ubterranean Blue Poetry
Volume V Issue I

The Cover Art/Photo:

"the colour of blue/the colour of pomegranates"

from “Modern book-bindings and their designers” (1900)

by Esther Wood et. al.

Courtesy of Cornell University Library

The Colour of Pomegranates

(inspired by The Muse and the film of the same name
by Sergei Parajanov)

“scattered birds fly

in the dark, winter sky

i think of you . . . “

“the land is dead,

she, her dress is the colour of pomegranates

against a white sky,

the white land

stark pictures of a photograph

the beauty

the horses

the blind angel child that dances

she, always her hands move

gathering string

i am sleeping, i open my eyes

earth pours on white lace

the wind blows through the pages of the word

a white rose and a lighted candle,

2 white roses

the lovers take the marriage ring from their finger

the white land,

against a white sky

the land is dead

i am sleeping, i open my eyes

we paint our faces with white chalk

she, tosses the golden globe

the gun fires

she, falls to the ground

the hen at his mouth

the muzzak, the cacophony

the mystery,

the gun that fires

in the night

the dark horses, the horses

roil in war

it is war, the scales of justice, it is war

“we were searching for a place of refuge for our love,

instead the road led to the land of the dead”

the dead walk,

the dead will not rest

i am sleeping, i open my eyes

they pray over the body of love

the dead, in poetry

the peacock feather

against white chalk walls

how love has died

how love has lived

the wax castles

they build

the colour of pomegranates

your poetry is a butterfly

at my mouth

i am sleeping, i open my eyes

she, is sleeping

she, her dress is the colour of pomegranates

one hand lays flat over her heart

the other rests in her lap

she, is sleeping

rose petals fall from the sky

the white land,

against the white sky,

the land is dead,

it is winter”

Subterranean Blue Poetry
Volume V Issue I
(January 2017)

Subterranean Blue Poetry

© 2017


(A tale of Sumer)


David Hobberlin

After the Heaven had been raised over the Earth

After the god Lil had breathed onto the land

From the depth of the primeval sea

After the father of the gods, Enlil, had cast stars in the night sky

After the sun god Utu had brought summer to the day

After Enki, the god of wisdom, had provided

The food of life from the banks of the twin streams

After the black headed people had crossed the great mountain

After Nammu, the mother goddess, had then led them into the garden;

Then the goddess of love, Inanna, had arrived to reign as mistress

Of the ‘world above’.

Then her sister goddess, Ereshkisal, had departed from Heaven

To become the queen of the ‘world below’ where

The shadows of the once living had been gathered.

Then Ereshkisal had commanded the gatekeeper, Neti,

To strengthen the bolts of the seven gates to the underworld

So that none who entered her domain would ever escape.

Then Inanna had been compelled to visit the ‘world below’

After she had given instructions to her loyal vizier, Ninshubur.

Then he had inscribed these words on clay tablets

Since they had told the story of Inanna’s journey

Into and from the netherworld.

Then these writings had been hidden for millennia

Until they had been uncovered in the ruins

Of the palace Ereshkisal had named Ganzir.

In the beginning ...

After the Heaven moved apart from the Earth

After the name of mankind had become fixed

The god Enlil whose decisions are unalterable

In order to bring about what was useful

Settled abundance on the land of his people.

He directed the plow and the yoke during planting.

He heaped up grain in the silo at the harvest.

He made fat the cattle of the pasture.

He ripened the fruit on the trees of the grove.

Because the god Enlil declared that the age

When men ate plants from their mouths like sheep

And drank water from the ditch like dogs

Was now at an end.

Then the god Enlil sent to the long bearded people

Of the delta, Lahar, the god of the shepherd, and

Ashnan, the god of the farmer,

To teach them.

Now men could eat of unleavened bread.

Now they could wear robes of cloth from the loom.

Then the warehouses of the poor became full.

Then the city washed by much water was made clean.

Then the god Enlil dispensed the seven divine laws

To act as a steadfast light from sunrise to sunset.

Laws that seemed as unfathomable as the abyss.

Laws that were exalted, untouchable, and profound.

