Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Altered Book started - White Crosses

I have a copy of a book "White Crosses". It's being altered to show a poem I wrote which is later in this post. I'll be posting pics as the book progresses in case you'd like to watch the process. It's still very much in the formative phase. Not much to show yet. I had an AHA moment, when I started to lay out the poem inside - I found words and phrases in the first chapter that worked as "found text". Just a few. Just enough.

So the book will be in three parts. First the found text portion (which was not something I planned, but something I lucked into). I'm drawing a highway on each page. The backs of the pages have been reinforced with masking tape, since they will get handled and I didn't think they would hold up without some kind of product to strenghten them. Then I painted over the tape. You can see the pages here.

The second section of the book will be my poem with images and who knows what! I'm playing with my favorite photo, using it upside down, right side up, color, black and white, and negative. The strength of this book will be the words (the message). Simplifying the use of images will help maintain that. I'm thinking of just using a raven, various crosses, perhaps a statue of a mourner, a black graphic hand, and the tree. And the highway theme will run through it in some subtle way, if I can think how to do it.

The third section will be a niche in which I will try to make a tree from a branch and put a little white cross on it to look like the tree in my photo. And maybe some dried flowers crushed around it. I work pretty organically, without very firm plans, because the books often take me in a different direction than I started - and usually those changes are for the better.

This is a draft of the poem. The Shrine at the Side of the Road. Copyright 2009 Janene Ford

Driving along a country road
on a sunny afternoon
without a care in the world
happily humming a little tune
as if nothing could interfere.

I know this road.
I've passed this way before.

The miles speed by
as my mind leaves the road
and drifts back and forth through time.
Thinking about all those yesterdays
and what I'll cook for dinner tonite.

a yellow sign
an arrow bent
reduce speed
sharp curve ahead

I see it there
by the side of the road
a white cross nailed to a tree
A shrine for a youth
whose path ended here
stopped by the black finger of fate.

It could have been me.
I've passed this way before.

In his old pickup truck
with a six pack of beer
his life suddenly snatched away.
He lost control
as he rounded the bend
and sped headfirst to his doom.

The impact! The crash!
His truck is now trash.
Broken glass, broken head,
pronounced DEAD!

It could have been me.
I've passed this way before.

How many lives were shattered that night?
How many people mourn?
How many tears were shed
for the brother, the friend, the son?

Nothing can be said,
nothing can be done.
That's the hardest part.
Nothing is slower to heal
than the hole in his mother's heart.

I say a little prayer
for the soul of the one who died
and the lives that were wrenched
by the tragedy,

as I zip past the sad little shrine -
that could have been mine -
had the black finger pointed at me.

I have passed this way before.

I'll pass this way again.

Two young men whose deaths were caused by driving under the influence a few years apart , and whose families I'm close to motivated my writing this. I pass both sites every few weeks. I wanted to express the feelings of the families, and at the same time, connect it to my feeling that I need to be more conscious of the road as I travel so I won't be up against a tree myself some day. I tried to weave both my fears and my sorrow for the loss of these young men through the poem. Please let me know if you think it works.


  1. I love the title and the topic. The poem is fabulous ... all works together so well and the book is fantastic.

  2. Your poem is very good. It really paints the total picture. So sad, how many times have we heard this story...