CV and her granddad and I went to Golden Gate Park today to watch the birds. We saw a red-shouldered hawk, tons of hummingbirds, Western Tananger, junkos, pygmy nuthatch, purple finches, house finches, song sparrows, chestnut backed chickadees, gold finches (only from a distance, alas), downie woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers (I didn't see that, because I was focused on the hawk, but it was there to be seen by others), a red-eyed vireo, a kingfisher, Canadian geese, mallards, junco (be careful typing in a variant spelling or you'll get lots of images of men's "junk-oh!"), townsend's warbler, and probably a couple other kinds of birds whose names I can't remember, plus a turtle and a really cool cactus flower. My dad and I thought it was fun. CV even thought it was fun. It was, unquestionably, fun. Even for the birds, who were not harmed for the production of this fun.
And how when I was sad he would sometimes put on one of my dresses and dance around shaking his butt to meringue until I had to laugh. His big old body in a dress.
And about how desperately sad he was when you pushed your Momma down that flight of steps because he knew you would never forgive yourself. He forgave you right away. He understood how mean she was to you.
Did you know that he talked about you every time I saw him, Yvette? He talked about how beautiful you had become. He talked about how you were going to school like he never would. How you were becoming a dental hygienist, and you would get out, and you would be OK.
He got out, too, Yvette. It was the only way he saw how to get out. Your big brother is not stuck anymore. He is not there.
She was here, without the wishing!
No one from Logic works in Clairvoyance, and no one from Clairvoyance drives through Logic. Boundaries snake between the two towns: the train tracks, chain link fences, naturally-formed gullies, boulders. These boundaries are not insurmountable, but everyone in Logic assumes they know what lies in Clairvoyance and everyone in Clairvoyance trusts their instincts about avoiding Logic.
The children from Logic are forbidden to play with the children from Clairvoyance, but on Wednesday nights the brave ones float things to each other in the fountain. There have been town council referendum in both towns to have the fountain removed, but the maps in Clairvoyance list the fountain outside town boundaries, as do the maps in Logic. No one will claim responsibility for it.
The fountain sits on the top of a hill. It is made of stone and runs with water all year long. Even in winter, there is a trickle of warm water gurgling out of androgynous faces carved on all sides. No one has ever tested the depth of the fountain, but the water is deep enough and the basin is wide enough to form eddies that look like whirlpools to the smaller children. The water flows in a continuous circle.
On Wednesday, the adults in Logic are busy at their town council meetings followed by their bauhaus cocktail parties. On Wednesday the adults in Clairvoyance are busy building alters to various deities followed by their wine-soaked rituals. The children of both towns sneak down one by one, each carrying an object in their hands to float in the fountain. The children from Clairvoyance float pieces of magenta colored fabrics, parrot feathers, packets of oiled flower petals. The children from Logic float perfectly designed boats made from 24 lb paper, uncracked almonds, and reasonable shoes.
After about an hour of objects circling the fountain, all of the paper boats, almonds, and reasonable shoes are fished out of the fountain by the children of Logic. All of the pieces of magenta colored fabrics, packets of oiled flower petals, and parrot feathers go home with the children of Clairvoyance, except for one.
There is one small yellow feather that floated out of the fountain. A small girl picked it up while the other children were petting magenta fabrics and pushing paper boats. She twirled it between her thumb and forefinger. She pinched water out of the wet down at the base of the feather, and stroked the bright yellow barbs at the top. Her eyes fixed on the other children of Logic, the little girl took two backward steps away from the fountain. When no one noticed, she took two more. She tucked the feather into one of her hair ribbons and took two more steps back. She dried her hands on her pink laceless dress and took two more. She kicked off her sensible shoes and took two more back. Then she turned around and walked forward.
On the third day, as was foretold, we entered the promised land of milk and peanut butter. And the Trinity was waiting, he and she and she were waiting, with the crusts cut clean from their holy sammiches. Their blue polo shirts shone with crumbs and their pudgy hands clutched chalices of lowfat milk. Crates of juice boxes filled the garage with plenty. And we cried, lo, this is the land we have come to, let us all pile into the back seat of the car and rejoice. And there was singing. And the song spoke of a hobo man on our shoulder. We chose to let him live. We chose to eat string cheese in the sun.
I was surprised to hear a vehicle pull into the driveway. It was late, after midnight.
I was sitting on the porch we called the deck. Screened-in, which a deck would never be. I had Leonard Cohen on in the kitchen, speaker propped against the open window. Wheels against gravel, a little VW. I had no idea who it would be. I don’t remember even wondering. And I wasn’t high. It was just the rain and the music and, after all, I did this every night. Just sit, the rest of them asleep upstairs.
I could see him as he came forward, opening the wooden screen door. I knew him. A friend of my brother’s. I didn’t know him too well, he was younger. He had some records under his arm. We talked for a while about music. I had been away a few years. We might have had some tea.
