Didn’t think much about it. I seldom do. Heard it was difficult. It is. She’s going off to become whatever it is she wants to become. She will be a student of sustainable agriculture. I ventured into Mad Men territory while in school. We are different that way. The best way possible. She will try to effect agricultural change. Make an earthly impact. Walking our Dachshund this morning (still miss my Shepherd) gazing down at the road thinking back to those days–trying to remember lessons for her. The rocks and tar rolled out then rumbled flat. There are cracks and joint fixes. Sparkles of glass and dull-faced stones. Her life will be like this road. Combinations of things adhered together, splitting sometimes, getting fixed or not, hot in the heat, icy in the cold–dangerous at times. Her feet will walk as she destines they should–barefoot or booted. She will be smart and she will not be smart. Go off to study abroad. Maybe fall in love or at least what she thinks is. I pray she will be happy. I know to ask for ‘always’ is unrealistic. She is so much more confident than I was at that age. I’m hoping enough to keep her out of situations. When one doesn’t like who they see each morning in the glass, trouble follows. I didn’t think she would be teary-eyed. She is. But she is also excited. Imagine, it’s all shiny right now…may it glisten for a long while. This place is more raw than ever. And they all know it. Let them enjoy the sparkle in a bubble while they can pretend.
photo detail-Caroline, age 18
above, painting detail, from a larger portrait-Caroline is 8
Amazing isn’t it, she thinks, how many thoughts pour through the mind every few minutes. Especially with rain. She’s listening to the rain now. All that sound unloading, so much in the chests of those fire black clouds. Must be liberating. Relieving such heavy pressure from crammed up bodies. Watching things expand from your tears. Life suckling at invisible teats. The atmosphere keeps challenging itself, she muses. Never knows what it desires. Can be many things to many or wipe out entire surfaces. Infrastructures be damned.
Now the stars are another matter. She imagines herself a red dwarf. No roots, no hooks, no sinkers. A ball of light (really a globe of gas, but she doesn’t want to bore with technicalities) burning through cycles until it is not anything anymore but a cool hole–red to blue to white. Does it all eventually settle out, she wonders. Like little stars here then gone. The work you do floats away. She pictures detailed lists fading as if penned with quill and iron gall ink. Animal skin vellum billowing like sheets clipped to endless spring clotheslines. It’s all quite cold and unchivalrous that way.
No one gets you down deep in the spot where you feel most alone. Why bother with these thoughts when they go disbelieved. Or are you not ever listening. Why would you, when I don’t listen to myself. This is what the little dwarf star thinks. Not me. Not ever. I’m simply losing my outer layers before shrinking and disappearing. She has all these quiet sentences laid across blue lines beneath candlelight. The power went out a few jolts ago. She is wearing a pillowcase like a colonial bonnet. Thinking she prefers time machines to breaking the speed of light in something reminiscent of a liquefied cellphone.
She slides open her bedroom window. The damp air circulates through the tenth-floor walkup. Taking all the pages she’s just written–the stars, the atmosphere, the soul–she extends her arms out the window and opens her hands. The loose leaf sheets float like ship sails in a storm, before the rain decides what shall become of her words.
