Monday, November 30, 2009

Distortion . . . (re-visited)

This post is being re-cycled back into the present, simply because I stumbled on it this evening while looking for something else in the back pages of the swamplands here, and thought it looked lonely, like it wanted a new lease on life. The tomb referred to in this piece as being just a few posts down is actually back in November of 2008, and can be seen here... if you're curious. The message on the tomb in question is one of the most incredible I've ever seen anywhere...
.
And also, I'd like to dedicate this one to Tom at TomB. Photography, because he is doing simply outstanding work, and so far it looks like not alot of folks have discovered his blog, unless they are all lurkers not leaving any words in his comment box . . . anyway, see for yourself. . .
.
































I wrote the below piece nearly exactly 20 years ago, while living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but getting ready to depart to other horizons. Sometimes when you know you are going to be leaving a place, probably forever, it takes on a strange light. I had to wait 20 years to get the photo that goes with this poem here... a near perfect fit, taken just yesterday afternoon, before stumbling on the cemetery where the below described tomb was found. When the time draws nigh to leave this life, I wonder what things are going to start looking like then ? For info, this photo was not re-worked in any way, shape or form, the distortion is naturally occurring, the effect of a truck no doubt having somehow hit the mirror in question. Will have to go back and try this again under some different lighting conditions...
.
.
........Red Light
.
I was stopped at the traffic light
Stopped, sitting still
But outside… everything was moving.
.
Trees were swaying dangerously
Parked cars were swerving
Toward the curbs
Yellow stripes on the road
Slithered into the distance
Power lines overhead
Spun a dizzying jump-rope dance
Brick buildings were bouncing
And leaning into Escher perspectives
Threatening to assume
A permanent Pisa pose
Sidewalk squares swirled
Like the rapids in Pole Creek Canyon
The town began to tilt
Until I stared straight down
At the vanishing point
On the undulating horizon
Patches of the scene became hazy
And disappeared, then reappeared
Magnesium bright ghost lights
Hovered in the gutters
Only my radial tires’ steel grip
Kept me glued there
Until the traffic light
Turned green.
.
As I drove home
I recognized that
The distortion was internal
This town is slipping into the surreal
Because I know that I am leaving.
.
.

44 comments:

Rhiannon said...

I've lived in so many different places since my early 20's and as I read this I could understand the meaning quite well! It's very true it's our perception as we know we are leaving and not coming back.

That picture is very surrealistic and yet also I feel it shows that "feeling" we do get upon driving out of town...for the last time.

Good post...

Blessings,

Rhiannon

TechnoBabe said...

Looking at the photo makes me nauseous. Nothing against your photography work, on the contrary, because your work is so good it even affects my stomach. It turns out that it helps to begin to look at a place differently when you know you will be leaving it.

The Pliers said...

Ooooohhhh...

Aaaaaahhhhh...

You know how much I love a good reflection! This is better than the Fun House at the state fair!

mbkatc230 said...

This is an amazing shot. I did go back and read the post about the tomb. I love old cemeteries, so I found it particularly interesting. And I agree, Court of the Crimson King, great album! Kathy

louciao said...

Yes, I find the photo and words well matched: both induce a certain uneasiness within me. It's good your radials kept you on the path moving on, moving out. There is a risk at times such as these, when all is shaken within, to hold on tighter and dig in deeper instead of letting go.

Catherine said...

sounds like serendipity to me....

StyleSpy said...

It's been a long time since I left someplace. Sometimes I really miss that feeling -- being on the cusp like that, the edge of now and next. Sadly, it's not likely to happen again, at least not for a long time.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Maillol museum, Owen. I'll put it on the list for my trip this spring.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

If there's one thing I can't do, it's poetry. But I liked what you have here. And cool photo!

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

And what???? I'm magical reader #300??? Woo-hoo!!!! Wait, did I say that already earlier? Well, I'm excited about it all over again - woo hoo!!!!

The Things We Carried said...

It is odd how that happens when we know we are movng on from a place.

.:: Karine ::. said...

bonjour owen
je suis allée voir les site de tom et effectivement ce qu'il photographie est très beau mais surtout très personnel ! c'est ce que j'aime dans la photo, l'aspect personnel du point de vue de celui qui photographie !
ainsi ta photo à toi est tout aussi surprenante :-)

passe un excellent lundi owen adoré

Dedene said...

I agree with you about how things seem when we know we're leaving a place. Love your poem. Also I howled with laughter at the headstone on the French grave.

Gwen Buchanan said...

The Known vs the Unknown... moving out of the Known into the new... Humans need Change but are reluctant to move into it...

But after they do, they wonder why their mind battled it...

Love your descriptive poem!

Nevine said...

