Xaira writes prosy things. Words are tiny red ants mercilessly marching without rest, without sleep. No rejuvenation. Only midnight thoughts, caressing keys like a lover’s flesh or beating the polymer into submission–bully steward with a fidgety wordstick. She is unable to reconcile the happenings inside her body. Xaira lives on the outside looking in from safe distances. She is a tool for the thoughts she claims not to own. Speedboats powering across indecipherable notes kept in a dull black folder. One of several scattered throughout her living space.
She cannot come to terms with her prose–her prosy things. Once the shit slides down the chute, she is no longer in control. Pregnancies never realized. Incomplete humans. She has children. Carried them. Pushed them out. Loved them. Left them. Not sure where they are. Her concern over blood offspring is exclusively for plotting and outline. A mirror to direct a piece of her parceled soul. Xaira exhales for each cogent metaphor. Inhales for each selective allusion. A randomness settles in the air as the night grows thick with complex assertions and exhausted denials. Where does the writing crystallize. Conclusions and closures to build another anthill. Tunneling through the sand, fall and fall, collapsing in weak sections killing the worker-smythes of the folded, gathered and crushed.
Xaira claims no responsibility for her paradoxical musings. Any emotional attachments are not considered. She has room enough only for her creations. Her mind. At least that’s what they say but not better than her. And yet, she has grave doubts. Doubts dwelling in the bottomless corners of her round life. The cobwebs swept away, mine swept to nothingness. Beginning blankly each and every evening. It is always beneath the ever present sky up there. Best when it’s dark and void of the sun’s bright eyes. There is no honesty in the long shadows of moonlight. Xaira once had a wry sense of humor and an easy going smile. Now her fingernails are chewed, the brittle pieces catching in the rug beneath her desk. The only happiness for her is pretending there are those who care for her misunderstood, over-labored prosy things.
She hunts the black cold air. Winter will be bitter this year, the ants will struggle then disappear…
quick sketch last year, thank you
“…don’t you know that I gotta get outta here, ’cause New York’s not my home” –Jim Croce
mind not with me for quite some time
body went out though
knee-high grass parking
set back in dark pasture land, maybe once a cornfield
my nose like a basset hound’s
I catch grape bouquets
imagine sweet dark berry assortments to be offered
the tiny sample glasses make me feel more giant
this makes me giggle
got wedges on, I’m flirtin’ with six feet but not the moon
paper lights strung around blowing in the delicious breeze
yellow hair walking everywhere looks white in the fading light
bright spots like sparkles on the ocean
my friend–one of my best, we’re out for a chat and a drink
I’m thinking about a decadent red, only one
I’m designated this eve
we made a pledge to get together more often
and sample different places
what a blast driving the Explorer through the long grass faster than I should
sparkly sandals and tight white pants aplenty
relaxed postures not worried about making first impressions
most are comfortable in their own skin by now
love that benefit
this is a relaxed crowd
laughter filtering off wine bottles on wooden tables
it’s a gorgeous night
all night spots should be outdoors
you can look at the stars when you don’t want to look at faces
the band starts blowing
this is going to be thick brass
four horns at a winery
and there goes the music
these folks are jammin’ more than I thought they would
a giant ball bounces into the air
it takes out one of the stage microphones
that’s as rowdy as it gets
these types of cover bands usually play, Brown Eyed Girl
most caramel irises believe the song was written for them
it calls them in droves to the dirt floor dance area
not too many songs pine over brown, it’s usually crystal blue or sea green
but always red lips
the wine does not disappoint
we chuckle something fierce at the wide breadsticks
yes, sometimes we get a little dirty-minded
the indoor bar area has a copper surface
I can’t take my eyes off the gorgeous reflections
we get our wine to go, adult-size plastic for our walk back out
it was a wonderful night
I don’t have a pen but I’m punching phone buttons
so I remember this
“Well, things were spinning round me
And all my thoughts were cloudy
And I had begun to doubt all the things that were me
Been in so many places
You know I’ve run so many races
And looked into the empty faces of the people of the night
And something is just not right” –Jim Croce
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
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
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
My imagination often tortures me. Does yours get the better of you? When I was ten, The Blob (trivia-Steve McQueen’s first leading role), gave me the night sweats for an entire year and I wouldn’t venture near anything resembling a vent. Next it was Goya who tormented me with his painting, Saturn Devouring His Son. A father eating a child does things to a twelve-year-old’s mind. For quite some time, I stayed away from utensils and my dad. Even a can of peas and carrots had its way with me. A reoccurring nightmare at age fourteen–cubed carrots screaming as they were mercilessly squashed by brutal farmers wielding cast iron shovels, while the opportunistic peas rolled away to safety.
