The Blog of John Walford, British-born, but long resident in The United States. I am a retired art historian, an amateur photographer, and occasional writer, who writes here about art, photography, and the human condition--some of it attempted ekphratic poetry, responding to works of art. This is to be a site for words and images, interacting on one another, as vehicles of human expression.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Flickr's Catch the Dream's "A Search for Silvery Dream"

"Cast out your Nets"

Cast our your nets,
Cast away pollution,
Renew your rivers,
Refresh your souls,
Cast out your nets,
Cast out your nets
Again, and again,
Keep casting,
One day,
One day,
They will
Be full.
--JW, Dec 31, 2009.

This image, like the one immediately posted below, both from Flickr's "Catch the Dream" speak to me of toiling long, toiling hard, before any sign of harvest is returned. They thus speak to me of hope amid great difficulty, of rising to challenges, never despairing.

Flickr's Catch the dream's "The Dreamwalker," 2009

The Dreamwalker, originally uploaded by Catch the dream.

"Days of the Dream-walker"

How many days must we toil our field?
How many nights must we wonder?
How many disappointments must we
Learn to overcome? Oh! How many?

How many times will we repeat our bad ways?
How much patience will be shown toward us?
How much grace must we to others extend? -
Before we reach our dreams, reap what's sown?

The wise say: What we sow, we will reap.
The bad we do, it haunts our dreams.
The good we do, we see not where it went.
Yet please tell us, we labored not in vain.
--JW, for Catch the dream, Dec 31, 2009.

As the symbolic last post--together with the one above, also by Flickr's Catch the Dream--of the first decade of the new millennium, it seemed fitting to write about dreams and longing, about past labors and future hopes, on such a night, in the final 45 minutes of 2009. Catch the Dream's "Dreamwalker" seemed to express just how one might feel in passing from one decade to the next, and his photograph (above) of the fisherman casting his net into a polluted river speaks to me in similar ways.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flickr's Heniusia's "Moving swiftly...."

Moving swiftly...., originally uploaded by Heniusia.

"One Lone Biker - Lots of Snow"

We like our grids and right angles
Straight roads, straight driveways,
Lampposts standing straight, and tall,
All like soldiers, marching in rank and file.

Nature throws up its arms in gay abandon,
Flinging bent branches this way and that,
Forking, reaching, leaning out, joyful,
Up, down, out and around, never just pat.

Then comes the snow: covers works of
Man and Nature under pure, soft blanket,
Harmonizing all, until one lone figure,
Lime green--to be seen--bikes through it.

Then there is Heni, her eye alert as usual.
Seeing the winter poetry, carefully captures
So we see blended, organic and geometric -
Holding up, everywhere, bundles of snow!
--JW, for Heniusia, with thanks for 2009, and best wishes for 2010, Dec 30, 2009.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Incarnation Cross, or Generations Waited for What We Look Back and Celebrate, 2007

This large ‘digicoll’ (digital photographic collage, printed on vinyl, size approx. 4' x 6') was made for Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Warrenville, Illinois, for Christmas, 2007, and is once again hanging in the sanctuary, above the altar for this season.
It also features in Tyndale Publishing's beautiful, and highly creative new Mosaic Bible, 2009, see:

This “Incarnation Cross,” is my attempt to express a central meaning of the Incarnation, as Immanuel's Pastor George Garrison has emphasized, namely that this child, the ‘lamb of God,’ was born to offer Himself as a sacrifice for us, through death on a cross. Beyond that, I wanted to evoke how the moment of Incarnation sliced through eons of time, time past for those who long waited, and time thereafter, as His purposes are worked out, and we wait for His return.

Thus each arm of the cross is comprised of a panoramic cloudscape, taken on a trans-Atlantic flight, to evoke a sense of great spans of space and time. The central, vertical section slices through this horizontal journey through space and time, to suggest the dramatic intervention of the Incarnation in world history. There is a slight difference between the light and shapes on either side, a bit darker, on the left side, before the Incarnation, and an opening in the clouds somewhat in the shape of a heart, on the right side.

The vertical section is comprised of details from Hugo van der Goes’s 15th c. Portinari altarpiece (made for a Florentine merchant resident in the Netherlands, and now in the Uffizi Museum, Florence). From this altarpiece I have taken the key figures, Joseph & Mary, adoring the Christ Child, lying on the ground. He lies parallel to a sheaf of wheat, below him. This recalls the ‘bread of life,’ come down from heaven, to nourish us. The large areas of blood-red evoke the immensity of Christ’s sacrifice.

No surprise that we, as church worshipers, like the angels, surround Him in adoration. The golden angels at top are taken from Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise,’ on the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral, in which context they wonder at the Creation of Eve. This brings us full circle, from our creation to our redemption. We are now of the generations that look back to the Incarnation, with wonder, and await Christ’s return, as surely as our forebears anticipated his Incarnation.

--John Walford, December 25, 2009, wishing all or any reader God's revelation of Himself, in light of what Christmas commemorates and properly celebrates.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flickr's Rongzoni's "Dreaming"

Dreaming, originally uploaded by Rongzoni.

"How Will It Be?"

