"dazzle gradually"

"Dazzle Gradually" 2015 poems, paintings, new art & photography--a diary, a discipline, a delight.

Polly McCann

Monday, August 24, 2015

KC Japan Festival Haiku Contest!

 My Tumblr Blog

It's time to enter the KC Japan Festival Haiku Contest of 2015! Last year I won third place. Here are my submissions. I had so much fun.  I take my favorite poems and condense them into haiku.  I think this is the only way to make the haiku thick enough, if you know what I mean. And I love the result. Who says you can't say something in 17 syllables.

KC samurai Spirit

I'm the cavernous
jasper blue of summer sky
the quickening blur

KC Arts

Shell colored satin
as we sit on red velvet
like tea for cold hearts

KC Blues

Gutters drip rainbows
manholes tell you everything
So sing, Sugar, Sing.

Barbecue showdown
win the hearts of those you love
a taste to call home

KC Sports

Let's paint the whole town.
Oh, I love Kansas City!
Red, white, Royal blue!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Red Cord-- Rahab's Song

Soon the very first poem I wrote as an adult will be published. An old favorite from 1999, My poem Jacob's Song is to be published in Arc magazine in it's 24th annual edition of Israel association for Writers in English (IAWE). Yesterday I realized that many of my favorite characters in history have meant so much to me as I have wrestled with understanding their stories and their viewpoints.  Why not write another one? I thought. Why not write many? So here is another poem in the same style written from the perspective of a very famed Jewish woman from history.

This is my Jericho
and the walls are
falling down.
All these strangers

took pieces of me
for a price. Daughter
of the Sun, they called me
but I sold for a penny.

This was my Jericho
But the walls are falling
down. Now she knows
my shame, open to all.

Oh God, if you are a
strong tower, then restore me.
Build fresh bricks and mortar
around my heart.

Let them call me
Mother of a nation
Here I take this red cord
and raise it with a cry

My Deliverer. My savior.
My Banner forever.

The one who rescues me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Orange Cinder

In July the flower stand squats empty
crates gray like the pavement
cinderblocks sigh heavily with
wooden slats loitering about--
Paint splits off the faded sign
Jeannie's Lawn and Garden Center
Even the grass pants heavily--
gone for the season.
I see a future of orange--
In a few weeks it will open
again sprouting pumpkins
lined up like teeth in
a jack-o-latern smile. Yes,
it's empty now, but out
in the tall grass, purring,
are round little babies
some the size of my fist,
some as small as a thumbnail.
They swell in the heat
after nightfall,
drink dew by the bucket
Yes, looks empty now,
only because we can't see
those far off fields, only
because we can't know
what will happen next.
You think Cinderella's
carriage was magic, the work
of a moment. But I know
that it takes twelve weeks
for a squash to grow from
one tear shaped seed
to the behemoth she
knelt crying over---
under starlight.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Two sun rings
twenty four moons
since that time
you had a headache
I stroked your head
and said everything
is going to be alright
you said that for
a moment you felt
like I really did care--
that's when I knew
you were delierious
because I'd cared
every minute
eight scores of
months, how many
hours of hand written
notes, poems penned on
red autumn leaves,
gold buttons tied
with string, nosegay
yes little flowers,
scrabble cookies,
pumpkin pies,
three children
10 moves, five cars,
five degrees, four
thousand seven hundred
and forty-five dinners,
and how many cuffs
repaired on boring
brown kakis?
Too many to count.
Sure the headache
went away, but
you followed it.
And I free,
am happy except
when the full
moon loses her
chin and wobbles
a bit in the sky
and I wonder
if she get's headaches
holding the sky
up and suffering
from accusations
of her inconstancy
when really it
is only the light
of the sun which
casts a fickle
light when the
earth turns his
back endlessly
indecisive about
which way
to face.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Donne Ring

Dear John,
Maybe you don't know this but
people call you one of the world's
greatest poets. You could make
fountains sparkle and rings speak.
You could write the songs of
angles, catch stars, explain death.
You lived hundreds of years ago
when everyone died of cholera
and consumption. Now we've
cured all that-- along with our
power over words. You'd be
surprised how few we use now,
like Oak trees before a frost
are the leaves of our words.
With more days to speak within,
we have less to say. I have a glass
that will show me any picture in the
world, nay the Heavens too--
any place I want, more clear
than any crystal,  it will show me
any word I desire in any language.
I find still there are times
I do not have the word I'm
looking for. For example
the word you use for
a broken promise?
No matter how many words
I eat, nor how much metal
I fling into St. George's
Channel, I will still
look for the right one.
If I traveled back
in time to visit you at your
writing desk, I'd probably find
not even a dictionary. I'm sure
if you needed a word,
you might have to take
a stroll and pluck it
from the street where it rolled
among the refuse caught
in the loose shoe of an old mule.
There you might scrape it out,
melt it down in a fire,
and pluck from it a meaning
only a Smithy could find.
For in the white hot
heart of a word, there
you saw the reason
to carry on. That is
the word I'll inscribe
on my new heart.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

