August 15, 2019

Ruth Bavetta

CRITICAL MASS

for Albert Einstein

A friend of mine says she is losing bone mass,
twenty-seven percent of her is suitcased away.
“Gone forever,” she tells me,
to the winds of mother earth,
to swirl and be swirled, dust above the pyramids,
about the plains, above the churning seas,
to become part of the pillages, the battles,
the pogroms and avalanches, part of the cacophony
of congresses and the world’s brazen symphonies,

part even of the tepid water of my bath,
wherein I lie, wishing that I could float forever,
under the protection of its amniotic embrace.
I’d like to pull the water over me,
a warm and soothing blanket
to keep away the noisy fingers of the world.
But I can’t hide, the world will always find me
and I will always find the world.

My friend loses mass, I gain it.
As if it were the golden vapor
rising from a bowl of steaming emeralds,
I breathe it in, absorb it as a fish
absorbs the singing waters.
I enlarge, amplify, extend,
incorporate the overflow.

I absorb the murder weapons, the Rembrandts,
the common doilies, keys and maps,
unto the last, the cusp, the deus ex lawnmower.
I take in all this, expand and swell,
live all the lives that touch my own.
Oh, sorrowful world, is there no end?

from Rattle #7, Summer 1997

__________

Ruth Bavetta: “I was a visual artist for years, until I found I also wanted images that could be painted with words. I wanted to use words, as I used images, to help me make sense of my life. Now, I’ve become convinced that neither words nor images will suffice, because there is no sense-making. There is only what is and what has been. It’s enough to know I am human, separate and mortal, and that’s where I find my poems.” (web)

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July 8, 2018

Ruth Bavetta

HEAT

And sun said,
let there be fire
and there was fire.
And the fire said,
let there be wind.
and the wind was throbbing
and the beast of the flames
pulled taut over the hills,
said naught to the chaparral,
and nil to the coyote.
And the coyote ran.
And the rabbits ran.
And the deer
and the rattlesnake
and the quail ran.
And the wind
sprang from its kiln
and tongue-licked the eaves
and the rafters
and the roof.
And the smoke
was air and the air
was smoke.
The air was our bodies.
It was the shadows
against the sky.

from Poets Respond
July 8, 2019

__________

Ruth Bavetta: “Fire season has started with a bang this week.” (web)

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February 18, 2016

Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2016: Artist’s Choice

 

Painting by Ruth Bavetta
Painting: “Chronicle” by Ruth Bavetta. “It Won’t Make the News” was written by Rosemerry Trommer for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2016, and selected by Bavetta as the Artist’s Choice winner.

[download broadside]

__________

Rosemerry Trommer

IT WON’T MAKE THE NEWS

What we really need is to gather
in the street and talk to each other.
Any street. Lined with shrubs
or tenements. Paved or dirt
or cobblestone. With orange cones
or with wooden barriers
to set off the block so we can talk,
can talk and listen and watch the day go by.
Some will join us. They will wonder
why we’ve gathered. They’ll
pull out their binoculars
as if there’s something more to see.
There’s always something more to see,
like the way the light comes through the hedge
and makes it more gold than green.
Hey, did you hear that nightingale?
When’s the last time you heard one?
All my life I’ve been too busy. Rushing
from one here to the next. But look
what happens when we gather
in the street and gawk in whatever
direction. We start to become a we—
you, me, the man in the yellow plaid shirt,
the cop, the woman in white tennis shoes.
It does not matter how we vote or
where we’ve been or how much we make
or if we pray, here we are in the same place
on the same day. Not because someone died,
not because someone’s done something wrong.
There is no one to cheer for but us.
We’ll go back to our homes soon enough,
but for now, here we are
doing the most important work,
gathering in the street to notice together
the scent of fall, the warmth of mid-afternoon sun,
the way all our shadows fall the same direction.

Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2016
Artist’s Choice Winner

[download audio]

__________

Comment from the artist, Ruth Bavetta: “I liked that the poet didn’t go for the obvious interpretation. And the last line really got to me—a little togetherness means a lot.” (website)

For more information on Rosemerry Trommer, visit her website.

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June 2, 2013

Ruth Bavetta

ELEGY FOR MY 1958 VOLKSWAGEN

Beautiful blue beetle,
curved and dumpy, lovely
as a lumpy German mädchen
overly fond of kartoffeln.

Four cylinders chugging
in the rear, it was like being chased
by a busy washing machine.

Air-cooled engine slow
to warm my feet.
I loved how I could tuck it
into tiny San Francisco parking spots.

No gas gauge, just guess
the gas to get you there.
No synchromesh first gear,
no coasting through stop signs.

Small outside, it still thought big.
Record load—seven bags of groceries,
five kids, one friendly neighbor,
two dogs and a pair of bowling shoes.

I sold it. Never realizing
that it prophesied my life—
the inability to pass abruptly,
the slow fade on the long uphill grade.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012

__________

Ruth Bavetta: “I was a visual artist for years, until I found I also wanted images that could be painted with words. I wanted to use words, as I used images, to help me make sense of my life. Now, at the age of 76, I’ve become convinced that neither words nor images will suffice, because there is no sense-making. There is only what is and what has been. It’s enough to know I am human, separate and mortal, and that’s where I find my poems.” (website)

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March 2, 2009

RUTH BAVETTA: “I’ve been a visual artist longer than I’ve been a poet. For years I tried to find a way to integrate my art and my words. It wasn’t until 2005 that they came together when I started to work on the pages of old books, mostly with watercolors and inks, carving poems from the text that I found there.” (website)

Click the image for a larger version:

The Making of History

from Rattle #29, Summer 2008
Tribute to Visual Poetry

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January 11, 2009

RUTH BAVETTA: “I’ve been a visual artist longer than I’ve been a poet. For years I tried to find a way to integrate my art and my words. It wasn’t until 2005 that they came together when I started to work on the pages of old books, mostly with watercolors and inks, carving poems from the text that I found there.” (website)

Click the image for a larger version:

I Am Anything

from Rattle #29, Summer 2008
Tribute to Visual Poetry

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December 17, 2008

RUTH BAVETTA: “I’ve been a visual artist longer than I’ve been a poet. For years I tried to find a way to integrate my art and my words. It wasn’t until 2005 that they came together when I started to work on the pages of old books, mostly with watercolors and inks, carving poems from the text that I found there.” (website)

Click for a larger version:

THe End and the Aim

from Rattle #29, Summer 2008
Tribute to Visual Poetry

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