Five Poems / Five VISPO – A Collaboration by Samuel Strathman and Michael Orr

The New Beginning

I’m in love with today;
up to my eyeballs
in the blah of Wednesday,
admiring how the blue

and white-collar lapdogs
on the bus
do the sit
instead of the walk.

Tuesday trails behind
in the rear-view mirror, waving.
Hot air leaves the vortex.
A bearded man stares

at me, sniffs his fingers.
Smells like a new beginning
full of potential.
Yesterday’s garbage

has been replaced,
the new skunked shit
dragging me with its fishing rod:
exciting adventures await!

Forgot my book
this morning.
I cup my hands
and pretend.
Abstract melting figures in black w/grey : butterflies music scales, some lettering - the image by Michael Orr is a circle w/ the images centered. There are five drawings. They use black ink, each piece is centred around a piece of masking tape that provides a boundary for above/below and images swirling and falling across and thru the tape.

Rural Winter

Winter hillocks

Hoarfrost fencing

Faded Anthropocene,

The odd duck melded

Against scant storefronts

Temperature’s at a standstill

Caliginous roadways

Feculent black ice

Snowplows churning, tremoring with emotion

Merciful sunbeams poke

Through the midmorning haze,

Optic relief

Abstract melting figures in black w/grey : butterflies music scales, some lettering - the image by Michael Orr is a circle w/ the images centered. The circle is a thick black outline, figure background  is straw coloured.

As the earth drifts further and further apart from itself

I lie down
on a grassy knoll,
stretch my limbs out,
star shaped.

After a few luxurious minutes
of quiet I sit up.
A chipmunk observes me
from a safe distance,

unsure as to what
his next move will be.
“How long have you been watching?”
I ask him.

He turns his back
on me, sidles up
a maple tree,
disassociation for preservation.
This third image is more of a horizontal -- an abstracted landscape/contour map -- an abstracted city/ravine geological

Man of the Valley

Hunger eats away at me,
unforgiving as a silver lake
gnawing at wood.

Tears sting my eyes,
cold rendering the vitreous stars
dim and tired.

A zephyr breezes in,
balsam burning somewhere far off.
I’d have the strength to move

If my stomach wasn’t so porous.
I focus on a haskap, spirit drifting
from my body, turtled in the dewy valley.
This drawing has a more vertical aspect, same geologic, contour energy


Not much on the horizon
other than sitting here
in my cargo shorts
as street animals
pick at the lawn,
butts in the air
like they’re at a rave.

Seniors walk
with their caregivers.
It’s beautiful.
How they glide along
with their arms swinging!
They’ve done their time.
Why should they give two shits
About what other people think?


I wonder what downtown looks like
on New Years’ Eve.
Is it as depressing
as it is during the daytime?

I won’t live long enough
to give these thoughts
room to grow.
Most of the answers
will die in the muck
of this (unfair) city.

I’ll go home
to my East York dwelling,
free myself from all the noise
which feels predatory in my ears.

Then I’ll find a house
in some sleepy town
where every passerby
(not just the elderly)
Strolls by without a care.

I’ll wander among them,
a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Folding sense of upper and lower areas separated by the ubiquitous piece of masking tape. The images weave above and below -- again a sense of melting -- abstract figures, a ravine, old buildings suggested, shadows, liquid. Black ink.

Samuel Strathman (he/him) is a poet, visual artist, and custodian. Some of his work has appeared or are forthcoming in The Scrawl Mag, Kermesse, Juniper and other publications.  He is the author of four chapbooks. “In Flocks of Three to Five” was published by Anstruther Press (2020).  “The Incubus” was published by Roaring Junior Press (2020).  “neon imago” was published by Voice Lux Press (2021).  His most recent chapbook, “Holy Static” was published by Frog Hollow Press (2022).  His debut poetry collection, “Omnishambles” is forthcoming with Ice Floe Press (2023).  He is currently living on the traditional land of the Anishnaabeg people. Twitter: @_strathman

Michael Orr grew up and currently resides in Clarkston, GA, a suburb of Atlanta.  Michael is an intermedia artist, interested in visual poetry, abstract design, experimental comics, poetry, conceptual and performance art.  Michael’s newest book, “Evidence of Absence,” was published by Timglaset Editions (2021). Twitter: @_orzechowski

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