Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tip of the Knife, Issue 16





Crag Hill
Ali Znaidi
Massimo Stirneri
Leon 5
Francesco Aprile
Carl Baker
Bill DiMichele

Crag Hill

I read a story once about a woman who, under the influence of ether, realized she was a cobblestone on the path of God.  As our deity reaches her spot on the path of lightning, the pain becomes both unbearable and terrible.  I love Crag’s work because it’s also on the path, unbearable and powerful, but he doesn’t need the ether.

The works are elusive but compelling- images from the negative universe –a rising solar flare visible a trillion light years away- the scratching of chalk on a blackboard- and there’s an amazing blazing fractured multicolored aleatoric composition that could be hieroglyphics, or Joseph’s multicolored coat, or a curled up period of eleven subatomic dimensions.

Crag and I began our studies together in the city at Graphic Reproduction and in his apartment on Ivy Drive; and now he’s moved on. He’s a doctor, he and Laurie have two children and his virtual vispo work is what I most want to read.

 And he’s a long way from Oaktown.

Battle of the Digits

Chalk Talk


Paris Blue

Ali Znaidi

Ali’s work is an asemic dance, three interconnected shapes like the three lines of a floating haiku.  It’s a seascape with shiny pebbles and beach umbrellas. There are sand castles rising from the shore, aiming for that Sunday blue sky above us all, for those playful children enjoying cotton candy and drawing pictures with driftwood.  I love the soul Ali empties into the depths of the ocean, the swimmers riding peaceful currents, doing a high dive, dallying with mermaids among their coral language homes.

Ali Znaidi (b.1977) lives in Redeyef, Tunisia where he teaches English. His work has appeared in Mad SwirlStride MagazineRed FezBlazeVox, Otoliths,streetcake, & elsewhere. His debut poetry chapbook Experimental Ruminationswas published in September 2012 by Fowlpox Press (Canada). From time to time he blogs at – and tweets at @AliZnaidi.

 an asemic haiku

Stop! It's the beach. An Asemic Writing

The Drowning K An Asemic Writing

Massimo Stirneri

It’s the contrast here that excites me, interrelated text and picture- one grouping shows a telescope looking up at the heavens seeing some kind of oddball calculus with a text that says AH!  OOOOOOOH!! (I say oddball but I’m definitely not the person to judge any mathematical works.  For all I know it really is math or ubermath, or Minkowski’s four dimensional math).  Strange algebraic formulas are accompanied by collaged images of nudity (looking back to the telescope and making a play on heavenly bodies).  You’ll also see twisted playing cards, a giant hash tag and one crazy ass tattoo.

Comics 01

Comics 02

Comics 03

Comics 04

Comics 05

Comics 06


Leon’s body is truly expansive; the parts are in some way connected, in some way disconnected, and we’re looking out and looking in.

This body is more than just a corpse, more than a coroner doing an autopsy.  Leon leads us deep into the depths of life, or its opposite if you prefer.  Crumbling attics, broken windows, layered graffiti become parts of a body/building aging gruesomely (All the individual pieces have great impact, and with names like hair, heart, mind, etc. he makes his objective clear). 

The building began its life as an orphanage, then it became a boys’ detention home; probably not the ideal environment for growing up.

Leon 5 reconciles building and body; the last piece shows a door bursting with radiance.  I think that means there’s still a chance for that old building.







Francesco Aprile

 Aprile’s work comes alive, exploring the unword (or unworld); it may not communicate in a traditional manner but  it does use a random motion, a random meaning, a random growth to twist communication from beyond, to reach some beautific height.  Looking at the pieces themselves, we see a high contrast world  that secrets a black and thorny path through the woods where glyphs whisper to midnight nymphs that play hide and seek where the pixies dance.  One aspect of Aprile’s work is the masterful use of white spaces.  In photo 2 there are small gates (on the Monongahela River there are depth control buildings called locks).  These locks hugging the river's edge are accelerators, hungry for space and force.

You know what they say, white is the new black.   

Carl Baker

These multi-mutating letters not only orient themselves in a traditional format, they go beyond. Some letters keep their feet.  Images speed up, slow down, tug on each other, creating a dynamic that’s ecstatically dizzying.  Knife 4 is organized along a skinny white grid with the strangest little washed out connectors.

Knife 01 is like a Martian alphabet saying something about hyperspace travel, about mixing an extraterrestrial elixir.  Many letters are similar, like our own alphabet (P & R, O&Q).  These shapes are tight, and I think they love each other.

Then there’s a medieval map with a photo contact strip stretched across the top. Sepia toned borders give the piece a feel of the Santa Maria.

But before we arrive at the New World, there’s a dragon to conquer- we all have one of those.   





Bill DiMichele


I really dig iced tea, all shapes, all sizes.  If you see me at home, chances are I’ll be wandering around in my underwear carrying a glass of strawberry tea. 

So it’s not surprising that I was drinking Lipton while my son and I were building a model car. I was concentrating on the model (mostly because I suck at it), so I put my glass down beside me.  When I reached for it, I was amazed to see Alice come alive in my peppermint tea; I saw her go through the mirror; I saw backward poems; I saw the Red King’s dream and how it would annihilate us all; I saw chess pieces twist and warp in interstellar space; all of these things reminded me of how the gravity of a massive star bends light and how a glass filled with tea bends letters lines and words.

Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?







Send submissions for TOK 17 to  Submissions are due by Labor Day, 2014.  The theme is self portraits.


  1. Dear Bill DiMichele,

    Thank you very much for publishing my work.& many thanks for commenting on it.

  2. Another great issue, Bill. I was taken with Ali's "Stop! It's the beach. An Asemic Writing," too. In fact, I stole it for re-use at my blog. I like your take on it: mine so far is very nebulous, but I also see the same theme there as you. I think of Klee--expecially the way an merely nice picture takes off because of its title!

    Bob Grumman