Laws with a heart as perplexing to the people as Heaven’s zenith.

Then the father of the gods, Enlil, directed the goddess Inanna

To have the people ascend the mountains of their highland

In order to bring back stone from off of their heights.

Then Enlil said, “ Urge them to build a shrine to the gods.

Urge them to place in it a chapel.

Place in the chapel the seven divine laws

So that they might flower like the boxwood tree.

Adorn the threshold of the shrine with a design

Of lapis lazuli.

Decorate the door of the chapel artfully

With scenes in gold and silver.

Then let the people prostrate themselves like the young singer.

Let them celebrate with hymns in the courtyard of the assembly

Of the shrine. Let them look reverently on what they have made

With a joyous eye.”

Then Enlil said to the black headed people whom he

Favoured, “Listen to Inanna for she is the royal

Who rides the seven divine laws.

She is the queen of the realm of what is good.

But know also that the goddess Inanna will rise up

In arms against the evildoer so that he must flee

Like the bird disturbed from the nest.

It is Inanna who can turn the city into a desolation

Returning to dust that which came out of dust.

Surely I will destroy all who turn their backs on my works.

The goddess Inanna shall maintain my peace.”

Then the goddess Ereshkisal was jealous of her sister Inanna,

In whom the father of the gods, Enlil, placed his trust.

Then Ereshkisal bit her thigh in anger.

She wondered for a time how to attain a measure of revenge.

Then Ereshkisal asked the god Enlil whether

She could descend from Heaven to the ‘world below’

Where she might rule the spirits of those once living

Gathered together in this netherworld.

Then the god Enlil agreed because it is he

Who perfects the decrees of power, lordship, and princeship.

It is he to whom the earth gods bow down in fear.

It is he to whom the gods of heaven humble themselves.

It is Enlil whose seat is on the high mountain, the pure place.

It is he whose net spans across all of the primeval sea

So that nothing can escape the mesh.

After Ereshkisal arrived to govern the ‘world below’

After she built the face of the underworld in her palace Ganzir

After the chief gatekeeper, Neti, placed strong bolts

On the seven gates through which each departed soul

Must pass so that no being who entered this domain

Could ever hope to return.

After the passing of her husband, the lord Gugalanna,

After Ereshkisal arranged that his funeral rites

Should be held in the underworld:

Then the goddess Ereshkisal asked her sister,

The goddess Inanna, if she could attend them

In the land of no return.

Then the goddess from the ‘world above’

Set her mind toward the ‘world below’.

Then after Inanna abandoned Heaven,

Abandoned the Earth, to go down to

The underworld, the goddess

Inanna attached two of the

Divine laws to her side, gathered three of

The divine laws in her left hand,

Then set the last two of the divine laws on her foot.

Then Inanna placed the crown of the plain on her head.

Then she fixed a necklace of lapis lazuli around her neck.

Then she fastened twin breastplates of silver over her chest.

Then she put rings of gold on her fingers.

Then she covered her body with a pale garment.

Then she settled the locks of hair along her forehead.

Then she took the measuring rod up into her right hand.

After Inanna began to approach the first gate of the netherworld

After she daubed the perfume ‘let him come’ about her person

Then she gave these instructions to her loyal vizier, Ninshubur,

“After I have entered the underworld, if I have not returned

In three days and three nights, then you must set up a lament

For me in the courtyard of the assembly of the shrine to the gods.

Beat the drum for me in the house of the gods.

Lower your eyes for me, lower your mouth for me.

Like a pauper in a single garment dress for me.

Then weep before the father of the gods, Enlil.

Plead that his daughter, Inanna, not be lost

In the realm of the netherworld.

Let not what is precious metal become tarnished.

Let not the lapis lazuli be broken by the hammer.

Let not the flowering boxwood tree be split by the axe.”

After Inanna came to the portal of the first gate

After she knocked on its door requesting to be let in,

The goddess Ereshkisal said to the gatekeeper, Neti,

“When my sister knocks on the door of the first gate,

Allow her to enter only if she removes the crown

Of the plain from her head. Then at the second gate,

The necklace of lapis lazuli around her neck.

