Oil and acrylic on canvas, 20" x 20"
David Nakabayashi
December 2011

Winterstate: Better Betty; oil and acrylic on canvas by David Nakabayashi

Bruce Lader
November 2011

A sough in the leaves brushing blue
      every so often, like susurrant surf
below cliffs, as if the swarms of monarchs
      mingling migration out of November sky
to winter in this eucalyptus stand
      are gossamer fans wafting the aroma
of menthol on occasional breezes,

      wings swirl like snow that never
comes to the mild southern California
      coastal mesa where, navigating
meridians of light, they return
      from Canada, swim like goldfish,
an agile tide of myriad wings carried
      on warm currents of cloudless air,

they cluster tiger camouflage
      over tree columns, long dovetailing
beards stream Byzantine branches
      like strange wisteria, a soundless throng
festoons the woods, then pulsing flames
      gather lingering rays of persimmon sun,
enfold their journey in dormant night.

Oil and acrylic on paper, 30 cm x 20 cm
Merlin Flower
October 2011

Discover, oil and acrylic on paper by Merlin Flower

Mixed media, 14" x 10"
Suzanne Sbarge
September 2011

All-Seeing (Woman with Yellow Bird), mixed media image by Suzanne Sbarge

Nathan Hunt
August 2011

         The grass
begins to be green again—
         the end of summer.

The lawns are watered
without sprinklers.

         The sparrows:
hatched months ago,
         now fully grown.

The mothers tend
the twigs of empty nests.

         A glimpse of yellow—
lichen growing on the car
         you left behind.

         Moss climbing
the bark of the trees
         you planted.

         Hollow cornstalks:
brown and drooping
         in your garden.

photograph by Lisa Head
July 2011

Laci, photo by Lisa Head

photograph by Cristine McConnell
June 2011

Window Spider, photo by Cristine McConnell

Chantel Tattoli
May 2011

Camouflage ]
Us “higher cribbing” the toniest zoological hides. Prints
by Natural Selection, or
form following function to trick bug as stick, good-to-eat as unapproachable.
In camo
we make war, we make
a fashionable statement, which is so plain-vanilla funny...........................
  because the point was supposed......................
.........to be unobtrusive, to
.........be pastel-like.
Not to cause a scene.
 
 
Zarape ]
Rough Mexican blanket.
Lime stratum.
Then hot pink then
black.
Where the silver. The gold?
The varyingly blue sky or could be ocean.
All
fuzzed against each other like Rothko's bright bands of color.
 
 
Paisley ]
A heady pattern, of toothy raindrops
and discursive tendrils. Which
which may look to you like
microorganisms illustrated in
science textbooks—imagine
can you
just one mote of a cell, but oh a whole round world.
Jeremiads
(about the evil pod shapes with
mazing vines
you follow           and follow
until you're dizzied)
are easy.
 
John Lennon had a Rolls
painted in paisley
(Royce yes Royce).
He was about London
when an old woman saw him and
berated him with her umbrella. “You swine,
you swine!” she called. How dare he.
That car was a
sign of British nobility. It really
miffed the old gal
to see that prime automobile
become psychedelic.

photograph by Anita Boyke
April 2011

In Memoriam #12, photograph by Anita Boyke

Laura Madeline Wiseman
March 2011

They don’t crunch or chew.
The smooth green skin

of their jaw stays still.
No quake of tongue

to whisk a wad from gum
and cheek. No dance of lips

on knife tip or fork tines.
They don’t slip two stems

in the mouth, their eyes up
as their tongue swirls.

No flip. No spin. No hand
to pluck the wet knot

from tongue’s end. No cocked
brow. No grin spreads

to lure and tempt a thought,
to coax a slow walk home

where hands might touch.
They could, but they won’t.

Stephen Leonard
February 2011

I walk dust-filled streets, into the clanging din of Arusha’s central market district. The craftsmen do their work here, selling machine parts and restoring bicycles that should have been sent to a scrapheap years ago.

I locate the key maker’s stand on the sidewalk, just past a row of women working sewing machines and next to an old man sitting cross-legged on the ground, cobbling a new sole onto a worn leather shoe. The stand appears unattended. On the four-foot high wooden box, a hundred old keys and a handful of uncut ones are laced together by thin metal wires. Among scattered bits of metal and wire lie the key maker’s simple tools: a handsaw, a file and a metal vise to keep the keys in place while the craftsman does his work.

I approach, and a boy springs up from his seat next to the cobbler. He wears a blue windbreaker, a knockoff Puma wool cap, and a solemn face. He looks all of 15, but I will discover that he has been working as a key maker for five years.

The job I demand is not easy: five sets of three different keys. The keys themselves are not only difficult to come by, but intricately designed. He quotes me a price and goes to work. The dusty storm of commerce and craft swirls around him, but he appears oblivious to all.

Gripping both my key and an uncut key in hands seemingly three decades older than the rest of him, the boy examines them keenly before placing them in his vise. With a lightning-quick spin of the handle, he locks the keys in place and begins sawing, then filing. He whips the vise loose, takes the keys out, inspects them again, careful not to let either slip from his own vise-like grip as he turns his hands over, peering at both sides. I stare, mesmerized, as he works the saw into the soft metal of the key, then files it down, before checking on his progress.

When he runs out of uncut keys, he says he’ll return in a moment, and with that he runs down the street, ducking into another shop. He comes back with freshly soldered, blank keys, gnarled and ugly.

He files them smooth with the vise before cutting into them with the saw. In a city where tire rubber is recycled into sandal bottoms, where toys are made out of bundled plastic bags and bottle caps, the key maker contributes to Arusha’s own unofficial recycling program.

Nothing goes to waste.

He plinks each new copy down on his workbench for my inspection. As he finishes, a crowd gathers around, and I wonder if they are curious about me, having invaded their craftsmen’s den for an afternoon, or if they want to see the young master at work.

Back home, I try each of the new keys. One doesn’t work, and a couple others stick before turning, but most click butter-smooth into their locks.

Woodblock on handmade kozo with pulp paint, 14" x 11"
Joseph Lappie
January 2011

Anna, Woodblock on handmade kozo with pulp paint

©2009-2017 Labletter LLC. All rights for individual pieces reserved by contributing writers and artists.