Standing, watching, dreaming,
Wondering at glimmering water,
Holding its dark secrets, under
A shimmering surface. Sunlight,
Lending life to all it touches,
And here, the chance to ponder,
What will the new year bring?
--JW, Dec 23, 2009.

Flickr's * WE * Ahmad & Graça's "Shadows on the wall"

Shadows on the wall, originally uploaded by * WE * Ahmad & Graça.

"Silent Speaking Shadows"

Shadows, shimmering in their insubstantial softness,
Unreal presences of something else yet real,
Marvel at the shadows, what then actuality?
And we, too, are but a shadow of what we will become.
--JW, Dec 23, 2009.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One from me: "Back Next Spring," Dec. 2009

Back Next Spring, 2009, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

"Back next Spring"

Now half-way through December,
Chilliest day since last February,
We are told. My mind heavy, slow,
Seeking oxygen, led me outdoors,
Over brittle, frost-chilled snow
To my woodland thinking stool.

Too cold to sit, I thought to pass,
When this little note from Nature,
Wafted down in last night's wind,
Tucked in tightly under the wire,
Beckoned my eye, stirred my mind.
Its message, "Back next Spring."
--JW, Dec. 15, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

John the Apostle at the Death of the Virgin

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Death of the Virgin, c. 1564, grisaille, Upton House, Banbury, Oxfordshire, England, first owned by the famous Antwerp cartographer, and friend of Bruegel, Abraham Ortelius, and later owned by the Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens.

Philips Galle's 1574 engraving thereafter, published by Galle and Ortelius, jointly.

"John the Apostle at the Death of the Virgin"

Scholars for years have wondered about John,
As placed apart in the Virgin's bedroom, and
Not only apart, but asleep, when all others
So attentive around the bedside of Mary,
Virgin and mother of God Incarnate.
Mary, soon to depart, to rejoin her son,
Readied for her transition from this world
To the next, to throw off her mortal coil,
And be robed in immortality, by her own Son.
Why sleeps John, at such a moment?

Why sleeps John, indeed? Why John?
John, with his brother James, and Peter,
Disciples, the closest three to Jesus.
Among these three, John singled out,
In Christ's last earthly legacy, to John
He entrusted the care of his mother.
Was he, the care-giver, now worn out?
Relieved his burden to let go? Tired
Beyond the understanding of the others,
Who had not known his singular burden?

Peter, James, and John, these three,
Consider all they shared with Christ:
They alone did witness the raising of
Jarius's daughter, saw life restored
To a girl, already dead. They alone
Were witness to Christ's Transfiguration,
Glimpsing this man as also divine.
They alone remained as witnesses
To Christ's lone agony in the garden
of Gethsemane, time of deep rue.

How our Lord with his Father did struggle,
Beseeching Him, with sweat and blood,
Falling as teardrops from his agonized brow,
Resistant to his fate, imploring God
To let pass this bitter, but inevitable cup.
What did Peter, James, and John, his companions,
In this dark hour? With him watchful? No!
They all did fall asleep! And so it was again!
Mary, now, his special charge, in her last hour,
And John, he sleeps, or dreams of Patmos.

--John W, Dec 10, 2009,
having been taken by admired Bruegel,
to the Virgin's bedchamber, in the home of John,
leaving me wondering, am I sleeping, dreaming,
when I should be watchful?-Can we each see
ourselves as the exhausted, self-absorbed
companions of those closest to us, in their
time of need? And yet, what mercy, what grace,
for sleepy-head John was ever called, "the
disciple whom Jesus loved;" and to him was
entrusted, if tradition be correct, when on Patmos,
the most extraordinary of all visions that
man has ever had, the vision of end times
and eternity, as recorded in the Bible's
Book of Revelation, from the hand of John.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"A Silent Earthquake" - a phrase from John Steinbeck's "East of Eden," as recalled by my friend, musician Howie Whitaker.

"A silent earthquake"

When the first snow of winter falls upon the ground,
Like a soft blanket, it covers the year's tumult,
And a silent stillness falls upon the world.
Painted over with a snow-white purity,
All pains and scars are covered over,
And a serenity fills the still air. And yet -
It is cold inside, deep down inside,
As a chill sets into our souls and bones,
With a sadness for what has passed,
And the bleak prospect before us:
For some, just getting through winter;
For some, loneliness and heart ache,
Unrelieved by the warming rays of
Summer sun, splashing water,
Humming bees, nectar, and flowers
Dancing in the breeze. For yet others -
Alone in the crowd, going about one's day,
Carrying inside what few can know,
The tremors of a silent earthquake.
Thus, must each of us recall, indeed,
Once more the earth, it will be shaken.
Nothing we can build will stand, and yet -
And yet, our one and only, steadfast hope,
Faith, the Word of God endures for ever.
-- JW, for Howie Whitaker, Dec 8, 2009.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Heniusia, on Flickr, has done it again, with her extraordinary photograph, "A silent sigh"

A silent sigh, originally uploaded by Heniusia.

"One black crow"

Such pure, white light,
Fog and mist,
Tree branches
So delicate,
Barely enough
To support,
One black crow.
--JW, Dec 4, 2009.