Then at the third gate, the twin breastplates of silver

Over her chest. Then at the fourth gate,

The rings of gold on her fingers. Then at the fifth

Gate, the pale garment that covered her body.

Then at the sixth gate, the locks of hair

Settled along her forehead. Then at the seventh

Gate, the measuring rod from her right hand.

Only then can my sister, Inanna, enter the

Face of the underworld the palace Ganzir.

She must come naked except for the seven divine laws.”

Then the gatekeeper, Neti, heeded the words

Of his queen. He lifted the seven bolts of

The gates of the ‘world below’ after each of

The demands of his sovereign had been followed.

Then he pressed open the last door to the

Face of the underworld the palace Ganzir

Saying to the pure Inanna, “Come. You may now enter.”

Then Inanna bowing low was brought naked

Before her sister, the goddess Ereshkisal.

After Ereshkisal seated herself upon her throne.

After Ereshkisal summoned the seven judges

Of the netherworld, the Anunnaki.

After they pronounced their verdict,

The eternal sentence, on the goddess Inanna.

Then Ereshkisal fastened her eye on

Her sister, the eye of death.

Then Ereshkisal spoke the word against

Her sister, the word of wrath.

Then Ereskisal uttered a cry against

Her sister, a cry of guilt.

So that the goddess Inanna became

Like a sickly woman.

Then she fell to the ground like a corpse.

Then Ereshkisal directed the Anunnaki

To place Inanna in a cell in the dungeon of the

Face of the underworld the palace Ganzir.

After the passing of three days and three nights,

The loyal vizier, Ninshubur, the vizier of

Favourable words, the knight of the true words,

Followed the instructions of his mistress, Inanna.

He set up a lament in the courtyard of the assembly

Of the shrine to the gods. He beat the drum

For her in the house of the gods.

He lowered his eyes for her,

Lowered his mouth for her.

Like a pauper he dressed in a single garment.

Then he wept before the father of the gods, Enlil.

Then Enlil heard the pleas of the loyal vizier,

Ninshubur. Then Enlil told him to go to the city

Where the god of wisdom, Enki, was to be found.

Then the god of wisdom, Enki, explained

How the goddess Inanna could be saved.

After Ninshubur came into the city of the god Enki

But before he inscribed on clay tablets

The story of the goddess Inanna’s

Journey into and from the ‘world below’,

He wept before the god Enki crying out,

“Let not your sister, the goddess Inanna,

Be lost to the netherworld. Let not the

Precious metal become tarnished.

Let not the lapis lazuli be broken by the hammer.

Let not the flowering boxwood tree be split by the axe.”

Then the god Enki replied with some concern,

“ What has happened to my sister? I am troubled.

What has happened to Inanna? I am troubled.

What has happened to the queen of the land above?

I am troubled.”

Then the god of wisdom, Enki, brought dirt

From under his fingernail to fashion the Kurgarru.

Then he brought dirt from under the red painted

Fingernail to fashion the Kalaturru.

To the Kurgarru he gave the food of life.

To the Kalaturru he gave the water of life.

Then the god Enki directed the Kurgarru

And the Kalaturru to go down to Ganzir,

The palace of the goddess Ereshkisal.

Then he cautioned them,

“Do not listen to the shades who have been

Gathered in the ‘world below’. They will offer

You water from their river. Do not drink it.

They will offer you bread from the grain

Of their fields. Do not eat it.”

Then the god Enki continued,

“Ask for the body of the goddess Inanna.

Sprinkle upon her the food of life.

Sprinkle upon her the water of life.

Then my sister Inanna shall awaken.”

After the two beings came into the land of no return

After they had made their request,

Then Ereshkisal brought the body of her

Sister Inanna to them.

Then they revived her with the food of life

Then they revived her with the water of life

Sent by her brother, the god Enki.

After the mistress of the ‘world above’ awakened

The goddess Ereshkisal ordered the return to her

Of the crown of the plain for her head,

The necklace of lapis lazuli around her neck,

The twin breastplates of silver over her chest,

The rings of gold on her fingers,

The pale garment that covered her body,

The locks of hair settled along her forehead,

The measuring rod from her right hand.

