Page 1

bending light into verse every picture tells a story

Jennifer L. Tomaloff


bending light into verse every picture tells a story

Photography by: Jennifer L. Tomaloff

Featuring written works by: Nicholas Michael Ravnikar Ed Makowski David Tomaloff Matt Specht Dana Roders Jenny Bootle Lisa Adamowicz Kless Nick Demske Jennifer L. Tomaloff


bending light into verse | Copyright 2010 Jennifer L. Tomaloff. All works contained herein are owned by their individual authors. No part of this book may be used except in brief quotation without the express permission of the author(s).


Special thanks and dedication to the talented individuals whose works are contained in these pages, without whom this project would not be complete.


Every Picture Tells a Story. This book began as a simple photo book with an experimental side and the idea that every picture tells a story, or at least should. The experimental side entailed sending each of the writers included in this book a series of photographs, with the intent that they might write a short piece inspired in some way by each of the photos they were assigned. Every one of the writers included here gladly rose to the opportunity and far exceeded all expectations; every photograph was returned, each picture telling its story. The photographs included in this book were taken between 2007 and 2009 using a Nikon D40 with an 18-55mm Nikkor f/3.5-5.6G or a 50mm f/1.8D lens. A few photographs were taken with a basic point and shoot camera (the Kodak V530).

-Jennifer L. Tomaloff


Contributors Jennifer L. Tomaloff is a financial analyst whose every spare moment is largely dedicated to interests such as photography, wildlife and its conservation, and the great outdoors. She is also currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in finance. More of her photography can be found at: iamarobot.tumblr.com and her 365 photo-a-day project can be found at: iamarobot365.tumblr.com Nicholas Michael Ravnikar lives in Racine, WI. His work has appeared recently in Boo: A journal of terrific things, BlazeVox and Otoliths and is forthcoming from West Wind Review and unarmed. He edits the irregular webzine The Bathroom (bathroommagazine.wordpress.com) and is organizing with Nick Demske, the first annual Racquetball Chapbook Tournament (racquetballchapbooktournament.wordpress.com). Ed Makowski lives in Milwaukee, WI. He has two books out as Eddie Kilowatt; Manifest Density and Carrying a Knife in to the Gunfight. Ed races motorcycles on frozen lakes and is currently for hire. David Tomaloff is, has been, and/or might as well be a musician, self-described photographer, sound engineer, dabbler in the written word, loose cannon, and liontamer. He currently has a book out called LIONTAMER'S BLUES as well as a music CD entitled, Birds on Wires. Despite any or all of the above, he currently resides in Racine, Wisconsin, fulfilling his life-long dream of broke anonymity. davidtomaloff.com liontamersblues.tumblr.com Matt Specht writes, paints, acts, and composes music. He was in a rock band. His poetry has been published in Word Riot, BlazeVox, and the 2010 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets calendar. This year, he built a sailboat. His website is jumpymatt.com.


Dana Roders is currently pursuing an English degree from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. She sings, dances, and acts in local theatre productions and her poetry was recently accepted by Word Riot. Jenny Bootle came all the way from Brighton, England to live in Wisconsin, where she's been since 2008. She writes short stories and poetry and is working on a first novel. Her work has appeared recently in Mother Goosed: Twisted Rhymes for Modern Times. She is currently training to become a bookbinder and is still getting used to the Midwest winters. Lisa Adamowicz Kless spends many happy moments writing in her hometown of Kenosha, WI. She hopes to try her hand at painting some day, and also has a not-so-secret desire to learn to play the guitar or mandolin (or both). When she's not taking care of children in some capacity, Lisa is editor of ExposeKenosha.com and a member of the Kenosha Writers' Guild. Nick Demske lives in Racine, Wisconsin, and works there at the Racine Public Library. His selftitled manuscript was awarded the Fence Modern Poets Series award and will be published by Fence Books in fall of 2010. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Action Yes, Sawbuck, Pinstripe Fedora, West Wind Review, Weird Deer and the e-anthology narrative (dis)continuities: prose experiments by younger american writers (Recycled Karma Press, forthcoming), among other places. He helps curate the BONK! performance series in Racine and is the editor of the online forum boo: a journal of terrific things. Visit Nick sometime at nickipoo.wordpress.com


bending light into verse every picture tells a story


i am ashamed of what we have become

-matt specht


Lit up on the airplane home, I never told you that if it all ended Here, it would still have been (per|fect).

