Toreador

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Watched Blood and Sand the other night. Well, as much as we could stand. It’s a movie starring Tyrone Power from 1941, and it’s frightfully long. The story meanders all over the place; it goes from trip to moralistic to downright weird and cheesy.

We made it through about and hour and a half before giving up; it’s practically unwatchable. On the upside, it does have some fantastic set design. I think this drawing will be stronger with the bull finished in solid black, save for his eyes and nostrils.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the images, recently. My scanner stopped speaking to my computer rather suddenly after an ‘upgrade’ to software, and the new one hasn’t yet arrived.)

Scaffolding for memory

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The rain has stopped. The men from next door are talking neighborly, I can hear them now I’ve just opened the window. I like the sound of tires on the still-wet pavement as a car goes by. A quiet section of the city, this last handful of blocks before the cemetery bisects the avenue, not to reemerge ’til down in Sunset. I like where the road bends, transitions seamlessly from avenue to street block— just an easy curve following the bend in the high iron fence that separates the dead from the living.

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One of the reasons I write so much—keep records, organize photos by year, date every last drawing in my sketchbooks— is that I know how impressible and fallible memory is. We think things are so clear and true in our memories— but when there are records against which to hold them, they often reveal themselves to be as fluid as dreams, endlessly rewritable.

My sketchbooks are records as much as anything else. Books of days, of weeks, years. Not in a journaled sense (rarely, anyway), but in the sense they can tell me, through parallels, what was going on in my life at almost any given time.

That’s what this blog is for, too. It’s scattered, I’ve no single thesis, really— at least not on the surface of things. But through it I can reconstruct a great deal. The words, the photographs, drawings— it’s all scaffolding for memory.

Manhattan: a cul-de-sac of Illogic

Subway drawing, bar drawing
Subway drawing, bar drawing

As we walked to the train a fine mist began to fall. We’d not brought umbrellas; the rain was meant to wait until Sunday.

Saturday night on the train into town; people dressed to go out, to join the weekend throngs. An unaccustomed moment, as we tend to stay local.

The mist had become rain proper by the time we emerged island-side to East Village sidewalks full of hopefuls. Both establishments we visited for a rainy November birthday gathering were noisy, crowded— brimming with an optimism born in a cul-de-sac of Illogic. (An aspect of youth only fathomable in hindsight.)

A cabinet card portrait in three parts, gift from Zac; and another bar drawing
A cabinet card portrait in three parts, gift from Zac; and another bar drawing

I rendered some observations in the Moleskine. Realized too late that I’d only two blank pages left in it; had to retrace steps to the start of the book to find a third. (The filling of this book snuck up on me, despite or because of it being long in the tooth— I started it in June.)

Made our way home through twin deluges— to the train then from it, Brooklynside. Zac somehow beat us to my apartment, his suitcase filling the space between doors of the entryway. Reunion.

fabric flags

window

On a cold, windy weekend
I contrived a little garland
of fabric flags—
droll points affixed at intervals
to a length of pale ribbon
because the undraped window
looked dreary
and forlorn.

Days later
I looked at them,
trying to gauge
whether they cheered.

Outside, the trees
wore bright-gold leaves,
a yellow burst
against the blue
Blue sky—

the last carnival
colors of the season.

The flags cannot compete.

Yet months from now,
the view gone grey and somber,
that remembrance will be traced
in a jaunty arc of flags.

Gerritsen Beach, revisited

gerritsenbeach_crab

Gerritsen Beach

I walked along the water
in a sunny autumn marsh.
The silty sand
and grasses underfoot
impressible and yielding.

I saw the bodies
of small crabs, scattered
here and there along the way,
victims of an unknown shift,
caught unprepared.

From a congress of reeds
along the water’s edge
A white crane rose
on a silent vector—
horizon-wise

where points of the city glance
and glister—
that distant isle
fulgent and blue
against the pale scrim.

As I turned back
toward the road
The sun flashed
on the panes of the last
few houses of town.

The water’s surface,
rippled and calm,
caught the same—
and rendered it
a blinding flare.

 

 

(This may be my poet-wise, unintentional abstract postmortem of election night 2016.)