O King of Concrete


O King of Concrete

original poetry
and time-lapse video
by @d-pend


O King of Concrete

You toil for the regency of broken slats:
seething infrastructure your would-be shield,
boiling fields electric, your paltry sabre.

A spontaneous pattering of recognition
emblazons nightfall upon your nervine glade
with a shower of many-pigmented phosphenes.

Hues excluded from society's minimal schemata
flicker through nebulous conceptual webs;
scheme towards the devouring of pray.

you plot beneath an oak.

And I am out of all this;
you figure the algorithms under eaves
of the ghost-house that is my presence.

You struggle for tin adequacy;
outside your wooded sanctuary
there are dirt clots and pitiful spined ivy
carefully kept in a twisted parody of naturalcy
presaging your defeat
under the fleeced blanket of the highway's rumble.

Sleep, Child Prince:
but dread landscaping's eye bats not.
Without a body it turns your shield to mist;
without a mind it embers your blade.

And where is your noble sin-toil now,
while you lay under the half-omniscience
of a slumbering throne of dust?


Writing, images
and video by @d-pend
Feb. 9th,


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And where is your noble sin-toil now,

The power of a question.

"Noble sin-toil" ... good phrase. I'm frequently intrigued by the 'religiously philosophical' allusions in your poetry. That phrase, in a line phrased as a question, strongly impacted me.

A cemetery ... is this the fate of the Garden of Eden ... the origin of 'toil for sin' in exchange for reclaiming Man's nobility?

Poetry "from inside the grave," literally, is not a genre to which I naturally gravitate but the poem does trigger reflection. And this poem demonstrates d-pend's famous/infamous creativity in perspective-taking and metaphor-making.

And now ... the real rambling begins (I'm in fine form today so get comfortable):

Respecting your inquiry about video composition, here's some thoughts (not advice, just things to ponder):

  • In any piece of Art, there is a Figure and a Ground ... hence, the "Figure/Ground Relationship." In the "O King of Concrete" video poem, what is the Figure that you, as the artist, want people to 'foreground.' Is it a city street, busy and bustling with the trivialities of life as your recite a poem about the static musings of the deceased ... in the background? Or, is it the opposite?

  • Clearly, you can see that I immediately zeroed in on one line. Does the visual portrayal force-magnify that essence ... or diminish it by way of distraction?

  • The distinction is important. The Figure is where 'meaning' resides. The 'Ground' provides context.

  • There's substantial Artistic discretion, and consequence, caught up is these questions. You and I have different styles ... you tend to let people find there own meaning while I stick the meaning in their guts like a bayonet. Each has it's own merits/demerits but one of the dangers of your style is that, given that the linguistic-based meaning is often so subtle anyway, visual distraction (especially movement) risks obliterating it completely. Our brains are extremely limited in the amount of stimuli that they can process at any one time.

  • Consider, as an experiment: Setting up a camera in a cemetery, focusing it on the passing traffic in the background (visible through the iron fence) ... but with an out-of-focus tombstone (in the foreground) in the left 1/3 of the screen. Now ... overlay the poem over that visual ... all the while trying not to get arrested for 'Disturbing The Dead.'

  • All you would be doing is changing the Figure/Ground Relationship but I'd bet that that would have a dramatic impact on the way people processed the poem.

Respecting the overlaid words in "Memorial Memoried:"

  • No. No. No.

  • You've written a beautiful sonnet. It has an impeccable structural composition: Meter, rhythm and rhyme scheme. The poem IS THE FIGURE. It needs to be foregrounded.

  • And yet, you've done everything artistically possible to background it as if it were elevator music.

  • Fade in one Whole Stanza at a time (so that people can really take note of the rhyme scheme ... pattern ... dopamine). Use an easy-to-read font with a gravitas befitting the gravitas of both the subject matter ... and the literary skill that it took to write such a poem. Don't employ crazy-assed colors or video-editing techniques.

  • Under the video, provide the static text of the entire poem. No adornment, just the words. The thing with a finely crafted verse poem is that is delivers such a neurological walloping, that it almost necessitates going back and reading it a second or third time to fully appreciate what just hit you. There are just so many 'levels of analysis' and so many cogs turning the teeth of another ... but you, as the poet, want your audience to notice them all.

  • To make the point about Figure-Ground context: Shakespeare's, 'To Be or Not to Be," deals with, arguably, life's most existential question (one currently being experienced by all Steemians). Emotionally, it is poignant. It cannot be recited by someone dressed as a clown. The 'setting' of the recital (context) is extremely important. Nothing must distract from the Figure ... the 'idea, ideal or insight' which Shakespeare seeks to articulate. One does not get to use 'fun-fonts' to depict the words. The Ground is the gravy and the Figure is the meat ... but they must be conceptually consistent.

