Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Taste of Hemlock by Michéle Vassal: Review

A taste of Hemlock by Michele Vassal: Review

A Taste of Hemlock, by Michéle Vassal: Salmon Press, November 2011,Ireland. Pages of passionate humanescence and a blue eye on the land; it touches the darkness moist and fertile beneath spare contemporary, yet, timeless verse. The author harnesses a wide range of sensual tools to gather continuum against tides of madness. Linguistic influences convey a perennial state of spirituality in reverent tones of cultured awareness.

Storms and stars scatter the static impermeable resolve of the writer. Throughout her poetry, she sows the emotional landscape and reaps insightful language. Michele Vassal accepts the responsibility of communicative arts, she remains ever true to her quest for refined expression. Never shy of truths discovered along pain and adventure in a crowded world replete with poets and musicians drumming their lives in a vacuum above the mass, Michele stands firmly within her sensual realm, refining a multi-dimensional artistry. Music claims her voice, rage or whisper.

Throughout defining imagery the reader may follow the curve of spiraling womanhood in reference to motherhood, daughters and lovers and by extension the connection to nature ever-present .

Aroma permeates sensory memory, culinary alchemy performs a mystical duty in conjured images of steaming “Khilii Couscous”. Total tactile involvement evident in the phrase.
“ and I rub with burning hands the steaming grain in argan oil, rolling it until it separates like seeds of sand between the fingers of the Sirocco”.
Ancient numeric significance deepens text in such focus
“and seven is the sacred number I fold in the stock fragranced with thirty six spices”.

MichéleVassal's poetry often follows the whims of weather and moods: In Under the Dog Star, an unforgiving sense of expectancy wells up strong and urgent.
you sit at the edge of stillborn storms swollen and taut”.
To be sunk in persistent detail along the spare lines, unsolvable.
“anything can happen
and wine will sour on your tongue”
Taste co-mingling with immutable truth.

Helix plunges the partaker into visceral integrity, a bold knowledge within the intimate spectrum of selfhood in sketches of the universal feminine.
“ pulsing helicoidal dreams”

Sacrifices” alludes to human plight; I hear the cries of Medea echo above dry wars in foreign lands, and mothers alternately bemoaning or cursing in a litany of helplessness. No, the author does not impart anything but strength and outrage in context. The reader derives agonizing travail along the tragic path.

“Because our children are our enemies and always have been
we have sacrificed them to our malign lusts---
and they die for our crops
and they die for our oil”

Blood spills in the recollection of layers of relationships, conflicts and wars and yet, mystical strength persists in texture, in the resurgence of attention to living detail of a microcosm of animal cognizance, of herbal acquaintance; this long knowledge one acquire through “little deaths” and elusive peace.

An inebriating feast of repetitive words, or alliterations and cascading sounds envelops the mind with hypnotic momentum. Then the next page takes the lead to sensory immersion on an exotic revival of adventurous forays in rare climates. The Dancers of Ain Taya trace such a tale in ethereal quality. Train to Brittany meanders through vicarious presence.

The title poem “ a Taste for Hemlock”; a flawless sequence of short verse. It distills the complex, the communal drive to inevitable death at the end of a systemic melancholy thread.

“defining desire and death” a conceptual, movable verse, disperses its acquired wisdom beyond the dull ache of long pain, above the throb of ritualistic grief. The verdant background of the book cover, the glistening cerulean undertones understate pure, passionate, pleasure.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winterizing Fellows

As Europe was suffering record cold temperatures from Sweden to Portugal; animals of the Americas were busy responding to the call of the howling wind.
A snapping turtle hides in mud, the last of the milkweed vine bugs retreat under the dead leaf mat, and humans run to the store to buy caulking by the bucketful to insulate their nests.

Climate challenge stirs the mind, and nature responds. Carpets are littered with ladybugs, the native red ones and the majority of the invasive Chinese orange shelled ones; they are looking for a cozy home to survive the brutal wintry conditions in the plains. Next spring, the native ones will surely rise above the crowding and re-adapt to their new neighbors in the food competition game.
The local snappers and painted turtles will scramble to the creek bed and grab the minnows and crayfish under remaining slabs of ice in the swift muddy run off from the upstream rains.

I don't worry about the animals, I have seen so many perish and others subsist, that reinforces the theory of survival and movement. The ones which can't exist under harsh conditions find the impetus to move on to thicker thickets or muddier waters.

The balance will prevail if left to essential instincts, morphing, and natural circumstance. This year, I did not see many bees or praying mantis, oh, a few on the clover, mostly drones or carpenter bees. One, one single honey bee at summer's waning time, when sun shone and the drowning rains finally stopped.

Whether by pesticide, by mold or virus, the beekeeper's world has suffered, but the fruiting season was so plentiful due to wind dispersion and moths or butterflies, that wasps had a chance for a fall feast before Thanksgiving. lawns were littered with decaying apples and pears, raccoons and opossums were competing with the woodchucks for the all ground buffet.

Skunks and squirrels grew fast and abundant, by the evidence of roadkill in town and on country roads, the creatures of the wilds rushed from berry bush to orchard, braving traffic. The avian raptors barely had time to adapt to the influx in swift mammalian growth afield. The ones flying above the voles, the cottontails and moles, were surely encoding their reproductive organs for a future surge in numbers as well. Spring litters should be numerous and healthy.

