Poems of the Camera Eye

Toy Camera Exposure Opportunity Falls Dodging Along the Way
Middlegray Monopod Red Hot Chili Peppers
Legitimate Pursuit
Seeing is Believing


Toy camera

If only life could be like that
just blurred at the edges,
slightly out of focus,
a tiny bit fogged,
and those people in your frame
caught looking,
harmless, like cartoon characters,
and the surprises
you couldn’t see
when you snapped the shutter,
guessing at focus, exposure—
how the sun glows softly,
and shadows spread like coffee,
and all life’s multitude of grays
shimmer like silk scarves
and dance in summer’s breeze.



The meter
to adventure,
new ways of seeing
that blur and sharpen,
blend and pop out,
as you decide.
They dance together,
aperture and shutter,
in sensuous samba,
syncopating in time,
sensitive to light.
One leads, the other falls back,
and so create an image
to fit the film
as its speeds though space,
tilting at planets,
waltzing with the sun,
drifting through fog banks,
clouds of whitest snow.
Oh yes, aperture and shutter
dance sinuously
in your blood,
sing in your innermost ear,
flicker in your eye,
so you see ever more clearly
what is not there
until you look
through your lens.

Opportunity Falls

When you drop your camera
and your most expensive lens,
your heart drops with it
onto the pavement
After all,
surely it’s a sign
that your new way of seeing
is too precarious.
Maybe you should listen
to the others,
go back to seeing
what they say
was always good enough,
Trying to photograph a full moon
in a mackerel sky
on an old tri-pod
is tricky at best,
but if there’s a sign here,
it’s about time,
the shock of opportunity
to try something new.
Who knows what speeds
a new shutter drive will find,
what images will focus
in a newer lens.
Just be ready to move ahead
when opportunity falls
at your feet.



Do you see it there,
that dark place,
ruining your pleasant print?

You want shades of gray
with delicate detail,
glowing highlights,
certainly not that hole
into inky blackness.
So you decide to print again,
dodge that dark place
with your hand,
moving quickly, artfully,
to limit light that falls,
and so hold back the blackness
that spreads across your image,
show instead those details
you know are there,
too long ignored.

But your new print
There is no brilliant revelation.
The dark space
seems simply grayed out
muted to inconsequence,
and you see that faint line,
tell-tale sign of moving hand’s
deliberate concealment.

Some dark places
are really dark,
you know,
and what’s in them
can’t be dodged
after all.

Along the Way

Along the way,
a moment shimmers into being,
frames itself
to image where you are.
You see it in an instant,
set aperture and shutter to best expose
the secret unfolding in your lens
in clearest hues of light and shadow.

Some images are signposts,
a mark of where you’ve been,
and others, guides
to where you’ve yet to go.
Destination never was the point,
for any line is many points,
each an opportunity
to stop
and turn
and look at what you find,
and what finds you,
along the way.
It only matters how
—not when or where,
or even what—
you see.

With each exposure
grows an attitude of seeing
not the surface,
but the light
which opens,
pulsing from the center.
These mages together
make a luminous arrangement,
a constellation to brighten midnight skies
for those you’ve met,
and known,
and loved
along your way.



Most of life is lived
in middlegray,
that range of tone
where tone is inoffensive.
Photographs gather more—
the highlights and the shadows,
those brightest joys,
and darkest sorrows,
which rely on middle gray
for reference,
but exceed its scale.
The trick is finding
where middlegray
must fall
into your composition—
so that your whites are bright,
and shadows darkly clear.

I look out at mountain peaks
against a clear blue sky,
where sunlight shadows
canyons dark and deep.
Middlegray I choose to set
squarely where I stand,
so I can show detail
at both the darkest
and the brightest in my view—
my image not so light
that snowy peaks
spin off, get lost in whiteness,
not so dark
that canyon loses texture,
and you can’t see
those shallow steps
etched into sheer cliff
to bring you from
that downward path
back up again.

Middlegray holds me steady,
centers vision,
as long as I remember
to look above, beyond it,
place it carefully
in the world I see.


