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July 2, 2011

poem: i am not last in the line

by sven at 7:00 am

I was thinking about why I feel it's important to write tutorials — and how some people prefer to keep knowledge secret. This is the poem that came of it.

I am not last in the line

I am not last in the line
and wouldn't want to be
so let me share what I learn

I cannot be toppled by competitors
if I share secret knowledge
because even if you know how
it's a steep climb to actually attain the summit

as long as I keep running
I'll always be ahead in the race
out in front of those who come after me
though still following bread crumbs
from those who've gone before

I'll have my time at the mic while I'm here

and after I'm gone
if I'm remembered at all
my name will be kept best
by those I troubled to help

June 28, 2011

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March 26, 2010

poem: in the caves below

by sven at 7:00 am


A prose poem inspired by the collage I made at Sara Swink's Two-Day Creative Process Workshop last year.

in the caves below

We can no longer distinguish ourselves from the moving parts of the machines we've constructed, inside of which we work.

We have built boxes and cubes for ourselves to live in; and in due course our beings have taken on the shape of the spaces we inhabit.

Even our dreams are dull and predictable. For entertainment we watch images streamed though boxes; so when we sleep, often we find ourselves acting out re-runs from TV.

But beneath all this there still lie ancient caves. There are subterranean spaces blocked off by accumulated junk and barricades and cave-ins... But they can yet be reached.

The shaman who crawls in the dark, whose magic wand is a pen, casting premonitory lines in black blood ink... If he is willing to go far enough into the mines, will find his way down to the womb-shaped rooms where the handprints of ancestors are still marked on the wall in red and white paint.

And deeper still, submerging in the wellsprings of consciousness, he might swim down into the earth cracked river from which life proceeds, seeking the skeletons of...

Of who? His dreams? Ancestors? Former selves? To whom do these bones belong, sunk to the very bottom of it all?

While far above, the machines ache with routine, the orbits of decay maintained -- there is a mystery here, at the source of all things.

He holds his breath again and again, diving down to those remains, trying to identify who they were. Where they came from. How did they come to rest here?

January 22, 2009

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

March 19, 2010

poem: falling

by sven at 7:00 am

Multhomah Falls

One of my favorite recurring images dates back to 2003, when Gretchin and I were standing at the top of Multnomah Falls. I wondered aloud what a droplet of water must feel just at that moment when it leaps out into space…


(the water’s song)

I'm falling
we're falling
all falling
toward the inevitable

and as
I'm falling
we're falling
all falling

I wave my hands
we wave our hands
all wave our hands

a frantic semaphore
like flapping wings
as we pass through storm
and tossed by wind

like flapping wings
frantic semaphore
to the ones below
ones yet above

who began before me
who tumbles after

tether to my mother cut
I quickly follow
my father's path
our family's path
our only path


I'm falling
we're falling
all falling
toward the inevitable

September 2, 2009

looking over the edge of Multnomah Falls

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

March 12, 2010

poem: old man brontosaurus

by sven at 7:00 am

Here are the origins of that brontosaurus the walrus was chatting with…

old man brontosaurus

old man brontosaurus
i have never seen
an elephant
not in this neighborhood

you've stayed with me
all these years like
death, a roommate
surly, whom i live with

but old brontosaurus
my footsteps in yours
following on hot summer
sidewalk, you're

a kind companion
to sit in upholstered chairs
with, slowly chinwagging
about yesterday's newspaper
over drinks

all the children wish
they were Rex the king
but i, as i melt in the sun
i would be a brontosaurus

December 31, 2008

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March 5, 2010

poem: oh, honey

by sven at 7:00 am

This was for a friend who apologized after writing a "long" email…

Oh, honey

"Oh, honey"
says the voice in my head—

a voice,
I hasten to add,
that silently chats with both
adult men, children,
and cats, too—

don't feel embarrassed
about being too long-winded.

There's plenty of air in the world
to go around.

All the better that you should get to
exhale completely.

It makes me happy:
then you get to inhale
to full lung capacity.

Everyone should get to breathe.

January 19, 2009

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

February 26, 2010

poem: the walrus and the brontosaurus

by sven at 7:00 am

On days when you're feeling old… Think about things infinitely older than yourself.

the walrus and the brontosaurus

the walrus and the brontosaurus
are sharing tea and biscuits
lingering in fatly stuffed chairs
in the den

i say to dear Bronte
"what days we've seen
what days yet to come
and even more
already forgotten"

the dear lizard replies
head crooked against ceiling
"the years are shorter than they seem
i've counted my footsteps here
in mountain dreams
cane in hand, admired the
mayflies' pageantry

whiskers and wrinkles
i say volcano
your eye twinkles
don't joke sleep
as if you're drifting off

old is a such a small thing
counted in millennia absurd
toothsome friend:
please pass me the lemon curd?"