Monday, November 30, 2009

For once, one of my own: Fungi, Feeding off the Fallen, Nov 2009

"Soon Ripe, Soon Rotten"

Severed from the Sap of Life,
How fast the rot sets in.
From timbers once firm,
Does emerge foul resin.
--JW, November 30, 2009

Flickr's "Rongzoni" replied, Nov 30:

From the rot rises
A new brief life
Fed by what has fallen
Back to it's earth
To it's chance to breed again

Which made me reflect and realize:

I am but a fungus,
Feeding on a tree,
Without which,
Little to see.

And so it continues, as she replies:

Rojha said...
This roundish hat
So stuck to me
I wish delightfully to put
To the place in the sky
Where once my vanquished
Leaf-elevator gaily flaunted
Its earth-bound girth!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

bartvandamme of Flickr's "The Sheltering Sky" (Rijnhaven, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

The Sheltering Sky, originally uploaded by bartvandamme.

"Pregnant Skies"

Still waters, still sky,
Buildings, bridge,
boats and crane,
Over which rolls
Water-laden cloud -
For Rotterdam,
No second bombing.
--JW, Nov 28, 2009, with gratitude to bartvandamme for this magisterial cloudscape, in the best Dutch tradition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

paho47, on Flickr's, "The Last Flower of the Summer"

The Last Flower of the Summer, originally uploaded by paho47.

"Hold Your Smile, Yet a While"

Farewell, golden autumn,
We let you go - reluctantly.
Hearts are everywhere
Heavy now, at the prospect,
of chill, snow, and darkness,
Filling long days, and cold nights.
Fair flower, hold on yet a while,
We cannot, will not let you go.
Hold the light in your yet-green
Leaves, stay open and smiling,
With your little purple face;
Then, good-bye, until next Spring.
--JW, for paho47, Nov 25, 2009.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flickr's Rongzoni's "Dreaming into the wind"

Dreaming into the wind, originally uploaded by Rongzoni.

"Golden Grasses"
(Ring Mountain, Tiburon, California)

It was there for you, and you for it,
When the light was low in the sky.
Grasses bent, under your foot,
As they always did before,
Giving out their own aroma,
As you picked your way
Through lichen-clad rocks,
That have been that way,
For years, waiting to reassure,
That some things do not change.
--JW, for Helen, whose writings inspired me to try writing -and happy you could revisit your beloved mountain, and remind us, once again, of the beauty of sky, breeze, grasses, wind-swept bushes, stone, water, and light., Nov 21, 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flickr's Heniusia's "Held in silence ..."

"Blue Iris"

Mellow, yellow lichen
Crawled across wall,
Warming stone gray,
To await the day,
When it could serve
As foil, to the queen
of flowers - Blue Iris.
She marks woman's tomb,
To remind Isis, to come,
And waft her beyond the grave.
Royal flower of France,
To the moon goddess Hera,
A sacred flower. But here,
Before this yellowed wall,
A blaze of blue, so strong,
To Heniusia does belong.
--JW, Nov 19, 2009.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flickr's Algo's photograph: "100-year Hand"

100 year hand, originally uploaded by algo.

"A Hand - A History"

It was so long ago, I do not recall,
And nor does she, long gone.
But this hand of mine once did grip
Its pink and pudgy flesh around
My Mamma's finger; and I looked
Up into her eyes, and wondered,
What will my Mamma feed me,
When bath me, when lay me
Down to rest, shake my rattle, sleep.

Mamma, now long gone, her eyes
But a feint memory, lined by age,
Her fingers, that touched so tenderly,
They let me go, and so did I grow.
Over so many years, so much I saw,
Before my hands lost their pulp.
Taught skin, gradually did sag,
Showing my bones more than I care,
Needs rest them now upon my purse.

Like the rings in the trunk of a tree,
These wrinkles of mine, they tell
A story, of fat years, and lean,
Laughter, joy, pain, and sorrow,
The motor car, a swirling satellite.
In war, famine, again war, and peace,
These hands have cut onions, sewed
Well-worn socks, turned the newspaper,
And opened my birthday cards,
One hundred times.

These hands of mine, that speak,
Algo saw, glowing in light,
And shared what few might see,
Hands, ripened by history.
--JW, for esteemed Algo, Nov 9, 2009.

Dear friend, thank you for your long, thoughtful note. Your new glasses stole nothing from your inner vision, ever sensitive to what speaks, to what nourishes the soul. Flickrites--like me--are fickle, each thirsty for some token of recognition, in the give and take of comments, favs, and invites.

None of that ephemera matters one jot, for rarely does something take root and endure beyond the moment of recognition of the work of another. I, for one, have gone to comment on the image of another, only to discover I already commented on it, two months ago. How mercilessly we forget.

But in conceiving the images that each makes which resonate deeply--acknowledged, commented on, or not--there should be our focus -- for these stay long in the memory. For recognition, give no thought, but concentrate only on birthing cogent, poetic, visible life to what you see that moves you, for so presented, it will move others too. The gift shared, that's all that really matters here, on Flickr.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Flickr's incomparable Algo, and his "Autumn Chiltern view"

Autumn Chiltern view, originally uploaded by algo.

"Solace for the Weary Soul"

How to account for the great allure of this "Autumn Chiltern view?" - viewed on Flickr over 28,000 times (by Nov 8, 2009), for more than 1,000 such people marked as a favorite of theirs! Remarkable, indeed! So, how to account therefore?