First Kiss

The first kiss is always
one of the best. You're surrounded
by fireflies, and honeysuckle vines
nothing could be more romantic.
But honey, maybe you should
open your eyes and wonder
why you are standing in the dark.
It's cold and you weren't
offered a jacket. You're a tiny
bit thirsty and you weren't
offered a drink. You are hungry
and you weren't offered dinner.
If you open your eyes, you'll see
that police car drives by because
visitors aren't allowed in the park
after dark. And that leads me
to ask you one question.
What's with that big kisser
who is always trying to get
you alone?

Dark Room

There's something I need to do.
It's a negative. Something I've held onto
for a long time. I've kept it. Treasured it.
I think I know what it's a picture of,
it's hard to tell. I know it's time to do this.
I've been putting it off. If I don't
do it now, this negative will haunt me
for the rest of my life. So I'm taking it--
taking it to the dark room.

The door to the dark room revolves in

single confessionary shoot. Only
one may enter at a time.
I'm alone.
In the eye of the door I lose
the colorful confusion of the every day.
I must turn around enter the vacuous hole
into the dark. I step in. I'm there
with only one tiny negative smaller
than my hand. My present and future are
all but gone. I'm in a portal to the past.
I pull the door closed and it is

The door slides around and opens into a large
room. At first I can't see anything. But after
a minute, the smallest of lumens, a tiny red orb
in a high ceiling corner, it doesn't push light
for more than a few inches--
though it refracts a hint of reflection
on four baths of liquid on a counter below.
The red light, the dampness and warmth
of the dryer,  the sharp smelling oder places my
body in this womb where we hope to catch
small butterflies of light we call Truth.

The tap of tongs against
the tray tells me someone else is here with 
feverous concentration, the end of the journey
while I am just beginning. We don't speak to
one another. The dark room is not about
community, though it acts like a tiny hive
for honeyed embryos of light. 
This is the pitch--
Blackness I navigate from memory
to the second station from the far wall.
I've been here before. So often, I could
do without the red bulb, altogether.

I set up my enlarger,
adjust the settings for a single
exposure, count the ticks of the timer
to a nine second setting. Carefully pull
out the plate and insert the curling film
into it's brace--in the blood light I see
it's small veins of shadow. This negative
here, it's from when I was sixteen-- me before
all my mistakes, all my delusions,
but fully steeped in selfishness. What? I
was sixteen. Ah, but it's not a picture of me--
No, it's a picture I took of something,
something that was important to me.

I want to know what that was. I need
to know. I adjust my focus, and focus
again. It's hard going back in time-- in a
negative everything is opposite to real
life. You can't be quite sure what you are
really seeing. It's all backwards in
a looking glass world of inversed action.

Insert a new piece of paper
with the precious silver emulsion. Silver
tarnishes, changes to black-- something
hateful to a Silver tea service, but lovely
in the darkroom because we are going to
catch light. Catch it, hold it, and make
it stick-- just like Peter Pan's shadow.
Watch closely because this will be

I turn the switch. A small pouring of light
flows through like water from a bucket.
It cannot breach the darkness in it's
weakened state. It's time is limited.
Click. The light is off.
It's ready. My paper is steeped in light,
Have faith. You can see it yet.

I lay the paper in the developer
and wait a few minutes.
Slowly the picture appears in periphery
moving outwards. A revelation of
positive. I can make out some figures.
They are smiling, hmm it's really too dark
to make out who they are.
So I pull out the paper from it's tray,
and dip it in a Stop bath. Wait.

I wonder if I'll remember who they
are? Is it my neighbor, my cat, a friend?
I can't remember that far back. I'm so
so old now. Photography is old. Most
Dark rooms were shut down a long
time ago. This one will be demolished
next year.

Next I lay the paper in the Fixer with
a third set of tongs. Now no one
can change it. Permanent--
wait again.
Finally, the fourth bath,
cleanses away all chemicals a final
baptism. It is done.

When the photo is dry,
I  exit the dark room.
Alone-- I turn the revolving door
Step into the coffin and pull
the shroud over. I turn around--
Light comes at me with a force.
I'm inundated with light.
Blinded by light. Then the sound
of the cacophony of the real world
all it's jabs and colors returns.
I'm breathless, undone.

I take a step and look down at the

photo in my hand, shaking.