life, no? in more ways than one. smiles…

  3. What a perfect choice for an ekphrasis, Joseph! I’m a Calder afficionado, too. Great idea to choose a terza rima as the form. Congrats on the book. I’d love to hear about your experience with lulu.com if you ever have time to e-mail me. I’m thinking of going the self-pub route for poetry. Thanks, Joseph.

  4. lucychili says:

    beautiful poem, the mobiles look like galaxies

  5. enjoyed this very much :-)

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