Saturday Dec 02

BlandCelia Celia Bland’s poetry and prose has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry International, The Boston Review, Drunken Boat, Copper Canyon's The Narrative Review, Lumina, and The Evergreen Review. Her essay, “Secret Book Written in the Dirt,” is included in an upcoming collection devoted to the poetry of Jean Valentine (U of Michigan P, 2012), edited by John Hoppenthaler and Kazim Ali. Her collaboration with artist Dianne Kornberg, Madonna Comix, will be published by William James & Co. later this year. Writer-in-residence at Bard College, she is the author of Soft Box (CavanKerry Press, 2004). Her website can be found here.


Dianne Kornberg has exhibited her work throughout the United States and internationally in more than twenty solo exhibitions.  Her work is represented in several important collections, including those of the Henry Art Gallery, Houston Museum of Art, International Center for Photography,  Princeton Art Museum,  Portland Art Museum,  Seattle Art Museum, and the Tacoma Art Museum.  She has been featured in book publications including Contemporary Art in the Northwest, 100 Artists of the West Coast, and Selected Works of the Portland Art Museum.  A monograph of her work, Field Notes, Photographs by Dianne Kornberg, 1992-2007, with an essay by Terry Toedtemeier, past Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum, was published by The Art Gym, Marylhurst University, in 2007.  In 2009 a book of her India Tigers portfolio, with an essay by Clint Wilhour and an afterword by Kim Stafford, was published by William James & Co.

Education of the Virgin
Virgin Mary has never ventured
to the caves of Texas
where bats—little shudders—
breed like bad memories.
She has none,
EducationoftheVirgin2 you know, no packed bags
at the Union Station
where bats press themselves flat
against the peeling ceiling.
No shuddering regrets electrify
her epidermis like the flit of
a donkey’s ear.
This defines her innocence:
the sadness she feels for souls
consigned to places always cold
where the only lights are those
flickers of conscience
we bring with us.
She did it only once and that
was a Eucharistic moment,
the apotheosis of grace,
as if her womb were lined
with Communion wafers.
It’s God the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit
in there, swallowed, perhaps, and
passed, with a kiss,
through nether lips.
Virgin Mary never goes where she is unwanted.
She bows her head to the ecstatic
eradicators, tribe haters, sex haters,
haters of the poor.
If her hovel is bulldozed, she has a cousin
in Babylonia -- although moving, for Virgin Mary,
predicates cosmological occurrences, avian messengers—
and then there are the tickets
and checkpoints.


Eugenie—“u” that is not me, the euphonious ululation of you, a cursive that balances cheek and lip and tip of nose.  I must pronounce it like the French do with a cry in the middle, a blending of consonants: jhay. And then the tongue at the ridges of roof, and the release in exhalation.  It moves me. Eugenie.
Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, a Spanish Catholic, populizer of the basket crinoline and papal power and Maximillian of Mexico.  That wasp waist beneath the v of banded necklines, and v of chin and parted hair, smooth wings.  Eugenie, whisper your name over left and right shoulders as to angels: keep and protect me.
Eugenie, daughter of Marie Bonaparte, princes of Greece and Denmark. Bone a part, buono part-ee, Napoleon’s grandniece via his brother, Lucien.  Frigid, she measured the centimeters from clitoris to vaginal opening.  Short equals voloupte, long: no fucking way.  She paid a quack to have her clitoris moved closer, but no shebang.  Did it again.
Eugene was a boy trained in the classics in the valleys of the Blue Ridge, truly blue.  You, Gene, sit right char in that chair. You my first vessel: brilliant, sensitive, destined.  If only I could put on a Eugene shirt and trousers and walk downtown.  Me, caring less about the narrative except the train to New York, the pencil and paper, success, yess, yess.  Eugene a miasma of projected self as I sat at the Shake Shop’s formica counter—gold stars bound by lathing chrome—and ate ham lettuce and tomato and drank some ice tea to the tune of  Freddy Fender. “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”
For I have left you far behind.
The Shit Shack, we called it.
You, Gene, a stalk green from the soft earth, graduating white as scallion. Crisp.  A blossom trumpet of lily, the orange stain, the freckling stamen.

Education of the Virgin 2
Archival Pigment Print
38 X 24"  Edition of 3
©2012  D. Kornberg