created last year, mixed media on paper-thank you
will I turn into an old woman
who chats about birds
listening to my every breath while fondling my thin paper hands
appreciating the lines gathered in forgotten memories
will this make me
like other old women
who have taken to soft chairs
with hard backs,
curving spines straight as possible
enchanted in silver threads that only long years can sew
am I to gaze upon clouds
by a humble lake house
hear every quiet hum so discreetly
that my spittle doesn’t make a sound
as it drips from the side of my mouth
will there be hair pins
and dutiful visits
will they be proud of my words
promise their consciences
place these musings
against antiqued pages
clothbound and closed
so we can remember her
hope I don’t
cover my bony shoulders in a shawl
God help me
the voice stemming from my throat
let it not scratch like an eviscerated cat
too dead to murder succulent mice
will I stare at winter’s trees
against a diluted grey sky
but lie about them
for the sake of beautiful words
if tomorrow morning is my end
against a cerulean canvas
where I paint myself
may I leave a lone footnote
to ask both brush and pen
to quietly follow me
that I might write and paint
done long ago when I didn’t write such depressing things;)
ponytails and night stars
a guy in a panama shirt singing old southern rock
bamboo tables and blue icy drinks
I’m only swallowin’ red
it did cross my mine to switch to a clear beverage
but wine has been a decent friend lately
the counter is soaked in the last round
it’s sparkling like the sky
amazing how the moon hangs up there
while we’re below waiting for it to do something
there are girls walking around in shorts
that make me blush
there are guys watching them
I blush more
what the hell
I don’t belong here, I’m too old for this shit
that’s how I talked the bartender into giving me receipt paper
and a pen
to write this
I’m leaning on a bar with a clock that looks like it could be in my kitchen
one of my gal pals is searching for me
(I learn this later)
doesn’t know what happened
I told them all, I only think of words now
a verbal disease on the brain until something else real gets me
my mind is a boring trap of oxymorons and merlot
maybe they’ll believe me now
singing in the background, a man with hair color in between middle-age and a few extra whiskeys
but still respectable enough to be strummin’ a guitar ’cause he does it really well
the bartender is sweet, a young girl with long dark hair like I remember being long ago
she’s laughing ’cause she’s not sure what to believe
the other bartender guy is quite certain I’m writing my phone number
like I said, I’m too old for this shit
I’m only writing words
capturing this night
struggling because I forgot my glasses
I’m not sure if I’ll even be able to read this later
if I get it down
I’ll write it here when I return home and everyone else is sleeping
’cause I’ll still be wide awake
thought this sort of worked since there were many eyes at happy hour, wonder if they were all happy eyes:), sketched so very long ago-thank you
The gargoyles were not broken on the small town church until the righteous storm of 1963 when everyone in that sleepy place believed they’d gravely sinned–dancing too stompy–at a raucous Knights of Columbus, New Year’s Eve celebration. Gabriel, the avenging angel arrived that woeful wet night to sort their small town souls into piles. His dispatching sword had sliced at will along the way, sparking small fires and cutting down church roof embellishments. As self-punishment, it was unanimously decided that the smashed Gothic heads must remain where they died. Humping along a back road path, she catches a sense of beast.
A bit of a girl with a penchant for black and white horror, is little Lisset. She proudly noticed King Kong had ping-pong-ball eyes way before Lenny, Alby and Byron ever did. She is passing the empty church yard where only the dead dare sleep this time of day. Fierce bulging eyes stare up at her. The outrageous weeds slither through flaring beastly nostrils. Lisset kicks a busted jaw. She thinks rattling old gargoyle canines is pretty funny and she wants to swing the steel-reinforced toes of her new black work boots. She’d menaced her mom until her two dainty feet were clad in tough leather construction. Claimed the all-weather boots were quite necessary for monster hunts. Lenny, Alby and Byron wore silly Toughskin boots. Hers are the ones she remembers on her father’s feet. Monsters had taken him away a long time ago when she was much smaller than she was now. Her father wasn’t wearing his steel-toes that gloomy day. Lisset still sometimes dreams of worn bluejeans and dark work boots with yellow laces. She stares at photos to remember his face, otherwise she can only picture Don Brown from the kneecaps down.
The sky is blackening, ominous grey and good–a perfect day for monster hunting. In the distance, rumbling ogre bellies echo over the mountain peaks. Lisset is to meet Lenny, Alby and Byron. Lenny and Alby are afraid of storms. Brother disease is what Lisset calls it. It seems whatever Lenny fears, his younger brother fears also. She also knows if Lenny and Alby are not coming, Byron won’t show either. Lisset calls this boy doofessness. With her black magic shoes laced to the top eyelets, Lisset marches on. She must make the treeline before late afternoon. Once there, she will sit and wait. Most monster hunting is done this way. It’s a waiting game. All the best pros know–the thrill is careful, observational patience but the payoff is priceless. Lisset must be patient and wait too. The legend says, “If you see Wampus and do not run, she might answer a single question if she decides not to kill you first.”
Behind Mount Whitman, electric bolts light up the sky. Lisset wonders if the gargoyles fear lightning since it sliced their heads clean off. There are to be no sidetracking thoughts, Lisset. Her steel-toes chat sense back into her wound-up mind. She will wait for Wampus Cat and pray for the best. She will hope its foul death breath is manageable. She will pray it does not kill her with its powerful claws and razor sharp teeth. If Wampus lets the young girl live she can ask one question. If Lisset is ever to find her father, she must find a monster first. And the odds aren’t too bad while she wears her black magic shoes.
