Broadcasts: Musing | Penny Slinger (Part 1)

Blum & Poe Broadcasts presents musings by artists from their homes to yours.

This week, Penny Slinger shares a new photo collage series titled My Body in a Boxan ongoing project created during these last weeks of self-isolation, seeking to explore the psychological entrapment and fears that accompany the experience. As Slinger has done since the 1960s, here she uses her own image and body as subject to process a range of feelings and reactions. Accompanied by her poetry and prose that are evocative of states of mind and being, Slinger’s offering is one of pain and poignancy, as well as transcendence. This series will continue to grow as a living archive, during the span of shelter in place.

Collages and poems: © Penny Slinger
Photos of Penny Slinger by Dhiren Dasu


Like a squirrel
Ardently gathering nuts
In the last days
Of summer
Storing them away
For winter's bleak
Taking care
Of bodily needs
For who knows
When the sun
Will bless the earth once more?
I will not starve! she says
Though frost covers the land
And snow conceals
The verdant trees
Now skeletons
In a grey landscape
She stores their present bounty
Against a future famine
That all things pass
And she
Like the maiden
Will gather rosebuds
While she may...


Creating walls of protection
Against an unseen enemy
Who knows no walls
Of immunity
To ward off
An invisible assailant
With manners
In the gutter
And subtle
As the wind....
Who knows
What crack
It can creep through
Through which fabric
It may seep
Beneath the radar
This ninja adversary
Is nimble and adept
Hiding in plain sight
In anyone we meet
So I form a citadel
Of myself
And stay in my sterile castle
Sealed with antiseptic
Hardly daring
To breathe.



Within my palace
Of self-construction
A brick wall
Seals the way
No way in
No way out
and no way through
In solidity
In time
In a state
Of rigidity
In a place 
Without potential
Without ability
To effect change
Solid state…

There is but one way
To dissolve the wall
To peel away
The wallpaper…
I will claim the heroine's path
Dissolve the wall
For I am not a slave 
To matter
But a humble servant
Of imagination's power
Believing in 
As the only tool
That takes a psychic sledgehammer
To the wall that kills dreams
To the confining principle
That places matter
Over mind
Mind does matter
But the substance of dreams
Is big as the sky
The pathways of consciousness
Have no limitations


Taking the measure
Of the situation
Staking out
My limitations
Feeling the shape
Of the box I am in
The height
The width
The breadth
The depth
So I may ascertain
The ideal box
To reconstruct
Once I have
This frame


I toss and turn
Restless sleep
Trying to sweep
The cobwebs from my soul
That clutch and cling
Like old dead unwanted tendrils
That will not give up
The ghost

Are these unquiet dreams
All mine?
Or do they belong
To a collective psyche
That I
Artist and empath
Have drawn into my lair?
Oh self
Where do you
Begin and end
In this collective


Having worked so hard
On addressing fears
I was surprised
To find them
Haunting my psych like
ghosts of Christmas past.
Awakening in the dead of night
Stomach all a flutter
My body is still responding
To the threat of illness
And untimely death
Death itself may not be 
My ogre
But the thought of losing life
Before my chosen time
And the body's aversion to 
Is just a fact of life
I cannot be transparent
And reflect the truth
If I do not expose
The ghouls
That still haunt
This mortal frame
My consciousness is refined
But my body cries like a baby.


I want to be 
A garden
Not a city
Or a town
A bridge
A factory
Or a shop
I just want to be
Part of nature
For only she
Continues to bloom
When all the lights
Go out
Full of tumbleweed
Not magnolias


I awoke
In the darkness
With butterflies
raging in my stomach
Like wild beasts
Like sails in a tempest
Their tiny wings
I could not calm their anguish
Because they were
Part of me
All my unconscious terrors
Battling within
For space to breathe
For room to fly
In the acid room
Of my belly
Panic stricken
Inner child.


I climbed into this dark place
A writhing grub
Wriggling against
My own mortality
Since then I have been
Melting down
The substance of my sense of self
Of society
Making a fine old brew
Of all preconceptions
Now I find my mind
Creating pictures
Icons calling me
To take my place
In glorious emergence
Oh Cinderella me
May I make my slipper fit
As I slip out of the slimy soup
And rise
Winged and glorious
To fly
Now part of nature
By reflected light
All butterflies and rainbows
Fully prismatic
With wings
The color of sky

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