A luminous, framed vista, luminously framed, the frame shaped like a transparent scarecrow, with outstretched arms and skirt, colored by the sun, and effects of declining sap in Autumn leaves. A fading beauty, is it nostalgia that tugs at us? Or the soft light on the meadows beyond, so delicately lit that only fairies could walk there, and beyond, a glowing haze.

Or is it what is not there? No trains, cars, buses, power lines and pylons, tractors, dirt, noise, work, towns, cities, rush, speed and crowds. No soul present, but the poetry-finding eye of Algo, and in his poetry, an echo of all our daily striving, aches, losses, fears, and longings - longings for a life of imagined Chiltern calm, an aching for arcadia - or is it Eden?

--PS: I deliberately came here--to Algo's photostream--for peace, on a Sunday evening, and as sure as I anticipated, I found it in his delectable, incomparable landscapes; and now, refreshed, I can again face the new week that lies ahead--the other side of sleep. Thank you, esteemed friend from the Chilterns. I knew I could count on you tonight. As sure as sure, you delivered needed solace, quietness, and reassurance that yes, while there is yet beauty in the world, we can find courage to press on along life's wearing road.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Jump, Boy, Jump"

Photo: David Wright, "Dive into the Light, Son, Dive!" (Facebook, Oct 25, 2009, photo by David Wright's mother)

Waiting in the light,
There is one there
To catch thee!
Jump, boy jump,
Life's waiting.
Shadows in the water,
To be sure,
But jump, boy, jump,
Dive into the light,
He's there to catch thee.

--JW, for David & son, Oct 25, 2009.

Flickr's Heniusia's "Weeping Stones"

Weeping stones ., originally uploaded by Heniusia.

Weeping Stones

Why weep, you walls?
What sorrow hides within?
What pain has pushed
Its way through your
Sturdy walls, staining
Once white plaster,
Sending some to the street?

--JW, for Heni, Oct 25, 2009.

Companions in Death, 2009

Companions in Death, 2009, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

Companions in Death

Chill sets in, the earth
Its nutrients withhold.
Each slowly strangled
On the branch, until -
It loses its last hold.
Wind cruelly plucks it,
Gravity tears it away,
Grass, yet green,
Gravely cradles it
For a tender farewell,
And soon it will be gone.
Taken back by the earth.

And us, can we hope
To fall, companions,
In death, as in life?
To be cradled
One last, tender time,
In the arms of our
Loved ones,
And then let go?
Too much to hope for,
Yet, though the earth
Will reclaim us too,
We hope for glory
--JW, an Autumn lament,
Oct 25, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flickr's NYC.andre"s "Dinner or drama traces in the wood"

Drama traces in the wood, originally uploaded by NYC.andre.

"Left Overs"

Bleached bones,
From some long-limbed
Creature, fur remnants,
And dried blood,
Left upon a dinner table
Of insect-chewed,
perforated, and rotting leaves.
Life-cycles ended,
By violence or time.
So with us, caught
In the vicious chain
Of being, and non-being.

--JW, for NYC.andre, October 24, 2009.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dawn Tryst

Eduard Munch, "Death and the Maiden," 1893, Oil, Munch Museum, Oslo.

Meeting at first light of dawn,
Hour too innocent to be suspect,
He cast his mantle on the dewy ground.
No sooner moist on both its sides,
Anointed by nature and man alike.
Sweet bed of but one blissful hour,
When, stealing up, sunlight,
Exposed and burned their love.
--JW, October 16, 2009.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"bags of bread," by Flickr's Magneticart

bags of bread, originally uploaded by magneticart.

Rural Poverty

Where the tile ends,
The concrete begins;
Where the concrete ends,
The dirt road begins;
And where the dirt road ends,
You would not want to be.
But as for them -
No chance to escape.

--JW, for magneticart, Oct 8, 2009. I salute your documentary series on rural prostitution - may it bring people with resources who can offer a better way of life.

See also his photograph: #3:, as well as his book, "Fututina Mujeres Libres: The Freedom of Slavery, by Giovanni Savino / magneticart, to be found at this link:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Flickr's Barry Lu 陸維陽, "Rusted 6"

Rusted 6, originally uploaded by Barry Lu 陸維陽.

"Six on Blue"

A faded number,
Yellow on blue -
Like age, so true.
--JW, September 21, 2209

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Flickr's Wintercove's "Kindred Spirits"

Wintercove uploaded this lovely, serene photograph to Flickr, September 18, 2009, see:

The rhythms of this photograph possess an inexpressible poetry - at least, I cannot find the words, but perhaps something like this:

'Kindred Spirits"

Puffy clouds drifting from left to right,
Deep shadows, and soft water
Likewise lead the eye.
All seems still.
But stillness truth
Disguises, even as
Jagged icebergs, shrunken,
Wonder which way to go,
But downward sink, to rejoin
That from whence they came.

Foreground grasses,
Wafted by the breeze,
Lean against these forces,
Yet are subject to the same,
Once fresh, supple, ripe,
And green - now brown,
And aged by the summer sun,
Stiffer, dryer, like our old bones,
And our skin, wrinkled,
Lacking oil, they too decline.

