Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"paper moon nocturne"

paper moon nocturne

white picket fence without belief attached, mere fact in this 
landscape with parked cars, three stars just past reach of
city lights between backlit clouds blowing north-south

so I asked you where the moon will come up—“above
the weeping cherry”—just now weeping without benefit of
blossoms in an evening fraught with gusts

as if weather were changing into something it’s not—camellia
buds clenched into green fists, bamboo on Mississippi Ave
green all winter, lissome, long-haired, green leaves

beyond belief, groaning bus at the light on Skidmore—me
walking into the future past that sushi place we ate ramen an-
other winter evening the fish tank brimming orange & blue, in-

tangible in yellow light—walking into: orange lights a-

long river's indigo current, streetlight’s glow above an alley
the moon assumes its place beyond

A.K. Barkley
© 2014

Image is from Wiki Commons: Bamboo Yards, Kyōbashi Bridge - Hirgoshige (from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo); published 1856-1859. Public domain

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"that day"

that day

here in the last days
things are beautiful
we still know pain
but things are beautiful

pray that the end does not come on the Sabbath
because that day
i will be baking
sweet butter sugar smell
permeating heated household air
and cinnamon, and rum

and my lovers
will be making love
knowing each other's body
like i know the curves of the crucifix
the prayer in my mouth
the road to the city

she arches back
pushing closer
and i imagine her
as full
as the blue glass bowl
where red dye fruit
strong liquour
and dough
are coming together
into the bread of life

and my lovers
making love
will be coming together
and my children
frosting cookies
do not know
they have not taken the fruit
they do not know
the soundless sighs
the nails he digs into her skin
rendering red across her back
the spasm shaking of the earth
the labour pains of the world
the tight contractions of her around him

they do not know
all this will be washed away
long before they themselves
know lovers

but pray the end does not come
on the Sabbath.
that day,
i will be baking

Mairi Graham-Shaw
© 2013

Image from Wiki Commons:  
Sebastian Stoskppff: Nature morte aux fruits, fromage et pain (Still Life with fruit, cheese and bread) - mid 17th century

Public domain 

Friday, February 7, 2014

"BFF the series"

Happy February, friends!

Hey, how about this internet? There sure are lots of maddening things about it, right? But you know one thing I will always appreciate about the ‘net is the way it enables creative folk to network & support each other. I’d like to think that Robert Frost’s Banjo, in its own small way, has contributed to this—& so I’m really excited to let you all know about a project being developed by some close friends of mine!

So let me introduce Jen Ralston, my good pal & a creative dynamo—she has worked in Hollywood for the past 20 years as a sound editor on such successful shows as Treme & The Wire; she won a 2009 Emmy in “Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special” for her work on Generation Kill, & also won a Golden Reel Award for her sound editing on the same miniseries. In addition to her noteworthy & extensive television work, Jen has worked on a number of films, including such notables as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon & O Brother, Where Art Thou? Jen Ralston is also an accomplished writer & contributed the teleplay for the 2012 Treme episode “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say.” You can find her full resume here at IMDB.

In conjunction with producer Leslie Valentino—whose list of credits include Sin City & two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films—& a host of talented folks (including a few musicians who have appeared on this blog), Jen Ralston is putting together a new webseries called BFF the series.  Now that we’re all acquainted, let’s have Jen tell us about the background to this series in her own words:
When widower Mike Brady married the (mysteriously single) Carol and redefined what family looked like for a generation of TV viewers, I was an only child being raised by a single parent in rural Pennsylvania. And while Ellen was coming out of the closet on her sitcom, I was proudly watching in a room full of already-out film school friends in New York City.

As invaluable as these examples of otherness were for me and many others, I have yet to see characters on television that accurately reflect the full range of diversity I experience in my everyday life. Sixteen years after Ellen’s famous “Puppy Episode,” there are many more gay protagonists, but most are shallow, sassy stereotypes. And transpeople are rarely represented as anything other than victims of violence or punchlines to tasteless jokes.

I have had to learn to empathize with, root for, and even love all kinds of characters who, on the surface, bore very little resemblance to me. In my experience, we all have more in common than not. Anyone can be a victim or a punchline. Or beautiful. Or even heroic. By telling stories that remind audiences of that, I hope to help fill this void.

Intrigued? I know I am, & I hope you are too. On the project’s Indiegogo page (use the link here or at the top of the blog’s sidebar) Jen goes on to underline that the success of BFF the series will be one way of demonstrating to the powers that be how many viewers want real stories about real people—characters that reflect the people who populate our everyday lives, not the stereotypes television has so often wheeled out a rotating collection of stock characters. It’s a great thing for the LGBT community & its allies; it's a great thing for tolerance & inclusion in a culture desperately in need of same. Just a while back I blogged a photo of Pete Seeger’s banjo with the motto “This machine surrounds hate & forces it to surrender”—I believe BFF the series has the potential to be the same kind of machine!  Here's how Jen encapsulates the storyline:

John and Alex just moved to SF from Pittsburgh. He's in publishing and she's in tech. When the series starts, they're engaged to be married but very quickly those plans change. Alex realizes she is gay. And John needs to move out and move on.

Alex soon discovers that there is more to being gay than coming out of the closet. Her "girl meets girl" quest is compounded by the maze of identity politics that is the SF queer community. Meanwhile, John ends up in an apartment share in the Mission with Hunter (a transman) and Lindsay (his lesbian-identified girlfriend).

As (straight) John and (straight-laced) Alex find equilibrium in their progressive new home, the humor in the show will come from the situations the characters find themselves in, rather than at the expense of the characters differences.

& hey, it’s the internet that makes this possible, not just in terms of facilitating the fund raising, but also in distributing the finished content—which will be free by the way—yay internet! But in reality it's the internet in conjunction with the amazing creativity of people like Jen Ralston, Leslie Valentino & their many friends, including the friends, virtual & otherwise, who lend a hand in any way they can to get this project off the ground! I feel privileged to be counted as one of them, & I encourage you to support this project in any way you can too. Spreading the word helps—you can “like” the project on Facebook, follow on Twitter @SomeOtherJen, blog about it, tweet about it, or just generally spread the word. & of course, if you’d like to join me in making a donation, I know that will be really appreciated too!

Check out the “teaser” trailer below—great fun! & as Jen says: “It’s about time”! 

All images link to their source at the BFF the series Facebook page