-David Tomaloff


The First Session The pre-counseling evaluation stated I have low confidence am not assertive avoid conflict with my partner My perceived stress level is 90% compared with her 20 I have a low level of organization am emotionally unsteady eat too much exercise too little Lack Time

As the counselor translated our results like dinner menu specials I became immersed in full color illustrations bar graphs up HERE^ bar graphs down here_ pie charts, erratic line graphs page after page arrows highlighting points of interest listed with sterile precision, the counselor continued speaking page turning page blaring bright, EdTHIS IS EMPIRICALLY WHY YOU ARE AN AWFUL PERSON then the counselor stopped talking and it was our turn

-Ed Makowski


Striving It seems futile to you, I know. The embers of hope are glowing dimmer cold seeping in, weariness overwhelming. If you stay on this path it looks like there's still so far to go; God knows I would carry you if only I could. Look me in the eye and listen. The faith you said you don't have? It's you. Faith in your own strength. You've fought this long held on tight until every inch of you aches. Weakness doesn't shoulder that doesn't bear that burden won't hold out and continue to hold on. I won't patronize you pretend to know the nuances of your struggle but you know that the bleakness is familiar to me. Can you see the shelter ahead? It might seem far off but it's there. My hand's here if you need it.

-Lisa Adamowicz Kless


A Natural Extension of the Stain Dance in which we promise to have impressions for sale the so-called ''junk'' repetitive DNA the kind of guy who'd get drunk The video assimilates the medium's form of pathology within a contemporary ocean mist where one may take some of the risk when we take off our shoes, get dirty and dance In part through boxing and jazz, and games and scary music and creepy moves people should thank their mammals and allow rainwater to patina over time seconds later her hair would probably look the stones as your hands move is the song you hum to yourself through the scratches -Nicholas Michael Ravnikar


The Vulva

shortly after High School I dated a very tall girl from a family of Jehovah's Witnesses. Their very logical (the story went) mother drove a Volvo, which the middle daughter nicknamed The Vulva. Hearing this would red face enrage their mother. I never saw the car and I never met her parents, or saw their house in day light. Although once the neighbors reported seeing a ―homeless man‖ crawling out from under the deck above their exposed basement shortly before sunrise

-Ed Makowski


I am waiting for a smile a savior a flashlight red flags hang limp in a gust of hot air touches on repeat scratched and skipping too much for hotel rooms

-Dana Roders


Building Repetition I'm busy crashing cars Into walls of what tomorrow

Nothing (r)ains the way I rain and nothing Shines like you. Sometimes I wonder where you

brings. You don't move an inch, and all your so cks stay (d)ry.

get the (s)trength, in the same way you must Won.der where (I) lost m ine.

-David Tomaloff


A movie, then dinner. Over dessert you quietly break my heart.

-Jenny Bootle


You find berries bold against the snow. A firework explosion of red in a white that covers everything; snow, sun, sky, breath; so bright it tears your eyes to open them. They are a reminder that these things can exist: a flare of news for when all is gone or hidden or emptied, there is this. Burst illumination, that right now, inside yourself, there is still your blood red heart.

-Jenny Bootle


Oral Box Wonder Tick Origins in which we see that the subject matter cannot offer a removal consciousness There has not been universal agreement about whether the Perceptions and experiences of knockoff treatment regimens cast me and there will be more powers of speech One can reasonably expect an appeal to Newton's Laws, a flimsy piece of information, some kind of throwback I am being blasphemous by questioning his or her race, age, gender, religion, lineage, nationality distinctive traditions, jewels in a treasure chest helping remember our galactic family the dictionary usually reflected upstairs. to be self-absorbed and impatient, "The final three lines betray the cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas responsible for prepared writing more generally about the formulaic pictures you have to wait for so long

-Nicholas Michael Ravnikar


...all the while, the Moon there watching As we pull down the heavens to fill with Stars our younglionshearts, under no circum.stances shall we tire.