-- JW, for Wintercove, Sept 20, 2009,
after a long hiatus. Glad to see you are
still there, watching, as God performs His
glorious dance, daily before your eyes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flickr's AndreasC's "Outside in the Distance"

Outside in the Distance, originally uploaded by AndreasC.

Rural Italy, invaded by tourists, yet still
Keeping her ancient beauty.
A patchwork of fields, golden and green,
Secluded under the protection
Of unyielding, granite hills,
With wild boar lurking in the woodland.

Sunlight, warming the mellow stone,
Causing the ridges of the clay tiles,
Hosts for lichens, to glitter in the light,
Which beats down on my shoulders,
In the absent imagination. Oh! Italia,
Refuge of the sensitive soul.

---JW, for AndreasC, Spetember 18, 2009.

Time..... by Flickr's Tina Manthorpe

Time......, originally uploaded by tina_manthorpe.

The Nature of Time?

Does time spiral?
Stand still?
Or run in circles?
First making,
Then eating,
Its own children,
As can be seen,
On tops of any old
Fencing post.
--JW, for Tina, 09/18/09

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Culprit (Albert Einstein, Time is the Culprit), 09-09-09, with thanks to Semay Johnston

The Culprit (Albert Einstein, Time is the Culprit), 09-09-09, with thanks to Semay Johnston
The Culprit (Albert Einstein, Time is the Culprit), 09-09-09, with thanks to Semay Johnston, originally uploaded by johnwalford

Nine o’ Nine: “Time is the Culprit” (Albert Einstein)

Nine o’ Nine, on Nine, Nine, o’ Nine – Oh Wow!

This, an auspicious time, on anyone’s dime!

What to make of life - existence in time?

How possibly can time more signify?

Ours, yours, his, hers, or mine?

Is time but a construct?

Reckoned on a dial?

Or, a mere friction

Derived from only

Sands pressure

Sliding down



As time itself -

So lucidly transparent!

Yet, glass and time remain

Both cruelly enigmatic and still

Beyond best scrutiny. They reveal,

And yet, their enduring qualities hide.

One seemingly passable, transparent,

Yet impenetrable to touch, but not to light.

The other, invisible, intangible, yet palpable!

While reflecting on time, it runs through my fingers,

Like sand, slip-sliding to the constant rhythm of the sea.

--John Walford, a meditation on Semay Johnston’s ceramic piece,

“The Culprit” (after Albert Einstein’s “Time is the Culprit”)

at nine o’clock, in the evening, of 09/09/09,

and, with thanks to Lauren Anderson,

for timely inspiration.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spanish Balconies, 2009 (with Deborah Walford Danbom)

How it captures our imaginations,
That little space up there,
Above the street, above our heads,
A place, private and public both.

From this floating little ledge,
The passing world, we can engage.
To passers by, we show our selves,
And then retreat to private realms.

We display, we hide, we hover,
Somewhere in between, seduction,
There, but not there, seen but secluded,
Engaging others on our own terms.

For those shut in, a small way out,
For those shut out, a small way in.
A threshold in the air, and yet,
A threshold none directly cross.
--JW, Labor Day, Sept 7, 2009,
a day for idling on a balcony.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Whence Hope? (Photo: Mercury in the Night Sky, 2005)

Mercury_in_the_Night_Sky_05, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

Whence Hope? (For David M.)

Curled up, fetal, in my warm bed,
Cars rumble by, headed somewhere.
Cruel awakening, sleep’s last defense,
My destination, yet undefined.

For what shall I leave this warmth?
Why enter the next day’s chill?
Who travels by my side, who smiles
Into my sad, lonely eyes? Who?

Who sustains on the inside?
Whence hope? Cruel fate that
Strips me of family and friends.
What motivation to do this or that?

Yes, I could do this, or that!
But why bother? Should I?
Why should I? Who says?
What end to toil and struggle?

None can reply, anguish to assuage,
Yet, One, of old did say, “I know
The plans I have for you,
To give you a future, and a hope.”
---- JW, for David, Sept 5, 2009.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Seasonal Auguries IV, 2009

Seasonal Auguries IV, 2009, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

Two Nests - Two Dramas

Two little birds build with woven twigs;
Hornets galore chew wood into pulp.
Each to have a home, to call their own.
Why birds deserted, leaving one egg?
Why fly entered, never to escape?
What to learn from each one's drama?
--JW, Sept 3, 2009.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A gripping read, by "Brentjp99 (now and then)"

A gripping read, originally uploaded by Brentjp99 (now and then).

I guess there are some advantages in such a reading position, since more blood will flow to the brain, and thus facilitate the speed reading necessary to finish the book before the rope starts to fray.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Virtual Reality

Image above, "For dou_ble_you, 'If 6 Was 9 (Jimi Hendrix) II,' 2009, original by dou_ble_you, as altered by John Walford.

Text (from JW) under reads: "6 as 9, on my dime!/ Jimi boy, I loved your sound,/ In my prime./ I too cut off my locks,/ While Charlie boy was smokin' her,/ Not Princess Di!/ Now that's gotta be/ A f---'ing royal sigh!/ God save the Queen!/ Millie is, and ain't, our next queen."

