A kin of kindly epiphany, unblinding, not whiskey aflame in your raw throat, a mud dog’s bouche to your uncupped groin, but the silent soft brush of a cat rub against your leg to say hello and please pay attention to her.
Geomicrobiologists now claim life underground exceeds in size, diversity, and span life above ground. What is life? It might be easier to simply say Earth is alive, all of it, including the rocks. And does extraterrestrial life exist? Well, we exist, we think. It now appears planets are living beings. Universe is alive. And that’s not counting the ghosts.
According to scientist Karen Lloyd, quoted in The Guardian: “The strangest thing for me is that some organisms can exist for millennia. They are metabolically active but in stasis, with less energy than we thought possible of supporting life.” That describes a teacher I had in high school.
Meanwhile, in the basement studio, located at the intersection of above and below ground, I’ve continued to work on cutout paintings. The photos below detail the evolution of a recent graffito work:
Portlanders love to sit out. At sidewalk cafes, outside pubs, in their yards or drives. On porches, decks, balconies. In parks. On special occasions, neighbors will close their street to cars so they can sit out in the middle of the block at improvised tables in whatever chairs seem to turn up. The atmosphere of a street closed to cars turns surreal in these times. Maybe because it rains six months out of the year, Portlanders don’t take the perfect evening for a sit out for granted, but they’ll even sit out in the rain, huddled beneath coats and blankets around a fire pit or under overhead standing outdoor electric heaters.
The current painting in progress is tentatively titled, “Sitting Out.” It’s 3 feet by 5 feet, stretched canvas. I’ve used acrylics, oils, and oil pastels, applied with brush, palette knife, or directly out of the tube. The grandgirls have been involved in this painting as well. Chloe is responsible for the bottom left, raspberries at the top of a green hill, ZZ for the sky and bottom right umbrella and blue chair seated with a red figure. Layer upon layer. Things get covered up. Sometimes it’s a mistake to cover something over, but you keep working. A canvas of this size is not inexpensive, but we got this one used at a garage sale for $5. We painted over the old painting, but ZZ wanted to keep some existing red roses in the bottom right hand corner, so we tried to preserve those.
Our studio, such as it is, is located in the basement:
The grandgirls are back in school now, and I’m working on the sit out painting in the basement alone. Last night I added the black umbrella outline with the broken stretchers pointing upward in the middle left. Had the girls been there, they would have booed this change. I need to figure out a way to cover it up without ruining the horizon line below it, which tops Chloe’s field.
Below are two pics of Portlanders sitting out on the sidewalk and in the street corral of a corner restaurant:
And we’ll close with this pic of a sit out zone in an unused portion of a driveway, Ollie waiting patiently to be taken for a ride:
City park a bench come Spring
passersby doing their thing
King slips into Queen being
antique clown bums a smoke
everybody doing something
and those have nothing at all
nothing their thing this Spring.
Cool cat gesticulated crouch
down by the empty reservoir
live on social media channel
pothole posts and midnight tweets
comic flickers flower round the pole
breaking beaks on noisy bedspring
like every Spring that’s ever been.
Now Jack and Jill dressed to kill
over the hill they spring and sing
shall Jack hath Jill and nought go ill?
or doth not Jill make a good Jack?
spring seeds put to bed then will time
Summer rest before work begins earnest
August and lugubrious September.
The ambiguities of Spring befuddle
tulip mania in all this muddle the old
let the thistledown grow those
with little to increase shall not spray
the unwanted children free to roam and play
the glow of a new Pentecost settles
over a movable East and festive West.
The Age of Privacy is over
all must now show their hands
still the war the weather the constant worry
but another night passes in local peace
and the coffee house on the corner
open as usual still a few things
we might rely on not to our detriment.
Words were never so simple as we were taught to believe. Tricksters of the trade make things look like all the chess moves were preordained. And if we are reading second hand, through the prism of translation, so much the better for our lack of understanding!
Words are not to understand, but to experience, to share, the ordinary daily world we work so hard at from being cornered.
Do we understand the invisible string of musical notes? What do they mean? Already heard and gone, and where did they go, these industrial sounds?
Words work within their industry, economy, structures.
Dust particles, falling, drifting, piling up, the tongue the only rule, the teeth, lips, mouth.
The poem is an old thing, some kind of tool, maybe, an implement, but what was it used for?
He started off so serious, as if he were out to save something, someone. But first he had to persuade there was some danger. These comics, by the way, these unsophisticated, small-scale drawings, are made with fingers on the simplest of phone apps, with just a few basic colors, and no tricks.
The moon looked like a pearl. He heard a familiar voice: “Did you remember to carry the garbage can to the curb?”
He slept all day, and at night drew cartoons.
But mostly at night, in the middle of the night, when sleeplessness becomes comical.