Today, (as I sit in my sub studio watching leggy spiders flutter by like creeping creative angels) imagination helps sometimes but not always. Brain shit rattles around like the crap I might throw up in my attic or shove into some dark basement corner. Emptying mind bins of mildewed magazines that smell worse than the son’s wrestling singlet after a dual meet is futile. Piles accumulate with no end in sight. Most of this junk is unusable and will be thrown onto a flimsy folding table for a grand going-out-of-business sale. This is my writing process. This is my art process. This is what I do. Peas rolling away to safety. When fingers get boxed-in, ideas flatten beneath cast iron shovels.
There is also something else my imagination does. This is the worst part of all. It self-inflicts pain whenever I mind-travel to places I should never go with people I should never go with. Sometimes, I disregard my sadistic demons to ride bareback on the gorgeous, powerful Percherons there. Magnificent beasts that galloped off Bonheur’s painting, The Horse Fair. Year by year, my dark matter loosens a bit more. Nights now mimic spaceflight. I survive by staying awake. If I don’t sleep while dreaming, I can’t get into any trouble. When I misbehave, the spiders stop hanging with me. They always know my truth. And without these creeping creative angles, my imagination might just get too strong a foothold. If this happens, I’ll never be able to find my way back. The spiders know one more lousy truth about me. My sense of direction absolutely sucks.
what have you done to me
I pride myself on strength
both physical and mental
I could fend off an agitated bear
(with a few supplies)
you flummox me at every turn
I sense when you are near but it doesn’t matter
I’d rather face ten angry grizzlies than attempt a lame-ass escape
I’ve survived endless seasons to earn these instincts
a quiver of arrows hangs peacefully at my side
why do I manipulate their shafts into dream catchers now
you can hear green skin pressed against chlorophyll
my forest camouflage is a useless cloaking device
I seek refuge in the trees
observe snakes coiling around branches
you crawl up my tree then my spine
until you’re in my head
a bad meeting place for us all–even the grizzlies
I scare them the most
when I’m at my weakest
grizzly-mixed media created in 2007 – thank you
You young ones lost down deep in the complexity of meaning, mired in eternal dark know this much, mind survival is a choice. Blackness is warranted due to the egregious and often unpredictable and intangible idea of “satisfaction.” Happiness is more difficult to achieve than faith which takes a lot of singing. We–the elder who’ve been at this shit a bit longer harbor insecurities too. We’re no different. Your words were our utterances decades ago before additional years laid claim over our judgement. Long term attachments to our thoughts and deeds stretched and there was definitely some snapping.
Life as a noun is what we all are granted for however long it is ours to have. There is no fairness in this gambler’s roll. We–all of us–planet props. She decides when to pull the curtains and poll the audience. Cut roses might land at our polished toes for a short while but our ashes will blow like everyone else’s in the end.
Life as a verb is where things get interesting. We may fuck up our own lives. We may fuck up other lives. We may “fuck” (that’s not really very nice-insert “make love” if it fits) and make more lives. It’s all off-the-cuff as none of us know what we’re doing. It’s guesswork mixed with feasible traditions, doable effort and the ability to look or sound convincing. Some of us jump from planes, some rule cleaning supply closets while others drive cars. There are people who kiss and hold hands. There are those who laugh at flesh. Build sandboxes or pyramids. Walk on water or fly on drugs. These lists are endless when life is a verb.
While in the active form–you are more than a prop. Call yourself a writer, a student, a lost soul, an accountant or weather reporter–whatever role that satisfies. If you take this action and pull down blackout curtains you shorten the showtime. If “life” meaning has eluded you or you don’t see the sincerity you believe should be available, perhaps you need to practice a bit longer. Maybe try a different accent. Stand a bit taller or crawl.
The distance between life and death is but a few feet down. The difference between love and hate is measured on the same surface. The reason for your life is closer to you than anything else.
call it comets or divine intervention or whatever term you’d like to ascribe–”life” rolled them off the craps table
dinos created using Adobe Illustrator about 20 years ago-that pains me to say;)
sorry for the cussing in this one