Then the goddess Inanna daubed the perfume

‘Let him come’ about her person.

But as she began to ascend from the ‘world below’

The seven judges, the Anunnaki, who pronounced

The eternal sentence upon her declared,

“Who of those who have descended to

The ‘world below’ ever can return

From its domain.

If the goddess Inanna is to go up to

The ‘world above’ she must provide

Another as her substitute.”

Then two demons like the thick reeds

To be found in the shallows of the

Twin streams latched onto the sides

Of the goddess Inanna.

One demon held a scepter in his hand.

The other demon had a weapon

Fastened about his waist.

They were creatures that knew not

The sifted flour to eat nor the sweet

Clear water to drink.

They were the things that stole

The child from the nursemaid’s breast.

Then Ereshkisal allowed the gatekeeper, Neti,

To open wide the door of the face of the underworld,

The palace Ganzir, along with the strong bolts

Of the seven gates so that the goddess Inanna

Was released back into the ‘world above’.

Because of these events …

After Inanna rose from the netherworld,

The two demons remained by her side.

The smaller demon was called Shukur.

The larger demon was called Dubban.

Shukur, though not a vizier, stood in front of her

With a scepter in his hand.

Dubban, though not a knight, had a weapon

Fastened about his waist.

Neither ate of the sifted flour

Nor drank of the sweet clear water

For they were the things that stole

The child from the nursemaid’s breast.

Then Inanna went to the city where

A king by the name of Dumuzi ruled.

He put on a fine robe when he saw her

As she had once been his betrothed.

Then the goddess Inanna handed him over

To the two demons saying,

“You may have this one as my substitute

For he was never faithful to me.”

Then Shukur spread wide his wings

So that the king grew terrified.

Then Dubban changed his hand into a snake,

Turned his foot into its tail.

Then he struck the man, Dumuzi,

With its deadly venom.

Then the king Dumuzi wailed,

“The day that shone over the land

Has turned black for evil holds me

In its grasp. Evil wants to carry off my life

Breath. A poison now washes over my body.”

Then the goddess Inanna said to him,

“Never has a sinless child been born to

His mother. Never has a sinless man

Not existed from of old.”

Then the king, Dumuzi, called out again,

“Why am I to be counted among the cursed?

Why is my allotted share this suffering?

Why has my heart been oppressed by the


Let not my wife mourn for me.

Let not my children bemoan the fate

Of their father.”

After the two demons, Shukur and

Dubban, seized him,

After they tried to drag him down

To the underworld, the king,

Dumuzi, was taken by his family to

The courtyard of the assembly of

The shrine to the gods.

There he begged the sun god Utu,

The god of his household, that the god

Might go and plead his case to

The father of the gods, Enlil,

Hoping that his life might be spared.

Then the sun god Utu went to the high

Mountain, the pure place where

The god Enlil kept his seat.

Then the sun god said to Enlil,

“The king of the city, the man Dumuzi,

Came to me hoping that you would

Cure him of his sickness. He called

Out to me saying that he increases

The bounty of the sheepfold each year,

That he keeps the decrees of the gods,

That he honours the seven divine laws.

Why then should he be chosen

For nothing but tears?

Why should an evil fate seek

To carry off his life?

Let the god who begot him

Have pity on him. He begs that you

Fold up the wings of the demon Shukur.

Remove the hand of the demon Dubban.”

Then the father of the gods, Enlil,

Gave his reply, “Tell the man that

I, the god, Enlil, brought all things into being.

I made the god of the wind Lil who breathed

On the land from the depth of the primeval sea.

Then Heaven became raised over the Earth.

I cast stars into the night sky.

I fashioned all the other gods.

I created mankind to serve the gods.

I chose the goddess of love, Inanna, to reign

Over the ‘world above’.

I granted her sister, the goddess Ereshkisal

Dominion over the ‘world below’.

It is I who perfects the decrees of

Power, lordship, and princeship.

It is my net that spreads across the primeval sea.

Nothing can escape the mesh.

Say to the man that,

What is meant to be must be.”

