Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tip of the Knife, Issue 23


Angela Caporaso
John Mingay
Peter Ciccariello
Mark Russell
Peter Davidson
Sheila Murphy
Bill DiMichele




mIEKAL has given us two pieces, both of them far beyond puzzle makers, gimmicks, and typical mundane visual poetry. There’s an opener and a closer, both super strong. In the opener, “lililily”, mIEKAL creates a multidimensional space of flowers, reeds and willow wands where organics pass through each other, where lines of force carry creation outward like the big bang.  It’s illuminating, expanding and infinite. The closer, “typillation”, is the opposite, harsh and unremitting, playing off of the opener, light and heavy, motion and stillness, positive and negative. This frightening metal fa├žade of typewriter bars and tarnished letters is ready to crush you upon striking, reminding me of the gates of some “abandon hope all ye who enter here” prison or underworld, a cage for the soul. It puts us into a post-industrial freeze, shoving itself through the picture plane at us, typing a language beyond our intellectual capabilities, and taking up the entire frame so that we have no exit.

Angela Caporaso

Angela stocks the shelves with surreal household objects, strange bottles and bowls collaged and hand painted looking like kitchen mummies. I suspect, however, that the creative process begins long before that; it begins with making decisions about bottle shape and size, choosing the perfect curves to fit her project. Each piece is a multi-media feast with white lines of force and magnetism, reminding me of ancient maps and hieroglyphs. You’ll find detritus, like cut out eyes and random numbers hanging around adding accents. There are women’s names glued down like ransom notes, there are collaged pictures of women with purpose bringing the items to life. 

John Mingay

John has created a world of mazes, of confusion, sadness and revelation. He fires out combinations of black and white, creating compositions of high contrast power. He mentions “a thousand miles”, as if this is the distance one would have to travel to reach the other side. There are all kinds of mazes, jagged, spiral, geometric, even the charcoal and ash maze of “Not the time to leave”. The verbiage in this piece is great, cross referencing images with phrases like “now is really not the time to leave” and “better wait”; this makes a nice connection of verbal/visual elements, each a foil for the other and each giving new kinds of readings including eye and mind and maybe a soul searching for itself.  

Peter Ciccariello

Peter has always been able to twist reality; I think even he is surprised at the fantastic results sometimes (fantastic meaning unrestrained imagination). His strange psychic flotsam and jetsam fill the picture frame with internet chiaroscuro like a warped Post Theory Rembrandt.  There are wooden gears opening onto some dark corridor; dolls with hands thrust through some creature’s gut; letters and words like snakes, squirming and crawling, impossible to hold onto for very long. This is where perversity becomes angelic, where claustrophobia becomes release. Sometimes he scares me, but the fear is outweighed by the revelations.

Mark Russell

“Nothing’s happening”- this phrase appears in the first of his collages, not once but twice. This piece is composed of numerous overlapping photographs, some black and white (largely a record of wartime imagery) and some color (mostly currency). But despite the apparent shuffling, all is still; “Nothing’s happening” even when the individual photos show motion, on a higher level, none exists. I love the tiling aspect and how the alignment with the edges is so tight; this sets up an internal rhyming that makes it all worthwhile. Then there are two pieces that show city scenes filtered back with ribbons creating a lattice of observation. Ribbons of light? Steel? A geometric force? Higher consciousness interpreting the world? Maybe some of these things. Maybe none. Don’t care. It’s a revolutionary view of what we call the world. His last piece is humorous- have fun.        

Peter Davidson

Peter has created an interesting way to see/read poetry in this Post-modern world, the world of redundancy. Words are chosen for having 5 letters, then they’re divided into 2 lines like on the first day of creation when God separated the dark from the light. Peter divides his words with a surgical accuracy, 2 letters on top and 3 below. These one word poems have multiple functions- the original word is still there, and this gives us a toehold on the rest of the work, on how the system operates. Not only can we read the cards as one word, but I became interested in reading them across, top to top and bottom to bottom creating a beautiful new language nonsense. I’ve not seen this particular system of thought before, and it’s hard, if not impossible to create something new these days.

Sheila Murphy

Sheila’s work is both thought provoking and exciting. I especially like the phrase “eternity awhile”- I was deathly afraid of the concept of eternity when I was a child. In my prayers I would ask god to put me to sleep for “awhile” so eternity wouldn’t be so hard to bear. I read myself into her words, “Lone cry between knowns”, and that gives me at least a little consolation. She makes, she takes, she chooses. Anyway we all ‘make’ for the purpose of seeing our work as if someone else had created it. Sheila should be proud, her making is captivating. She has a great command of language, a gift for looking at words and phrases, flying through permutations and possibilities, and landing on the perfect bullseye. Some of the individual sections have 2 lines, some 3 or 4. Rhythms vary, meanings are strung across the poems like shirts on a clothesline. Example:

Cures hum
by fracture
past each tone

Is it only me or is there an actual sound coming from this? And finally, we’ll take a look at her last lines:

Things hinged
to no ideas

That’s a good thing, right?


Angela Caporaso


kau cleo


red kauffmann


John Mingay

From Here

Peter Ciccariello

cave of words redux TOK


Vanitas vanitatum omnia

wordbodyimage II


Mark Russell


london bus


the trouble with my editor

Peter Davidson

Poem 641

Poem 950

Poem 951

Poem 957

Poem 967

Sheila Murphy


I stand here in the scenery
and plagiarize the sun.

A sparrow punctuates eternity awhile.
In all my days, I have not settled inference.

The canal seems blond enough to worry me.
The height of cars without a speck of snow.

In-urgency made wholesome breaks the trail.
Want to go to bed night when we're young?

The wholesale battery of tests 
will render maleness a delirium.

And false bread may remand 
the curvature of spine to brave the brine.

This many forecasts put to work must be rerun.
The only way we'll know is to have dunned

the upper-ups who run the place plaid.
Routinely default to incubate a pseudo-lockdown. 

She innocents my protective thin
endearments of out-
reach, I grow thin as vines.
retrieved from long lines

of indifference
miming an affection
penciled in to squares thought sacred
as an eminence

primed with plumage
that won't count,
as honoraria thumb west,
where ripe adventure

graces limbs responding
to light wind
then bocce balls of thunder
cracking mindful nest.

Come quiver
as I spring
into protective

Please pass the lariat,
I will string up
for the big fill

coming: deer

Whose quiet is
your mention
fluently my dreams
those sly . . .


forced to
gather is

this posse
food truck taste

a rim shot
at the moon

through to

Wind Wood

shucks reeds
by reasoned
blade work

cures hum
by fracture
past each tone

nasality the
lone cry
between knowns

from handmade stalk
of breath
beyond the walkway


by the grace of . . .
just outlive abstraction

a pen brush of
epistemology forms

taste touch smell
from fumes of chem-fruit

things hinged
to no ideas

Bill DiMichele

Spectrum 7

Spectrum 10

Spectrum 12

Spectrum 3

Spectrum 4

Spectrum 6


TOK is hosting a one-time only haiku mag called NOW. Any and all types of haiku are invited. Send as many as you like and we’ll let the Lord of Poetry sort it all out. Due by Mayday.

Accepting submissions for TOK #24, 3 slots left. Send submissions to Due by Mayday.  


  1. bill: i like your pieces, just on the edge....what size are they?

    best steve p.

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