Yes yes yes! This is exactly what happens, Owen, when we know we are leaving a place. Our senses open in entirely different dimensions and allow us to experience the place in ways never done before. I know this is a fact, because I have moved so many times in my life, and I am always struck by the sharpness of my life in my last few days or weeks somewhere.

"... and leaning into Escher perspectives..." This describes it perfectly. Things seem so geometric, so in their own boxes, but not connecting with anything else, and yet connecting on every level, and connecting in strange ways. And that is why our internalization of it all is so "surreal", as you say.

We see things in life based on how we are processing all of the information we're being hit with simultaneously, and also based on how, after we have processed it all, it changes us.

Beautiful and haunting photo, Owen, with even more beautiful and haunting words. Thank you.

Nevine

French Fancy said...

That is such a weird picture - love the poem though. I looked back at the tomb post and agree that the words inscribed are very very unusual.

As for the 'Dead' and King Crimson - now you're taking me back. I used to play 'court of the crimson king' so much.

.:: Karine ::. said...

c'est encore moi, je voulais que tu ailles voir ce lien :

http://johnsfoto.blogspot.com/

question vieux bâtiments et vieilles voitures tu vas êtres servi et tu vas adorer :-)
bisou owen adoré

Bill Evertson said...

Ahh, a reflection and a reflection. Nice pairing.

Owen said...

Hi Rhiannon, it does sound like you've moved around a bit, I really appreciated the piece you've just done about Thanksgiving and having lived on a reservation in Montana... there are some pretty grim places that go by the name of reservation or agency. I lived in Flagstaff Arizon for nearly a year, close to the edge of the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and have also been down twice into the Havasupai reservation, seeing the depths some members of these once proud tribes have sunk too is about as sad a story as any I could possibly imagine. In any case, there is certainly something that goes on in our minds when we are getting ready to leave somewhere...
Thanks for your kind message here !

======

TechnoB; I sure hope you're feeling better now, the photo does push our reference points, it's like there is a shockwave going through it, and the fog in the distance.... a visceral vision for a visceral subject. I can remember the feeling of uncertainty that sometimes took on somewhat extreme levels... the self-doubting, am I doing the right thing by leaving ? Will life be better at the next place ? And so on... but I've moved a number of times, and feel richer for having known quite a few places now... would love to see alot more of the world still, and not just for a few days of vacation somewhere...

======

Dear Madame Pliers, it would take quite a bit of spit and baling wire to put this mirror back together again, and believe me, you are all very lucky I did not post the self portrait I did in this thing... it would have scared the bejeesus out of y'all, and no one would have ever come back to this humble little blog... yeah this is the last vision someone saw at the state fair before being sent to the state hospital...
:-)

======

Hi mbkatc230, excellent on all counts then, glad you enjoyed that old cemetery post, I love the way the guy orders all future generations to let him lie peacefully, and even to say a prayer for him... And the Court of the Crimson King is high on my list of all time favorites... many thanks Kathy...

Steve said...

Fantastic poem... love the pay-off in the last verse, it leaves you feeling very emotionally satisfied.

Owen said...

Dear Lynne Louciao, yeah, I was uneasy too... when the power lines start doing a jump-rope spin, it's time to make tracks... letting go, releasing, is not always easy, but ever so joyful finally... I think that is what Chris McCandless was getting at in the story recounted in Into the Wild. But not to worry, I'm not off to Alaska yet either... although, on second thought, I'd love to see more of Alaska than I did the one time I went there...

======

Catherine, for sure, serendipity in all its lovely simplicity...

======

Hi Style Spy.... well if you're going on a trip to Paris in the Spring, then that counts a little bit as leaving... I get sort of the same feeling when a trip is coming up, and I know for a certain time all habits and ruts and rites will be left far behind for a while, and just life in all its many surprises will be coming... that's a good feeling...

======

Hey Nanny GIPs, many thanks, and I think what happened to this mirror is that it got head butted... butted by something with horns... do you know anything about that ???
:-)
And sure, you were magical reader 300 for a while there, you know, these "follower" numbers change, people leave, or delete their blogs and profiles, etc, or faceless ones get added at the very beginning, shifting the positions... I don't pay too much attention, but who could miss that NGIP kid there ?

======

Dear Things We've Carried... so you've felt it too ? I knew I wasn't just imagining it...

Owen said...

Bonsoir Karine, je suis bien content que tu es allé voir chez Tom, et as trouvé ça intéressant, oui, il a un style tout à lui, on le sent comme une signature sur une lettre, et les matières qu'il déniche sont rien de moins que fabuleuses.

