Mocking Bird Muse

You can click on the small images to see  larger versions.

Mom’s Memorial Prius now bears the dimples bestowed by “quarter-size hail” from a sudden thunderstorm that enveloped our climb into the Sierras during the last homeward trek.  Luckily nobody skidded off the road, and no glass was broken.  Scary though, when the windshield goes opaque with rain and hail.  Oola couldn’t see that part; she had her hands over her eyes for fear of the trucks.

It has been several weeks since the trip to Tennessee, several very busy weeks.  Among the results of all that activity is my newest artist book, Mocking Bird Muse.

Mocking Bird Muse - cover
Mocking Bird Muse – cover

Sometimes it takes a long time for a poem to ripen.  Mocking Bird Muse started as a poem about a prisoner/poet I knew when I worked as an artist at California Medical Facility in Vacaville in the ’80s. It grew into 2 books (each consisting of 4 one-paper books containing one line of the poem with photo collage) and a small one-paper book.  And it is no longer about a specific prisoner, or even about any prisoner in the conventional sense.

More pictures:

Mocking Bird Muse - drawer opened to reveal Part 3
Mocking Bird Muse – drawer opened to reveal Part 3

Opened up it looks something like this:

The text of the finished writing is stretched by the images and constrained by the necessities of the origami-like construction.  The text of these books reads:

Part one

This Jesus is a GONE poet
who combs his hair in precise exclamations!!
This poet has been known to steal crazy time.
He flies a mocking bird muse.
He stares into the sun.

Part two

He drives a yellow bus.
His hunger is insatiable.
He eats flames.

I wanted to tell my father.

Part three

Mr. Funnywalk is not afraid of anything
(except what he can find in his own head.)
His own hands are tearing him apart.
Do you have any money?
What does this mean?
They say that somewhere along the way he lost his soul.

More pictures:

Mocking Bird Muse - Mr. Funnywalk and plastic hand
Mocking Bird Muse – Mr. Funnywalk and plastic hand
Mocking Bird Muse - selected page
Mocking Bird Muse – selected page
Mocking Bird Muse - Books one and two
Mocking Bird Muse – books one and two
Mocking Bird Muse - opened
Mocking Bird Muse – opened to 2 books and window
Mocking Bird Muse - Overview close up
Mocking Bird Muse – Overview close up

The construction of this book reveals a delicious geometry which I only dimly planned, but which gives me much pleasure.

In case you are wondering, the amulet behind the window consists of a jute-wrapped harmonica, a bottle of poppy seeds, a frying pan, and a red unexplained object which just looked right.

Mocking Bird Muse is digitally (and archivally)  printed on Asuka and hand bound.  Technically this book cannot be editioned because the amulet behind the little window is not repeatable, But I would be happy to entertain proposals for an EV.

You can see more of my artist books at

Artist’s Studio at Blue Mountain

To make art you need time and a place.  I have been given the gift of a month of unobstructed time by Blue Mountain Center.  Staff here bends over backward to make my time here as productive as I want to make it.

As for a place, that could be a prison cell, a dining room table, a classroom, or as Virginia Woolf so famously phrased it, “A room of one’s own”.  Well I thought you might like to see my studio at Blue Mountain for the month.

You can click on any image on this page to see an enlargement.

The only problem is that it is too pretty.  I have not had enough time to really make it look like my space — messy.

I have finished an artist book I was working on before I came here.

"And the Mother Said", cover
“And the Mother Said”, cover
Artist book, And the Mother Said
“And the Mother Said”, fully opened

The images were mostly recycled scraps of prints.  I just didn’t know what they meant in their new context.

I was having a problem with discovering the text.  So Oola and I went to the screened-in thinking room shown above and we mentally grunted,

The text came out like this:


And the Mother Said

Enter your studio
Someone is there waiting for you.
Someone is waiting to be born.

Tell your Father
I have saved a place for him.
Tell him in the language of the crows.
Tell him in the woodland crowned with crows.

Tell him in beauty; tell him in your grief.
Tell him by the waters; cover him with salt.

Weave for him a blanket of grasses.
Sew for him a cloak of night feathers,
your anger’s lullaby.

Fly with him through slipping winds.
Fly with him to me.


When we were sitting down to dinner that evening Oola blurted out, “I wrote a poem today.  It was like squeezing a boil”.

Be Well
More Later