Friday, May 11, 2018

Reflection

St Walburga Monastery front yard

Sparkled reflection on green grass fluttering.
Different sunlight than the last.
Cool, sharp but not obliterating. Light blue silence.
Hear the leaves tremble. Hear the end of anguish.
Over the rainbow surly nomenclature ceases.
Incomprehension vanishes.
America, America, my heart is with you.
Though the walls outside shake with your mistakes,
blustery men who ruin everything gather.
They cover their deeds with misnomers, 
making unconscionable decisions,
hiding in their own darkness.
I know your name. I know your intent.
Here in the sanctuary, I forget your awfulness.
Possibilities fill the voids left by events past.
The psychic tendencies of such a place remain 
powerful against your destructive foolishness.
See the torment melt. Evaporated in the 
seed of creation.
With every hope comes a smile of justice.
Perhaps it inhabits the mind only, but no matter.
The day is done when new breath emerges 
on the page of your life.
Drink in the verdure freshness.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pain Painting

Vemali, Baroda, India

You awoke out of the bad dream of unending ghetto blasting beyond a level that you could not explain or do anything about. It was a kind of attack almost every day and night for eight months. Your rage knew no bounds. You could not understand the benefit of it in this foreign culture where noise is glorified. The ceaseless firecrackers sounded like guns. The ear-splitting music ruined days and nights. Work was put on hold. No one cared about the health dangers nor the torment. This is not your country. This is not your apartment. No one thought to tell you that this would be the case here in disco India.

The return home was unlike any other. The jet lag dragged on. Your mind remained confused and fuzzy. The tension would not drop. You were out of shape since the heat, dust, lack of sidewalks and destinations prevented activity in a physical sense. That is not an issue now and with every step in the cool summer air, profuse with greenness, you realize the weakness of muscles. You feel you have aged prematurely. You feel old. The trauma of the mother’s passing becomes evident. The torment of your residence with her exacerbated by this time battling a daily assault on the senses. Post-traumatic issues burned into the mind, the body, the spirit.  

You proceeded with work, with reading, with research. You could not use power tools on metal sculptures for fear of injury. The mind was so rattled, the nerves so spent, concentration difficult. You began to paint with gouache on the many gatherings of handmade paper that you treated with Damar varnish for translucency. The texture of the paper merged with the texture of the gesso, accommodated by the medium. All emotion transmitted through the method. Your international audience online responded profusely. You would not have survived without social media and pharmacological assistance. A dry state ruled out cocktail hour, but you thrived anyway. The language and cultural barriers prevented interaction as did your own proclivities. The power in those moments of creation every morning, though, gave you the strength to stand it all.

You think of the revered Rothko who came to the day when the black swallowed the red. He ended his life so drastically, so messily, so violently. You have not reached as deep into the paint, into the canvas, into the beyond. You appreciate his torment. Work of such encompassing beauty. Is it dangerous? You do not know. Additionally, you appreciate torture victims. During the moments of the torture, you strive to get past it. It is only until later that the true cost is realized. 

You connect with things that are important because of this. The experience loses it pointlessness and becomes useful. In this life, there are many who wonder, why me? Why am I in this boat crossing the Atlantic looking for sanctuary? Why am I ripped apart by bullets as the world ignores my country’s violence? Why was my son killed in front of our home by a police or thug’s bullet? Why? Why?

There is no reason but that the world goes on and you may be caught in its crosshairs. The only solution is to find the worth in what life has handed you since there is always someone who has it far worse. You have not been sex trafficked. You are not under daily fire from mortar. You are not starving. You survive and succeed. That is a gift. Make the most of it. Yes. Make the most.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Strip Mining

Kathmandu 2016

Father wrote to me once, “Do not forget the story of Icarus, who wanted to fly to the sun and arrived at a certain height, lost his wings and dropped into the sea” (Vincent Van Gogh tTheo, Paris, Oct. 14, 1875, letter 43)


You came to this incessant land fleeing the closure of walls. Broad bends of no exit. In search of enchantment, in search of a better chance. Solitude. Escape from the torment that lasted far too long. The horizon always receding as you chased after it. Looking to discharge the fetters, to ride the wind. To free the spirit from torture. Why it was so hard you could never surmise but that was the fact of it. Worn down year after year, try as you may to stay strong, the challenges proved relentless. You found every piece of armor to supplement change so you could go on. Coming here, you hoped to gain a new life, a new perspective. You did not see it at first but you were heading into the same dungeon you left as malfeasance rose across the ends of the day into the night. A different species but hard tackle nevertheless. Joy sweeping occurrences.