Next year, the moth will be ready for its young to devour the forest, the black snake will readjust to the recent invasion of moles in town yards. Hawks will roost in the oak uphill and the four or five vultures will soon be multitudinous spots circling on the thermals over the valley. Fox will bring their playful kits out of the abandoned barns around, sow bugs will roll out of the decay.

The river will scrape its sides and rush across the clay fields to spoil man's best plans; upsetting the dreams of another bumper crop of corn or soybeans to sell by year's end to the ethanol kings and the high fructose moguls in the center of the earth, perched in towers of importance.

So much to make out of cultivated mono-cultures, so little paid to the rest of nature below. And yet, I have faith in the restoration of balance, in the renewal of disheveled order among the plains. The Osage orange drop to the ground, the last frost has matured the remaining persimmons for the eager foragers. Corms and small native berries covered the ground as an offering to rodents and birds.

I hear the distant call of playful coyotes, laughing across the gully, knowing the paralyzing effect they have on their furry victims below. Good night to the season, for tomorrow, snow...And rest for all that live in perennial expectation.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bagging out..

bag ladies.

In every city i visit, i find stores and entire aisles dedicated to the art of the satchel. Leather goods, plastic arts, all materials are represented in as many styles as lifestyles. Somewhere about the bustle of alleys and parks, i invariably notice women carrying bags in various stages of decay. Some push carts which are loaded with bagged possessions. Container and content part and parcel of same.

The bag has become a symbol of affluence, the more luggage, the more riches. But the baggage becomes the burden of this age. We soon are strangled by the multitude of ever thinning resources, which must be contained for fear, they will eventually possess us. Zippered, tapered, locked and snapped, Guccied or Vuittonized, trends and fashions clutter the wallet and the market—not to mention, the very planet we tend to say we love...

Sure, no designer purse will exterminate the Florida alligator. No single briefcase will decimate the Brazilian cattle. But the flimsy little bag which steams up your veggies and isolates your tub of chicken livers from the nearest Super- Mart will definitely cause some poor fish to die prematurely from ingesting pelletised plastics in the Ocean.

It is not a case of importance, but one of quantity. The US uses bags at an alarming rate; 100 billion in one consumer country; that amounts to 1500 per person. 12 billion barrels of oil, are used to fabricate the flimsy things to carry more futile objects and processed items. These bags will live between 400 and 1000 years in a multitude of stages, strangle wild life, choke fish and ducks, and finally wash down rivers to break into microscopic plastic particles to end up as carcinogenics in the meat of your favorite food chain item.

Talk about end game and product, could man have designed a more perfect multi-generational food chain reaction? On purpose? The trouble with us is that few scientists bother to compute the complete life cycle of each invention. So now we are faced with the results of a marvelous convenience, the plastic bag. I don't have a medicine pouch to wave at the problem, but i do have numbers to demonstrate what many are doing about it.

Around the world in eighty bags, the satchel chronicles.

Australia: phased out bags end of 08 -- Bangladesh: ban and levy on plastic bags-- Britain: the Prime Minister pressured law makers to eliminate bags -- China: began to phase out June 21st 08 -- Ireland: charges 29 cents per bag -- Europe has had fees since the 80s -- Uganda has imposed a ban on bags -- US. California and New-York impose recycling in major stores. San Francisco first US city to ban bags by April's Earth day, and many stores try the barrel-by-the-door to entice recycling – eco-minded town councils wave arms to improve the city's aesthetics by pleading citizens to limit usage of disposables..good luck on training the masses!.

Progress - progress, too late and not enough, where to start? The EPA claims that it is up to local waste management to deal with it. Do we have the necessary self discipline? Can we overcome the rebellion over ecologic authority? I do see signs of a growing concern. The reasoning may be faulty; but if it will steer people into an act of conscience, hey? Aim for the sensitive areas ( pocket and charge card)

The local Hy-Vee store in our small town offers re-usable green bags for $1.00 free on certain holidays..It is not a social disgrace to carry your own bag. No jaw will drop, nor bag boy faint for the honorable act of self discipline. I have a multitude of bags, donated library book bags, second hand gadget bags with fancy logos from one major advertiser, take a photo of yourself holding the free advertisement and earn a free coupon from the company's . com website. Do you have a nylon catch all and stagnant travel bags? They' re light and easy to save and carry. There is no excuse to keep using plastic grocery bags.

Well, yes there is, how about the multitasking tips for the spares you already have accumulated? A classic, inside out scooper, or rain hat, a Stuff picker-upper, or stuff thrower, stuff storer. A wild edibles collector, refrigerator cleaner. Quite handy for isolating wet bathing suits in the SUV or for those ripe tennis shoes, or yet the hot and sweaty vacation clothing . Some folks even cut bags in strips and make trailer-park-art rugs, knit or crochet at will, i am told they last, uh? Forever. And to top this off, Halloween mini costume, you use your own imagination for that one; I don't practice anything involving too many sweets and screaming children in close proximity...

Paper or plastic? Pulp or oil? one is biodegradable, one is not--one is heavy--one is light. Neither offers a solution, so get out that gaudy beach bag with the long lived shells and blooms sewn on it, and go forth to dazzle the store clerks with your new-found conscience, or just break down and spring a buck for a sturdy little green bag.

From my alter ego, the bag lady, Madame Pochette, happy bagging, you' all!