Through this blood we draw Hope, through these hearts we Desire, draw and through these eyes we draw the rainso that we might better Weep with a mighty Joy and emboldened Compassion.

-David Tomaloff


Time worn worn down down trodden. Splintering off off set set upon. Showing cracks cracks open open scars. Gouged out out, exposed exposed core. Burn marks marks eras eras gone. Years past past lives lives on. Still stands stands powerfully powerfully resilient. Hardships build build strength strength withstands. Vulnerable, yet-yet be: be unwavering.

-Lisa Adamowicz Kless


Tribal Grid Yelling at the Inherent Component in which we view chaos in relation to the manufacture of peace

parties like these involve the use of certain hissing He could hear the early fruits of her research black lines/markings on her body On the back of her neck, those representing some area of a circular type Perhaps a consolation prize for a desolate iguana hanging around near the camp and unafraid of people. activists first stared at the implications of her work heckled My deep-seated indifference toward trying to move. from an orthodox balcony louder than the rest, the house's use of efficient systems are known as a series of commands, an attention to mood and atmosphere, an aesthetic 100% unique, (smaller and lighter) what were scientifically quite dubious theories Attitudes towards redistribution have a strong cultural voice their colleagues injured in crossfire I half expected the dancers to come in 16 x 20 Unframed extra-terrestrial sportswear running on stage while the rest of city grows into an alliance with the United States instead of its content over the entire underside of their wig, electronic cables presenting their data, strung everywhere.

-Nicholas Michael Ravnikar


We climbed the staircase...


...and named ourselves accordingly. -David Tomaloff


there are some things i will never see

and

i am glad for it

-matt specht


Revolutions Spare bedrooms and great Spires have crumbled for far less. I wish my radio played

Nine teen fifty two.

-David Tomaloff


SOMETHING GREEDY THIS WAY TOLLS O skyway, you guzzler of galleons having robbed me of my hood of lively O skyway, like an open mouth, your mesh metal basket, insatiable Cease your ceasing, foul skyway! Remove your barricades, let me live and love! Never shall I bow to your I-pass your 40 dollar pre-pay shenanigannery窶馬o! My father once plowed through your oppressive arm, fed up with your stupid, flippin' buttcrap. Screw you, tollway! I will spit upon your blinking lights and flash my wang to your cameras and be tackled by state troopers and taken away.

-Nick Demske


21st Century Plastic Crows for Ransom in which we look closely at nuclear disarmament They're so cute when entering puberty At the end of the first decade, looking cool as the bristles linger and figure out eggs. But if they think they can hold the capital by simply being marketed as sports stadium seating complete with bottle service and dancing on my table? Now that’s what I call optical networking. Why would we assume Western thinkers achieve status and a chance at freedom when you’re not a small room inside which the meeting’s theme is living. Not only is he the world’s largest Japanese vessel It seems his organization must fight to experiment A scary, pink, amputated plunger made into juvenile literature a building failure, Evil Unseen, splinters and No one is safe wearing an unforgettable face calling your ignorance malleable is becoming commonplace. His own dark helmet and ruby necklace Hard candies disgraced in their pockets

-Nicholas Michael Ravnikar


Set me out, adrift staring up at the sky soaking in the azure while the waves loosen my fists let worries and fears sift out between fingers languidly freefalling to the ocean floor. Pull me back, after awhile after the peace has finally seeped in serenity that can't be faded in the sun or lost in so many grains of sand.