During the day in Clairvoyence, the sky is always silent and always blue. Childrens hands twitch, because they dream of more days in the year, more days to play by the sea. You can smell the fish on the dark-clothed women. They come to the bistros after dusk and hang on each other like heavy nets. Some smoke hand-rolled cigarettes. Some hold cigars in their mouths, which they merely chew...
Sunrise, noon and sunset all watched from my grandma's farm house porch swing. Swapped gossip about the West Virginia family and canning recipes, admired the sunburst skin of a hillbilly tomato and savored the way in which the breeze swept through the silences.
The three bedroom corner lot ranch prison in the middle of a
well maintained, well policed neighborhood came out of nowhere and
When she was a child she lived in undesirable locations. Vagrants, drug abusers and drunks wandered the hallways. Like dominoes, they slept where they fell. One night, from her bedroom window, she watched a man stab another man in the chest repeatedly for a forty-ounce bottle of malt liquor. She stood outside with the rest of the gawkers the following morning when the police arrived. The people in expensive suits on their way to their corner offices said they were happy the street would be rid of one more bum. Later that evening she was behind bullet proof glass selling liquor and loose cigarettes to underage teenagers from nicer areas and the homeless, when the priest from Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church came in. He hated the homeless. Hated their begging at the church door for food, shelter and prayer, and hated that the liquor store was so close to his sacred space. “You’re sure to find a place in hell with the devil,” he spit at her before leaving with his pack of cinnamon gum.
The morning after the fair the father takes the girl to see his mother.
the dog knows
it is by the clank
of food in her bowl.
even if it is gravel.
nourishment by song,
this is the certainty.
this is the principle.
I used to confuse
water is no bastion
|07312010: Imprint from Solar Return Ritual |
(ink, mucous, spermatozoa, blood, urine, ants, Amber petals)
|09012010: Imprint of Invocations (Kia, Pan, Legba)|
(blood, spermatozoa, spit, ants, resin, black sand from el Templo Negro)
Do you know that whatever you’re painting will fade, Wayne? Or else it will be painted over by some miser; it will not last. Graffiti is youth, and time or someone or something will destroy it.
I’m being pessimistic, forgive me.
My father is sick, Wayne. I’m on the way to the hospital now and feeling heavy. Today they are going to use lasers to shoot the cancer cells in his brain. This is what my day holds.
But here you are: making art in public, risking fines or whatever penalties they have for middle-aged vandal-artists. You must be celebrating something, look at that smile on your face.
You inspire me, Wayne. You really do.
Look at you: your big belly, that lit cigarette in your mouth despite the aerosol—who cares if you explode, you’re alive right now! The wind is teasing your white hair into wild strands. You are confronting yourself and the world with that spray can, making a statement.
This morning, while you paint, I’m going to look down at the decaying face of my father and wonder whether he will gain more wisdom if he survives or if he dies. My grandmother will tell stories about when my father was a child. He was a bad kid, Wayne, in a funny way. But I can’t listen to her stories lately. I go for walks when she starts to tell them. On my walks I beat myself up for denying her privilege because of my own fears.
Maybe today will be different because of you, Wayne. Maybe I’ll follow your lead. Maybe I’ll buy a magic marker and plant myself in front of a giant hospital window, one facing the highway, and I’ll tag my heart to it. I’ll re-write my grandmother’s stories and make her little boy good and when her grief lifts his sickness will float away like your paint, like my fear, our existence.
When I sent you an email, I began it with "Dear Lovers." I deleted the salutation and typed in "Dear Friends."I will learn from this mistake. As so we begin without, "Hi, how are yous." I am not interested in shaking your hand.
Dear Lovers, Welcome. Squeeze me tight, my body up against yours. Kiss me hard on the mouth and then let us make art together. Love, Kristen
I begin with someone much wiser than I am:
Entering The Shell
~Jalal al-din Rumi
Love is alive,
and someone borne along by it is more alive
than lions roaring or men in their fierce courage.
Bandits ambush others on the road.
They get wealth, but they stay in one place.
Lovers keep moving, never the same,
not for a second.
What makes others grieve, they enjoy.
When they look angry, do not believe their faces.
It is like spring lightning, a joke before the rain.
They chew thorns thoughtfully,
along with pasture grass.
Gazelle and lioness having dinner.
Love is invisible except here, in us.
Sometimes I praise love. Sometimes love praises me.
Love, a little shell somewhere on the ocean floor, opens its mouth.
You and I and we, those imaginary beings,
enter the shell as a single drop of water.
I didn't hear you go to bed
I was cold and had to pee
then I remembered that I had forgotten
to put your bike inside the shop
It is beautiful and crisp but...
Too cold for my taste
the bike is still there,
I bring it inside
take a drink
back to bed
I'm glad no one stole your bike.