Painting with Poetry

Art in all its dynamic forms and flavors interests me. This blog series highlights multimedia art and artists who have the power and conviction to enhance our lives. This will include art made by children and teens.

My good friend and psychologist, Russ Messing, revives the essence of Renaissance man. He creates and sheds light in myriad ways. An outstanding poet, Russ, in his book of poems, “A Convergence of Unanticipated Consequences,” lifts earthly experiences into another realm, “soul-spirit” I call it, and  he gives us the language to feel at home in both places.

In a PBS special, Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, speaks about poetry as an art that expresses the inexpressible and the poet, one who seeks to speak the unspeakable nevertheless. Soulful and human, Russ’ poems are both personal and universal. We breathe the same air while Russ tells what our hearts know but do not say, honors implicitly our own biographies—different stories but filled with like joys and sorrows uncluttered and complicated.

Often humorous and witty, sometimes serious and sad, all emotions elegantly merge as Russ arranges sounds of life uncensored. His words, playful and plaintive, touch the core of us. Expressing experiences so close, yet so hard to give a voice to, this poet tries and does it for us.

The art of lifting the physical into the spiritual, (my personal take on it), is felt in “Reunion.” In a poignant ode to loved ones who have died, Russ makes a hopeful connection for us. He does it divinely while his feet stay on the ground. The images, the voice, the conversation is achingly real. We see the tender view as we are invited into this intimate scene; we are there, perhaps with our own families and friends. We sense something true that makes us want to read on, feel on. His words see and name what is possible. They allow us to imagine a connection to a love that is never lost. A love we can still have a conversation with. Remembering specifics from a life shared, we turn to a new kind of dialogue altogether. Russ makes this happen—without pretense, always with artistry. His poetry is magical and alive.

Printed with permission of Russ Messing are a few lines and verses from “Reunion.” Do read!  For more of Russ’ poetry or this collection:

The author can be contacted at: [email protected]

…the family plot–grandparents, parents,
my younger sister, my first son.
…Breathing slow, I let go my shoulders,
say “Hi”, and wait for I don’t know what.
Underground and above it, too, we
seven meet, in some fuzzy undulation.

I put down my ham and cheese sandwich,
take a sip of soda to slow things up,
think I should have brought some to share,
like any good guest would have done.

It’d be good to start a conversation,
but I’d have to make up all the parts…
so I turn to monologues: stuff abut the kids,
my job, that I’m still in love, how I miss each of them.

But it’s not enough. I want more and ask:
What’s it like down/over/up there?
Are the stories true? Then, yow! a whir,
a shuffling, a breaking through, some low-throat “Hi’s.”

There, that’s better. They wait their turn
like I was taught…

Someday I hope someone will sit over me,
another link in this chain, maybe bring a penny,
tuck it down on top, then bring me up to speed,
tell me a joke or two, then wait for me to tell one back.

Copyright Russ Messing 2014