-Lisa Adamowicz Kless


i should have laughed but there was a tattoo caught in my throat

-matt specht


there is a shack in the woods it is summer there is preaching it is hot it is a saturday night there is no dancing but there is joy but it is forced and i can feel that piano's pain knowing there is a creek down the way where a girl offered me her foot and her brother said ok and i laughed we all laughed and she took my picture and wrote me a letter and i didn't understand it all but i took it all in took it at face value let it wash over me like warm creek water that made her toes and ankles and knees look like something out of the magazines my dad thought he had hidden under the stairs we were kids and we were meant to learn things in creeks and under stairs not in pews and like the piano in the corner i couldn't wait for someone to come pay attention to me so we could whisper secrets while no one was looking god is just a speed bump placed in the path of every summer weekend

i can feel that piano's pain

-matt specht


where have all the grasshoppers gone?

I was sitting silent in the black-interrupting street lights, hearing nothing but stray cars and a persistent radio down the block, and I thought: Where have all the grasshoppers gone? the first night we lived in our new house, full of open grass waiting for trees to be planted, rock berms to be laid, baseballs to bounce with running children unable to catch all of them, I would lay in my bedroom in July with windows open seeing everything in moonlit dew. it was an entirely different world, bright with life and shadows, they all seemed to move if I stared just long enough.

and I would lie in bed, wondering anxiously when this army of grasshoppers I could hear echoing off every house in our new neighborhood would climb up our walls beat on our window sills and break the glass on our new patio doors. I knew they were forming alliances underneath our sundeck. They were plotting a coup and any day now they would come to seize my Atlanta Braves hat, my Columbia 300 bowling ball, and that huge fake coin from the Denver mint that my aunt gave me as trophies for their cause.

and he would give me my very own 50cc bike and I’d be his sidekick, saying the things he had just said only whinier and we would travel the world saving the human race from proliferation of the grasshopper. but that’s all gone now, home from work in the darkness of another July night far from the grasshoppers of my childhood. I sit finishing a beer as everyone sleeps feet throbbing and brow greasy, just hoping for an errant breeze to hold me in its absence too soon.

-Ed Makowski

and I would lay in bed hoping that guy who drove past my house doing the wheelie on his shiny motorcycle, for my amazement alone, would come back to save me from the army of angry grasshoppers,


Hello Bossa Nova Some.where the fire engines are screaming out another (par|ade). Irony dic.tates that Irony dictates the strangest things and all is well so long as all is Never(!) well. This night has gone to the (d)ogs, I'm af raid.

-David Tomaloff


SEAGULL BEAGLE Seagull beagle pumpkin pie over-bloated, drunken fly If I had been born you I would eat an alkaseltzer. Seagull beagle pumpkin poo something borrowed, something blue I think I will marry you and we will have weird babies. Seagull beagle pumpkin pee You grew sick o' humpin' me I wish I had signed a prenup, cause we're divorced. Seagull beagle pumpkin plight in the forests of the night I shall not give up the fight and we shall love again.

-Nick Demske


You Should Have Bought Me Dinner First how strange for this city to strip me naked

and never ask my name

-Dana Roders


eclipse (de) construct me moon-lit fingers stiff this fire’s been out for days endless nights with nothing so pressing as the mask of darkness upon your face we are all

alone

(i will keep pretending but you are not enough)

-Dana Roders


if there's no god then who's up there running the laugh track

-Dana Roders


Sometimes I swear you've got a Heart like a Jukebox.

They spoke to me in (ton) gues

As a child, I believed (juke) boxes

and,

were made of stars;

I knew the

though

words, Cradling and (s)pinning,

I was con(t)ented

Humming away in total

just (hu)mming

.monaural bliss.

al(o)ng.