  • Experimentation in Art has a place. But, keep in mind that 99.99% of it fails. Things become Classics ... for a reason. Some long-dead army of poets 'experimented' with thousands of forms and techniques and eliminated all but a few ... which, for neurological reasons they did not understand, yielded particularly potent effects in their audiences. Things are not accidentally, or incidenatly, beautiful ... 'beauty' has DNA ... a genetic composition. The same can be said for 'meaningfulness.'

  • The analogy I use for the Free Will vs Determinism debate, which I strongly believe applies to all Art ... is Chess. A chess board has a fixed number of squares and pieces. And, there are strict rules that govern the movement that each piece may make. Within those constraints ... there are an infinite number of games of chess that may be played (a lot of them would be pretty boring to get the count up to infinity, but you get the point).

  • Art is the same way. The are F&%!ing Rules (I get tired of ranting about this) ... because the brains of those interpreting it ... operate according to Rules. The post-modern argument that, "Art is anything an Artist says is Art, and an Artist is anyone who says they are," is baloney. It's like arguing that anything you ingest is food. Try eating grass for three weeks to test the hypothesis. Grass works for cows ... because the Rules of their digestive systems are different than the Rules for ours. So, they eat the grass and we eat them. And those are the Rules of Life, because they are the Rules that create it, and sustain it ... an infinite regression of creating Order out of Chaos. Creating Art that contradicts this Reality does nothing to change the realness of the situation.

  • The funadmental element of Art is not warbling of words, pigments of paint nor meanderings of musical melodies. The fundamental element of Art ... is Truths, and, more importantly, how those Truths interact one with another.

  • Some Truths are profound while some are pretty mundane. But they all come together to create a tapestry we call Reality ... and our various interpretations of it. As poets, you and I weave different patterns and our readers contemplate our creations ... wondering which one, if either, or perhaps both, are correct. And, it is those ponderings that, on occasion, triggers transcendence, a state when the figurative exceeds the literal and we glimpse, if only for a moment, something bigger than ourselves.


  ·  작년

Awesome feedback! Thank you thank you thank you! I'll leave a full response soon :-)

  ·  작년

Hi Quill. I've returned for a proper response!

The power of a question.

The power, indeed. And it's quite interesting, because intuitively one might think that statements would generally prove more impactful. And yet that reaching intention implied by a question (even if rhetorical!) has an interesting sort of magnetic effect.

About the "religiously philosophical," as you call it, it is something of an idée fixe within my work that directly stems from my life trajectory from birth to present, which I won't elaborate on here, but is something a lot more—well, "vital," than the merely theological or dogmatic: whose chimeric manifestations generally strike me as hopelessly entangled and grotesque.

And now ... the real rambling begins (I'm in fine form today so get comfortable):

I put my seatbelt on, don't worry :-)

Really enjoyed reading your reminder about fundamental figure-ground perception. It's often the simplest concepts that are the most profound, and the most easily forgotten in the pursuit of excellence. I'm torn, because of the generation in which I was born. Much of the world (particularly the younger portion of the population) is so overstimulated that they do not respond well to anything but the hyperbolic, the intense, the synesthetic.

Do I go for the streamlined, refined, and minimal art that gives the proper space in which to appreciate words? Are the words even supposed to be the focal point, or like the constant meandering of thought, to be shown to just be another relatively insignificant (when taken alone) part of reality en toto? In short, do I want to bring words as a pinnacle, or (crudely stated) purposefully humiliate them, suffocating them with other stimuli such that some tenuous victory over them is asserted?

I particularly loved your feedback about Memorial Mutinied. First, what an absurd video, that. There is something in me that always gravitates to the uncomfortable, the incongruous, the, well—simply "WRONG." There are so many things you said that were spot on, and your example of a more fitting display of the poem itself gave me a new video approach I hadn't considered.

Like I mentioned, I think subconsciously I have this engrained feeling (for good or ill) that 99% don't give a DAMN about poetry. I don't feel particularly bad about creating something that buries the writing if it causes one of them to watch and enjoy when they'd never in a million years read a sonnet. Then again, that can be seen as somewhat fruitless pandering—because in the process of trying to connect with a larger number, I do a disservice to both the piece itself, and the (though perhaps small) core audience that desires to see it in its pristine manifestation.

By the way, the font being used I created from my handwriting. And I hope you'll see the delicious humor that I feel hearing your reaction to it (particularly, "fun font!") It is, certainly, hard to read. Alas, my skills in digital calligraphy-crafting are extremely amateur! I ought to either put in some time there, making a slew of different fonts (which was my original goal, but haven't made it priority) or for a serious piece, just use a noble, clearly-legible font. After all, words primarily function as mental symbols—aside from the aesthetic appreciation of their visual aspect looked at as a form of drawing, that is their primary function.

