Broadcasts: Musing with Penny Slinger (part 4)

Blum & Poe Broadcasts presents musings by artists from their homes to yours.

Penny Slinger continues her new photo collage series titled My Body in a Box—an ongoing project created during these last weeks of self-isolation, seeking to explore the psychological entrapment and fears that accompany the experience. As Slinger has done since the 1960s, here she uses her own image and body as subject to process a range of feelings and reactions. Accompanied by her poetry and prose that are evocative of states of mind and being, Slinger’s offering is one of pain and poignancy, as well as transcendence. This series will continue to grow as a living archive, during the span of shelter in place.

Collages and poems: © Penny Slinger
Photos of Penny Slinger by Dhiren Dasu

BLENDING THROUGH THE GLASS

Submerging
In water
Surrendering
To bliss
Or extinction
Who draws
The line?
In this watery world
All is diffused
And boundaries
Hard to define
Just take me under
And let me see
My eyes
Have grown weary
Of this world
And all I long for
Lies beneath 
The surface
In another realm
Where light kisses
Liquid languor
And everything 
Merges
As one

THE YEARNING 

I find myself
Longing
For bodies of water
To be submerged
Extended
Held and cradled
By mother ocean
A homesickness
For the sea
Overwhelms me
In waking and sleeping
Dreams
Azure waters beckon
Glinting 
In mid day sun
Silken
At sunset
I want to lose myself
In their healing 
Embrace
But I am still here
Stranded
On dry land
Like a beached whale
Out of her element
In a dry cocoon
Longing
For wet kisses
And the lapping waves 
To rescue me
From this sensory
Deprivation.

UNDERTOW
MUD BATH
THE LITTERING

UNDERTOW

Keeping my head
Above water
That’s all I can do
These days
When forward movement
Feels curtailed
And action
stymied
It’s just a case
Of swimming 
In place
Doggy paddling
To keep
From going under
Staying positive
In the doldrums
Playing
A waiting game
And just keeping
Our heads
Above water
Trying to resist
The negative drift
The pull
Of the undertow


MUD BATH 

I feel like I am
Sinking
In a quagmire
Pulled down
By forces
Stronger than myself
This mud bath
Quicksand
Has such heavy suction
Like a great mouth
Devouring me
Sucking me down
Into the belly
Of the beast
Can’t anybody hear
My silent scream?


THE LITTERING

Flotsam
And jetsam
Tangled up
In blue
I am awash
In a littered sea
Bombarded
By the folly of humans
Finding
No pure place
Swaddled by nature
As it is meant to be
Pristine natural state
Stolen by carelessness
Polluted by plastic
And now there is
Nowhere to go
To escape our folly
No where to be
That is safe and free
Eden becomes
A minefield
Where we cannot avoid
Our destructive tendencies
And trip over ourselves
In a sea
Of our own waste
Oh how it devastates
The natural order
The laws of being
And completely
Overwhelms me

IMMORTAL

Offering myself
To this watery adieu
I see my body
Glowing amidst the water lilies
Like an ancient icon
Golden
Submerged treasure
In the temple pool
Glorious
Ever after
As I embrace
This watery tomb
This shrine
Of resurrection
Becoming
The lake
And the flowers

OPHELIA REBORN

With echoes

Of Ophelia
I resurrect
In a pool of light
Dancing
In the mind sky
Of submerged
delights
This liquid
Dalliance
Is formed
Of dreams
Reveries
Within my box
Taking the form
Of aqueous encounters
I can only imagine
But which hold me
In extended embrace
Shifting my boundaries
Beyond my form
As I float
With roses
In the limitless pool

BOX ON FIRE

Seeking the sanctuary
Of my box
Yet so many boxes
On fire
It feels like the whole world 
Is burning
Apocalyptic skies
Shine orange sun
Through hazy smoke
Like life on Mars
We are living
Close to the edge
Of survival
Inside
Science fiction
As fact of life
Reaping bitter harvests
Of our thoughtless deeds
The innocent
Are striken
As much as the guilty
For fire has a life
Of its own
Which does not conform
To human jurisdiction
But licks with a wildness
Out of control
Beyond the rules
Written by men
Devouring
Our sense of security
Like a wilderbeast

MY THINGS ON FIRE
FIRE IN THE SKY

MY THINGS ON FIRE

Help, help
My house is on fire!
Ring the alarm!
Ring the alarm!
But who heeds the call
When Rome is burning?
Who is there for me
When all is ablaze?
My personal destiny
Just one of many
As I cry for help
Amidst the multitude
Of flames that rage
Out of control
And forests
That offer themselves
Like kindling


FIRE IN THE SKY

Fire breathing
Dragon
Phoenix
Arising
From my own ashes
Countering
Fire
With fire
My voice
Crying in the wilderness
Like the screech
Of the peacock
With tail aflame
Consuming the poison
Of our misdeeds
Devouring
All sense
Of security
On fire

Nowhere to run
Nowhere to hide
When the tide turns
To tongues of fire
The air becomes toxic
And blue skies
Livid orange.
We can disclaim
Our role in this 
Force of nature
And yet 
We are all complicit
All sharing in the way
We have been ravaging her
For short term gain
And profit
But now
With this turning, burning tide
Let us self-reflect
And return to nature
To love her
And assuage her wounds
For truly
They are many
And they burn
As fire.

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