-David Tomaloff


this is what it all boils down to: even on shitty days, we try to go outside

but

we

can't

it calls to mind the question: do we hate the rain? or does the rain hate us?

maybe rain has better things to do than

get

us

wet

-matt specht


There will be someone there waiting for me. -Jenny Bootle


in 1908, siberia burned.


next time, i hope god has better aim. -matt specht


letting go avenues reflect your bad side of town smoke curls psychics speak birds sing the song providing absolute proof you are here

-Jennifer L. Tomaloff


Gyrations are Abstractions I Would Not Ordinarily Accept in which we recognize the pattern assembled An amusement apparatus for contests of skill and an accessory to life in which we alone are some well-known symbol This was said, doubtless, with a view to mental proficiency If we're going to have large, centralised governments, we should probably paint legs into actual cash, the polymer chain of a molecule a strenuous whip dance, while measure all and sundry mutations come to the serious attention of those who urinate most slowly. This dynamic in a volume of corresponding spaces depends on an unhallowed onset – that is, the set-up pervaded. Note that this usage of the word seems downright incomprehensible as it is an advance warning opposed to the actual consumption of the last ten minutes and immediately apparent that The machine repeats its pathway

-Nicholas Michael Ravnikar


For Jen Little birdy, you've dropped a feather Here upon the sand Little birdy, all aflutter Wherefore will you land? As you soar up in the sky Spying fish in a wave's gentle curve Will you dip back down so low, That you become a sharky's hors d'oeuvre?

-Lisa Adamowicz Kless


she thinks I should be many things as if so much depends upon my life: a walk in the fields was never enough for her. the self that's mine is hidden in pages wrapped in paper struggling down to the heart in the spine in the blood. there once was a girl who cut her hair she sheared her hair to look like a boy to look like a boy so she could get it wet. she thinks I should be many things when in fact i'm already many things when in fact I' m al ready go ne.

-Dana Roders


pit stop

sitting silent with a man who has the capacity for great beauty in his heart once he realizes it. elbows on the table eating grilled cheese in a diner with long neglected chrome. looking out windows hoping for what lies beyond the dust blowing over the two-lane and the range ending at sight on the other side. looking back in and staring at the table with a sigh, then seeing the people next to me and wondering Where were the girls who wore shorts like that when I was in high school?

-Ed Makowski


A teardrop slips into a snowbank, like the winter Hiawatha train travels. Not fast, but away from me nonetheless.

-Jenny Bootle


Birthday Party

Brandon took us to Fun World to play Laser Tag for his 11th birthday. We ran around shooting each other for what seemed like hours until they turned on floodlights ten minutes before closing. With panting lungs and sweat sheen upper lips we walked out grinning and the last to come out smiling was Katie. Katie must have hurt herself during the game because she was bleeding. She didn't realize until everyone stopped what they were doing and pointed or gasped with concern.

She ran into the bathroom and didn't come out. We stood waiting for an idea. A high schooler who worked behind the prize counter opened the women's room door and shouted Fun World is now officially closed and everyone has to leave I tried to figure out how she'd cut herself with all her clothes on. Katie said No, she wouldn't come out until her mom came to drive her home The employee walked away from the restroom muttering something and I asked him, this vastly knowledgeable sophomore, ―Is she gonna make it?‖

-Ed Makowski


Otis Henry skyscrapers. Otis Henry scrapers sky. scrape, Oti scraper. Sky, Henry skyper. Otis Henry skypes Nelson Mandela to discuss Otis Henry's chances of becoming the new prime minister of South Africa. ―Not very likely,‖ says Nelson. Otis Henry calls him Nelson. Nelson calls Otis Henry ―sir.‖ ―You are too big, sir. Far bigger than the country of South Africa, sir. How will you minister a country so primely, sir, which you cannot even fit into? Me sir Jar jar binks.‖ At this, Otis Henry is embarrassed. Partly of his size, and partly because he didn't realize South Africa was a country and not just the bottom half of the continent. ―Skyscraper?‖ asks Otis Henry. And Nelson just looks on, puzzled and pixelated, from Otis Henry's laptop, thinking perhaps his computer just messed up because he thought Otis Henry just said ―Skyscraper.‖ Run away, Otis Henry. Fuck Nelson Mandela! You can be the president of South Africa... any South Africa you want! And you can uproot a skyscraper and put it down your pants.

-Nick Demske


like laughing out of car windows the lights the parades the afternoon; so many things are left (un)said.

