Desert Flow
Art by Adrián Caldera
Poetry by Charlotte Hart
78 works of abstract digital art
78 poems in English ~ 78 poems in Spanish
Published by Cloud Hands Press
US price $30, ISBN: 978-0-9861649-0-6
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Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

Cloud Hands Press has outdone itself with its latest gem. Desert Flow is a collaborative project featuring creations by abstract digital artist Adrián Caldera paired with poems by Charlotte Hart. Although, a student of ekphrastic poetry, I was unprepared for the challenge presented to my sensibilities by Caldera and Hart. My goal, in this review, is to capture some of their synergy as each artist’s work bears the footprint of the other. They talk to each other in art and poetry which flows like a desert in bloom from hearts nourished by love.

Charlotte Hart’s introduction and Ethan Plaut’s foreword helped me understand the genesis and development of Desert Flow. Seemingly, by chance, (I don’t believe in chance, by the way), Hart saw a Caldera digital creation on Twitter in the spring of 2018. Her unsolicited response to Caldera’s work began a long exchange of art and poetry. They have never met and, so far as I can tell, have no plans to meet. Caldera resides in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; Hart lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Caldera’s rich colorations within his near-genius abstract creations moved Hart, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. In her words, Looking at his beautiful colors and widely varying shapes gave me a door into my inner life. Let’s discover together some of the delights on the other side of the door.

Can’t Wall the Sky

This sunlight moment
takes me with great speed
over long distances,
very gently, very kindly,
to the house we have built.

A four-dimensional
hypercube home
that casts a
three-dimensional shadow
the endless parameters
of our lives:
the splendor of all
no moment small
in the slow smile
of our days
in this world
of change and commotion,
we are secure
five senses

I’m moved by the way Hart takes shades of sun, couples them with lines suggesting distance, movement and dimension, then merging with some of life’s most important heart-feelings.

I Thought It Was You

My heart leapt out of my chest
and beat furiously in the air.

I touched the tarnished silver tube
holding the rolled prayer.
I opened the door and went in.

No, you were not.

Remembered kisses
exquisite pleasure
sensation of yearning
for my treasure
delirium of my disbelief!

Your colors and shapes flew
burnished red, rue and indigo
from the bare branches of my mind.

Your brazen spirit
burst meteor bright tonight
in me
then left me alone.

Hart’s testimony (see my opening) to Caldera’s art opening a door to my inner life, takes shape in this poem. How precisely a work of art breathes life into the human spirit is best left to the individual to know and explain. Perhaps this is what Wallace Stevens once referred to as the “Angel of reality.” What Stevens meant was the ability of poetry to lay bare the poet’s “brazen spirit.” To bring forth variegated colors of life and their latent emotions … emotions that “beat furiously in the air.”

My Love Will Live Forever

Unseen as currents
in the air and sea,

See the seeds and spores
floating in wind,
and the iridescent plankton
illuminating the shore?

Every word we said,
every smile,
every kiss and tear
flow hidden, fresh,

Hart’s poetic style flows from deep within. As demonstrated by “My Love Will Live Forever.” Hers is a poetry that is disarmingly simple on the surface. Don’t let this fool you. Each word belongs. Each word is irreplaceable. Poetic devices such as sibilance, alliteration, and wise end-line decisions are consistent hallmarks. Rhymes are occasional and usually interlinear. Her cadences are rhythmical and delight the ear with the musicality of words.

The Will of the River

goes in its golden flow.
You know it’s
shimmering touch.
The currents carry you,
sunlight submissive.
You are the boatman
the boat
the river
the flow
the going
anything can show.

This poem captures, for me, the essence of relationship between Caldera’s abstract digital art and Hart’s poetic responses. Within the poet’s contemplations of the art, I sense her love of color and energy within the paintings themselves. These resemble dormant desert blooms, already present, but needing water from the poet’s pen to bring them forth.

Just as the river has a will of its own, Caldera and Hart’s, Desert Flow blooms with synergy, once we allow, as did Charlotte Hart, his beautiful colors and widely varying shapes to open the door to our inner lives.


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