phanaerozoic

Musings about life on Earth in all its aspects…

Category: Uncategorized

Poetry and Art Broadsides Revisited

Thought I would post a second “unchosen” broadside I submitted to the Wichita Broadside Project for which I did both the poem and the art – in this case a photograph of our cat, Dusty, who is a fair purrer and a great ham when it comes to having his picture taken. Here, then, is “The Yellow Cat Purrs.”

 

~ Roy Beckemeyer, Oct. 4, 2017

Poetry and Art Broadsides

Back in April (appropriately) of this year, April Pameticky initiated a joint art/written word project: The Wichita Broadside Project. A series of monthly mixers were held to bring poets and artists together to see if anything clicked, then a call was made for submissions of 11 by 17 “broadsides.” A broadside here is a digital representation of graphics and text bringing together art and words into a whole more complete and meaningful than either might be on its own. Submittals would be evaluated by folks from Harvester Arts and River City Poetry; winners would be chosen by the jury would be printed and the prints provided to the artist/poet collaborators to distribute for posting around Wichita. The aim:  to promote poetry and art for public consumption.

The project was successful; more entries were received than expected. All entries will be displayed at Harvester Arts’ venue during Wichita’s monthly Final Friday Arts event on October 27th; that exhibit will also be the opening event of the 2017 Poetry Rendezvous. Seventeen entries were chosen for mass production and distribution. The teams whose work was chosen will each receive prints of all the winning entries, and ten copies each of their winner for distribution.  I was lucky enough to be a team member on four of the chosen pieces: one with Malissa Long Wilson entitled “Solar Flair,” one with Pat Beckemeyer (my talented wife) titled “If She Came to Me with Flowers,” and two with artist/poet Skyler Lovelace: “Early Onset,” and “The Mystery of Disappearing Bees.”

The piece I am showing here today was one I put together myself with a drawing I had done on a walk through Wichita’s Pawnee Prairie Park of some Indian Grass; I added to it my poem “Tallgrass in the Fall.” Not one chosen for distribution but it will be on display on the 27th, and I hope it inspires you to attend the event. Much great poetry and art singing together in harmony.

 

~Roy Beckemeyer, 3 October, 2017, 07:06, Revised 13:56.

 

Standing Tall

Last Saturday was a lovely late September day. Sunny, pleasant, with a promise of a cool evening. A perfect day for football and family. I don’t get to my grandson Will’s games often enough, so the visit of his older brother Daniel and family (Daniel’s wife Kayley and almost three-year-old son–my great-grandson–Daxx) from Texas was a perfect opportunity. My daughter Lori, son-in-law Chris, and grandson Hank (who played with Will for the Butler Grizzlies last year but who is at K-State now) picked me up a little before 5:00. Half an hour later we were tailgating (in style) with friends and relatives. Great grandson Daxx was a bundle of energy, tearing around, meeting (and fist-bumping with) his dad’s old football teammates, watching for his uncle Will and the team enter the stadium, and slapping hands with them as they did.

The game was intense, and Butler lost to Garden City in the end. Linebacker Will had a quarterback sack and four tackles. We all funneled down from the bleachers onto the field to mingle with the players. Shook hands, gave hugs, thanked them for their hard work and effort. Took pictures.

As things wound down, Daxx found his energy reserves and took to running down the field. Uncle Will joined him. At one point they stopped and stood, seemed to be having a discussion. I shot a couple of quick iPhone pictures, nothing very well-framed or carefully exposed. But the image seemed to me to hold a lot of emotion, of depth. Probably much of it because these two are very dear to me personally, but also, I think, meaningful in a larger more general sense.

There are a lot of lines in this image. The field markers, the tall light pole. Will looking so tall, towering above Daxx, but also looking down, head bent, so that he doesn’t seem to loom over Daxx, but to be guarding him, watching over him, protecting him. Daxx, with his legs crossed nonchalantly, seems to me to be basking in his uncle’s attention. And Daxx’s shadows, several of them from the artificial suns of the stadium lights, pointing in so many different directions, but his shadow the strongest where it parallels that of his uncle. Almost as if the shadow is already showing how the influence of uncles, father, grandfathers, is gently nudging him down the path they all found so rewarding.

It was a lovely fall evening in late September. I will remember it in great detail every time I look at this picture. I will recall the picture every time Daxx takes another turn down the pathways of his life. I am too old to hope to see his life to its end, but I rest assured that with this family will be there for him, helping him find the right line to follow, the right shadow to lean into. Uncles and nephew, father and son, grandfathers and grandson–all the connections, all the love. It was, and always will be, a lovely day.

