Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

Tag: Design

REHASH

the return of the Princess Wen-Chi

 400 years later I understand it wasn’t
my fault we never connected
but the hardness she’d become

with the curtain already up
when the lights took hold

unicorn and gazelle in repose

too weird, too impractical, too brash, too arrogant

hypodermic syringe on a porcelain teacup

favorite hardware
goof balls, golf balls

perhaps annoy or anger, delight
and so on and on. It never ends, does it?

above the treetops
astrologers, even witches

but mostly the aroma of freshly cut grass

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of
Partitas, click here.

SPIRE OF INSPIRATION

Old North Church, in Boston's North End.

Old North Church, in Boston’s North End.

Lanterns in the spire of North Church signaled directions to Paul Revere and other riders at the outbreak of the American Revolution. The race to Lexington and Concord was on.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

 

PRELUDE & FUGUE 24/

there, in thick grass beside a slow stream
a Jersey heifer
wears telescope goggles to observe
a bragging rival

*   *   *

one with horns turns
to observe the huddled two Holsteins
wait for grain

three in thick grass beside a slow stream
four in a high meadow
four on a green slope, still

a Jersey heifer, a bragging rival with horns
turns to the huddled dairy cows awaiting
grain

three in thick grass beside a slow stream
four brown in a high meadow
along a green slope

a Jersey heifer wears telescope goggles
to observe a bragging rival
with long horns turns

the dairy cows, huddle, waiting
for grain beside a slow stream
and the high green meadow

the inertia, meanwhile, is extraordinary
waiting, huddling, bragging rival
mooing, with horns

turning to observe the inertia
meanwhile, a Jersey heifer wears telescope goggles
to stalk a bragging rival

four brown cattle in a high meadow
four on a green slope
two Holsteins waiting for grain

three in thick grass beside a slow stream
the inertia, meanwhile, is
brown, green, mooing, bragging

the wait for grain
huddled beside a slow stream mooing
in the inertia

meanwhile, a Jersey heifer wears telescope goggles
to observe another cow, its bragging
“meow”

~*~

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see all 50 Preludes & Fugues, click here.

STANDING BESIDE THE PROUD MERRIMACK

The clock tower of the Ayer Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, overlooks the Merrimack River on the other side of the wing to the left. It's an impressive sight.

The clock tower of the Ayer Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, overlooks the Merrimack River on the other side of the wing to the left. It’s an impressive sight.

While water-powered mills sprang up all across New England, thanks to its abundance of falling waters, the riverbanks of some locations became jammed with factories that employed thousands. The Merrimack River, for instance, had major industrial clusters at Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire, and Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, all relying on the use and reuse of the same water carefully shepherded downstream.

Many of those landmark buildings have been lost over time – fire, neglect, and urban renewal have taken their toll – but those that remain can be truly impressive, especially now that they’re being repurposed and renovated into charming, flexible centers of entrepreneurial innovation and center-city living.

Lawrence, with what was once the biggest dam in the world, is a prime example.

Hard as it is to imagine, this group of mills was once dwarfed by those on the other side of the Merrimack River as it rolled through Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Hard as it is to imagine, this group of mills was once dwarfed by those on the other side of the Merrimack River as it rolled through Lawrence, Massachusetts.

HIGH VICTORIAN

Strolling through the neighborhood.

Strolling through the neighborhood.

Boston’s Back Bay boulevards reflect the rising wealth of the city in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

Boulevards lined with housing like this.

Boulevards lined with housing like this.

 

LOOKING IN THE MIRROR OF BIAS

Those of us on the liberal side of the social and political spectrum like to think of ourselves as open-minded, which means the times we exhibit flashes of bigotry can be especially painful.

First off, we’re blind to it. Not us, right? But we do.

And sometimes we do it to each other.

An example comes in the gold cross a young woman decided to wear. She’s nothing along the lines of a Fundamentalist or even a committed believer, but she liked her grandmother’s jewelry and this particular piece. Difficult, though, was her experience of the reactions from her fellow college students and faculty, starting with their physical motion a step backward. Literally.

There were words that would not dare be said to Jews or Muslims or ethnic groups of any stripe – and assumptions that simply did not fit. In fact, there’s a presumption of right-wing positions accompanying an ignorance of the social-justice dimensions of other Christian communities and their actions. And there’s nothing of the nuanced theology that moves beyond the cartoonish criticisms we often hear.

