Mixed media from Jayne Marek

Yellow Curl

Yellow Curl




when psychological disturbance is not being treated,

the bodymind knows; when a drug has shrouded


reality with a costume that flutters its feathers

as the body spins or floats, softened and disoriented,


or with a garment ponderous with leaden slices

as with the protective drape spread across


a body before an X-ray, we know that some drugs and

the bodymind fit uneasily against each other,


one cannot probe into the other but sweeps across it

like the leading edge of a deluge:


a prerequisite of healing is awareness, which can be

scorching, so a blanket of chemicals may be spread


to interrupt the pain so the bodymind can unclench

its confused agony for a blessed time:  I am not saying


people don’t need relief, I am saying the bodymind

is a whole of fluid and continual movement,


as I think artists know as they give themselves into flow

of noticing and physically responding to a great Idea


which, in its turn, has come from awareness:  mutable states,

like rain, and rainless parts of sky, and rainbows,


parse vapor into an equilibrium of colors in flow:

a lesson one may learn from looking out the window


as well as into oneself is not to trust a drug

and not to drug the earth:  in early summer,


one can look out the window to see red

Jupiter’s Beard, yellow daisy centers circled with white


fronds, purple sage and lavender tips just coming out

of clouds of green next to a few gold grasses; the iris


and camas and tulips, done now, ragged-leaved

and in need of deadheading, splay dried fronds


in all directions unfocused and spent with trying

after weeks of effortful blooming, and now they


shiver and shred; there will be no more easy rain:

this is the patch of earth I sweated for,


wept over, broke my skin into blisters for,

disrupting the stasis of scraped suburban yard


surface by digging, poking, spreading, incorporating

what was needed (sand, pumice, humus, detritus


of the right kind of organic waste, scrap newspapers,

compost, and fresh soil from plastic bags, an irony not lost


on modern gardeners) so as to feed

wizened brown bulbs which resemble frowning knots


of angry aged faces so old you cannot tell what

gender they might have presented with


nor even what identity they may have most deeply

felt:  I was so tired from hauling and digging


that at last I planted bulbs willy-nilly (a perfectly

evocative word not enough used, so here it is)


and these bulbs have reached up and out into belonging,

wild surprises of colors spiking the yard-world


and no doubt communicating with their roots,

so important yet frail as eyelashes, reaching


for sun and for damp depths:  if the soil is made right,

and here you have it, something deeper can express


more than itself in the infiltrations of disparate

particles that combine to nurture a whole system




Body Marks



scars are not the only imprints which remain on our bodies,

although people may think of scars first off, when a body


mark is mentioned, or perhaps tattoos:  I suppose these days

tattoos constitute the inscribings most often seen,


skin decorations appearing under the hem of a short sleeve

or underneath the currently fashionable loose neckline


of a blouse or gripping a calf muscle; many cultures

have used tattoos to signal, to embody age or affiliation:


human history in tattoos as a striking means of expression

and sometimes in your face, so to speak, communicating


with variety and imagination:  the tone of one’s skin,

however, will highlight or nuance or restrict


how a tattoo turns out, so that whatever people

might wish to say with their skins must interface


with the world’s eyes, as in fact skin always has done:

yet many body marks are private, such as from surgical


procedures or accidents:  by happenstance I have four

tiny red dots on my belly from the claw tips


of a cat jumping from my lap, for on that one day

and with that one lap-leap out of hundreds


(since cats insist on sitting in one’s lap and then

cannot stand to be there all of a sudden, and


there is urgent business elsewhere that requires

a human to become a launch pad), and


these punctures did not heal or vanish back into

the expanse of belly (yes I confess it)


but instead remained small red imprints of

animal being on my animal being:  these


accidents of blood-pricks healing over as permanent

petechiae do not seem to be scars:  I am not surprised,


looking over my scar collection, how cat claws and

human fingernails can create lasting pale slashes


in the epidermis:  if only we could construct vehicles

from keratin, springy and durable, protective, able to


cover and re-knit the body surface when epidermis

is breached (and so acts as a marker—here


was an event that split the skin!):  although keratin

supposedly is not living tissue, it traces life events


more clearly than a tattoo:  wound blemishes are

acquired as a result of some of the countless


acts of violence bodies encounter (may they be

minor), such as childhood fights with a sibling who had


long enough fingernails (real keratin ones) to hold

an edge; I have plenty of memories


of the particular stinging throb of scratched hands

and arms, between having cats for many years


and fights in childhood and the odd knife slip and

a couple of operations (some of which


were successful); I may admire the colorful art of

tattoos but I have a sufficient store of scars



Artist’s Statement:  Artistic visions ideally provide exciting imagery and a capable, even provocative, formal touch.  I use visual and verbal designs to lead the mind’s eye beyond an initial response.  These poems use couplets to follow a modern perspective in thinking about how modern life impinges on our relationships with the natural world.  The photos abstract their colors and designs from natural subject matter to achieve ambiguity, inviting readers to think about how objective reality can be perceived in multiple ways.
Bio Note:  Jayne Marek’s poems and art photos appear in One, Light, Grub Street, The Cortland Review, Slipstream, The Lake, Stonecoast Review, Spillway, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Sin Fronteras, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere.  She provided color cover art for Silk Road, Bombay Gin, Amsterdam Quarterly’s 2018 Yearbook, and The Bend, as well as her recent poetry books In and Out of Rough Water (2017) and The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling (2018).  Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she won the Bill Holm Witness poetry contest and was a finalist, most recently, in the Naugatuck River Review and the Up North poetry contests.

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