–Roy Beckemeyer, October 2, 2017

Konza Journal 2017 Issue Now Online

The 2017 issue of the Kansas Area Watershed (KAW) Council annual publication, Konza Journal, is now online. I was fortunate to be asked by editors Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Ken Lassman to participate as a contributing editor and also as a featured photographer (photo essays on Birds, Insects, South Africa, the Changing Faces of Water, and Landscapes). Please check it out. Essays on Climate Change by Ken Lassman, the Cretaceous oceans of Kansas by Mike Everhart, poems by Annette Hope Billings, April Pameticky, Dennis Etzel, Jr.Victoria Sherry, and Janet Jenkins-Stotts, Olive Sullivan, and Kansas Poets Laureate Kevin Rabas, Denise Low, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Eric McHenry, and Wyatt Townley.  Videos by Stephen Locke, and a marvelous essay on language and sense of place as it relates to the prairie by Cindy Crosby.

There is so much more I can’t fit all the links here, so just go to the Konza Journal page, browse, and enjoy.

-Roy Beckemeyer, September 28, 2017

NineElevenTwoThousandOne

Some images linger.

My youngest grandson, three days old, held the promise of the future. But the television screen and the commentators’ stark voices seemed to belie that future. Telephoto lenses focused on distant buildings, surreal against the blue September sky, smoke roiled from the blemished skyscrapers, and I couldn’t swallow, a bolus of bile and heartache stuck between gut and head. This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. This can’t be.

And then I saw the first one. a bird dropping from a window ledge? No, it didn’t fly, it just fell. A piece of debris? Then another. My God, those are people falling through September skies. September is for falling leaves, smoke from burning leaves, waves of birds beginning to migrate south. Not for this.

_________________________________________________________

My grandson turned sixteen three days ago. He plays football beneath blue skies, walks through school hallways with his friends, still holds all that promise. May his September skies be forever free of lives ending in free-fall. 

_________________________________________________________

September Prayer

Lord, let me end things
like the leaves, in a burst
of all those bright
colors that have been
hidden inside me
the whole long
summer of my life.

I would like to let go
like a dry petiole,
fall like a leaf so dry
and light the air
will barely ripple
at my passage.

I would wish to float
aimlessly for a while,
my spread arms
and legs giving me loft,
a tendency to skitter
on the slightest
breeze, so as to defy all
predictions as to where
and when I would,
finally, come to earth.

 

~Roy Beckemeyer, September 11, 2017

 

_________________________________________________________

 

For the victims of 9-11 and those who remember them. And for John and his generation.

 

 

September Segue

A week into September and fall sneaks in a hint: small yellowed leaves drifting from trees in ones and twos and threes so intermittently that they almost don’t register.

They might as well be the sulphur butterflies, flitting goldfinches.

Everything else, after all, is still vibrantly verdant; the shades of green multitudinous, the number of leaves converging on infinity. Then comes the morning when you step out the door into a new 5:00 a.m., one that is bracing, the air still yet brisk, the world suddenly sharper, more clear; Venus hovers in the east, honed to brilliance.

By afternoon and on into evening the cicadas will continue to have their monotonous say, squelching all our preconceived notions about the harmonies of Eros. And so we balance here for a while, in this time both of and between summer and fall: the harvest moon still weeks away, baking-hot afternoons still a distinct possibility; yet the world is winding down, turning summer’s abundant and almost astounding fecundity down from a full boil to a slow simmer.

~ Roy Beckemeyer, September 8, 2017

 

My Interview by Miranda Erickson Kendall of the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library

Thanks to Miranda for her interviewing skills.

Here is a link to the interview:

https://tscpl.org/books-movies-music/roy-beckemeyer

Please join me and Leah Sewell on April 26, 2017 at the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library’s Poetry Month event.

 

Roy Beckemeyer, April, 2017

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An Ekphrastic Poem:

THE ANGEL OF DEATH’S PENANCE

After Oleksa Novakivsky’s painting, “Angel of Death,” 1923

He clasps the setting sunpic%5cn%5co%5cnovakivsky-oleksa-angel-of-death-1923

between icy wings, makes

of it his halo, sets his face

to shade, offers to his Creator

the body of yet another wingless,

mortal man, searches with averted

eyes a numinous end to the

endless path by which he will

one day part  from this, his

own private Purgatory.