Wampus Cat created with Tombow markers about two years ago for a special project-thank you
Pardon the use of I and me, waxing rather sentimental these days-
I’m not one of those fortunate people who began penning prose long ago. Words floated around my little world, surfacing when needed most. I used words as I was used–to catalogue a hurt on a silent diary page. Along the way something changed on my planetary ink spec. Not sure exactly what. Or exactly when. Words began bubbling up the back of my throat, beyond my physical ability to remove them. Maybe letters were always there waiting for me to grow and meet them head on.
Today, I write in too many directions. I answer whatever settles in the back of my throat. When the words don’t make sense to me, I let them exit and fall anyway. Heavy ones hit hard. Sometimes I’m able to build better looking piles, like an over-involved Scrabble board when everyone is cheating. If I’m lucky, a rare paper maché tree blossoms. Seeds might be sown or roots might unearth and rot away.
Some spin angst in their writing bubbles with or without realizing it. I’ve never needed excessive force to let go. My brain takes me all sorts of places. It always has. Crazy–yes, a little bit–I’ve been told more often than I care to count. I’m quite the chameleon now. I suppose it’s why I’ve owned several iguanas throughout my life. I wouldn’t own chameleons for fear I’d lose them against paisley curtains or checkered floors. Writing can be this way. Putting painted words out there and occasionally losing them.
The more I go at this writing, the more questions amass. Too many queries mounting on my traveling donkey. Should I get my challenge-load astride a mule, I’ll be but one steed step away from getting a few things figured out as I scale that ominous writing mountain. What has come to bother me most about writing, is not so much the creative part. It is how my words sometimes have the ability to hurt when they were always my healers. It amazes me, how I so often manage to be the kid locked outside of my own diary.
on the way to nostalgic-heard this song today in the car-I believe I sang this one million times when I was 13-thank you
let me stop
north and southbound trains
braking at red
or bust headlong
fly off the tracks
no riding the rails for free
I placed a penny there
good luck for my friends
never stop writing
never stop reading
never stop wondering
I never do
there are things that break my heart
a train whistle echoing in the empty night
a ship horn crying beneath hazy moonlight
a lone wolf howling across the sleeping forest
Paris, in a dream
words that crack like dry clay
thoughts curving into chance
love poems left unsung
all these things
all our words
makes me wonder
if our dreams
are always fair
created last year-thank you
No light reflecting in those intense dark eyes. Windows to the soul, not on this face. Manhole covers down to deeper things. Between the furrowed brow where one might find introspection, I find knots of secrets the way bucks lock horns then die. He’d been a lover of men long ago. I know because he kept photo proofs stashed in shoeboxes under his saggy bed. The most dogeared photo was of silver-haired lovers entwined when they were past lovemaking and exhausted beyond repair. It wasn’t his figure in the careworn image. I once asked him who the two were. He told me it wasn’t for him to say, the couple in the photo were in love and love is a sacred thing one must hold dear. I asked if deer locked horns because they were in love. He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “No young one, when bucks lock antlers they are horny. Animals have fellowship. Humans have love. Love is a gift and it must be cherished.”
Around his apartment, black and white photos cling to their slice of wall space. Clouds stick to heaven the very same way. Each image perfectly soldiered into painted symmetrical wood. The sturdy black frames cannot diminish the powerful subject matter within. Love. Curving, languid nudes in soft light sometimes wrapped with white sheets like gossamer wings. Decades ago, my uncle was hired to shoot elegant boudoir stills for couples. Most of these amorous pairs commissioned him early into their young marriages. When their skin glowed beneath hot halogens and their figures flowed smooth like silk honeymoon lingerie. Each photo paper lover appeared sculpted in form and perfectly matched to their partner’s body. My uncle had an artful way with autonomy. Names were never known. Gazing at one of his large black and white images is akin to admiring a marble figure whose face is left trapped inside stone, much like Rodin often made the artistic choice to leave casting seams.
Uncle Milo has since lost his eight-five percent of his vision. His elegant wavy hair is silver-white. Those intense marble eyes now covered in a milky glaze. He’d call it dodging light in the dark room. Today, I ask him again who the two silver-haired lovers were. He responds in his whiskey voice, “Young one, they were the only partners who respected the sanctity of love beyond the beauty of their flesh. Their love was the most honest love I’ve ever witnessed in my small life. I’ve accumulated a great wealth, to have captured such treasure.”
sketched last year for a writing project-thank you
Sometimes you must dig deep. Deeper than the quartz floor of comfort’s level. Bring dental tools. Small, sharp, precise. After you bust through the impossible surface, scrape the sides of your soul especially the nasty tar embedded in the lacerations. Push away the stringy dark flesh and take a seat. Bed an organ if necessary. You’re not going anywhere. Leave eyes on the situation. Do you desire to find what you think went missing. Are you not sure about the contents, having lost your way sometime ago.