Virtual Reality

My luminous, flat panel, my global interface,
I am drawn to it, mesmerized moth to lamp.
Eyes trained on images, projected on the screen,
Made one’s own, to play with, it can seem.

Eye Delight.

Then, one day, sneaking through snail mail,
A postcard from Warsaw, two playing cards,
Altered just for me, held in my hand, worn,
Browned by use, adorned, freshly inscribed.

I cried.

--JW, for dou_ble_you, 25 August, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Slip-Sliding Away

Photo: John Walford, "End of Semester Chaos, 2008"

"Slip-Sliding Away"

New Media, seductive allure, opening new worlds,
Anesthetizing focus, our brain enfolds.
Hours like minutes, slipping through our hands,
Where's self-discipline, that time commands?
Eager to learn, open to the new,
How to distinguish putrid rain from dew?

--JW, for Matthew Huggins, 8/05/09,
the 28th anniversary of my arrival in the USA,
as he and I reflect on New Media, empty content,
and human distraction. Matt: Had I not come,
we would not be having this conversation!
That surely, would have been my loss.

Anastasis - How Can It Be?

Mantegna, "Christ's Descent into Limbo," 1470-75 (Barbara Piasecka Johnson Collection).


How can it be?
What will it be?
Will it be?

Will we "be?"
Will I be me?
Which "me?"

If flesh did rot and drop,
Brittle bones break,
How shall I stand?

If drowned, or burned,
How recovered?
How restored?

Faith is to believe!
Yet us weaker ones,
Need to see, to believe.

How can it be?
We just have to
Wait, and see.

--JW, August 4th, 2009, in thinking about Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, to be performed at Wheaton College, Oct. 22-23, 2010. With thanks to my years-long friend and colleague, Joel Sheesley, for offering me Mantegna's "Christ in Limbo" of c. 1470-75, for my further reflection.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who Would Have Thought? (or "Measuring Up"), 2008

Since I am partly Greek, I have spent my married life, in jest, trying to convince my Italian wife that--whether she realize it or not--she is married to the closest thing on earth to Apollo that any mere mortal could be!!!! Of course, for 35 years, she has just rolled her eyes dismissively. But I still try to convince her! - And this was one last attempt, in producing the photographic evidence, from childhood -- with Apollo at least as my nurturing spirit! This last-ditch attempt has been the only one that ever got close to convincing her! :-)

Today, for someone else, I wrote about their childhood reflections in a quasi-Haiku form, and then thought that these words also spoke to an aspect of this image of mine, made last year:

"Childhood, a dream,
from which, on waking,
we never recover." - JW, for Robi, 7/267/09

3 lines, 10 words, 15 syllables.

[For the exchange with Robi, See his Facebook page, post for July 22, 2009]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Boccacino"s AU MUSEE (15 Sept 2007)

AU MUSEE, originally uploaded by Boccacino.

The weekday work was over,
Her cell phone turned on,
Waiting for a call. He called.
Shall we meet at the museum,
Tomorrow? Let's check out
The Modern section!
Oh! Those cool, spare grays,
And those few, juicy, brush strokes,
Pink, purple, yellow, strident green!
Don't you love them? Well, yes,
But my sack is heavy to lug around.
What you got in yours? Shall we,
Shall we just go back to my place?

--JW, 7/20/09, for Flickr's "Boccacino,"
whose photographs have guided me,
to search out the dynamic interplay
of geometric and organic forms,
in a photographic language
fitting to our times and places--
a visual dynamic so well seen
in this piece of his, "Au Musee."

Friday, May 29, 2009

Helen Ojha/Rongzoni's "Storage innvention"

Storage innvention, originally uploaded by Rongzoni.

When Helen of Marin went for a stroll,
She found something so utterly droll,
In a tree in the wood, this is far too good,
Squirrels with idea of canned goods.
--JW, 05/29/08

(First uploaded by Rongzoni to Flickr, , 05/29/09, see: )

Friday, March 20, 2009

Still-Life Within Still-Life, 2009

Transience and Memory

Flowers, gathered, a fleeting joy to give,
Like a meal prepared and shared,
Of its memory, yet longer endures.
--JW, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Awaiting Anastasis, and First Sign of Life, 2009 - A Lenten Meditation

These two works are intended as # 5 & 6 in a set of six diptychs on the last throws of winter, and nascent Spring. For the entire set, see on Flickr:

Awaiting Anastasis, and First Signs of Life:
A Lenten Meditation

Fats, fast-foods, fudge, and finger-foods,
For forty days, set aside, untouched.
Forty days each year, ritually held apart,
From Ash Wednesday to Easter morn.

Why act some so? What gain therein -
This so-called spiritual discipline?
If but some guilt assuage, it fruitless be,
What wisdom, growth is there to see?

What use our flesh to self-restrain?
Why not pleasure allow its reign?
Why not eat and drink full merrily.
Why ash and sackcloth, joy despoil?

Wandering and wondering, I came upon
A woodland pool, held fast in winter’s grip.
Eyes searching through the stubborn ice,
Saw there below, plants, seeds, and leaves.

Remnants from last Summer’s joy,
And seeds of Spring still trapped;
Held captive in the grip of ice,
Starved of air, of warmth, of life.

Yet here and there, what beauty,
What delight! A bubble of air,
Breaking from its icy cage.
Ploop, ploop, the silence broken.