Et mille fois merci pour avoir pensé à me passer ce lien pour John, c'est super gentille de toi... pour vrai dire, je suis tombé par hasard sur son blog il y a quelques mois, il y a déjà un lien vers son blog dans ma liste d'autres blogs fascinantes dans la barre à droite de la page... et il y a quelques mois, après une échange par e-mail, il m'a donné son autorisation d'utiliser une de ses photos, donc j'ai fait un hommage à lui dans un poste que tu pourrais voir soit en cliquant dans la liste des étiquettes en bas à droite sur le lien "Dream Cars" pour voir toute ma collection de voitures de reve, ou soit en allant ici directement :

http://magiclanternshowen.blogspot.com/2009/05/three-excellent-norwegian-blogs.html

Je suis très touché que tu me passe cette info, son blog est un régal, la série qu'il a fait très récemment sur l'asile pour les alienés est superbe...

Si tu as d'autres blogs que tu aimes bcp, n'hésites pas à me passer les liens, j'adore regarder des nouveautés... à très bientôt Karine, merci beaucoup...

======

Hi Dedene, well I guess you know a thing or two about leaving places... when pulling up stakes to move internationally the feeling is even stronger. I'll never forget one of the last nights in the US before I moved to France, spent camping with friends on one of the barrier islands off the coast of Delaware, Chincoteague, we stayed up all night... And yes, the message on the grave is one of the best I've ever seen... may he rest in peace !

======

Hi Gwen, change is not always easy, but for me it has always been a good thing, moving on, discovering new ways of living, of looking at the world around one. Thank you so much !

======

Nevine, I don't know what to say. It's as if you are reading my mind. I think you have a third eye that lets you see exactly what someone was thinking and feeling. So you know this phenomenon ? It is a very real state of mind. If it does not have a name yet, I think it should. There is probably a word in German for it that has about twelve syllables. It's not necessarily just when leaving somewhere, but something similar happens to me when discovering a new place and really connecting with it, like in Verdun a few weeks ago. Three very intense days there just following my nose, with a few clues on the map. You are quite a trip I think, but you know that already... glad you found your way here somehow... because it was you who first left a comment here I think, and not vice versa... did your magic antennae pick up some strange swirling surrealistic signal from the yellow stripes slithering into the distance ? Did they get all the way to Texas ?
:-)

======

Hey FF ! Ahh, so you're an old King Crimson fan at heart ? They were good in those days, when Greg Lake was involved. Some of their later work was good too, in its own way, but noting imho rivaled the Court... and yeah, that tomb is something else again...

======

Hey Bill, reflections always go well with each other, sometimes they go on to infinity when two mirrors face one another. And speaking of infinity, there is an infinity symbol in the photo here... which is another surprise I noticed when looking at it later, not seen when making the photo...

Owen said...

Hey Steve... wow, I'm really glad you found something satisfying in the calmer ending to my anxiety attack and momentary lapse of reason... And for having the great patience and perseverence to continue reading these pages day in and day out, I reward you with... yes, with... that's right, a big bowl of chocolate mousse. You just need to hop on a train to come collect it, or perhaps a flight from Birmingham ?

The Sagittarian said...

Oh, and I love this 'distorted' photo, very arty farty! I'm impressed. Makes me want to break out my old Pentax, load up the Cokin filters and shutters away....!

Owen said...

Saj ! Hope the headache's gone... and hey, what are you waiting for ??? Where did you hide that old Pentax anyway ? Not up in the attic I hope, not buried under all those vinyl disks and empty bottles up there ? And the spider webs ! Good to see ya !

Liz said...

I would have left a comment last night, but I ended up following your links and listening to King Crimson while enjoying oh so many posts at Tom at TomB. Photography! Thank you for that!

I think the distorted image is so perfect for the poem. I haven't moved in ...gosh... 20 years! But the image feels like memory of place... Beautiful...and a bit eerie... Maybe the way a ghost might see the world...

awarewriter said...

Great stuff Owen -- the poem and the photo. They fit each other perfectly.

Owen said...

Liz, I'm so happy you stopped by Tom's place, isn't he amazing ? Yes, this is the ghost's eye view, perhaps in the final days somewhere we are looking extra carefully with heightened senses, preparing our memories of the place ?

======

Aware, many thanks ! Do stop back whenever...

Janie said...

The distortion photo is fascinating and a good illustration for the poem. It's strange how our view of a place or time can change. But which view is the distortion and which is reality?

Deborah said...

'All good things come to those who wait' - isn't that how it goes?

I love how you connect the dots in your world, Owen. You see them where the rest of us are oblivious, I'm sure. But speaking of different perceptions when you leave/arrive somewhere, I find that all is incredibly vivid. Many, many more pixels than usual!!
At the end of my first French sojourn, 18 years ago, I spent the year leading up to my return to Canada drinking everything in, determined to remember everything I could. Not an untypical reaction when you leave a place you've grown to love, certainly. But I'm not sure that my hyper-concentration helped at all, because my memory is a bit faint on the details now. That was probably one of the few times in my life when I managed to live 'in the moment'. Thanks for the reminder your post gave me, and I do like the picture!

