Chalk Song by Gale Batchelder, Susan Berger-Jones, and Judson Evans

Chalk Song

Gale Batchelder, Susan Berger-Jones, and Judson Evans Includes a 3-dollar shipping charge


Using Werner Herzog’s extraordinary documentary film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about the discovery of a cave full of Paleolithic art, three poets–Gale Batchelder, Susan Berger-Jones, and Judson Evans–decided to collaborate. Together and individually, they worked over time, with comments and revisions by the others, until the poems in Chalk Song began to take shape, the inimitable weaving together of three voices guided by sonic reverberations, time travel, and Frank O’Hara’s understanding of movies as that “glamorous country.”  This is an extraordinary book full of gorgeous music pulling you into its deep and fantastic crevices. Read Chalk Song and get lost on its many paths, where the “jars are on fire” and “you are the opposite of Orpheus.”  – John Yau, author of Genghis Chan on Drums


I am dark and near dying 

I want you to tell only the light in my fur, 
bright as fire 

Cut as with teeth in char and blood 
spooning shapes, a defile between hills, 
side by side on both or all feet at once 
in steps that cannot be mistaken 
across the crumble of sheaves
Red palm alone with crooked finger 
an abrupt shiny echo, the color of snow 

Combed Horses 

What may be said 
if we break 
our colloquial winds 
 into violets 
like trade pillows 
or the baffled dawn 
 (no, inside) 
 celadon dust  
with lard & vent pole 
telegraphs have contrail fur 
 & gravity must be bare 
 a shagged O 
 for glottal secretion 
 beside dazzling rag fire 
 where we forget 
 (we are) 
yellow, uninvited & world-like – 
who would put a dandelion here? 

Hunted Cirrus 

Perhaps it is okay 
That we love capsized swans 
Housed in moonlit cages 
The way floodlights drift 
In and out of opaline shot-cuts 
Shadow and footfall 
Lavender and commotion 
What else do we know? 
The very essence of years 
Is the way errata blooms 
Sputtered through silent films 
Whether or not the landscape is painted by hopscotch 
A river’s name descends from parlor games 
The boats are always dusty 
Folded inside crooked fingers 
Slow paper currents make starlets 
Too beautiful to be stand-ins 
Inside loose lullabies 
A child is torn from her daguerreotype 
The movie is a nest of clouds 
Still waiting for the moon’s crayon-cue 
If only our arms would stand still 
As we crawl past hired dreamers 
The armies beyond barbed wire fencing  
Might halt to smell flowers 
Where the ground is an origamist 
The fields are strewn 
Sometimes with charcoal horses 
Sometimes with clover 

About the Authors

Gale Batchelder lives in Cambridge. Her work has been published in the poetry anthologies New Smoke (2009) and Triumph of Poverty (2011), in White Whale Review, Amethyst Arsenic, SpoKe4, and in Colorado Review

Susan Berger-Jones is an architect and poet.   She has had a hand in building homes, museums, sheds, pools, auditoriums, birdhouses, sand castles and skyscrapers.  Her written and visual work has appeared in Drunken Boat, No Exit, and two anthologies of ekphrastic poems published by Off the Park Press.  A chapbook collaboration, ‘Surface Tension: After The Paintings of Francis Bacon,’ written with Judson Evans, won a finalist award from The Center for Book Arts.  She is currently working an architectural response to Stan Brakhage’s “Mothlight.” 

Judson Evans is a poet whose work has focused on crossing genres and collaboration. He regularly publishes haiku, and the related form of haibun, as well as contemporary lyric poems. He was recently named Haibun Editor of Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America. In 2007, he was chosen as an “Emerging Poet” by John Yau for The Academy of American Poets and won the Philip Booth Poetry Prize from Salt Hill Review in2013. His poems have appeared most recently in Folio, Volt, 1913: a journal of forms, Cutbank, and The Sugar House Review 

Gale Batchelder, Susan Berger-Jones, and Judson Evans