The shapes created by the spaces between things

watercolor painting of poppies in sunlight
Poppies in sunlight (watercolor)

One of the reasons I enjoy poetry is because it comprises all of my favorite ways of making. It’s creating images with words, yes; a kind of storytelling. But it’s about so much more than just the correct or precise words —more than denotation or connotation— it’s also about design.

It’s about how the words interact with the space around them; make a composition, make aural and visual rhythms; remainders as important as omissions.

As in any kind of composition, the negative space is crucial.

watercolor painting: fraternal twins
Fraternal twins (watercolor)
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Philosophical pirates, intellectual outlaws

Watercolor drawing / collage
Watercolor sketch from the Moleskine 

When I was young, probably in college, I’d occasionally hear a person talking about this or that luminary, describing them as a “Rhodes Scholar.” My lack of awareness at the time meant that I’d only ever heard the phrase, not seen it spelled out. I had no idea. In my adventurous young mind, I heard it always as Rogue Scholar, and that turned itself into something I longed to be. Was it some sort of philosophical pirate? An intellectual outlaw? How did one arrive at an occupation or a moment where ‘actual’ scholars began describing one as a rogue of same? There was an implied concurrence that such a person was, indeed, learned, an expert— but somehow off the beaten path, or got to it by some unknown route. Delicious. Intriguing.

I realize it all sounds rather silly, but the idea has never disappeared from my mind; it has percolated in the recesses. In retrospect, I’m sure I knew it was my own fiction, but I was loathe to lose or destroy the whim. It’s probably still what I want to be when I grow up. Perhaps, if I ever found a grant for creatives, recipients thereof will be known as Rogue Scholars™. (The title alone will act as the first phase of weeding, of triangulating appropriates* for the honor.)

.

*Ha! That’s an appropriation of an inappropriate word. Maybe appropirates.

Things bound with waxed sail thread and resin

drawing of mountains, riversMy subconscious has been working on a thesis for me lately; broadcasting things which on the surface (flattened and simplified by my waking mind) appear disparate, but on closer inspection are stitched together by a continuous thread.

Its thesis is about crafting sensible (or at least legible, recognizable) solutions, guides, codes to amorphous and unformed problems. Striving to find concrete solutions to riddles or puzzles only hinted at. Trying to map a place whose geography and even location is ever-shifting.

A reminder that, sometimes, the answers one wants or needs are unattainable because one is asking the wrong questions. It’s telegraphing this to me visually; that’s how I best understand the world. And the message coming through: I must widen my frame of reference, my view, in order to ask the right questions.

‘Maps for cephalopods’ is perhaps the most obvious— my subconscious’ version of hitting me over the head; a wry attempt at a movie-montage or voice-over exposition— and its point at least two-fold;

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On noticing a sudden summer thunderstorm, late

From an artists studio window in Gowanus

Right now, after a very high heat index day (that’s how we talk about hot, humid days now), there’s a thunderstorm happening outside in the dark.

I missed the first hour of it. When I arrived home I took the day’s second shower, and then dinner. The air conditioning has been on, and music distractions. So I’ve had only the barest awareness of this summer storm.

But the record just ended, and I let it end (though it’s not even really a record, but a stream, a subscription, which is how we talk about music now).

I let it end and the thunder sounds big and powerful, like the things we used to know from stories.

I love the things we used to know from stories, and I want to bring them back. Stories are the reason we ever made it this far— as individuals, and as a species. Stories are powerful, like thunder and lightning.

(A summer storm sounds like the world existing, as it does, with or without us.)

Life in the city is a nonstop #adventure!

You guys, let me tell you that life in the Big City is just one crazy adventure after another, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Why, this very afternoon, some crazy, impromptu shit went down! Or rather, came down, I should say.

I was weekend-chillin’ in my apartment when I heard an alarming sound from the kitchen, followed by a second, even more elaborate sound. And like a fine wine, that second sound had a long finish—of pebbles bouncing on the floor, a trailing off kind of sound.

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Leave(s)

portion of a Calder sculpture

People disappear

Sometimes all of a sudden
without warning.
Sometimes gradually

like sunset on the longest day of the year,
or how long it takes some trees
to become naked
in the face
of
oncoming winter.

One way is like hitting a brick wall.
The other is more torturous.

An ongoing awareness
tracing the slow serpentines
through the empty air
and then the gentle, condescending
landing
on the dry sidewalk

of
each
brittle

leaf.

Then you
Brace for winter, and dream

of springtime.

 

New year

all-things-sacred
The image above is an odd little thing I wrote when I was 23; I was photographing sketchbooks and other do-dads while I was at the Farm.
There will be more to come, art archive series.
.  .  .

It’s sunny today, a nice gift.
At midnight a new year begins,
everything cyclical.