From the mountains
my monopod remembers
how to keep me upright
along the way.
It’s not a ladder
or a cane,
but a slender fulcrum
to align each step,
place my axis
on the earth’s
so I spin in orbit all my own
yet centered in
the life around me.
I follow steepest grades,
loose stones beneath my feet,
past sharp rocks,
holes that open into chasms,
narrow passageways,
along switchbacks.
I balance on a narrow log,
plant my monopod
on the far side.
Then in a flash
it holds my camera
as a scene focuses around me.
Camera clipped on top,
foot braced at bottom,
I see the world
center in my eye,
edges pulsing back
till I hold all light and shadow,
framed and still.

I fire the shutter,
feel it sing in my blood,
hum in my ears,
till image fades,
and my hand turns cold
around my lens.
My camera stowed,
I carry on,
find an anchor
in each step
as best I can.

I believe in what I see,
how the power in my eye
links me like a lens
to a petal unfolding,
snow sparkling on mountain peaks,
tree rocketing towards the sky,
leaves dancing in the wind.
My monopod roots, blossoms,
holds my camera,
holds me steady.

Here in the flatland,
and low lying valleys,
I remember
to tread carefully,
plant myself firmly,
camera ready
at each moment
along my way.


Red Hot Chili Peppers

So what if the chilis are plastic
and the sun made of tin!
As it grows skyward.
you may see a tree bear
all kinds of fruits
if you look carefully.
Heed this reminder to
spice your life
with the unexpected,
even though it may
blister your tongue,
for a time,
with what’s new to your system.
And look for the sun
wherever you are lucky enough
to see it shining
in the most unlikely skies.
Emblems are everywhere
along your way,
if you have eyes
ready to read—
what is already written
in the language of your own heart.
So be on the look out
for what may be
or left—
in front
of your eyes,
as it may lead you
straight ahead
to where you need to go.

Legitimate Pursuit

In pursuit
of what?
The cars ahead must know—
We’re on the same road,
heading somewhere.
If you go slow enough,
they disappear around the bend,
the road ahead looks to be your own,
even though your own
may seem too vague a destination.

Surely we’re meant to follow
a wider road than private joy,
our actions taking meaning
from beyond what you can see
on your own horizon.
So go solve some problem!
Discover a vaccine,
cure cancer,
teach the ignorant.
That common good:
it seems to fuel your vehicle,
map your route,
keep you steady.

But what about
these fleeting moments
of singular delight?
The power of such joy
cannot be denied,
or the fire quenched,
when burning hot,
it sets the night aglow.

So I look up
through my sun roof
to catch sight
of trees soaring skyward,
needles gleaming gold.

What is up,
I decide,
is mine,
as much as
what is head
is a pathto be shared.
I catch up
to those cars ahead,
but leave my sun roof
to the sky.

Seeing is believing

Seeing is believing
or so the saying goes,
but it may be the other way around.
In order to see.
you must believe,
because your horizon fits
around your view
of who you are.
So don’t be afraid
to believe you can do great things—
or at least more than you think you can—
and mountains will push back,
lakes deepen with reflections
of trees aflame with gold,
and snow drifting against
brilliant blue skies
till you can’t tell
which is simple reflection,
because everything you see sharpens
into brilliant hues of light and shadow.
Don’t let fears frame
your world too small;
the widest horizon
can be revealed,
in even the smallest detail,
if you only have the courage
to see
with your own eyes.

The Case for Poetry

So what if your poems are
not profound at all?
if what seems to you so perfectly phrased
is just run of the mill thinking,
and those mysteries,
you see in trees and flowers
really don’t need asking?
What if you’re just
a lower case bard?

What’s the point anyway
of writing what you think about?
Most people would rather
just get on with it,
not have you waste your time
at the keyboard.
Heart says,
Who decides
what questions should,
or should not,
be asked?
What yardstick is the one to measure thoughts?
What clock should tick
your minutes into hours,
move your hands
in circles numbered only up to twelve?

What about how you feel
when fingers dance along the keys,
thoughts sparkle in your blood,
breath moves warm and easy,
and your jaw relaxes,
freed from saying
meaningless things,
and lips part
into a smile
that reaches all the way down
to your toes.

Case dismissed!

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Goddess poems
| Circus poems

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| Red Dress, Place Vendome | on the road poems

Yosemite poems |Ghost Ranch Companion

 © 2005, Lenore Horowitz