-David Tomaloff


i i i i i

dream dream dream dream dream

in black and white, you know of trying to run in waist-deep water of punching enemies with all my strength but nothing happens of wet hidden warm places surrounded by soft skin and gratitude of the end of the world (i have a bag of chips, my wits, and a towel armed thusly, my dear, we are safe) i dream of newspapers as wallpaper yellowed from the effort it took to tell me the president is dead and the drive-thru lady knows i'm on the floor of the front seat and the woods are NOT lovely, dark OR deep they are rotten and wet and would not burn even if you doused them in gasoline lit a match tossed it in walked away and waited for the warmth and when i dream the dream where i fall from great heights i wake up wondering

if i survived

-matt specht


The strangest nights are like this Persistent humming Nausea, spinning‌ I have never felt more at home.

-Jennifer L. Tomaloff


I am timid distressed anxious and overlooked. I miss home; I miss your company-I cannot see you you never arrive at all. A sense of absence falls, drops thick as stones you are lost tonight and infinitely; I am lost sitting with my own silhouette dark and starless...

-Lisa Adamowicz Kless


Stomp Shaman delousing latrine invectives purple heart attacks mount majestic epcots and bebop back downtown round the way bamboo pimp my bum. I bought you a snuggie. Like fake flowers floating in a bottle of perfume. If de sade ate shit, he would have loved rock of love cumulative sawdust rock a pony was his name-o. The sky wandering gland burns a flaw across its face. El headbutt el butthead on the ones and twos a rapid succession of christian death metal ―totally unsexy‖ and adirondak dak dak datattak taks, if you smell what the rock of love a pony look at them fly they love each other (smooch. Smooch.) one au gratin gun shotin comin right uppence a sacagawea saskatchewan banks off the tetonicals. The lonesome body builder has been reduced to a mixture of tears and a pyro in slowmo sets it all up and off.

-Nick Demske


The Golden Age of Phosphorus in which we seethe extent to which a fragment of thought can no longer be cropped Of lambent flame you have whole sheets from the melting pot through eXXXagerated predictive models new readers who had no size-changing abilities in 1898 because all chemical bonds are bound to deteriorate The city official may require additional treatment for clinical depression. They patented industrial Molybdenum, helping to usher in the demise of prose and classical spelling to enable them a shifting spectrum set upon the throne and various available falsifiers, herein a habitat for the love of the present, a real fleece and relationships with skeletal populations these waters release, down back of dogs’ throat where stratified teachers educate without touching them -Nicholas Michael Ravnikar


in 1959, there was this diner. it was open and empty. it was so late, old men with dirt under their fingernails were coming in and ordering breakfast. maybe this isn't 1959, but it feels like 1959. it feels authentic. these old men know each other, and know the waitress. i know that if i began talking to these people, they would not like me, and i would not like them. but at this hour, none of us care. we just want eggs and bacon and coffee, so we are polite, and we squeeze our cheeks into the shapes of smiles. i am waiting for you. killing time in places time forgot about, places with no wi-fi internet or cnn or digital anything. cash only. in pictures, everything is black and white, but right now, everything is beige and chrome and vinyl. cracked vinyl. old dirty greasy vinyl that sometimes is the exact feeling you need under the skin on the inside of your arm. which makes me think of the skin on the inside of your arm. which makes me sad that i care about the skin in the inside of your arm. sad that i know what it looks like. sad that i will never know what it tastes like. sad that i want to know what it tastes like. how does this happen? how do i end up here, waiting for you, knowing you would never like this place? it's time to go. i can't bear to see the sun rise. i want to be asleep before the edge of the sky gets pale. i will never step foot in here again, even though i'd very much like to. i am fluent in this diner's silent, wordless language. it has touched the skin on the inside of my arm; it knows me better than you. the bell jingles on my way out.

-matt specht


bending light into verse  

This book began as a simple photo book with an experimental side and the idea that every picture tells a story, or at least should. The expe...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you