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Pattie Palmer-Baker

Pattie Palmer-Baker

Five Fundamental Forces

An artist and poet, Pattie Palmer-Baker creates collages of her poetry using calligraphy and paste paper. Paste paper is an ancient decorative technique where paints are mixed with specially made paste on wet paper. Pattie creates and then cuts specific shapes and images to illustrate her poems written around the edges of the artwork. Her calligraphy is based on the 8th-century Carolingian letterforms established by Charlemagne in the latter part of the 8th and early 9th centuries.

The inspiration for and the meaning of the artwork always lies within the poem.

Over the years of exhibiting her artwork, she was surprised and delighted that people, despite what they may believe, do like poetry, and, in fact, many liked her poems more than the visual art. She now focuses solely on writing.

Nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize, and published in many journals including, Poeming Pigeons Anthologies; Voicecatcher; The Best of Voicecatcher; Bacopa Literary Review, Military Experience & the Arts; Ghazal Page; Voices, The Art and Science of Psychotherapy; Calyx; and Phantom Drift. Palmer-Baker’s work has received many awards, including First prize in the 2016 Timberline Review, First, Second, and the Bivona prize (for the best overall entry) in Ageless Authors Anthology 2019, First Prize in 2020 in the Central Oregon Writers’ Guild contest, and First prize in the 2022 Oprelle Oxbow contest. Her chapbook, The Color of Goodbye, was recently published by Kelsay Books.

Five Fundamental Forces: $16.99

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Poem from Five Fundamental Forces

Gangsters of the Portland Sky

Everywhere they black-litter lawns,
stutter-hop on buckled sidewalks,
cake-walk down Willamette Boulevard,
and flutter-kick away from speeding cars’
smash and gash at the minute’s last flicker.
They recognize faces, post sentries
in bare-branched trees, screech coded warnings—
beware of us, the gangsters of the Portland sky!
We dive bomb red-tail hawks mid thermal swirl
and catcall their retreating swoop.

I have often wondered
whether it is better to know
a little about a lot or a lot about a little.
I could google crows, learn more about them—
every day observe their black bird actions
and stop studying my own behavior,
stop trying to understand why blood pumps
red outside my body but looks blue in my veins
and why the beats of my heart slow
to an almost stillness when I think
of my father who lies in his grave
but is not dead.

I do know something that is not a poem
instead a naked fact.
Once I saw lying in a street island’s center
a dead crow encircled by a small cadre of crows
and on some arcane signal
they all bowed.

Five Fundamental Forces