The arrival did not begin well but you hovered above avarice to a state of goal-fulfilling bliss. Wonders to behold, a narrative unknown. Beguiled by difference, by a society so foreign that every step alluded to something else. Pungent with possibilities. You stood alone as always. The previous difficulties allowed you to continue with an idea, for that was all you came with. The heat made you sick filling every pore with a dot of blood. A common malady among the locals. Rx fixed all that. You continued. Lost everything at home due to family circumstance. You continued. Bad translations hampered the rest. You went on. Disappointment and loss. Loss and disappointment. 

The Himalayas inspired trust so you remained and sought others. The ring of fire rounded by fellow practitioners. The world made sense, not so icy. Then the hardest iceberg of them all receded into the grave. You thought the trials were over. You were wrong. Perhaps the castration of self flooded the brainwaves with a destination compassed toward dereliction. You thought you were past all that. It took so long to correct the atrocities of your youth where every ounce of effervescence was nearly squeezed out. You rallied hard and often. You thought at some point it would become easier. Childish expectation. You were heard saying, “I’ve been in the meanest streets for the longest time but still, still I am surprised by what people do, how they behave. There is endless copy to be mined here.”

You go to rooftops to gain perspective. It is there among the rising planetary certainties that ghosts who lived before you speak with a hint of grace. It is here, as it is everywhere, that affliction lessens with the inconsequential breath of tomorrow’s forecast. If you continue to trust in salvation a way will be found to release you from the mire that engulfs us all.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Landscaping

Atlantic Ocean

You walked into the sunlight after confronting darkness for a decade. The sweet early years stifled at the hands of men eager to satisfy appetite on your smooth loveliness. Between the pouncing and your iceberg of a mother, 
you descended into a carcass so stripped of identity it took 20 years to resurrect some semblance of self. Most of the perpetrators never paid a dime of time or money for what they erased. Your mother went to her grave paying the cost of relentless separation.

Forgetting the person you left behind echoed through sordid dreams and oppressive reveries. Steeped in narrative real and imagined truthfulness pulled shards of infection from body to the therapist’s chair. You either recognized them or tossed them to the ends of the earth. Either way, it was never enough. You could not isolate the origin of self-destruction. It was stopped in time nevertheless. Your emotions were scrambled in the quiet afternoon sun allowing you to function in society. Achievement became the catchword – the distraction needed to keep the gasket from blowing. Your coffers were generally empty, but you were never poor. The outline of your being, gray as slate, shook off the desire for revenge. Seeing the wonders of the world became your raison d’etre.  Every locale exuded possibilities for redemption, for elation, for forgetting the past and renewing the soul.

At times you romanticized corridors of the lost, making them shine with Baroque accouterments. Characters wilder than imagination came and went whether within icy tundras of unspeakable white beauty or tropical exasperations where elephant ears and night jasmine dripped with dew. The stories unearthed bodies extinguished by time. They floated past as if jettisoned from a Magritte painting. You called their names but they did not respond. An entire epoch vanished before your fortieth birthday only to resurface retroactively by young people who wished they had been there. If you could rearrange it, you were heard saying, you would eliminate the intoxicants since clarity eluded you. Lastly, that was all that made sense. To clarify, to make known, to understand. Time became elusive as the most desired actuality. Recovering time, reusing time, making the most of it. You wanted to add as many years as it took to make your lifespan significant, not merely exciting or dramatically eventful.

The stark beauty of your loneliness propelled an austere refabrication of artful environments – good copy the driving force, you said. Somewhere in a parallel universe, the dead spoke where broken spirits corrected their mistakes. Meanwhile, lovely fabrics graced your walls and soft blankets warmed the unmade bed. If atonement could not be had at least a pleasant place to consider what came next sufficed.