Pickets

Marcella uses the hand shears rather than a power weed-eater

so the white pickets won’t stain green.

At dawn she is up watering the roses, red and white ones

in front of pink shutters.

Now, the sun rises in the late July sky

to wick the water from the soil,

drawing it up with an invisible straw.

You can only be so meticulous, then, once in a while you have to act and pull a weed, even if it uproots something nearby.

Her muscles tense, she bends, digs, tugs. She is strong today. The roots come clean.

She looks at the sun. “Scorcher,” she mutters, and drags out the hose for another round.

 

Then

 

Marcella gets on the bus and goes downtown

and stands and links arms with her neighbors:

African-Americans or girls dressed in rainbows.

She passes out bottles of water, reminds them to hydrate,

there is a chance of bloodshed so she is ready with a medical kit

in a fanny-pack, to keep the blood from staining

the streets. And even

when the sun goes down she stands erect, waves her carefully-lettered picket sign,

feels the burn on her shoulders, revels in the blisters on her heels

waits to go limp in the arms of an officer and (hopefully) a gentleman,

who will take her down to the station and book her. Meanwhile,

Marcella worries only about

the roses at home, red and white and

the people on the street, black, and blue, and LGBTQ.

She is strong today, but– did they get to the root?

Have they gotten enough water? Are they thirsty still for justice?

 

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Making it Hard to Shoot People

The officer approaches my car.

I place my hands on the wheel. Don’t want to make a false move.

“Sir, were you aware of the art you just drove past?”

“Was there art? Sorry, I missed it, I was in too much of a hurry, I guess.”

“Well, sir, it’s not just a local ordinance, it’s a state law to come to a complete stop at the art.”

“Right, right.” What was it? A freaking miniature? An Orthodox icon? A Van Gogh reproduction painted on the head of a pin by some insomniac convict? Jeez. They should make it bigger. All the art should be so big you can’t miss it. Right?

“Well, I’d give you a citation but since I’m holding this book of poems, and my partner back there in the squad car is busy painting a watercolor, I’m going to go easy on you and give you a recitation instead.”

She reads me Maya Angelou. I am late for an appointment. Goddam. How long will this poem take? Maybe it would be faster if I just had the citation without the “re”.

“Sir, what’s the theme in that poem?”

Seriously? I wasn’t really paying attention. “Um, Black Lives Matter?”

The officer smiles, a bit condescendingly, I think. She thinks about my answer for a minute. A long minute. Finally: “More or less. That will do. Sir, please, slow down and pay attention to the art. It’s a grave matter of public health and safety. Next time, we’ll have to have you come in on weekends to paint the county courthouse pink with green polka dots.”

That doesn’t sound like it would even match! Maybe we should elect a new Art Commissioner. Crap. I’m too busy to vote. Never mind. Just get me out of here.

Chagrined, I arrive at my meeting twenty minutes late. Apologize.

“I blew past the art and got pulled over. I had to listen to poetry.”

Everyone shakes their head. They’ve done it too.

Dandelions

The old growth gives way to young

In a space where there was a burn.

Clearings are no accident.

By natural law, species push ahead, overcome, find new spaces to flourish, travel on wind or beast; take hold again, fall apart, crumble well.

The way is clear and, as quickly as all that, obscured.

So seize your wings, find your trail.

You are never lost completely: only once in a while unsure of your direction.

NOW! TODAY!

Go back again to the place where the burn has left a scar.

Fly with me to the river, swim with me to the shore, climb cliffs, send up a signal, tendrils and vines. There will be room for us all to send our roots out across that meadow.

There is a home for every bloom and blossom;

Every dandelion connected to every other by this web underground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Static Art, Thailand visuals.

These are the major static works on display this week. Clockwise from upper left: 1) Christa Reuel. 2) Anneke Price. 3) Ann Metz. 4) Becca Bunch. 5) Jonathan Reuel.

I’ll give you the first iteration of the dynamic pieces soon, and we’ll get to track them daily!

Peace (Thailand #4 – ish)

We’ve been working hard to set up an entire room full of artwork. I think the team that has been stressing to overcome jet lag and install the gallery is ready for the conference to begin. I don’t mean that everything is installed yet (and we only have a few hours left) but I mean in the sense that we are ready for the peace of mind that comes with saying “It has begun.” In fact, several of us will be adding to the art or working throughout the conference, but it’s a bit like starting a race. You train and train, you warm up (jogging) but you wait for the starter’s gun just so you can run some more. And then, after the initial adrenaline rush, you settle into a moment of peace. There is serenity in the journey. Somewhere between the preparations and the finish line is that time when you say “we have now begun to really run.” And we are ready for that moment, even if not all the work is quite in place.

Offhand I’d guess we have about nine to twelve people exhibiting some visual work, (several of whom are not attending, and so we have a team of people installing for them via instructions), and a musical team of seven (I count sound guys) and lots of other creativity beginning to flow. Megan leaned over to me and said, “This is becoming an arts conference. But I guess that is the point.” Well, not entirely. But the arts are becoming more and more a part of how we live and breath in a world where we work cross-culturally. Languages lose something in translation, but image can gain communicativeness, as can melody.

Thailand is a great place to be at peace. This sovereign nation resisted colonialism due to a strong monarchy, and there is room for rest here. We are already feeling it, and yet in some ways we still wait for that to be wholly unleashed.

It takes some work to be at peace with being an artist. The value of the arts is much discussed during this time, but becoming established if still elusive.

It turns out I’ll be painting. I’m going to primarily use words, and I don’t have to worry much about color. Thematically there’s a lot of black and white work here, with reds. I can paint that way. I’m content to have a 4×8 panel to work on, and ran my concepts by Megan. There are things I wish I was doing; for example I love to sing but have not done it with a team for so long that it’s not on anyone’s radar. But with blogging, photojournalism, and now a painting to execute plus lots of opportunities to listen to people quietly and ask them questions, I’m at peace with my role. You can’t do everything, and I’m doing a lot. I like to DO stuff, but to be at peace, BEING is the key.

I’m bringing that edge to my painting, as you’ll see.

I’ll start with something that looks pretty abstract. Letters.

Want to join in? Okay, here’s what goes at the top of my canvas:

AAEEFGGHILLLNOOPRSSSUUVX,

AAAAABCEGILMMNRRSSTTUY.

Just letters? We shall see.

There’s more, but all shall be revealed in due time. The starter’s gun is about to bang, and then, we’re off. We’ll settle in, we’ll be at peace, we’ll rest together.

Thailand visuals Saturday (#2)

Clockwise from upper left: 1) sunrise. 2) Jerimae and Ben, Christa’s art. 3) Anneke working. 4) An Asian tourist holds up the fisherman’s creel as if she caught the fish. Cracks me up. 5) Sitting with Kirti and Luke. 6) Glen and Christine hang Christa’s work, Karen works on the next iteration of the same piece.

Visuals, Thailand #2

Clockwise from Upper left: 1) Eric Good and Ben Metz discuss setlist. 2) Ben Metz and Megan Fleming analyzing the installation. 3) Sunrise at Cha-Am. 4) Jonathan Reuel’s piece assembled. 5) Megan Fleming assembles work from Christa Reuel. 6) Megan Fleming looking great with a frangipani flower in her hair. 7) Fisherman at dawn.