Spring slowly sprung the environs plush with dawdle walks and doodle weeds, tweets and posts poking up in the usual spaces, out of concrete poetry cracks, but in the midst of this year’s annual rush for life we were learning to breathe. Spring is just such the perfect answer to winter, one wonders shouldn’t one’s writing change, from Irony back to Romance? Never mind; summer will remind us there is no keener irony, no sharper disappointment, than romance. “Beware of all enterprises,” Thoreau said, “that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” Advice which is everywhere ignored with regard to romance, not to mention writing. Poetry persists in prolonging winter while at the same time putting out the basil too early in spring. The doodle upper-right depicts a new striped shirt.
Spring is the enterprise the clothing ads have been predicting since the Christmas ornaments were boxed for the basement. In the liturgical calendar, Lent accentuates the anticipation, slowing the heartbeat to the rhythm of nature. Pope Francis this year clarified that giving things up for Lent misses the point, unless what we give up we give to another. I was thinking of giving up clothes for Lent, but alas, the approaching Spring was simply too wet and cool. To the right we see the doodle remnant of an unseasonably hot spring day, when I broke out the shorts and Susan the muumuu.
Each season puts a special pressure on the breath. In winter, the air inside is stuffy with recirculated dust. You go outside for a breath of fresh air, and there is Cassini taking pics of the ice rings around your heart. The winter cold constricts. The spring cold giggles. Summer laughs. Fall chokes and coughs. One might hold a romantic view of winter, the emptiness, the sleeping squirrels in the sleeping tree hollows, the squirrels quiet for the night in the roof eves. Snow falls from the fir limbs like the down from the mattress when your body is easily the hottest object in the house. Come spring you’ll be dancing in the rain, you sing. But all you do is slip and fall on the mossy deck, the bruise on your leg like a storm on Jupiter.
Jokes mock truth, but as the season moves, truth mocks the joke. On Facebook, we posted a couple of Public Service Announcements (PSA). In one, we reminded friends to be cautious with their ear, eye, and nose drops. We were at the pharmacy, picking up some new off the shelf eye-drops, for the eye floaters, and stopped just short of purchasing instead a box of ear drops. It’s not just that we forgot our reading glasses, nor that our attention span is now the flight of a mosquito. We are simply not paying attention, spaced out, always spaced out, anticipating the next batch of Cassini pics to brighten our day. In the second PSA, we mix the good news that baby wipes can be used by adults to soothe hemorrhoids with the caution not to pull out the bleach wipe by mistake.
Which season is the setup, which the punchline, we remain uncertain. We feel we are beginning to move backwards. In any case, when is it not a winter of discontent? Surely that is the message returning from Cassini. No sooner the heaters shut down the air conditioners fill the air, but you know it’s not still winter; winter was never so noisy.
Spring’s fill flickers, now on, now off. Now shorts, now long pants. One day, we pull a few yard games out of the basement, badminton and whiffle ball and croquet and we get out the patio umbrella, and we even have a picnic on the lawn. We hug a leafy tree.
We grow as silly as bees as the snow melts and as giddy as Cassini descending through the icy rings of Saturn. We clone around, all shook up. We sit out under a major league baseball pop fly. The ball goes up and up and up; it never does fall back to Earth.
Exhausted with the turning from winter to spring, we cave in to sleep, and dream of books, mothers, lovers, and selfies. And we dream of breath and of breathing. We awake and feel our breath. It’s very relaxing, learning to breathe. Such a perfect breath. I’d like to share it with you.
Just as we might ask a critic not to call not good a work for not being what it is not intended to be, we might remember expecting a like from any particular audience predisposed to dislike the chosen form doomed to deletion. We often think others think like we do, but they probably don’t. We persist in putting our selfie into play in the hopes of turning on an audience to a new experience. But before this post devolves into another discussion of what is good, let’s update the recent doodles, many of which have received welcomed likes from the general audience online community (hover for titles):
Artists like van Gogh who truly lust for life can afford to ignore pandering or otherwise trying to persuade an audience of anything, let alone what might be good, because those artists pursue their work free and unencumbered from the fickle vicissitudes of audience likes and dislikes and market influenced fads. The cost of this artistic stubbornness is usually obscurity, the rat infested garret, fasting; the reward is independence, exploration of the unknown, relaxation.
These various recent venues, if the attempt is art, (facebook, twitter, blogs, instagram, etc.) are as full of activity as the Midwest summer evening near the lake is full of mosquitoes, where each like becomes a bite that draws blood and soon begins to itch like crazy for more. Bites and likes, interchangeably. In any case, each of these venues presents a certain form that challenges the artist to conform with the appropriate content for the coveted like. No likes doesn’t mean no appreciation. One may safely assume lurkers around every post. Or one may at least tell oneself so.
Think maybe for a moment of the undiscovered or otherwise ignored (perhaps worse) artist who has invested much more emotion and investment and expectation in a work longer than the doodle (the epic novel, the still oil painting that seems to move, the play with a cast of a dozen burning stars). One begins to envy the popular doodler who survives on fish and chips and cheap beer, and turns away with the crowd from the hunger artist. What is it we want, what are we looking for when we open a book, look at a painting, watch a play unfold? What does it take for us to simply like something? A like is like a smile; it’s not a kiss.
Some evenings are full not of mosquitoes but lightning bugs, fire flies, glow worms – that light the length of a like. But it’s foolish to lust for likes. What’s important is to like what you are doing. A neighbor recently asked, “What are you doing, Joe?” If I only knew, I’m sure I could stop. Sometimes people ask what when what they mean is why. In any case, don’t lust for the like; like for the lust.
Comics page update. Still having fun with a perfect mobile device art form. The drawings are made using fingers and thumbs on Memo Draw on the cell phone. I’ve added to the Comics page of The Coming of the Toads a few of the more popular recent drawings.
The line was long, a slow Monday morning.
They waited patiently, neither taking cuts
nor giving up position. At a table were two
policemen, fully garbed, sipping espressos.
“Raspberry mocha with a peppermint
twist, triple shot with cinnamon sticks,
make it three: Grande, Venti, and Trenta,
and a plate of twelve fresh breadsticks.”
“A jar of pickled pettitoes and a Tall
glass of water, please.”
“I’m sorry, Sir, but you must
stick to the menu.”
“A mushroom latte, then,
hold the whipped cream.”
One of the policemen looked up,
the other did not.
The barista gallant,
tattooed with Galgulta across
her upper chest,
called out the orders with a voice
so young and joyful and beautiful
Jesus wept, and the Buddha smiled.