You manage to mine an encrusted voice, it’s a song you sing to help yourself fall asleep. The words are borrowed from another who sews lyrical blankets while you fumble with threads. This year you’ve gone through several skins–shedding like a snake. A biblical serpent wrapping itself around a damn tree tempting what should not be tempted. This is what you believe as the blood washes across your insides. You want wings. Hell, don’t we all. No internal evidence exists for your flying dream. All is flat and featureless. Wings belong to majestic raptors and annoying but necessary insects, fairies and dragons if you follow that fantasy.
It was Hughes who wrote of Plath, “…the end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity….” Maybe Hughes was looking for wings after Plath flew beyond his reach. Maybe he searched in younger days while serving on the ground in the Royal Air Force. Plath sensed Hughes’ illuminated feathers when he did not. Poetic passion coaxed him to submit his first manuscript, Hawk in the Rain. Wings, raptors. Plath’s intuitive sense for flight.
The ability to ride high burrows in the lowest place you can dig out from. Raptors are not born able to fly. Neither are you. It is the steady practiced thing painfully crawling from inside your flesh until it breaks the skin and unfolds into that which lets you soar.
eagle rendered last year with Tombow markers-thank you
“Go back to the healing huts,” yarps an Avatar voice. Not watching, the big son is. Every once in awhile a neat phrase escapes cartoon lips. I hear these animated words while noting black crap on the kitchen floor. The college-bound daughter and gal pals went globetrotting last night in search of charcoal. Much to the chagrin of her perplexed mom who enjoys using charcoal for paper not flesh. Activated charcoal capsules, broken then mixed with Elmer’s glue make a fab face mask. Apparently, it’s a thing. Did you know? Try telling a precocious lass “non-toxic” labels occasionally list half-truths. And don’t put glue on your face, I don’t give a shit if it’s Elmer’s.
The real sticky stuff is in the why’s of putting Cow Stick on the face. Raised in positivity all-around, peppered with lessons in humanity, unfocused on exteriors, try as one might–THEY suck impressionable minds in like the BLOB–these harbingers of “beauty.” This from a woman who was boy-banished during her formative years. These young girls are not unpopular with opposites. Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter. Pretty pressure pushes hard and fast. Worrying about flawless skin, optimal eyebrow shape, plumped lips, over-blown chests and asses…it’s sometimes too much to ‘bare’ in today’s selfie-centered society.
We are fast becoming excessively outside people. Maybe we always were. Narcissism–the ancient Greeks lived it, called it, coined it. We are a brilliant, colorful society reducing ourselves–at all ages–to so much less than who we are. Scott Westerfeld smartly uses his young adult titles to demonstrate. The Uglies live in book one. The Pretties flap inside book two. The Specials or those with wide wallets get special billing can bump to book two if they’re willing to rain money. The Extras don’t make the cut through no fault of their own. Is this anyone’s fault or all of ours.
Looking back to my teens and twenties, I regret getting caught in the very same crap. Wasted too many hours trying to buy the word “pretty.” And feel “special” for that moment.
this is Marilyn, you might not know her;) -created with conté crayon on paper in 1983 to decorate an empty college wall (used talented photographer, Philippe Halsman’s image as ref)-over the years she has graced my garage wall, but I fear she will eventually die again there-she has many thumbtack holes in her corners, smudges and is torn in a few places (you can see a forehead tear in this pic detail)-at some point she is going on ebay (never tried to sell anything this way) -if she doesn’t sell-she will be rolled up and placed in storage or a time capsule, not a charcoal one though;) -oh, there is one other thing about this particular lady-this drawing is 7 feet tall and 3 1/2 feet wide-why I ever did this, I can’t recall…
Westerfeld’s YA series is a tantalizing read-I read quite a bit of YA a few years back while writing YA stories. Mr. Westerfeld’s stories are much more than the titles might have you believe. I used Mr. Westerfeld’s titles in my post above just for the ‘illustrative’ wording – the books are quite different – thank you