January 19, 2009

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

February 19, 2010

poem: the snail's request

by sven at 7:00 am

One of several poems from last year about keeping a daily journal.

the snail's request

I am a snail
with a feather for my shell
leaving inkwell paths behind me

handwritten and slow
all summer long
I'll draw glistening arcs
my cursive memoir
through your victory garden

please don't pick me up
break the memory
my history
long sentence going back to my birth

just let me write
quill tooth biting paper
let me eat through
sheets and leaves

digesting in my study

just this little while
until my black blood
with winter
too soon

runs dry

January 19, 2009

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

February 12, 2010

poem: thursday

by sven at 7:00 am

A poem written for Gretchin on a dreary day.


Thursday is brought to you
by the color red!

when you look through the window
it may seem gray
but go outside today
and you'll discover little bits of red

on leaves
on cars
on houses
on street signs

I may appear the same
as when I stepped out the door
a moment ago

but actually
I'm two weeks older now
having been all over town and back
in a blink
with my bucket and paintbrush

there was so much area to cover
I had to use a lot of different shades
and I'm sorry to say
I ran out
before the job was really through

but just look for it
it's simply everywhere
dabs and splashes
a little glimmer
hidden and waiting

I put it there for you

November 19, 2009

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

February 5, 2010

poem: the breath of giants

by sven at 7:00 am

I'm really fond of the last line.

the breath of giants

the office is the brain of the house
the studio the soul
the kitchen the heart
living room the stomach
bedroom the libido

our home here is
a thirty-foot-tall marionette
and I the puppeteer

each morning I get
the giant moving again
     water the plants
     put dishes away
     feed the cat
each night I
put it to sleep

I look out from
giant's eyes
running from room to room
turning cranks and pulling cords
not a robot that I command--

this house is a living being
and I am the hidden motor
running its body

I am the breath that
spirits through every cell
animating colossus

(and yet
what a small being we are
set beside the great towers
of the city
whose hands touch clouds
gods propelled by
the furious pedaling of

January 1, 2009

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

January 29, 2010

poem: don't live in the cage with your elephant

by sven at 7:00 am

I'd like to dedicate this one to all my art buddies out there who are mired in multi-year projects…

don't live in the cage with your elephant

i have a love for colossal animals
the giraffes and rhinoceroses
with my camera
i go to Africa all the time
hunting thunderous beauty

but to bring a pachyderm
back to America
is a Herculean affair
i arrived by airplane in a wink
transport back
is four months by boat
on a heaving dark ocean

posters go up
and the crowd murmurs with expectation
but suddenly there's no coin
for opening day banners
in horror you spend every nickel
trying to figure out
what this damned thing eats

and it turns out that what it eats
is time
not by the bushel
but by the year
consuming your earthly body
like only the most ravenous calendar can

proper care and feeding
requires dawn to day-end attention
the would-be zookeeper sets up residence
in the cage beside his capture
ever attending to
its hunger, its exercise, its boredom

you've got the elephant keeper's blues
as it slowly sinks in
just how much bigger
this creature is than you
so lithe and wild on another continent
now the insight:
the bigger the animal
the more excrement it produces

tonight i think i want to go home
to sleep in my own bed
tired of sleeping with my broom
and janitor’s hat
soaking in a stale smell
on these bales beside the behemoth

tonight i'd like to dream
of other dreams

November 19, 2009

(This one ought to help illuminate new year's resolutions a little, too… i.e. "I will tend my elephants.")

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

January 22, 2010

poem: the spiritual dimension of time-lapse photography

by sven at 7:00 am

Obviously inspired by the film I made of 2010's first dawn

the spiritual dimension of time-lapse photography

an animator should take equal interest
in capturing time-lapse photography
as in composing sequences of images
that fake motion

snapping the camera's shutter
once each minute for an hour
I watch the year's first dawn erupt
like a new god's visitation
noon and starry night
chasing each other in streaks

and in the bright darkness of my studio
I become slow athlete
sweating with a patience
that nudges puppets to inhale
their first breath

whether by power of my own hand
or long surrender to a crawling world
from within the silence
of my crystal ball
this is my magic:

to slow myself to the point
where small, voiceless things
come to life

January 3, 2010

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry

January 15, 2010

poem: new year's resolutions

by sven at 7:00 am

Seems I write 40+ poems in a typical year. Not doing any good just sitting on my harddrive, now are they?

new year's resolutions

I will tend my elephants

I will avoid the death march

we will go around the mountains

I will map our journey

we will take time grazing in meadows

we will explore the forests

when snow comes, we will set up camp
to wait out the winter

December 20, 2009

posted by sven | permalink | categories: poetry