Archive for the ‘Photo-Essay’ Category

Joni Mitchell and Paris

May 16, 2014 2 comments

RT doesn’t talk much about the four years he spent in Paris as a teenager. It’s kind of like talking about what it’s like being a poet; you know you’re damn lucky to be one and that any mention of it brings out a surreptitious feeling in your interlocutor, “My life isn’t as rich as that!” Unless of course he or she happens to be a poet–and has admitted it to themselves. And the resentment that talking about Paris or poetry stirs up in people who have never had close encounters with either makes it very hard to describe the equivocal position of us makers (or makaris, as the Scots call us): we are in exile from the Great City as we are in exile from the deepest source of ourselves, the beauty in our voices. The sense of beauty is always with us, but it is not easy to actually go back to the places we acquired it and re-experience it directly.

Or maybe this is just a complicated way of saying none of us can go back to our youths.

Anyway, our sleepy poet has had yet another YouTube epiphany, this one just a few minutes ago as he listened to Joni Mitchell‘s “Edith and the Kingpin” from her amazing and difficult 1975 album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns. God, this thing is gorgeous!

The song summoned feelings that RT usually leaves where he felt them forty or so years ago, memories of the intense beauty of Paris and the various thunderbolts of panic thrown at him by the muses as they awakened him to the transparency and mystery of the world. RT had a rather dramatic time in the City of Lights, but one that he kept to himself (and for some years after).

Or maybe this is just a roundabout reminder that poetry and Paris aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. What, after all, is wrong with being a commodities trader in Chicago, a teacher in Arizona, or a secretary in Boston? Lives like these are full of possibilities that creative folk in general don’t participate in.

RT knows that in fact his first encounters with poetry took place before his family’s posting in France, but not with the kind of urgency that neatly separates a teenager from the prospects of a normal life. Sorry, but you’re too busy struggling with your inner voice to be bothered with keeping a schedule…

And then there were encounters with the voice and images of Joni Mitchell to remind RT of what transcendent reality might look like. And come to think of it, it was in Paris that RT first acquired an interest in things ancient and Middle Eastern (not least from JM’s album Hejira). RT confesses himself plain puzzled by the relative obscurity that JM has slipped into, but trusts that genius will out and receive its due, even if the process takes a few more decades.


All of this is by way of introduction to one of RT’s recent poetic efforts and a link to Edith and the Kingpin. Here is the poem:



star plunges down the sky:

the impact shrivels a hill,

leaves the glowing nugget

to cool in a dusty, windy



and they come dancing,

singing for the rain, the

bolts that burst upon them:

thorny canes, fierce blossoms.


they cut a blade, free an axe

from the hard starfall,

shape lesser stone for walls

and roof;


the waters are rising

& they people the cube

with Betelgeuese, Deneb,

Fomalhaut: seal the door.


they will make landfall.


Copyright © 2014, The Rag Tree


&, with thanks to JM for the inspiration, here is “Edith and the Kingpin”


* * *

Photo: 1974, Joni MitchellAsylum Records – Billboard page 2. WikiCmns; Public Domain.


The Monarch Butterfly’s Spring Migration

April 9, 2014 6 comments

File:Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus on Echinacea purpurea 2800px.jpg


The time is approaching for eastern Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) to return to the U.S. east coast from their wintering grounds in Mexico: a more beautiful visitor is hard to imagine. Though the population of the Monarch has declined significantly in recent years, a decline linked to several changes in the butterfly’s environment, the MB is not yet listed as endangered. Fortunately, several organizations are at work trying to protect the butterflies; RT offers links to a couple of them, Monarch Watch and Monarch Butterfly Fund. As is so often the case, the status of the most vulnerable members of a community is a good indicator of the community’s overall health.   RT

Photograph: A Monarch Butterfly on a Purple Coneflower (2007). Author: Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man). WikiCmns; License: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only. This image was selected as picture of the day on English Wikipedia, August 27, 2008.



Garlic and Apples

October 7, 2013 Leave a comment

RT makes a pretty mean apple chutney himself…   RT

(reposted from So Many Books)

Garlic and Apples.

Sarah Bernhardt–1860

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment


Here is the great tragedienne, Sarah Bernhardt, at a mere 16 years of age, yet already beautiful and imperious. Of all the photographs taken of the great lady, RT freely admits that the only ones he really likes are by Felix Nadar, who had a remarkable gift for portrait photography; he brought out the inner person. To RT’s sensibilities, the Divine Sarah at her best manifested a classical beauty, worthy of Sappho’s poetry (or Racine‘s theater, for that matter). As France struggled through the final states of its extended Revolution (which from RT’s view, ended with the establishment of the Third Republic in 1870). RT feels that this period (or even SB herself) has something to teach us contemporaries as we struggle with the problems of a mostly unrestrained international arena. We also are lurching towards a resolution of social and political revolution (in our case, initiated in the 1960’s). A world government charged with controlling climate change, eliminating nuclear weaponry, protecting and feeding refugee populations, and requiring political negotiations before a war breaks out? May the memory of Ms. Bernhardt guide us in the right direction…  RT


RT’s Related Posts: 1) Empress Eugenie’s Diadem.

PhotoSarah Bernhardt in the Role of Junie in “Britannicus” by Jean Racine (c. 1860). Felix Nadar. WikiCmns; Public Domain.


Thesis Step 1: Paper

personal reflections on the joys of paper making…RT

(reposted from Between the Pages)

Thesis Step 1: Paper.

An ode to romance.

June 7, 2013 1 comment

TGIF roses…enjoy!!!  RT

(reposted from Vintage Inamorata)

An ode to romance..

Snow’s Hands.

May 23, 2013 2 comments


a wonderful photo and essay, well-observed… RT

(reposted from The Gravel Ghost)


Snow’s Hands..

Guest post: VHP Haiti



Party Girls, C. Jn. Louisius, 20x24


a great photo-essay…enjoy!!  RT

(reposted from The Art Of This)


Guest post: VHP Haiti.

we all evaporate in the end


compelling photograph, big-boned prose-poem…  RT

(reposted from elemental difference)


we all evaporate in the end.

The Naked Masquerade: part 3



an update on the progress of this piece…  RT

(reposted from Nancy Farmer’s artwork)


The Naked Masquerade: part 3.