Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Look You

Walburga Retreat 2018

Look you, from the inside of lesser happenings, she saw an abyss to be crossed, a triumphant return, long journeys unending in their particular homogeneity, cascading complexities of human love and hate, lost souls and worlds, new beginnings with exciting potential, the death of the mother much later than the father, dreaded in her undoing, beastly and not brave, the father as courageous as the mother cowardly. The spending of every penny. 

Beggar boys with cups in hand dancing a jig on the edge of reality. A world groveling from screwed boxes of marketability; the end of everything, the beginning of something. Out of the grime of ghetto chaos, a heart stayed beating. The riffraff almost undid her; the west waning with not much to replace it, ill-gotten culture tucked under the arm with the wanting, the wanting, the wanting; burning with desire, squandering expectations of fleeting guilt; an idea of one’s own, bypassing death as legions of the privileged dropped before her, not unsung but hardly living up to potential, hyenas haggling over the stolen bits, the unwashed parts, the mistakes, the unknowing, the intoxicated babblings of a frightened girl in search of protection and identity, hard shelled but vulnerable. 

Not thinking they were exclusive, difficult, lengthy in development through exterior harbingers of regret and longing, expulsion and sacrifice required, lost at sea for so long, belching the unspeakable, negotiating the unquenchable; hearing swan songs, death dives, suicides and ODs, forgotten boys and girls at midtown gay bars, spilling over the edge of ingratitude and indifference. Family with bribes to disappear, puffed up and uncaring, slithering into vaudeville, vulgarity surfacing freely; prayers at hand, division between step and stone.

Marble-eyed critics encased in glass structures – a lack of charity able to shrivel the heart; all about need, an arena of unexamined lives nipping like dogs at the heel, the bolstering of saviors, the help of the unasked with tidings of hope. In uncharted oceans where plans were devised in secret to know something, to do something, to be something, as the boot crushed her hand, making a mark before the show was over despite the relentless squandering of spirit, she stood on the ocean shore seeing how much bigger the world is than the tiny grumblings of the discontented, the fortunate, the bolter of doors where rocks remain unturned and the small voice of past grievances gnaw at her shallow grave where she refused to step before all that must be said is uttered, all ideas displayed; the parts mended, the esteem raised, the demons struck out with silver crosses and a good dose of healthy thinking, her eyesight failing but the determination intact, swirling in a foreign land with thin pockets and bold eyes, she walks to the precipice to shout down ghosts, grifters, gatekeepers and self-righteous asides to move past what is allowed to what is praised since force of character and a poetic sensibility gets attention despite hesitation, and if credentials won’t serve, indomitable potential can replace.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Rocky Coast of Unknowing. 2018. Topography of Safety.

In the beginning, where did you go, that person you were – the flowing, loving child in the prim clothes? Quiet, intelligent, dreaming of great things to be done. The gentle child who with much confidence in the world sat in deep regard for all that was possible. She wondered at all the colors to be arranged and made to work. She stared out the window in the twilight hours when no one was there, looking at snow as it circled and dipped and danced. She wrote stories and drew pictures and was happy. Where did she go, that creature of all possibilities?

Storms hovered betting on landfall. Sharp harpies lurked behind thin walls. There was some moment when grey tentacles of slander and restriction grabbed her arms and held her down, forcing grim ideas about selfhood. Voices blared nightly in the arena of degradation. The howling of family harsh, as torrential tides rained with thick pelts. The bruising was unbearable. The betrayal daunting. She let them snuff her out. She closed the curtains and hid in the body of another for decades. The other with anger so vast it wiped the slate clean. It made her into the amalgamation of all that was wrong. The suffering made her heartless, so she wasted all that was good about her person until very little could be done to retrieve a life.

What exactly happened, and why, can never be surmised but know this. With barely a heartbeat left, and with a broken compass, she sailed through every harrowing bastion of disgust and bad tidings to re-emerge on the shore of nothing. Far, far, far away from the sores of youth. Not completely away from the sins of men and women but distant enough to find a plain of comfort. She had no idea she would survive it all – the violence, the indifference, the cruelty, the judgments, the humiliations. She did though and when the others, long since dead were but vague ghosts, a little joy returned. She forgot happiness thinking the sky was always falling. Within the confines of such things she created beauty. How is this possible? She will never know but a piece of that child exists somewhere, the spirit almost intact. It is the child that triumphed, not those who think they know and beckon toward hell. It is the elementary person after being ripped from herself remained available to rebuild a life.

Here she stands near the end. Resurrected at last. Gambling on safety. Hoping for an even chance. Startled, afraid and often encouraged. After a war, after a baptism, after the worst of the worst took her tongue she stood up with fair warning and something to say. In the early morning silence, she can hear her heartbeat and trust in the approaching day after a lifetime of falling off every corner. In the cursory hours when nothing means anything, all can be endured and made to appear miraculous. Here is rebirth.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

So Long

Resorting to Optimism. 2018. Topography of Safety.

