A Review of Marianne Moore and Joseph Cornell

“124 was spiteful.”

In the opening line of Beloved, Toni Morrison poses a question within a statement. “Who or what is 124 and who or what drives their spite?” However simple or complex, the author need not be living, for it is by the reader’s will they may seek to explore a meaning meant or assumed.

With any work, there exists the possibility that the entry point provides a certain risk. For example, while the first sentence of any given work is but a rat-sized door into Wonderland, it does not imply exemption from dangerous and/or comforting encounters. By fitting through the door- that is, reading beyond what the keyhole provides, the reader undertakes the journey of interacting with the curiosities of reason and riddle.

In approaching Moore and Cornell, there is bounty in simplicity- which is to say, the very lines of an ‘H’ as written in cursive or calligraphy communicate a message beyond what the eye can sense. As written by a writer with Parkinson’s, ‘H’ is a triumph of mental calisthenics, actualized by two opposing poles that persevere to form a jolting jot. To a toddler, ‘H’ is a rite of passage into the uncharted waters of school. To Moore, ‘H’ is a nostalgic Nyquil, and to Cornell, it is a stopwatch stew.

In Moore’s works, there is a consistency in returning to nature, which some might say is a labor of love driven by curiosity for the predictable unknown. It’s a portrait of Alice’s sense wrestling with antigravity and clawing for conditions that escape her control. It’s pelicans in the paragraphs and the turning of the tide-like pages that spew out storied shells. Moore’s words failing or succeeding to reel in her audience largely depends on what each reader has an appetite for or by sheer environment, has been raised to respond to.

With Cornell, much is the same, but different, in the sense no two birds are entirely alike. And how appropriate too. By placing plumes in a box, we reduce a wide wind to a can of bottled air. Ingest at your own will and question what nutritional properties they serve. In a phrase, we’re left with a longing to chip the resin of time and record the hypothetical conversations of people just like us. His dream boxes are as they sound: windows into a world both familiar and foreign, interpreted as having the meaning meant or assumed.

I know of myself, Cornell’s works had an almost phantom-like pull (A boxed I Spy, if you will). Something about an age gone by. I was reminded of my grandparents’ lemon bush and the time I laminated its leaves as to make a bookmark my grandfather may or may not have used. Gifted right after they sold their house and moved into an assisted-living facility, I watched as my material memory continued to age inside its plastic coffin. To me, the experience of looking at a Cornell was deeply personal. I remembered what the lemons used to be. By the time JP stopped terrorizing me and Lexie with baseball-sized citruses and Nana was too tired to make fresh lemonade, I came to its coffin to claim the leaves of youth. I saw in Cornell, the need to page-press these living memories. As if hitting ‘replay’, I was comforted by the reel of repeating breath. Though willows weather and new families move into the nests we discard, Cornell remains my lemon bush-the reminder that change is only temporary and heaven is the home I seek.

love, poem, poetry, prose, Uncategorized

Paper-thin Parchment

When I was six,

I crafted a heart from glue and loose glitter

on a morning, too far gone from now.

At an age, where a cow

jumped over the moon

and sung of spoons I had yet to bend

on plates, fated to be shattered by falling stars.

Dear six-year-old me,

trapped between the blank slate and the final stare,

don’t pay that blue much mind.

When you find

paper-thin parchment just so easily tears,

my prayer is that you’ll use that same-colored crayon

to construct a kaleidoscope

based on the wonder you’ve been told

and the colors you have yet to see.

Today, my heart broke,

which is to say for you,

it is just beating.

May this glue be your assurance that some things stick

despite the years

and wear on the hands that press red into the folds.

-A. Struthers


Diary Entry


Based on ‘Pacific Telesis’ by Mark Kostabi. Started 2:56 my dorm April 18th. Finished April 19th at 9:56am. In my dorm.


In the fishbowl by my bed

sprouts a school of poppies,

bending their brims towards the centered stem.

Nicknamed ‘Dreamcoat’,

the tallest pupil blooms blessings in the soil,

yet by his toil,

is cut and cast into the waste.

Shame none in that bowl like the taste-

of that which thrives in equaled waters.

Time can only tell, when the poppy is siphoned from the shavings,

if the stems will turn towards the petals they hurled into the hole.

-A. Struthers

faith, miracle, poem, poetry, rhyme, rhyming, Uncategorized

And God So Spoke a Miracle

And God so spoke a miracle

that answered every prayer,

to show me of His mercy

molding tender loving care.

For over sixteen seasons, I waited for a sign

that came in but a gesture mild, but ever so divine.

And God so spoke a miracle

that healed a broken heart

which gave the mind its luster back

to sing His salve through Art.

-A. Struthers

poem, poetry, Uncategorized

A Letter to William

All we know is that she was from Smyrna

And like mother, was a teacher.


Who gave birth to two boys

and was wed to a writer like me.


I was told

that before her photo was stolen,

she looked like you.

Which is to say, you are a walking remnant of the family I may never know.


When Americans adopt babies, they never imagine the consequences of separating

siblings for the sake of some image

and how in building a family,

they break the one that’s left behind.


When eyes move about a city that has crossed strangers tied to their own blood

the sounds of celebrations remind me of my phantom philia

and the life I could live

if I knew more about the woman from Smyrna.

-A. Struthers

artist, poem, poetry, Uncategorized

Diary Entry 45:

I apologize for the hiatus from entries. Last week, I was driven to the ER and flown out to the Bay Area for medical testing. As I’m no longer in pain and was prescribed medication, I am heading back to university this Sunday. Am very thankful. Much has happened since then.

Based on ‘In the Grass’ by Arthur Hughes.



Sing to me of scarlet skies and I will paint you a valley,

sealing your sigh in my wind.

One, where on topaz mornings,

I might look out onto restless waves

and see in their rise,

a reason why my heart skips stones.

Or on evenings

when she speaks of thrones,

no rose can compare to a queen of floral reign

when the knights they hail

pause to kiss the hands for which they live and die.

Oh then,

might you and I

brand our blush with the hue we call our passion,

and fashion a love that reminds us of our roots.

-A. Struthers

poem, poetry, Uncategorized

Diary Entry 43:


Based on ‘Woman with a Parasol Facing Left’ by Claude Monet.

8:32. Finished 9:39. In my dorm.


Here, Besides

In cleansing a pigment-encrusted brush,

who turns their nails to scrape the clay-colored sands

and play with the corals that sprout from a cup of clouded sea?

Where blue bonnets can be,

who dares to wash a wonder that is a window of time

gazing into a glass-eyed girl

or stands to part the ochre shades

that exhale into a robin wind?

-A. Struthers