One tiny drop of oxygen escapes,
Another now, and yet one more!
Here one slender wisp of green,
And there unfolds one fresh spore.

As my eyes did so explore, my mind
To Lenten rituals did return. The blush
Of Summer, the flames of Fall, set aside,
For the icy chill of Nature’s sackcloth.

Without this test, where fortitude
To run our race, and pass through death?
And so, with Christ, we steel ourselves,
Awaiting release, our Easter dawn.

---E. John Walford, Lent, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ahmad Kavousian's grandson, Pedrom...

Pedrom..., originally uploaded by * Ahmad Kavousian *.

I have long admired the photographic work of Ahmad Kavousian, as posted on Flickr--especially his intimate and sensitive portraits of street people, and many of his landscapes and seashores (indeed, other works of his feature in my blog). With respect to this moving work of his grandson, I know something of the feelings of a grandfather photographing a beloved grandson, and, from those feelings, wrote this for Ahmad:


My Pedrom, he left today,
I keep him still,
In this fine way,
Those soft, full cheeks,
Un-scarred by life,
His strong dark hair,
That frames his head;
Those arching brows,
That frame his eyes,
Those eyes, oh! those eyes,
They gaze at me,
Keep gazing, and I see
And I feel the presence,
Of my little Pedrom.

--To Ahmad, from one doting grandfather to another,
with my warmest greetings, and well-wishing for your family,
John Walford, February 13, 2009.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Echouement, originally uploaded by PPL 2A.

How could the eye and the mind not be arrested by the poignant juxtaposition seen in Flickr's "PPL_2A's photograph, "Echouement," which called forth these lines from me:

"Echouement" - Run aground

Once a grove of vibrant trees
Felled to deck a sleek, long boat,
Crafted lovingly, launched proudly.
Once she lilted over the waves,
With a grace and ease
That delighted the eye,
And brought joy,
To the sailor's heart.
Now this wood-planked shell
--twice dead, rusted iron,
Once pristine, wood--
Once sustained by Spring sap,
Lies inert, useless,
Unloved, abandoned,
Like a jilted lover,
Wasting away,
In full light of day,
Not even quite alone.
Passing it daily,
The inhabitants
Of the near-by
Comfortable in their
Bourgeois boxes--
They never stop to think,
Their concrete box,
It too will crumble,
And slip into the sea,
While another plane
Flies by, overhead,
On its way nowhere,
In total disregard.
--JW, Feb 4, 2009.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jostling For Immortality, 2003

Jostling_For_Immortality_2003, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

Jake Boer, of Wheaton College, sent me this poem by Richard Wilbur about Rome:


Those who said God is praised
By hurt pillars, who loved to see our brazen lust
Lie down in rubble, and our vaunting arches
Conduce to dust;

Those who with short shadows
Poked through the stubbled forum pondering on decline,
And would not take the sun standing at noon
For a good sign;

Those pilgrims of defeat
Who brought their injured wills as to a soldiers' home;
Dig them all up now, tell them there's something new
To see in Rome.

See, from the travertine
Face of the office block, the roof of the booking-hall
Sails out into the air beside the ruined
Servian Wall,

Echoing in its light
and cantilevered swoop of reinforced concrete
The broken profile of these stones, defeating
That defeat

And straying the strummed mind,
By such a sudden chord as raised the town of Troy,
To where the least shard of the world sings out
In stubborn joy,

"What city is eternal
But that which prints itself within the groping head
Out of the blue unbroken reveries
Of the building dead?

"What is our praise or pride
But to imagine excellence, and try to make it?
What does it say over the door of Heaven
But homo fecit?"

---Richard Wilbur

To which I briefly respond:


What city is eternal?
What written over
Heaven's gates?
Not "homo fecit."
But other words,
Words formed
On the lips of those,
Whom tasting mercy,
And savoring
A loving God,
Are driven to forge
Words more fitting
To lips that lie,
That kiss in lust,
That must measure
Their mortal frame,
And then utter:
'Solo Dei Gloria."

--JW, for Jake Boer, January 24, 2009

Massimo Greco, Italy's "Feather"

Sorry - Photo no longer available.

Seeing this photo by Flickr's "Massimo Greco, Italy" reminded me of evening moments on the beach at Viareggio, Italy, and prompted these lines:

"A Feather in the Sand"

The mothers and children,
Who played long on the beach,
Have all returned home for supper.
But for the one who lingers,
After the others have gone,
What a gift!
Dappled sunlight,
doing its last dance
Over the waves,
Before moving on,
To bless other people,
In other lands.
The waves, calming
After a busy day,
Full of children's
Voices, splashing
In its waters.
The sand, still warm
Under foot,
Gathered in little
Pockets of shadow,
Where once young
Feet, heaped it
Into sand castles.
And there, left behind,
One solitary feather,
Catching the last glow,
Of sinking sunbeams.

--John Walford, January 24, 2009,
in memory of quiet, evening walks
on the beach, at Viareggio, Italy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Helen 'Rongzoni' of Flickr's "A thickness to the air"...

A thickness to the air..., originally uploaded by Rongzoni.

