Malignant worlds of wonder…

~ J.G. Ballard.

Is there anyone like him?

Original, imaginative, his work sets its own parameters. Stark, it builds in story and description then slams itself into you like a force of its own nature.

“The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard” begins with seeming simplicity, but grows intense fast. A tremendous introduction to Ballard’s work.

For example, from “The Garden of Time”:

“Towards evening, when the great shadow of the Palladian villa filled the terrace, Count Axel left his library and walked down the wide marble steps among the time flowers. A tall, imperious figure in a black velvet jacket, a gold tie-pin glinting below his George V beard, cane held stiffly in a white-gloved hand, he surveyed the exquisite crystal flowers without emotion, listening to the sounds of his wife’s harpsichord, as she played a Mozart rondo in the music room, echo and vibrate through the translucent petals.

“As was his custom before beginning his regular evening stroll, Count Axel looked out across the plain to the final rise, where the horizon was illuminated like a distant stage by the fading sun. As the Mozart chimed delicately around him, flowing from his wife‟s graceful hands, he saw that the advance columns of an enormous army were moving slowly over the horizon. At first glance, the long ranks seemed to be progressing in orderly lines, but on closer inspection, it was apparent that, like the obscured detail of a Goya landscape, the army was composed of a vast confused throng of people, men and women, interspersed with a few soldiers in ragged uniforms, pressing forward in a disorganised tide. Some laboured under heavy loads suspended from crude yokes around their necks; others struggled with cumbersome wooden carts, their hands wrenching at the wheel spokes; a few trudged on alone; but all moved on at the same pace, bowed backs illuminated in the fleeting sun.

“The advancing throng was almost too far away to be visible, but even as Axel watched, his expression aloof yet observant, it came perceptibly nearer, the vanguard of an immense rabble appearing from below the horizon…”

For me, I was ignited…the desire for more. And there is more…this work is massive, not to mention his wealth of novels. (I’m looking forward to delving into “The Crystal World”.)

It’s easy to grow obsessed with Ballard. He dives head-over-heels into his worlds and takes you along for the ride. Be careful. This is a serious writer who knows his craft and uses it well.

©2022: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

Works of blood-and-beauty…

I was just reading about a poet, Jack Gilbert, who is (rightly) being celebrated all over the web today. His poetry is evocative and subtle, but direct and raw…it has the power to open old desires, reawaken some forgotten ache.

One site refers to his “Collected Poems” as “almost certainly among the two or three most important books of poetry that will be published this year.”

Even if it is (and the bits I’ve read really are enticing), I abscond from “important” works of poetry. Not that poetry isn’t important (it’s my life-blood), but, to me, poetry should be sumptuous–a feast for the senses, both felt and hinted at. When poetry is touted as “important”, it loses its self-respect (yes, I believe poetry has a sense of self-respect) and feeds into the pseudo-intellectuals who propagate its “importance”.

Read poetry for the beauty of the work, the heady sense of stepping headlong into another essence than the usual day-to-day. For instance…

“If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight…We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world…”

~from “A Brief for the Defense”


“We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars…”

~from “Tear it Down”

Jack Gilbert takes you, holds you captive for a moment in his works of blood-and-beauty, and will keep you enticed. As all incredible poetry should.

©2022: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

Certain dark things…

Pablo Neruda speaks and his whispers singe my senses. In my recent wanderings into the world that is Pablo, I found this edgy piece:

Sonnet XVII
(translation by Stephen Mitchell)

“I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving

but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.”

©2022: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

Music of Silence

Today is a Muriel Rukeyser day.

Out of all her bigger poetry, the one small piece that sticks with me is this:


“When I am dead, even then,
I will still love you, I will wait in these poems.
When I am dead, even then,
I am still listening to you.
I will still be making poems for you
Out of silence;
Silence will be falling into that silence,
It is building music.”

Simon and Garfunkel tinkered with the music of silence first when I was a small child,  and it swirled in me till, when I finally stumbled over Muriel’s ‘Then’, I was absorbed in the simplicity of quietness — where Music, again and again, begins.

©2022: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

A Jungian type of Fairytale

~I’ve picked up C.G. Jung’s autobiography,
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, again and am, of course, entranced. He says, “Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away–an ephemeral apparition….I have never lost the sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.”

This, with the basic (and only the basic) concepts of his studies involving a mystical alchemy, I am astounded. My book, Delicate: The Alchemy of Emily Greyson, is a novel containing these mystic alchemies and unprovoked nuances throughout the story that create its own myth. And Emily, who doesn’t show up until a substantial way through, is the culmination of these mysticisms.

Maybe Delicate is a Jungian type of fairytale.  Fortuitous symbols, inadvertent mysticism, the “ephemeral apparition” and the concept, “…What we see is the blossom which passes. The rhizome remains”, begin to set the premise for my first book as I sit in the shadows of the masters, breathing in their craft.  

An unpredictable romp into a different mind, a different time.   

©2022: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.


The luminscience of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī and the syntax of silence weaving through his words.  A few fire-tongued echoes🔥:

Very little grows on jagged rock.
Be ground. Be crumbled.
So wild flowers will come up
Where you are.

You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender.”
~from “A Necessary Autumn Inside Each”

“Observe the wonders as they occur around you.
Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry
moving through, and be silent.”

“Love means to reach for the sky and with every breath to tear a hundred veils. Love means to step away from the ego, to open the eyes of inner vision and not to take this world so seriously.”

“Load the ship and set out. No one knows for certain whether the vessel will sink or reach the harbor. Cautious people say, ‘I’ll do nothing until I can be sure’. Merchants know better. If you do nothing, you lose. Don’t be one of those merchants who won’t risk the ocean.”

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth without complicated explanation.”

©2022: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

One of those kinds of nights…

~ The dark insects of delight
circle ever closer to the flame.
Closer to the midnight-wrapped elegance
of this star-flamed, bone-lit night…


In a child’s eye,
a flaming oracle pales —
Convincing disbelief.


Little by little the wind,
little the light, the wild…
Akin the ancient nerve,
Akin to the visceral instincts,
again we begin.

©2022: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.