"dazzle gradually"

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


Polly McCann

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fickle

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
silent.

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
magic!

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.
Agiate.

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.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Frankly Tuesday

It was a Tuesday. The last words
in the diary of Anne Frank read,
But I keep trying to become
what I would like to be, and what I could be
if... if only there are no other people 
in the world. 
I wonder why, Anne. Why keep a diary?
Why write at all--
Why keep arranging words like
stones too heavy for one hand?
What can a soul locked up, have to say?
But then again, she said a great deal.
She loved a great deal-- the moon
through the dirty window, the country
called Holland, all people, a childish boy
named Peter-- another rock.
But we'll never know.
There are no more words in her diary,
these are the last. Here's what I think,
I really do-- if Anne had the chance
to write one more day, she would
have revealed her Friday
transformation--
Torn from her small cell, in the face
of losing everything-- I see her walk,
head held high. I like to believe,
she gained the one thing she wanted most,
and in doing so, lost the invisible
chains bound by her own hand---
Yes, outwardly captured, moved--
to a deeper prison. But I think
nothing could hold her by then
For she'd grown wings--
wings made of long strips
of words. Each word made of
letters, each letter, of strokes.
Each stroke lifting her
to freedom.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

'Set a Course'

I know it's a bad night when Star Trek is on.
I like the sound of the doors opening
and closing. The swish of effortlessness
I like the hum of the engines
and the bubbling sound of pretend computers
computing the impossible trajectories
of plausible adventures.
I even like the sound of red alert--
it reminds me of my heart beat, like
my body is a ship, on a mission.
Sometimes it's on red alert,
sometimes yellow.
It journeys on a set course to
somewhere particular, everything
in place, everything as it should be.
Not one person missing. I like that
about Star Trek. And so I save it
for the nights the children are gone.
Nights where people are missing
and the hum of the refrigerator
sounds like a dial tone ringing
busy. Nights when I need to
be reminded that there
is a vector and with the
right equation, and a punch
to the upper cut, there will
always be a tomorrow. With
the right mix of passion
and logic-- surely,
we can
take this bucket of bolts
out for one more spin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What's in the Bag?

It's Father's Day. I pull into the driveway
next to the paper Birch. What's in my purse?
A sealed, brand-new DVD of Bob Ross, the PBS wonder,
master Oil Painter, not to mention, snazzy dresser.
His big hair reminds me of my Dad's 80s curls
so much like Ronald McDonald, the clown.
Everyone the same back then.

Who started it?
The curls I mean? What were they thinking?
But Bob Ross pulled it off. It's like he
had a halo that said, "I love painting. And
I don't mind letting you copy everything
I do. And guess what? You can make
the trees any color you like." I like that
about Bob.

Why was he so incredibly soothing?
What made all of just sit and stare as
he placed small pale marks on the base
of "happy little trees"? And why did he use
so much Alizarin Crimson? Everything was
maroon? Everything Titanium White? Why?

The other thing in my purse? A small bit
of communion wafer, a cube really--
I'm allergic to the wheat in the bread.
Oh, and an empty plastic cup, small enough
for a large gnome to drink out of.
The cup isn't half empty. It's really empty--
all sipped out.

I remember Dad had asked for communion
the week before he died. I told him,
I can never eat it anymore.
I'll take it, if you still have it, he said,
trying to sound as if he didn't care. But he knew.
He knew he wouldn't make it very many more
days. I did too. I knew that's why
he was so peaceful. We knew.

It wasn't long now.
But that Sunday, like most others,
I had crumbled up the small crust in lieu
of chewing it. My purse empty.
Not one crumb
left. And I suddenly hated

being Protestant, because I knew if there
had been a priest somewhere handy, he
or she would appear with wafers
and a cup right then and there--
they have kits, you know, to take to the
bedridden-- Fast food communion.
The wafers slide out like quarters from a silver
tube. The wine in a thermos, a white
linen napkin-- all hidden inside
a small leather box--- a happy meal.

Then again, to even say we wanted
such a thing was so un-Protestant.
Because last rights are just a formality, un-
necessary.
So we just shrugged.
Our meal, imaginary.
Our religion, un-
religious.

Looking back,
I can imagine it differently.
Who would pop through the door, but
Bob Ross! And he'd tell us that
with a few small strokes here and there
he could paint us any meal we wanted.
He'd create a loaf of bread so beautiful
that no one could be allergic to it. He'd
cover it with little dots of sesame. Then
a crystal goblet shining in pure white.
Of course, an easy choice for the wine,
dark red, so much poured out, somehow
always enough.