After the sun god Utu spoke with the god Enlil,

After he descended from the high mountain, the pure place,

After he repeated the words of Enlil to the king, Dumuzi,

That what is meant to be must be,

Then the two demons, Shukur and Dubban,

Seized the man Dumuzi by the thighs.

Then the two demons rushed upon the heart

Of the sick man so that no one played

The flute or the pipe for him any longer.

Then the goddess Inanna cast her eye upon him,

The eye of death.

Then she spoke the word against him, the word of wrath.

Then she uttered the cry against him, the cry of guilt.

Then the man Dumuzi was taken down to a cell

In the dungeon of the face of the netherworld

The palace Ganzir as the substitute for the goddess Inanna.

Then as the scribe of the black headed people,

The long bearded people, favoured by Enlil,

Inanna’s loyal vizier, Ninshubur,

Looked up to the stars in the East,

Looked up to the stars in the West

To seek the auspices of the gods

That are written in Heaven.

Then he inscribed these words on clay tablets

Since they told the story of the goddess Inanna’s

Journey into and from the netherworld.

Then the goddess Ereshkisal took these tablets

To her palace Ganzir where they remained

Hidden within its walls until the present day.

Featured Poet: Homer

The Odyssey: Excerpt from Book V



He found her at home. There was a large fire burning on the hearth, and one could smell from far the fragrant reek of burning cedar and sandal wood. As for herself, she was busy at her loom, shooting her golden shuttle through the warp and singing beautifully. Round her cave there was a thick wood of alder, poplar, and sweet smelling cypress trees, wherein all kinds of great birds had built their nests- owls, hawks, and chattering sea-crows that occupy their business in the waters. A vine loaded with grapes was trained and grew luxuriantly about the mouth of the cave; there were also four running rills of water in channels cut pretty close together, and turned hither and thither so as to irrigate the beds of violets and luscious herbage over which they flowed. Even a god could not help being charmed with such a lovely spot, so Mercury stood still and looked at it; but when he had admired it sufficiently he went inside the cave.

Calypso knew him at once- for the gods all know each other, no matter how far they live from one another- but Ulysses was not within; he was on the sea-shore as usual, looking out upon the barren ocean with tears in his eyes, groaning and breaking his heart for sorrow. Calypso gave Mercury a seat and said: "Why have you come to see me, Mercury- honoured,and ever welcome- for you do not visit me often? Say what you want; I will do it for be you at once if I can, and if it can be done at all; but come inside, and let me set refreshment before you.

As she spoke she drew a table loaded with ambrosia beside him and mixed him some red nectar, so Mercury ate and drank till he had had enough, and then said: "We are speaking god and goddess to one another, one another, and you ask me why I have come here, and I will tell you truly as you would have me do. Jove sent me; it was no doing of mine; who could possibly want to come all this way over the sea where there are no cities full of people to offer me sacrifices or choice hecatombs? Nevertheless I had to come, for none of us other gods can cross Jove, nor transgress his orders. He says that you have here the most ill-starred of alf those who fought nine years before the city of King Priam and sailed home in the tenth year after having sacked it. On their way home they sinned against Minerva, who raised both wind and waves against them, so that all his brave companions perished, and he alone was carried hither by wind and tide. Jove says that you are to let this by man go at once, for it is decreed that he shall not perish here, far from his own people, but shall return to his house and country and see his friends again."

Calypso trembled with rage when she heard this, "You gods," she exclaimed, to be ashamed of yourselves. You are always jealous and hate seeing a goddess take a fancy to a mortal man, and live with him in open matrimony. So when rosy-fingered Dawn made love to Orion, you precious gods were all of you furious till Diana went and killed him in Ortygia. So again when Ceres fell in love with Iasion, and yielded to him in a thrice ploughed fallow field, Jove came to hear of it before so long and killed Iasion with his thunder-bolts. And now you are angry with me too because I have a man here. I found the poor creature sitting all alone astride of a keel, for Jove had struck his ship with lightning and sunk it in midocean, so that all his crew were drowned, while he himself was driven by wind and waves on to my island. I got fond of him and cherished him, and had set my heart on making him immortal, so that he should never grow old all his days; still I cannot cross Jove, nor bring his counsels to nothing; therefore, if he insists upon it, let the man go beyond the seas again; but I cannot send him anywhere myself for I have neither ships nor men who can take him. Nevertheless I will readily give him such advice, in all good faith, as will be likely to bring him safely to his own country." "Then send him away," said Mercury, "or Jove will be angry with you and punish you"' On this he took his leave, and Calypso went out to look for Ulysses, for she had heard Jove's message. She found him sitting upon the beach with his eyes ever filled with tears, and dying of sheer home-sickness; for he had got tired of Calypso, and though he was forced to sleep with her in the cave by night, it was she, not he, that would have it so. As for the day time, he spent it on the rocks and on the sea-shore, weeping, crying aloud for his despair, and always looking out upon the sea.

