Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Inscape


I am a portrait artist
I used to say
I hated painting landscapes
It felt redundant
Boring
All that foliage
So much green
It seems like
so many landscapes have already been done
The only place in the scene 
that fascinated me
was the horizon
Maybe because it led me to the sky
Which I would like to think
I could look at for hours
Day or night
Feels like an out of body experience
Like if you look up far enough
you lose the land
and all sense of where you stand
The place you inhabit
The problems that surround you
The tasks at hand
Like if you look up far enough
you can lose yourself
Just fall right up into the open space
So I painted a few skyscapes
Transforming clouds floating
over ombres of hue
They felt like escape

I am still a portrait artist
But I see so much more
than I did before
The planes of a face
look just like a landscape
Rolling hills of cheekbones
Peeks of eyebrow ridges
Everyones eyes are a magnificent skyscape
transforming clouds floating
over ombres of hue
Some irises wake you
with the green of the sun
hitting spring grass in the morning
Some are elusive and patient
like silvery fog that snakes
after the rain
over steely glass water
There is electric midday blue
that shocks you
like lightening in your veins
There is deep midnight black
where you cant find your way in
or back out again
And some escape the day
through soft brown warmth blanketing your tired mind
orange and gold undertones
Burning wisps 
slipping below the horizon line

I am a portrait artist
Who is still learning
Who begins again
Everyday
For every day we change
Do we ever really know what another looks like
To find a likeness
is to care fully look
is to care for someone
I must learn how to care
It is a practice
I look at the outside
to find my way in
What stories rise to the surface
and hold up our skin
What storms
What carnival rides
What calm
What peace
What vast expanses of indigo
What jostling terrain of vertigo
What restless desire for escape
A portrait is just an internal landscape
An inscape
And inscapes
are anything
but boring

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Panic

Sometimes my world feels so big
it makes me panic
I look at the miles that I travel
and all the worlds that unravel
before my eyes
when I sit with all the people
that I think I know
As I get older
I get luckier
because the boundaries of my globe
don't shrink
they grow
The places called belonging and connection
aren't located at the end of a singular road
Paths to walk have splayed out around me
like a spider web surrounding
and just when I think
I have connected all the intersecting threads
my life moves forward
and the pattern spreads 

The rare moments that I am capable of presence
become birthstones of my momentary existence 
The coal of mundane
compresses minutes
and hours
and days
making diamond memories
to be mined later
in the quiet library of my mind
The time
it takes to travel
in between
all those crystal destinations
all the introspective transportation
makes me panic
about my constantly fracturing
and continuously scattered incantation 
I find shards of shrapnel 
Timeless glimpses of past and future 
Captivating sparkly distractions
that keep me from noticing
the latitudinal and longitudinal lines
that are wrapping up around me
forming the grenade
that is once again soon to explode
Is this just the process of evolution
This repetition of emotional implode
Mushroom cloud billows of blossoming smoke
Crackling tangles of glass
Cities are built
go to war
turn to ash
Generations come and then pass
Centuries of ancient forest decay
that produce newborn blooms of seasonal growth
Cumulus cycles come in all shades of grey
but there are hidden solar storms 
that accompany sunshiny days
followed by hypnotic raging oceans
which are softly kissed by silent moon rays

I am a universal blink
by the eyelid of this sleeping giant called time   
No wonder I should panic
from the understanding
of the magnificently minute
microcosmic measure of my life 
No wonder I insist on holding this mold
that I continuously break
No wonder I sift through
the aftermath rubble 
like chicken bones in a witch doctors hand
No wonder I inspect the skins of my cocoons
spread out and searched through
like a map of the internal land
No wonder my tiny brain
can barely understand
that my significance is equal
to a fraction of a speck of stardust
swirling in the irresistable magnetism of a black hole
and also
that it is 
as beautiful 
and fleeting
as the icy fractalled lifespan
of a single perfect flake of snow 
Sometimes I panic
because when I stop to think about it
my world doesnt really 
feel very big
at all

Friday, September 22, 2017

How to be small

When I was growing up
I received a BIG education
that began when I was very little
on how to be small
Its an education  
that I am grateful for
about morals and ethics and war
I saw conferedate flag bandanas wrapped around heads
not knowing that they were helmets
I heard kkk propaganda before I even knew 
what those words meant
I learned who we called faggots and who we called niggers
"because that’s who they are", they said
with angry, outstretched, index fingers
No wonder I didn’t tell them
that is who I am
No need to GIVE someone an excuse
to beat the gay away
especially when
some people arent even afforded that LUXURY
I saw the big picture of bigotry
The complex quilting of blame
through piece after piece of incidents and accidents
I watched the spreading of blankets of hate and shame
over patriarchal beds full of self righteousness
and indignation
and incest
Beds slept in safely, snuggly, smugly, every night
Shotguns loaded under the frame
Just in case
and out of sight
It is true what they say
those crazy phychologists
those brainwashing scientists
Prejudice is not innate
It is learned
I learned at that early age
to be disgusted
and irate
which amazingly I maintained
but not exactly in the way they had trained
I listened year after year
to joke after joke
watched time after time
as the masoginistic poked
and the generations of rage 
prodded and choked
the love
right OUT the room
So I followed those instructions
and I left
I pay my own bills
Rent my own room
So no I DON'T have to tolerate this anymore
You cant make me go to Christmas
Even Jesus wouldn’t put up with this SHIT

As I watched my grandparents die
I hoped that this ideology
This pathology
This heart dis-ease
This live-or can't-sir
This brain tomb-er
would go with them
but I am getting an education yet again
that I am not happy about
but privileged to receive
and still grateful for
When my girlfriend stood at the door
asked me to show her a neighborhood
that was safe to walk her dogs in
She smiled at my uneducated answer and said
Sweetheart, I don’t think you understand
I stand OUT on an affluent street
My skin is too brown
The cops will follow me around
I will feel safer in a different part of town
She loses sleep at night
when her sons are out
Reciting instructions given from day one
about how to survive being pulled over by the cops
knowing not IF it will happen, but WHEN
One week she sends her boy
off to college to become a man
and the next watches hatred fill a campus
not surprised to watch history repeat itself yet AGAIN

I see these supremacy demonstrations
that are filled with men
who all but look like my next of kin
Brandishing sticks and stones
and they think they know me
with their accusations of sin
and I smile a little
because maybe they do
but the joke isn’t over
because I also know them
I know their shouting and gun loading
comes from fear and self loathing
I know that their atrocious, unforgiveable abuse of power
cums from the fact that they have not yet found their own
Using a FIST to make ones way in the world
is just evidence that one is still trapped underneath
someone elses THUMB
and nurturing the family tree of passed down oppression
will only make someone feel
old
tired
and KNUMB
I know their heads full of secrets and games
I know their pants full of inadequacies and shame
I know their hearts full of bruises
I know their histories full of excuses
Just like mine
And I know that
that is not really
who they are
but it is still who they are CHOOSING to be
I hope that someday
very, very, very soon
they will choose to see
that it is MERELY
an education
that they received when they were very little
on how to be small