 

  • Roy Beckemeyer

 

 

“Angel of Death,” 1923, an oil painting by Ukranian Artist Oleska Novakivsky, (1872-1935)

Notes from the past – posts moved from my “Music I Once Could Dance To” WordPress site – from July 24, 2015

I was thrilled to be notified by Lindsey Martin-Bowen that she had reviewed my first poetry book, “Music I Once Could Dance To,” in goodreads.  I am including here a link to the original review, and I have also, with her permission, pasted the review here.Thanks, Lindsey. I feel humbled and honored to have had these words penned about my book. Bless you.

ORIGINAL REVIEW On goodreads LINK HERE.

Lindsey’s review Jul 23, 2015
5 of 5 stars
Read in July, 2015

Review: Beckemeyer, Roy J. Music I Once Could Dance To.
Lawrence: Coal City Review Press, 2014, paper. ISBN 978-0-9795844-8-0. $10.

Even if Roy J. Beckemeyer spent most of his life as an aeronautical engineer, he has maintained a poet’s soul and uses poet’s tools—a descriptive, honest voice, vivid imagery, and rhythmic sounds—to generate a sense of characters and of place, some of which no longer exist. Nevertheless, his lyrical poems transport the reader not only to areas in the Midwestern landscape but to a less harried time.

For example, in the poem “Owl,” the reader can sense the elegiac longing for an earlier era in the Midwest landscape (and perhaps in our society nationwide). The bird becomes an emblem of a dying way of life:

. . . the universal truth of a broken owl
suddenly shattered by a strand of barbed wire,
gone from magnificent pursuer to wheeling
wreck of hollow bones, his wing flailing, cloud
of down and feathers floating like incense . . . (l. 1-5 ).

Beckemeyer presents the poem containing the book’s title first, in the section he named “invocation,” a request to God (and/or the muses) to lure the reader into a dance of words to ensure that it be guided by the Divine—or at least, supernatural forces beyond our material world. And his poetry creates music with its alliteration and rhythms. Although he continues the music metaphor in the titles of the book’s five sections (invocation, exposition, theme, variations, recapitulation), his engineering background appears when he weaves in scientific terms without destroying the poem’s rhythm. For instance, in the final poem, “We Discuss the Geomorphology of Life,” he notes “It’s called saltation, I said,/when grains of sand are picked up by the wind/and blown along, dislodging other grains. . . .” (l. 1-3).

Beckemeyer has lived in Kansas most of his life but isn’t a native. He spent his early years in Illinois. Those years etched intriguing imagery into his memories, which unfold often in his poetry. In “A Year in Small-Town Illinois: 1953 in Tanka,” his imagery leads the reader through the calendar via tankas (five-line poems in syllabic counts of 5/7/5/7/7 with the last two lines showing a “turn” from the beginning three). He wrote a tanka for each month. Some of them illustrate life in Illinois, such as the February tanka:

skating on Shoal Creek
ice cracks like a rifle shot
and transforms us both
from skaters into swimmers
huddled steaming by the fire (l. 1-5).

Others, such as the March tanka about the 1950s television show, “Sky King,” could occur anywhere in the nation during that era:

Sky King’s niece Penny
in that twin-engine Cessna
Saturday mornings
twelve year old boys dream about
pony-tailed girls and flying (l. 1-5)

Beckemeyer brings small surprises with the imagery, too. He illustrates the dance theme in unexpected ways, such as when he describes his wife, Pat, in “At Watermark Books Before the Reading.” He studies her as if she were dancing, “. . .your hands held out before you/as if they are dowsing sticks” (l. 4-5). And he notes “You always do that,/your hands dipping and bobbing/to the hidden rush of words” (l. 6-9).

In a similar vein, “Picking-at-Scabs Blues” in the same section not only picks up on bluesy rhythms, it, too, contains a dance description of the blues performer:

his hands would flutter,
open and closed,
open and closed,
catching at air coming
through the harp
and thrumming it there, (l. 26-31).

Indeed, this collection of poems not only shares the landscape with other descriptions in “Tornado Warnings” and “Nebraska Morning,” its dance-themed poems, such as “Initiation Song from the Prairie,” “Centering” and “Falling,” along with those previously mentioned, lead the reader through dancing lessons and create a music that many of us can still dance to today.

– Lindsey Martin-Bowen