Raccoon Skull with Ironweed

Raccoon Skull with Ironweed

A few weeks ago — well, exactly one month ago Friday — we went on a sojourn to the Crossroads district of Kansas City for First Friday. There, we discovered the most amazing shop called Oracle. A place full of all kinds of curiosities — skulls, taxidermy, bones, teeth, feathers. A shop FULL of items forsaken. Their website is http://www.oraclekc.com.

You can imagine my immediate fascination.

The visit reminded me of a project I’d begun a long time ago: to photograph skulls with flowers. Inspired partly by my deep interest in all things left behind; partly because of my long time enchantment with skulls and bones; and partly because I’m a huge fan of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings of skulls and flowers.

I photographed a racoon skull with some lilacs. And then I got busy with 1000 other things. But the project has always stayed on my mind.

Over the past few years, I’ve been collecting and borrowing skulls of all shapes and sizes. My friends and relatives have become aware of my desire to get more skulls and so I now routinely receive skulls and bones as holiday gifts (thank you cousin Ron!). It makes for great conversation when there is a skull peeking out of a holiday themed bag in the back seat of my truck. Nick and Billy also collect them from everywhere. Many are from our farm from animals who have passed naturally, wild and domestic. Some are from hunting where the animal was taken for food or as population control. The collection is becoming quite extensive. (And, yes, I can always use more, so if you have one to give or loan, let me know!)

So, to make a long story longer, I came home from July First Friday’s all enthused. Nick was kind enough to get some of the skulls out of the still packed boxes in the shop. I set up a studio in our new basement and, viola, one month later we have photos of skulls and flowers. In true procrastinator style, I managed to cut the last of the Queen Ann’s lace (at dark) and pair it with a coyote skull. As an afterthought, I snatched a batch of Missouri ironweed growing among the Queen Ann’s and there you go — Raccoon Skull with Missouri Ironweed. Below is Coyote Skull with Queen Ann’s lace in color and infrared. I think I like the infrared version better. Click to enlarge the photos below.

About the Forsaken Gallery

Forsaken objects fascinate me.

What we leave behind, abandon, relinquish, disown, junk, dump and scrap absolutely amazes me. It says a lot about who we are as a culture, that forsaken objects are in abundance throughout our world. It says a lot about an individual as to what unique forsaken objects he or she has discarded.

Junk and junk yards have been a favorite photographic haunt of mine since my very first camera. Some of the very first images I made were of disavowed items. They are a favorite subject in this blog. They include everything from living breathing animals to houses; tractors to Anastazi Ruins; trucks to trinkets; skulls to shells.

How to Talk with a Horse

How to Talk with a Horse

To talk to a horse
you will have to
learn a new language —
one more subtle than
English, more
intricate than
Mandarin,
more delicate
than French,
more passionate
than Spanish.

Its rhythm is in
the details.
Its poetry is in
the motion.

It is a language
of the soul
whispered
through the body.

You should begin
by learning
to be silent.
Observing
ears and whiskers,
perceiving
a shimmy of flesh,
understanding
a shift of weight,
regarding
the slight of an eyebrow,
construing
the flick of a tail.

Then practice
until you master how
to speak
with your balance,
to express
with your energy,
to reveal
through your heart.

If you are consistent,
a consummate student,
a devoted truth teller,
the horse will talk back —
will whisper the secret
of all life and beyond
straight into your soul
through the warmth
of his breath.

 

 

Nightfall

Nightfall

shade
shadow
awaken
free your darkness
float through time’s window
slide out into the wide open
slither your ebony being
through first silver moonlight
constrict your black skin
around the dusk
hold twilight
breathless
fade

ode to the mediocre moments

ode to the mediocre moments

How many mediocre poems
Fall in between the pages
Of the masterpieces
Sonnets in the triple digits
Never memorized by students or suitors
Eldorados to The Raven
Little eulogies on left hand pages
forever undogeared

How many mediocre moments
Fall between the revelations

Peanut butter sandwiches
Before the passion of a new lover

Dirty dishes
Following a funeral

Hungry cattle
Intervening in divorce.

Steps in the middle of the flight of stairs
the space between floors
hallways that lead to better rooms.

Tuesdays never get to be a holiday.

They are the thin dull paper
The 22nd birthday
The 7th anniversary
forced to be on duty
required
Burned at the hearth
to stoke the fire for other days
that get the glitter and the billboards.

Simple moments
tied up with plain string
left to fend for themselves

Somewhere Off a Dirt Road

Somewhere Off a Dirt Road

Somewhere off a dirt road
curled up in the dust
I fell fast in love
with the beauty of grass
behind a fence of barbwire
below a hill of grazing cows

As they wander, I follow the cows
far away from the dirt road
through a hole in the barbwire
to a place unreached by dust
alone with the grass
I let myself feel the leaves of love

Deep in that field, I make jeep love
with the farmer of the cows
our act is judged by the grass
we should have waited for the dirt road
but there would have been so much dust
and a difficult gate of barbwire

Found guilty and punished, I use barbwire
to fence around my love
bury him under a thickness of dust
walk on his grave with the cows
who flow toward the dirt road
searching for autumns last grass

When it dies, the grass
becomes sharp as barbwire
choked by the dirt road
lost, without rain’s love
I leave with the cows
the field becomes dust

I force my pain to be dust
so my tears feed the grass
bringing back the stray cows
who escaped the barbwire
I once again try to love
living at the end of a dirt road

I round up the cows, spit out the last of the dust
we leave behind the dirt road, drifting together in spring grass
I crawl under the barbwire and fall fast sleep with my love