The third issue (v2n1) of Tuesday; An Art Project comes in a plain, thick, yellow wrapper. Inside is the table of contents, a feature poem, short bios of the authors, editorial information, and – most importantly – cards and postcards containing the poems, prints and photographs. There are only seventeen cards, and they are all striking.
A theme of loss and mortality runs throughout. One print, titled “Trouble in the Mind” by Meg Birnbaum, is of a woman squatting by a pond in her bathing suit, at night, watching while a group of kids runs happily through a nearby field of rushes. It has a haunting quality, and evokes feelings of a childhood anyone over forty might recall. From David Lundy Martin comes a searching, melancholy prose poem: “When a man is trapped as words are trapped in the / defect of the body, when hundreds of untold stories make the body convex, ape out, indulge in / excess so that the mouth is never empty, when the grass of youth is so faraway” These words carry the reader on a journey, holding him tight throughout the poem, then finally release their grip.
Childhood scenes captured better in words and more whimsically than they could be shown were penned by Peter Jay Shippy in “When I was the King of Lake Erie”:
I was the only emperor
in a line of brass children
This was when the steel mills were
Not still; the air was full of ash
Shippy makes you want to know him as a child. The authors and artists range from the published and award-winning to social activists and committed individuals with something to say. Something in all their work will live on. This rare tribute to mortality and immortality will touch you.
However, if there is a theme to the fourth issue (v2n2), it is more obscure than the last, but these poems glisten with appeal to the mind, imagination, even sense of the absurd; while many-colored, angular words and phrases give different tones and patterns to the cadences. There are a few visual cards out of the eighteen cards wrapped in the dark purple wrapper. These tend to appeal again to the mind or the subconscious, rather than present, the obvious.
A prize-winning poet, Richard Blanco, in “Bewitched,” asks, “Who wouldn’t want to be American if that meant living in Westport, Connecticut, on a cul-de-sac / named Morning Glory Circle edged with spray roses always in bloom.” As he ruminates, he is fascinating, clever, and ironic, dealing with two of his favorite themes – home and place. Both published and recorded, Robin Beth Schaer contributed a delicate poem, “Little Ice Age,” that speaks in symbolic, picturesque language: “My icebound anchorite, / find your ataraxy in parsnips and arctic hares. // In the cold, your body will renounce its limbs / to keep the heart warm.” These lines sing, even with words like “millennia,” "latitude,” “starvation.” In “Pilgrimage,” Quraysh Ali Lansana presents intricate puzzles with economical, well-chosen language, tempting the reader to move from one level of meaning to another:
body Africa is almost sick almost
healthy thing about the waist bone
weak to bone belligerent joints
frantic memory perpetual fever
These poems satisfy in quite a different way than those in the previous issue. The editors strive for constant variety and achieve it, and also create a classy publication for something that is already blissfully unique.