Your points regarding constrainment paradoxically providing freedom (as per the chess analogy) is a truth that I have to keep in mind literally every time I create. If not, I would NEVER be able to finish a piece, because the rules would simply be none; I would be grappling with infinities evanescent that always slip through the grasp. Thus why I LOVE the sonnet form for its rigid constraints.

As well, you are correct regarding classics being what they are for very specific and even universal reasons. The "rules" are not arbitrary, they're the results of millions of empirical experiments (insofar as Art is Science) and one would be simply foolish to ignore them. Indeed, when ignoring them completely (if that was even possible, because usually the people that assert they are doing that are still reacting against the rule, thus still playing by it) it's rather unlikely one will create much of any real impact on the average person.

At the same time, these rules were only arrived at THROUGH experimentation, so it's also part of an artist's sacred duty to put in their time "sacrificing oneself to the future betterment of the craft." As always, a balance here is so essential, and yet often elusive because of consciousness' inbuilt tendency to self-reify conceptual loops.

Can there be a pithy conclusion to this conversation? Well, probably. But I am either not clever enough, not well-rested enough, or not in an impish enough mood to reduce what equates to a network of quantum portals to an easy completion. Instead, I'm happy to earmark this exchange as something I will continue to ponder, specifically when adapting textual/auditory creations to a visual format. Because I feel, uneasily, like a newborn infant blinded by the rapacious light of the new world into which I have just been thrust.

"If only I could return to the comfortable security of the warm, dark, void which previously sustained my every whim!"— but the Universe knows better than that.


Happy Valentines Day @quill,

I read through your comment and like what you say about Figure/Ground and foreground/background. It is clear when I use paint software I have to choose a foreground and background color. While I am using the foreground color the background color is locked until I switch it. Still as any work in progress I find something new along the way that may become the foreground. The hard part is to decide what to keep and what to throw away.

I agree about experimentation. In the 1990s I did post graduate work and 99.9999999998% of my experiments failed. I threw away so many tissue culture dishes because they were infected. Finally when I did get results none were useful for the target area of study. I could only discover what didn't work. That's the 00.0000000002% I consider a success. When it comes to DNA there are an unlimited number of possibilities and more discovery occurs as more combinations are applied. When I think of true classics they were radical for their time and unacceptable by the F&%!ing Rules. Today they have become the rule.

Yes, their art contains fundamental elements of truth and that's why they were willing to risk being misunderstood, even prison or death. Their books stand today. Their poems are remembered. Their paintings and crafts stand in our mind not because of the craftsmanship so much as what that craft represents.


I wonder what makes a picture art or words art? Would you give this picture a Pulitzer Prize? Something stirred John Filo to leave the safe photography lab room in Kent State and walk out side. When a shot was fired at him he didn't run back but said, "This is why I'm here."

When he looks back on that picture his words today are "Oh my God!"

  ·  작년

By the way, for anyone who chooses to watch the video: do you prefer this form, with no words on the screen, or the style of Memorial Mutinied where the text is synchronized with the video? Just curious to hear some feedback, thanks!

Here's the other video I referenced:


I like the way the video effects match the words in the poem. This one is better without the written word on the screen. However in some cases it is better to focus on the written word itself in the video.

And where is your noble sin-toil now,
while you lay under the half-omniscience
of a slumbering throne of dust?

He sleeps in his sleep.

I think the video and the words are great. They speak to me of the transience and, at the same time, permanence of moments, of the vertiginous supremacy of time that contains and reveals everything.

Your poultry is always full of mystery and writes a very beautiful poem Thank you.

Posted using Partiko Android

  ·  작년

chicken-enigma, arise, and seize thy fateful compliment!

thanks @vickykarma ;-)


I learned poultry writing from observation. I try to pay attention to details. I don't just talk about chickens but what kind of chicken it is. Does it lay eggs or is it a cock? Poultry is more than generalizations and adjectives and adverbs but it is really choosing the exact noun and verb.

You could easily say:

"Why did the corny chicken walk gleefully across the broad cement road?"

But it just doesn't capture the same light as:

Twas a Tyson chicken came cross the road
Old Sammy did tell me heaven forebode
Purdue chickens just don't got the guts to splatter
On the concrete platter



Misepelling in the comments section of a poet ... has consequences. :-)



I'm not sure but I saw it as a direct play on the phrase:

paltry sabre

I am poor at spelling and if I don't have some kind of software to check my spelling then I come up with some strange stuff. I really like this spelling misteak.


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  ·  작년

oh boy, an upvote! wow, thanks!

Once again another trippy video. I'm glad someone is having fun. I can see this poem from nature's point of view. A little frustrated to be paved upon.

From a life's point of view people seem to be moving but are really getting nowhere. In most cases it would be better to just stay still.

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