“Crash & burn – new works, words & thoughts”




It’s been awhile – what has kept me occupied over this past month as things crash and burn? Although life shines beautifully through the cracks at times, a seesawing of hope and despair continues to distract, draining resource and spirit, It’s not easy, this method of mine. No denial, no avoidance, no bliss-seeking ignorance allowed, disregarding the minutiae yet holding the gold, grasping the gifts, not wasting life, never letting go. It’s tricky – sometimes it’s I who crash and burn. Stepping outside the moment to observe, there is a strange reoccurring sensation;  just a hint, a tinge, a whiff, just a nanosecond of approaching comprehension in which I acknowledge what flashes through me. It is remarkably, this: a sense of gratitude to be living now, bearing witness to the enormity of these times. Can I really say that’s something to hold onto?

Anyway, it’s very cold here in Vermont. No melting. Lots of wood burning; lots of snow. We are used to it. In contrast to many days of a low-hanging grey-white ceiling bearing down upon us, today the blue brilliant skies soar. The idea of time affecting regularity of rhythm has been abandoned. Maybe it’s true that time itself is composed of unequal fragments, no two measured moments being identical.

Have recently attended two virtual poetry readings. The first gave me the opportunity to hear Baron Wormser read from his newest book: Songs from a Voice. At the second, host Anna Gurton Wachter read from My Midwinter Poem at her new chapbook launch. The latter was an open reading. I read last, choosing Sweetness on the Edge and then, József Attila in hand, read The Rain Falls, written in 1929. In both meetings, attendant poets appeared with their words from various parts of the world. The events opened windows, offered conversations, left me more alive than I’d been in some time.
During these difficult days, or perhaps at this stage of creative life, I devour art forms cannibalistically. I dissect, extract, swallow for personal sustenace, filling the deficits with whatever relevant fragment, chord or articulation crosses my path, satisfying whatever need or demand the eye, mind or spirit insist upon. I’ve been looking at Vajda Lajos (one of the most important artists of the twentieth-century Hungarian avant-garde, and will share some of his works here.

My own work nears a corner. The newest Black Rocks and Spheres series is complete enough. Another series of movable, double-sided pieces – another engagement with spheres. The gessoing of torn and collage-built circles and large rectangular papers, the staining, painting and transferring has been done. There are countless assemblages, and endless shooting of photos. As with my other free-standing works these pieces too, must wait for eventual installation, when the many components take on life as a whole, inform and signify. Meanwhile, a large selection of variant assemblages can be seen here on the Black Rocks, Bronze Spheres page .

Finally, poems get written. Sometimes they emerge more or less whole, more often I collect words and phrases over time and eventually, the pieces are assembled. Frequently they appear dark. That isn’t intended and I struggle against sameness, as I do day to day. My newest poems can be found here on the “Present Continuous – Poems & Other Writings” page.


– Diane Sophrin
  Vermont. 2.17.21







Dialog with J.A. - 3

Mixed-media on stitched, gessoed paper.
28″ x 11″ (70c x 28c)



by Attila József

I stand by a puddle and watch it grow,
become a mire, just doing its job.
Tail between legs, a dog
creeps up to sniff my leg.
The heavens are swollen
with their business,
salvation. The Bishop’s fat lands
blink, and get fatter.
I try to whistle
but only steam comes out
so I steam beautifully
and look important, calm, collected,
like a weed. An old dreamer,
I sink into dreams.

I used to whistle in my breezier days.
Now the rain falls to nourish mud and elders.
Only a cool carrot on the ground,
A harmless paintbrush, and myself
can hear it and give thought.

The sluggish, nationwide rain
laments my thinning hair.

I am a growler, so I growl,
and a stroller, so I stroll:
paddles are never needed on this highway.

My shoes mumble and grumble.
This is too much even for boots.

A pumpkin fidgets. The haystack mopes.
This rain falls on barefoot people,
falls on workers out of work,
falls on the trembling tower,
on estates and on the soft soil,
on cave-dwelling migrant workers,
on cushioned suburban homes,
the rain falls, just doing its job.

Sluggish, nationwide rain,
heavy with complaints.


Translated from the Hungarian by John Bátki.
Attila József – Selected Poems and Texts.
Edited by George Gömöri András and James Atlas.
Carcanet Press. University of Iowa. 1977.



József Attila

Állok, lábamnál tócsa nő
a pocsolyához – az a dolga.
Bevont farokkal bú elő
az eb, hogy lábam megszagolja.
Kövér az ég, az üdv a gondja,
pislog, dagad a püspök dombja,
fütyülnék s számra pára jő –
hát megfontoltan, mint a dudva,
gőzölgök szépen, komolykodva,
révedek én is, révedő.
Fütyültem könnyedébb koromba…
Esik, hogy nőjön sár meg bodza,
csak egy hűvösen heverő
répa, egy jámbor meszelő
meg én hallgatjuk gondolkodva.
Lassudad, országos eső
hulló hajamat panaszolja.
Dörmögő vagyok, dörmögő.
Meg ballagó, hisz evező
nem kell soha az országútra!
És dünnyög, motyog a cipő,
hogy csizmának is elég volna.
Feszeng a tök, busong a boglya,
esik a mezitlábasokra,
a munkátalan munkásokra,
esik a remegő toronyra,
a lágy talajra, tulajdonra,
gödörlakó kubikusokra,
párnás, polgári lakásokra,
esik, esik, hisz az a dolga.
Lassudad, országos eső,
nehézkedve és panaszkodva.

1929. július.

source of the quotation: http://www.mek.oszk.hu/00700/00708/html/kolto00000/kotet00001/ciklus00368/cim00371.htm