You began this morning so long ago. The milky sky thick with hot and cold fronts crossing. The dust storm exciting. Unknown regions of verisimilitude glowing like a brilliant mirage. You came to the end of the earth to answer questions, to explore the beginning of civilization–to understand why you, why the relentlessness monotony of misery. You found in the hidden cases of monstrous behavior this was not so uncommon. You were not so unique. Your private and public pain lower on the totem pole of extinguished lives than you imagined. The trafficked, the refugee, the imprisoned shrivel ahead of you in the line to orchestrated destruction.

You waited so long for this morning when you could feel as if the world became gentle. You could give up the ghost stalking your memory banks. The world stopped sucking the life out of you with unnecessary cruelty. You watch grinding poverty handled with care, the hollow eyes betraying its reality. You need to see this. You want to see this. There is purpose in the path most avoid. You can consider the uses of adversity. It puts power into your work, every brush stroke or word infused with the stark beauty of betrayal. The volume of assistance makes for a buoyant head rest, your survival depending on personal strength and the generosity of others. Strangers and near strangers along with friends and family, and now the American government, keeping you afloat.

This exotic location made its mark. Exiled without knowing what would happen next. The effervescence exists beneath the surface. The obedient child, the curious, well-behaved child expecting great things not completely extinguished, hiding, waiting for the moment to return, to come out from under the house you never had, to let go of the reigns of other’s opinions. To leave the past behind with the indelible mark of opinions of those who never bothered to know you, who never bothered to care. You walk from the fire like some embroiled goddess, fierce from the decades of abuse, molten brass in your blood, ready to storm the next chapter. Look for wings and you will find them. Forget about time and the millennium will appear. Stand tall in your oppression and the want of love will disappear. This is what you came for. This is what you want. To be yourself and make it work. For in the end, who is the originator of being? The universe is vast compared to sniveling idiots lurking in base corners, their own world microscopic. Who are the vampiric haters of the glorious day? They leave nothing behind but scarred flesh.

The day will come when freedom rings from sea to shining sea if you last long enough. Outliving the monsters brings you to  a fairyland of the mind where all will be well. The strength of your existence separates from the harrows of destiny. The morning full of tea and rotis lifts the spirit. It connects with the morning of coffee and bacon in another land, in the beginning of time before fate and humans tried to take you down. This morning has pinks and blues dancing in the ever present. The ever present is always with us. It is always the voice of possibility standing next to destruction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Combustible Alchemist Returns

Walburga, a residency of sorts. Ventnor, NJ

You may think you know your limitations. Tests of endurance may appear so extreme, you think you will never make it through. During these kinds of days and months, it is not how strong you are but how willing you are to go to the end of the road. The strength of your purpose carries you from the intolerable, the inexplicably disastrous situation, to a frame of mind where you can endure. If you are prone to such situations, you will develop the skills to pass from suffering to transcendence. You may be eager to share these periods that move beyond the ordinary. Many will have no interest. This thing of yours has no relevance to them. Your travels through hard space appear as a string of awful complaints, which often they are. There may be no interest whatsoever. It will be hard for those around you to comprehend since their lives do not include such things. They have other trials and tribulations to pass through. Different from yours and unwilling to share the intense human experience, unless, of course, they take the stage while ignoring the feverous brilliance of your own efforts. You must sigh and walk away since most of life is like this. The reverberation of your spirit so inflamed will seem like a dead spark. Your ardor is not their ardor. Vice versa, as well.

Do not shrink from this accomplishment, that you live still. You may fall off the face of the earth at the multitude of harpies left shrieking in your ears. You battle your way back to the world you now inhabit. You wonder, “Who are these people here? Surely I know them but also I do not.” A strange mood to place yourself in. There it is, though. You operate on the edge of their world, tottering into your own. You drink a cup of tea, looking at them with vast eyes, wanting to exchange beyond tawdry human interaction but you cannot. They do not ride that ship. Whaling men and frigates do not interest them. You are lost in a zone where your unconscious proclivities wrap around ordinary swells where you bob and weave eternally. Self-help books can only go so far. Motivational enthusiasm cannot solve your conundrum. You balance along an endless sea of misconceptions, failing to make your case for the moment. But there are others who will put forward those who write about the experience. The right poet can make the world well again. The waiting for resilience, for communion, may always pass you by but there are strings of finely wrought words out there that will comfort and keep you on the road to your true self, unencumbered by the way things are.

Stay on your long and fantastic journey, that odyssey of the mind in the modern world. These speculations, with little bearing on the world at large, where the inclinations of your own mind sit to comfort you, may not be appreciated. No matter. You did them while no one was looking. And they were good. 

Friday, May 11, 2018


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


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.