Calypso then went close up to him said: "My poor fellow, you shall not stay here grieving and fretting your life out any longer. I am going to send you away of my own free will; so go, cut some beams of wood, and make yourself a large raft with an upper deck that it may carry you safely over the sea. I will put bread, wine, and water on board to save you from starving. I will also give you clothes, and will send you a fair wind to take you home, if the gods in heaven so will it- for they know more about these things, and can settle them better than I can."

Missed Connections

Craigslist Montreal – Missed Connections – April 12th, 2016 - Anonymous

Croissants lightly dipped in honey – m4w (MTL-NYC)

You are perfect.

I dream of spending lazy Sundays with you in Central Park, eating fresh croissants lightly dipped in honey, assorted nuts, peaches and reading beat generation books. We nap on the grass, I sporadically shoo away the squirrels trying to steal our nuts. After we wake up, almond milk lattes become a priority so we can aimlessly wonder from gallery to gallery. The sun starts to fade, we climb onto a rooftop and just sit next to each other, in silence, listening to the traffic as the rosy clouds dim into the night.

Then end.

(N.B.: “ . . . then begin . . . then we write poetry Ranga’s long into the night” - a note from the editor

“the sun rises, the sun sets . . . our love stays the same” - a note from the other editor

“me want candy” - says the cat)

Book Reviews

Grapple: a study in Existential power paradigms.

Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Grapple

Author: Carrie Olivia Adams

Publisher: above/ground press

Date of Publication: 2016

Pages: 16

"Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love."
- from Dance Me to the End of Love by Leonard Cohen

Grapple is fantastical experimental protest poetry that was originally created as a poetry-dance multidisciplinary work with the Coincidentals, Chicago based dancers and choreographers Lydia Feuerhelm and Jamie Corliss. Influenced by videos and photos of street protestors being arrested, including a photo of the arrest of a young African American man, Shayna Stacy, the tension of the poetry and the dance fuses in the push and pull of intimacy and aggression. “It examines how physicality in protest exists in seemingly contradictory ways: bodily weakness can be an act of strength and physical closeness can unify or it can assert power hierarchies.” Carrie Olivia Adams lives and works in Chicago. She is a publicist for the University of Chicago Press and the Poetry Editor at Black Ocean. She is the author of 3 books of poetry and 3 Chapbooks, this is her second Chapbook published with above/ground press and the first book of poetry reviewed by This Writer.

The poetry reads like the violence of conflicting power pardigms in open spaces, the push and pull of divergent wills, citizen against state, racist against innocent, and perhaps within the intimacy of personal/sexual relationships, lover against leaving lover, reflected in the poetry and dance. As if playing into the “theatre of the absurd” the existentialist paradigm, of the violence of one body/personality inflicting its will over another, the second party having a differing opinion, and the often paradoxical conflicts that inflict pain upon innocents. To be fully appreciated I suspect it would help to experience the dance as well as the poetry, I suspect the dance and the poetry plays off each other, not unlike the art and the poetry of William Blake. This work is a ground-breaking experiment of multidisciplinary dimensions.

The poetry itself rolls out across the page in blocks, creating tension and the violence in ended, unended conversations. Also, there is the original use of syntax. On one level, as if the re-enactment of a take down by police in a street protest, the intimacy of physical closeness in this power paradigm, perhaps the violence of the will of one lover over a lover who wants to leave. Images in the work, are an interplay of movements of the body and emotions, a psychological treatise on power at the primal corporeal level.