Helen's work, so sensitive to light, stirs my imagination:

"The Other Side"

Through that alluring gap,
Beyond the bushes,
Lies a world, yet unexplored.
Its light so dense, so blue,
Veiled like a bride,
Before her spouse to be.
Waiting, ready,
For adventure;
Waiting, tenderly.
--JW, 1/12/2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

High fashion shops

High fashion shops, originally uploaded by maurice flower.

Hans (Maurice Flower)'s High Fashion Shops

Hans always has an interesting photograph to share with his Flickr friends, often those of others whom he thinks we should see, and occasionally one of his, as this one. Coming at the New Year, and appreciative of his desire to share what he likes and thinks we will like, I dedicate these few lines to him:

'Behind The Facades"

Behind all the tinsel,
Behind the glowing lights,
Behind the elegant facades,
Inside, what can be found,
But passion, hatred, envy,
Intrigue, and the beauty
Of a couple in love.

--JW, 1/6/2009, for Hans, with best wishes for 2009.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"domido's" ALMOST A KISS... 2009

ALMOST A KISS..., originally uploaded by domido.

"Almost a Kiss" - uploaded to Flickr by "domido," Jan 2nd, 2009

The sparkling radiance of this image inspires in me the following:

When a kiss is not a kiss,
But "almost a kiss,"
The body, full of tremors,
And heated anticipation,
Longs for it, even for a word,
For an open door,
A suggestion,
An invitation,
Not quite extended,
But almost......
Anticipation, hope,
Desire, disappointment,
The senses quivering
Like so may lights,
Jumping and flashing,
As torches blazing
In the darkness.
Almost a kiss,
--JW, 1/2/2008

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shadows Fall on Eden III, 2008

"Shadows Fall on Eden": Reflecting on the moment of transition: 2008-2009:

View On Black

2009 years, but a mere slither in the larger scheme of things. Yet we all continue to yearn in the same old way, to beguile each other as others before us did, to fight each other for what the other has, which we suppose we need more than they do, and few live at peace, either with their inner selves, or with those around them. Most would rather avoid Monday morning, and most are relieved when Friday afternoon comes around, and all have to relieve themselves from time to time. Those are my thoughts as the hand of the clock moves across the midnight hour, on December 31, 2008, and tells me, in twelve clear chimes, than 2009 has now arrived. Little else changes.

My Flickr friend, dou_ble_you, of London, commented on the above:

"beautiful image, confusing message... it's written from a position of somebody who has very established way of life, including secure job. Otherwise, why fear Mondays and enjoy Fridays? the best days in our lives are the ones we can't recall if they were any particular day of the week at all... to live at peace with yourself you must be a madman or a dead man - or an enlightened Buddha... living at peace with the others is a true challenge, which no religious, political or social system seems to be able to achieve. This is what we should be aiming at in the coming and the following years - reach out and let live!

John, my best wishes to you from the bottom of my heart my Friend!!!!"

To which I responded (to him and other commentators):

"Thank you all for these thoughtful, and interesting responses. Yes, dou_ble_you , it is true that I write from the context you describe, but I am attempting to give voice not necessarily to my own sentiments, but to those I find in "Elk" - "Everyman" --much as Bruegel did in his generation. And yes, I write of that to which we all aspire, but never reach, this side of the pearly gates. Thank you, also, UU, for your deeply moving greeting for 2009, which is reciprocated. You have stretched my thinking so many times, which I consider the most precious of gifts that one person can extend to another---even over the internet! '

Which, in turn, brought this rejoinder, from Howard Duncan, another Flickr friend, from Canada:

"John and Andrew (dou_ble_you), Thanks for the interesting contributions. These snatches of thought shared by strangers from around the globe are a tribute to flickr and other similar websites. The world has become a different and better place. Howard"

To which I responded"

"Indeed, Howard, but the same medium allows others to spread terror with far greater speed and efficiency, so there is, as always, a trade off. But, yes, I am very thankful for it, and having gone a full day with a broken internet connection, I know just how addicted I am to the cyber-world--even to turn in my grades."

All this to say, for any who have read thus far, what a great medium we have for stimulating one-another's minds and creativity, finding kindred spirits in far off places, even if where we live and work is far too sterile--as it is in my case.

Wishing all kindred spirits a flourishing 2009, and an end to recession.

Friend connect


John Walford

John Walford
Not All That Meets The Eye

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About Me

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I am a British-born, retired art historian, who taught in the USA; I studied law, in England,1964-68; worked part-time in the art world, 1968-69; then studied art history at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1969-76; completed my Ph.D. diss. at the University of Cambridge, 1981; moved to the States in 1981, and have since written, or co-authored, other books. My wife, Maria, was born in Milan, Italy, where she worked as an interpreter, in business; she spent seven years in Switzerland, at the University of Lausanne, 1963-70. She came to Amsterdam in 1971, and we soon married. She is a wife, mother, literary critic, of Italian (and French) literature, and completed her Ph. D. diss. in 2002, at the University of Chicago, on Cesare Pavese and His Critics. We have three married children, and twelve grandchildren, all of whom we excessively adore! I welcome dialog about art, photography, human behavior, beliefs, and motivation from all comers, regardless of race, color, gender, orientation, values, or beliefs. This is to be a site for words and images, as vehicles of human expression, around topics of mutual interest.

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