Hello and welcome back to another Critical Breakdown post, wherein I will discuss the methodology and meaning behind my most recent photo-poem, Polished Moon. It is important to note the title, as I will refer back to it later when discussing the poem itself. As someone reminded me recently, a poem (and a photo) can mean many things to many people, so if there is a meaning that you, the viewer, have taken away from this piece, then I have done my job. If you felt something, anything, then we connected. However, I did have some ideas of my own while creating this particular piece, so let’s start first with the photograph.
There is a very surreal quality to this photo, likely for several reasons. First, we are not accustomed to visually seeing photographs of night scenes, by moonlight, in a forest. That’s because it is dark. And scary. Second, I processed the image in PhotoShop moreso than I usuall do for most images. It was simply a matter of trying to get the image to appear out of darkness. Third, the evening really WAS surreal! The air was fresh, the moon large and bright, and all of the forest had come alive. It was akin to hearing a poem in progress, moonlit words sliding off surfaces just waiting to be collected.
This scene is in front of my place from the front “patio” (for lack of a better term). As for my equipment, as I’ve mentioned previously in other Critical Breakdowns, I am using a Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot camera, in this case, mounted to a tripod. Compared to a DSLR, the amount of manaul control I have over the photographing process is severly limited. Essentially, I set it for a long exposure (about 2 seconds) with ISO 100 and metered the white-balance against the moon. Of course, I used the self-timer to avoid shake, and also manually set the flash to go off. Finally, since there is no manual focus, I set the focus for infinity.
The original shot came out dark (as expected) and very desaturated. But that was quite necessary, because a longer exposure would have made the moon appear too bright and fuzzy, and would have left the dark sky grainy. I’ve made that mistake a hundred times already. The flash allowed for lighting the leaves in the foreground. Using PhotoShop, I lightened the image and brought out the golden colors in the highlights and the blue-ish tones in the shadows. It certainly wasn’t as easy as it sounds, as I went back again and again to get just the right balance of dark and light, blue and gold, detail and blur. What I wanted was mood, and I think I achieved it.
But what mood was I going for? And does it match the poem? Before we look at the poem, let me say that I recently have made a couple of new friends, my first new friends in ages. I’d forgotten how exciting it is to make new friends, and I’d forgotten how exciting it is to be excited. I felt CONNECTED, and alive, just like being in the forest under the moon where I not only took the photo, but also where I began writing the emotional foundation for the poem. Once again, my emotions, the photo, and the poem inform each other in the creation this piece.
Okay, the poem.
The Polished Moon
with the full of its immense
rises intense and presses upon me
a honey-scented specter
in the moonlit spectrum
Notice, that I write “The Polished Moon” using “The” and capitalizing the ‘P’ and ‘M’ of ‘Polished Moon’. Keep this in mind along with what I had previously noted, the title of the poem itself, Polished Moon. I will explain that in a moment. As for the specter, I am essentially referring to the moon’s essence itself which has cast this golden glow upon us, nay pressed upon me, physically. At once, this poem is simply about a beautiful moment of existence under the shine of the moon. But I am also describing the physical thrill within in me of finding new friends, new connections to the world. As such I’ve added a sexual–sensual quality to the experience, of being touched physcically–by the moon, and by the connection.
aflush in ripened pleasure
rigored beams of illuminate streams
suffuce my salted-skin
in the juice of its dangling fruits
plucked loose of present
of vigor existent
In both the 2nd and 3rd passages, I use an erotic imagery to describe the sensualness not only of the moon, but in the physicality of making new friends, of being connected, not only to people, but, in this case, to the moon and the scene itself. I am not merely transported emotionally, or spiritually, but physically as well. I tingle, I am excited. This moment has been building up and in the end, I am overcome with the experience. Time transcends the present moment, as do my senses. My salted (matured, but never too old to gain in new excite) skin, suffuced, bathed in the juices of dangling fruits, those which are hanging there ready to be grabbed, meant to be enjoyed, provided to me by the light of the moon. These fruits are also words, words to the poem, words that tease me and excite me, words to the Polished Moon itself. The moon has been showering me with words to the poem, and I pause, awash in the poetry-making as it comes to a climax.
Once filled of promised possibility
pent then spilled
flow in culminant thrill
I soak in drunken glow
savoring the fine
cumulate seductions of
the Polished Moon
This promised possibility of my artistic endeavors, my writing, of my humanity, which has been inside of me for so long has finally been realesed. In this case, I have been seduced on many levels–by the surrreal scene under the night moon, by the thrills of making connections, by the writing and the reading of the words, over and over that finally have formed this poem, by the thrill of thrill in and of itself….As in sexual pleasure, the seductions are a majority part of the experience. And upon the grand fullfulment, there is a an after-glow of satisfaction. And for me, the entire experience has been one of “cumulate seductions of the Polished Moon” again capitalized. For it has been the creation of the Polished Moon photo-poem itself that is the final layer of meaning. Making this photo-poem was a seduction of words and images, the thrill of plucking words, of teasing out the golds and blues in the photo, the climax of bringing it all together in one final push, and the satisfaction in what had been created, the release of all emotion.
And so, dear reader, any and all innuendo is purposeful. But hopefully not cheaply so. I honestly meant that the entire of my emotions, the entire of the moonlit scene where I sat to write and then later studied in photograph, where I existed in this sensual surrealness, the entire of the creation process, and in turn the end result was a physcial excitement, a beautiful total experience of mind, spirit and body– of art, of love, and of nature. I will leave with that. I could go on, those of you who know me, know that, but I won’t. Please, please feel free to comment or question. I’d love to hear if what I explained could be felt in the piece.
As always, peace.