“Come back to the space
Where we were so close

Tell us again how you know
how you submerged us
how we re-wrote the movement of sidewalk and street
how it bent up to meet us
how our cries made a body an earthquake
What was that chain reaction?”

                                   At once too easy to cut,
                                   too difficult to break

:to put an end to a siege by withdrawing

                    : to steal”

In the design machine of power and paradox, it is interesting to note that when enough people think the same way, things change. An exciting study in poetry and dance, highlighting struggle in conflicting power paradigms, Grapple by Carrie Olivia Adams.

Available @ above/ground press.


Reframing Paul Cadmus a poetic treatise on magical realism.

Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Reframing Paul Cadmus

Author: John Barton

Publisher: above/ground press

Date of Publication: 2016

Pages: 32

"Tightly closing eyelids
Heights; and cloudy spheres
Rivers. Waters. Stones.
Centuries and years."
- from Fairy Tale by Boris Pasternak

Reframing Paul Cadmus is a brilliant montage of post-modernist poetry inspired by the works of American painter Paul Cadmus by Canadian Poet John Barton. Paul Cadmus paints male-centric paintings with elements of the classical nude in fantastical spaces, often titled magical realism: “painting in a meticulously realistic style of imaginary or fantastic scenes or images.”* He painted throughout the 20th century in oils and particularly egg tempera, erotic landscapes often with elements of social critique. Egg tempera is a medium requiring some alacrity, the paint medium used by the old masters before the advent of the Renaissance. He lived in New York city amidst a circle of gay artists, dancers, musicians and actors and his work is held in high regard, collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art amongst other Museums and private collectors. John Barton (Poet, Editor, Poetry Editor, Librarian, Educator) lives and works in Victoria, British Columbia. He has been published in anthologies, journals and newspapers in North America and internationally, producing 6 Chapbooks, and 11 books of poetry and has won many awards, including the Archibald Lampman Award 3 times, a CBC Literary Award, a National Magazine Award amongst others. He is the Poetry Editor of the Malahat Review since 2004.

The poetry is experiential portraits in intimacy and exigencies, the push and pull of the disembodied soul. It is almost as if all the subjects in the poems/paintings are dead and the poems are charcoal renderings, memories touched by sunlight. It is as if Poet Barton is painting disjointed landscapes with words in elements of violence, imaginings that use the Paul Cadmus painting as an edge to begin. Each poem is presented as an inspiration of one of Paul Cadmus’ paintings, the title of the poem is taken from the title of the painting with a brief description. The poetry weaves images and imaginings from the paintings, descriptions and details, masculine, heavy with sexual raffing, the pull outside of open spaces under the starlit sky.

The poetry is written in short groups of lines, with a blank line, that as you read causes you to take a breath. Often the last word/thought runs into the next line after a line break. It is as if he is pulling a horse’s head up, in dressage, to get it to pay attention. This Writer, as if mesmerized, caught at the scene of a tragedy and a celebration, cannot look away. Themes include intimate nude male spaces “The Bath”, “The Haircut”, “Self Portrait, Mallorca”, “Bicyclists”, “Study for a David and Goliath”, “Book Buff”, “The Fleet’s In”, “The House That Jack Built” amongst others.


     Egg tempera on pressed wood panel, 1945
     1.5 x 1.25 inches

Sprawled in tights
On floor boards in a tiny

Square of time drafted between
Rehearsals near the end

Of the war, the page
After page he browses so

Distracting from start
To finish, the spine

Of his book broken
His shoulders exhausted

Foreshortened by the score
He has all morning bent

His essence to, the music’s dark
Harmonies without

Remorse forcing his world in
To step with its own, as

No longer lithe, he removes
Himself, gives in, pas

À pas, to oblivion
Reading himself beyond

Men yet to return and others
He loves who never shall

The precise squares
Of time he borrows

So necessary
So seldom spared.”