.:: Karine ::. said...

oh zut, flûte et reflûte !!!!

sa femme est venue sur mon blog et du coup j'ai connu john comme ça :-)

la prochaine fois je vérifierai mes infos :-)))

bisou bisou owen

K'line Bloom said...

Bonsoir Owen,
J'aime ta photo, elle me fait penser à une énorme goutte de mercure dans laquelle se reflèterait le monde. Et tu sais quoi, j'aime ces visions déformées, ces anamorphoses qui nous projettent dans une autre dimension, une autre forme de beauté...un peu comme après une soirée..hum...un peu trop "arrosée" (rarement mon cas, 2 Irish Coffees et je danse le French Cancan ! -just kidding ;-)). Bon, 'faut que j'arrête d'écouter Lucy in the sky et Strawberry fields forever...;-))
Take care Dear Owen,
Cheers,
K'line

@eloh said...

I like pictures like this... but I don't like doing a walking gallery and coming on them unannounced...they make me want to fall down.

Luck would have it, my computer chair has arms and I was able to "right" myself before I hit my head on the key board.

Maybe it is akin to flashing lights are to people who have seizures.

Owen said...

@eloh,
Oh my goodness, I'm so happy you were able to avoid serious injury, I can just imagine the blog photo induced trauma liability lawsuit as a result ! Wow, I wonder, should I print a disclaimer message at the top stating that all photos may only be viewed at the viewer's express risk, and that no liability for injury or mental discomfort, stress, disorientation, disturbance or dysfunction can be accepted by the blog's author ??? I sure hope you are ok now, I know, this photo is little farther out visually than many here...

======

Chère K'line, je serais bien content de te voir danser le cancan après quelques Irish cafés ! Quelle vision ! Et d'autant plus si le spectacle pourrait se passer dans le reflet d'une goutte de mercure... c'est un plaisir profond de te connaître, même de loin, car qui d'autre pourrait nous parler des anamorphoses avec autant de charme et spiritualité ? Que K'line !
Merci madame ?... errr mademoiselle ?
errr mon amie ?
Bisoux...
:-)

======

Bonjour Karine, il n'y a aucun mal, aucun souci, je suis très touché que tu voulais me passer des lien... pur bonheur ton message de l'autre jour... mieux deux fois que jamais, n'est-ce pas ? Les photos que font John sont fabuleuses... mais en tout cas j'adore ton "zut, flûte, et reflûte" ! trop sympa... à très bientôt... et merci encore, et encore
:-)

======

Hi Deborah, a hundred thousand shining "merci"s for this lovely note... interesting observation about connecting dots, I certainly don't have the impression of doing anything extraordinary, it all comes sort of unconsciously and naturally... but I am flattered, well, deeply pleased that you, and others out there, are finding something of interest here that seems to keep you coming back... I will attempt to stay interesting... and not get into any ruts... have enough of those in life already. This is the place to get out of the ruts and play...

======

Hey Janie, I'm thinking that maybe the childhood song we all learned is maybe one of the only real truths that we were taught when little, among so much other fantasy... this one : "Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream"... yeah, where does the dream stop and reality begin... I'm often hard pressed to say...

Kate said...

The photo and the poem match each other perfectly. Whenever I leave a place, everything looks different as I try to memorize the details of my environment. There is always a bittersweet feeling when leaving.

Roxana said...

incredible how a poem and a picture can mirror the same experience, reflect the same mood, yet in such a different way... and touch us in such different ways...
perfect ending!

Cezar and Léia said...

Great picture and beautiful words!
You are an artist!
LÉIA - Bonjour Luxembourg

Quilt Works said...

Womderful reflections - so creative! I like them very much!


... "Moonlight becomes you..."

awarewriter said...

I remember this reflection and the words. They fit each other so well. Merry Christmas.

Martha in PA said...

Very artistic photo!
Thanks for sharing!
My SWF/WR

Thérèse said...

Fnding a good match is not always easy and has to wait sometimes for years. A final piece.
Interesting links.. thks.

James said...

I know what it's like to depart to other horizons, but up until a few days ago your piece would have made less sense to me. The other day I realized that I probably won't be moving back to where I'm from. It's hard to explain but my old life doesn't even exist anymore. Maybe I'll write a piece someday to articulate it better.

Great post Owen!

Helena said...

This is a wonderful photo and poem, even if slightly unsettling. It really makes me think though because I have a move coming up this year and already I can feel myself pulling back and viewing things here differently.

Carolyn Ford said...

Fun reflection with great words. Despite the distortion the reflection is so clear. Very nice post!

wenn said...

fun reflection!