For the record, Quaker tradition long frowned on any jewelry whatsoever as superfluous and vain. But I’m not wearing the distinctive Plain clothing of Quaker history, either. Now how would they react to that?

QUADRILLE

four theatrical scenes

1

thirteen dancers hold large butterflies, frogs, crabs, and fish
on sticks over their heads

on our pallet, everyone laughing and tickling

Christmas lights adorn a swan the size of a sailboat on the beach
surrounded by jesters and an undertaker in top hat

and don’t giggle much

tents with electrical lighting have encamped under a bird feeder in the library

late-night lime daquiris, with or without salt

a dozen dresses covering light bulbs
hang from a leafy tree after sunset

2

the classic marble trio upholding the blue orb
stands in three stages of undress

regardless, stay cool

3

behind the eyes and ears of her diaphanous gown
she wears nothing

she still has eggshells behind the ears

Salome, with her slippery hands

4

a surgical theater of the dead Romans and Dutch masters
with a sole nun present and in prayer

while the child skateboards through the kitchen

elaborate mathematical equations in icing on the wedding cake
as animal tracks through a universe

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of
Partitas, click here.

IN A WHIMSICAL VEIN

Atop Fanueil Hall.

Atop Fanueil Hall.

The cricket design of the weather vane atop Faneuil Hall always delights me. Or, as I long wondered from the ground, could it be a grasshopper?

Whichever, the craftsman and the client both demonstrate a lasting sense of delight in the realms of nature. Turns out to be a cricket after all, crafted in 1742 by Deacon Shem Drowne, perhaps inspired by similar weather vanes on London’s Royal Exchange building. The cricket, by the way, is the only part of the historic building to remain unchanged from the 1742 original. A 1761 fire gutted merchant Peter Faneuil’s original structure, and in 1805 architect Charles Bulfinch designed additions that doubled the width and length of the building while keeping the basic style to produce what we see today.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

REAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE YEARS SINCE I DRAFTED THAT NOVEL

The years since I drafted Big Inca versus a New Pony Express Rider have brought significant, often dramatic, restoration and redevelopment to long neglected historic mills like the ones at the heart of my novel.

One impetus for the renewal appeared in a handful of towns in Maine, where credit-card giant MBNA transformed old mills into attractive call centers that in turn revitalized local economies. Even after being shut down in a later buyout, the benefits linger, and other developers had concrete models to follow.

Visionary entrepreneurs like the late Joseph Sawtelle here in New Hampshire as well as nonprofit agencies or local government-backed councils entered the picture, making mills in other towns emerge as small-business incubators or readily adaptable buildings for new arrivals, especially enterprises growing rapidly.

And, if the location’s right, they can attract artists of all stripes – painters, sculptors, printers, dancers, musicians, craftsmen, bakers and caterers – as an affordable alternative with natural light and high ceilings. (We love the annual studio tours and open houses in the mills in one nearby town.)

Sometimes the downtown locations lend themselves to conversion into residential condos as well. And then there are universities, health-care organizations, and museums that move in for convenience. (Well, one mill in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire, does have a helicopter pad on the roof.)

In other words, there are some fascinating case studies just about everywhere I turn.  But I still haven’t found any where the top of the tower is turned into a tiny penthouse, not the way Bill did at one point in the novel. I’m still quite fond of that touch.

PRELUDE & FUGUE 44/

no clouds except in the sky as yet
snow sits atop cones
in long-needled pine

*   *   *

in long-needled pine, a gray hill
beyond the snow-covered cones
becomes cloudy sky
yet pussy willows are molting

gray clouds of snowy pine
yet the sky covers cones atop long-needled pine
in the primrose sunrise the snow covers
pussy willows before you believe summer is coming

yes, beyond the snow-covered gray hill
wisps of clouds are melting
into pussy willows and pinecones

with the melting snow atop cones
the long-needled primrose sun sets
in a gray hill of pussy willows
you believe summer is coming

no clouds with the melting
wall atop gray cones

beyond the pussy-willow clouds
with the melting gray wall

birch beyond pussy willows, not clouds
melting the gray wall atop long-needled cones
beyond the pussy willows

~*~

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see all 50 Preludes & Fugues, click here.