The paintings begin at 1934 and work through a progression to 1994 as if a chronology of years in the life of a male liason. Also taking in the years of World War II, the military establishment, the artists milieu, a reflection of the life of Paul Cadmus. Riveting post-modernist spaces in fantastical poetry, Reframing Paul Cadmus by Canadian Poet John Barton.

*The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. www.merriam-wester.com.
(December 14th, 2016)

Available @ above/ground press.

The Colour of Blue:

a cycle of 4 poems


Rebecca Anne Banks

“the day looks so sweet,

like God inside a blue balloon . . . “

the colour of blue,

the colour of pomegranates.

the first rule of true love is never leave

you become used to

better to watch the sky

candy chord

the day we rode the tiger

oolango poetry and coffee


such a bluestrain

mother Lucantus and stars in the sky

the earth has grown cold under my feet

a god at midnight and throughout the hour

blowing into midnight

the colour of pomegranates,

the colour of blue.

“orange sunlight

on golden bird

this blue evening . . . “

the colour of blue

the colour of pomegranates.


the dark shadow of a bird over water

the dark shadow of a bird over


wrapped in cloth

in a handful of seconds

a window of opportunity

a door opens

a door closes

we are the same,

yet different


he shakes out his hat.

the colour of pomegranates,

the colour of blue.

"watch, watch the dark night

the winter clouds

spin into storm . . . "

the colour of blue,

the colour of pomegranates.

"when the Titanic sinks,

i want to be playing in the band"

sweet noire

quiet noire

soft noire

and only a week into Dellacourt

written into

the golden bracelet chain

written into the morning sunlight

written into

the colour of pomegranates,

the colour of blue.

"winter moon and moon shadow

one lone star

and sleep . . . "

the colour of blue,

the colour of pomegranates.

o’ mangato

such beauty is . . .

cast upon dark waters

the sky in darkness, i . . .

a marble statue

yawns in the garden

into summer,

into night

catbird, catbird

but where is the moon?

a ghost in the night

o’ solange, solange

a reality is movies and books,

nothing much else is

then we are sweet,

(dark the sky blues, dark)

nothing and sweet


and nothing

the colour of pomegranates,

the colour of blue.


Carrie Olivia Adams lives and works in Chicago. She is a public relations person for the University of Chicago Press and the Poetry Editor for Black Ocean book publisher. She has published 3 Chapbooks, An Overture in the Key of F (above/ground press 2013), A Useless Window (Black Ocean 2006) and Grapple (above/ground press 2016), as well as 3 books of poetry Operating Theater (Noctuary Press 2015), Forty-One Jane Doe's (Ahsahta 2013) and Intervening Absence (Ahsahta 2009).

Rebecca Anne Banks lives in Montreal. She is the author of over 27 books of poetry, a family cookbook, a book of children’s stories, a book of World Peace Newsletters and a primer on marriage discernment all available at Amazon.ca. She is also the CEO/Artist at Tea at Tympani Lane Records (www.tympanilanerecords.com) and The Book Reviewer at The Book Reviewer (www.thebookreviewer.ca).

John Barton (Poet, Poetry Editor, Librarian, Publisher, Educator) lives and works in Victoria, British Columbia. He has been published in anthologies, journals and newspapers in North America and internationally, winning many awards, including the Archibald Lampman Award 3 times. He has published 6 Chapbooks and 11 books of poetry including, West of Darkness: Emily Carr, a Self-Portrait, Designs from the Interior,Hypothesis, Hymn, For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems and Polari amongst others.

David Hobberlin. The first poem I published was in an anthology "Canadian Poets of 1969”. In 2000 the Indian Heritage Council of Morriston, Tennessee, published the chapbook "The Pipe Maker and Other Poems". In 2012 the poem "On the Waterfront of Toronto" won the inaugural Monica Ladell Award presented by the Scarborough Arts Society. I recently took part in the spoken word at the annual Niagara Falls Night of Arts held each fall.

Homer is estimated to have lived between the 12th to the 8th centuries B.C. (his existence predates the use of calendars) born on the Asiatic Coast. He is known for having written the story of the Trojan War (The Illiad) and the story of the wanderings of Ulysses back to Ithica after the Trojan War (The Odyssey). The written version may have been collected from the oral tradition of the times.