(Deutsche Fassung hier.) Trees are trimmed to allow power cables to pass overhead. Rows of wooden houses, many of them sporting the American flag, seem strangely withdrawn within their yards. Come to think about it, what separates inside and outside is nothing more than a thin wall — a little bit of glass and blind convention.
I explore the subtle difference between inside and outside in a series of poems based on impressions and observations gathered in Durham, NC where I have been living since 2006. So far, I have written about a handful of poems; they have been illustrated by Timothy J. Senior.
Ruffin Street was the first street I lived on. Public space (in as much as that is the appropriate term for an area with no bakery, no cornerstore and no newsagent’s, no bar and no playground) and private spaces are separated by makeshift boundaries. It seems as though the public were constantly apologizing for even daring to be there. In Timothy J. Senior’s illustration of this poems, the trees (pine trees, pine trees) form a kind of a stage, with the houses assuming the role of bystanders or a theater audience. The stage is empty.
Wilmington / Carolina Beach
‘Carolina Beach’, the illustration at the top of this page, is an image of a pier from below. One can see the fishing rods connecting fishermen up on the pier with the sea. Again, the space below the pier is reminiscent of an empty stage, while the surface — the pier where fishermen observe each other, talk, or compete — remains invisible. But even up there, most people simply ignore each other rather than helping each other.
The trunks of many old trees along the road (almost every street is tree-lined) have been cupped so as to allow for power cables to pass. Street lights dangle in the center of what looks like the chest of a tree. It protects the light, and is lit by it. Especially in the fall, the interplay between the color of the turning leaves and the light is sublime. The light’s heart-beat is protects by its tree.
Some poems appeared in Frankfurt-based journal L. Der Literaturbote (issue #95, Winter 2009).
The Wilmington poem was showcased by Matthias Kehle in a June 2009 entry in his blog.
A poem about urban renewal in downtown Durham was published by Krachkultur, issue #13, 2010.
Other poems have appeared since then; since page will be updated soon. Do get in touch if you would like to know more.