Four Hensters On The Fence: Flo, Rosie, Lilly and Leslie/Les (right to left).
The back story:
In a charming backyard in Morris Plains, just off Main Street, four hens climb one-by-one up onto a wooden picket fence at twilight every day. They hang out as chickens do, clucking about the day’s egg-laying while surveying the comings and goings of their neighbors, the Martins, until their keeper puts on her heavy gloves and takes them down into their coop for the evening—(all true so far).
Flo is nosy and a bit of a gossip yet gets flustered rather easily. Rosie thinks that she is right most of the time and is a bit pushy. Lilly is the youngest—sweet and on the shy side, while Leslie/Les is the hip one, and prefers that she/they be considered gender neutral. Thus, according to Leslie/Les (much to the chagrin of Flo and Rosie), she/they are referred to as Hensters, (hens + roosters). Their favorite series on cable TV is Sex And the City, and with a little prodding, will admit to relating to Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda—only with more colorful plumage and much much younger. They are all known to bicker (except for Lilly) over who is most like Carrie Bradshaw, simply because she is the star, and they all long to peck at a typewriter. The Hensters’ story is still evolving–stay tuned.
Some fun facts about chickens: they have great eyesight; teach each other; talk to their chicks before they hatch; are speedy and love to play. They are great characters and used for therapy in some nursing homes.
Regarding the painting: mixed media on board approximately 16” x 20”
after Ongoing by Jenny Xie
So what…the heartaches and headaches she collected like paper cuts over the years? Her early twenties—the twin beds of naiveté and wanderlust lay between book covers, on movie screens and in ballads along with all the angst of tragic heroism. Mood swings hitched-hiked in her Volkswagen Beetle over potholed backroads and the Parkway bound for revolutions on salty ferris wheels tottering on piers along the Jersey shore. Still, there was hope. Inside poems and under the canopy of trees. Work championed her thirties and forties until the prefixes of peri- and meno- attached themselves to the huge pause that followed many false starts and ambivalences. Books no longer satisfied and workmanship dulled into duty. Paint brushes and solvents hued the corners of her fifties and sixties. Self-Doubt trashed canvasses and shrink-wrapped perspective and poetry offering proposals of a loveless marriage or spinsterhood—what difference anyway? Until composition and compassion, juxtaposition and abstraction and other -itions emerged. New frames started to replace stale views of filtered servitude. With charcoal under her fingertips, she labored hard for beyond the so-whats and the for-whats, graying ever-so-lightly lightly into just this.
June—a favorite month to be outdoors—to breathe the nascent summer scents, to listen to birdsong and bellowing frogs and wear the warm cloth of the summer sun on bare skin. Evenings too, are especially sensual and sweet with fireflies (or lightning bugs), soft breezes, rustling leaves and rain or stars pulsing a sticky sky. It’s a perfect time to sit and write, read poetry and indulge longings of the creative sort. With that in mind, I let go a free flow of hand through brush and words come what may.
This June, I also watched and was engrossed in National Geographic’s program Genius: Picasso and was very inspired by his relentless pursuit of his artistry and his sad pursuit of women/muses often to the detriment of their lives. There is much debate these days about whether or not one can/should separate the art from the artist. Picasso was narcissistic, egotistical and highly competitive, traits I most often find offensive. However, watching the brilliant performance of the actors on a small screen, his story in hindsight and empathizing with Picasso’s process and pain as an artist, I was engrossed and inspired by his vision despite these flaws. Also with his circle of creative compatriots—Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Braque and others. I will read Francoise Gilot’s book Life With Picasso to get her take on their life together as his lover and contemporary artist. From the blurb: “Francoise Gilot paints a compelling portrait of her turbulent life with the temperamental genius that was Picasso.” Oh, and he was a poet too.
So this warm but comfortable night, I share these thoughts, words and paintings:
A few pencil strokes between the o
tumbleweed a rusling breeze
nomads of the night sky
the unturned stone’s lost syllables
in the holy of the artist rides the shotgun
I was thinking about the terrible scare recently in Hawaii when an alert was sent in error about a missile threat. Of course there was widespread panic for close to forty minutes. I wondered “how would I react?” Playing out an imaginary scenario is totally different from reacting to a real one, however it does help to look at the situation while in a cool frame of mind. A nuclear threat is as real today as it was in the early sixties during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the East coast was in a direct line for a hit. I remember lining up in our grammar school hallway, away from windows, with our arms crossed over our heads. Ever the realist even at that time, I figured that we were doomed, so what’s the point of false hope and false safety? The only way to survive is to hide/take cover in a real bomb shelter. Ever the realist to this day—that is not a choice or an option for me.
So what would I do?
My first thought is that I would make myself a bourbon sour or smoke a joint (if I had one), turn on some great blues music, hug the dog and head outside. I would want to face the sky. I have a wooden seat swing that overlooks my garden, and the thought of rocking slowly with a light buzz gives me great comfort. I would probably converse out loud with the trees and cosmos. Some words would be of gratitude and some would be profane. I do believe that I would surrender to the inevitable, and hope that I would be in the direct line of fire instead of a survivor. This in turn brings to mind and closer to home/heart —the very real horror and tragedy of Hiroshima. Somehow life went on, albeit forever changed.
The honest truth is that I cannot know in reality what I would truly do, however after all of this, when I slowly rock in my chair swing, I will do it with a grateful rhythm.
The following haiku of mine were written in 2011 about Hiroshima:
heat from the bomb
the charred near the water
left black and bleeding
a baby trying
to nurse her dead mother’s breast
questions of why
a moral threshold
blue and white
and today’s haiku:
grateful or profane a blue sky
© ag ~ 2018
Last night, two dear and thoughtful friends braved torrential downpours and milky fog to pick me up and take me to a charming and intimate Mexican restaurant in a nearby town. One friend drove along unfamiliar, dark and winding rural roads (with a smile), so that two of us could drink some hard cider with our meal. After an appetizer of extremely hot chili pepper poppers and a warm and easy dinner—they ordered a crispy and flaky ice cream-filled dessert with a candle on top that we split. Our waiters and restaurant staff dimmed the lights and joined in a heartfelt rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
My gracious companions are well known for showing up and supporting for their friends this way and more. What made it extra special for all of us, was that the restaurant staff unexpectedly and enthusiastically joined in, enjoyed and shared in the celebration. They were born in Mexico and may very well be part of the 200,000 Dreamers in our country whose fate is yet to be determined by DACA legislation. This local restaurant is popular, a great value and a tremendous asset to our or any community. Last night they were our friends.
yet another candle yet another wish for peace
© ag ~ 2018
One of my favorite things to do on a dreary grey day with rain-snow in the forecast is to cook soup or stew while listening to music that literally and mentally moves me. Sometimes it’s the blues, sometime rock or oldies-but-goodies. Sometimes Pandora plays just the right mix and my dancing feet simmer with the aromas of mushrooms, shallots and rosemary. Excuse me—they’re playing my song…
carrot as a mic
I channel Rhianna’s
lips and hips
garlic parsley lemon zest
mix with Stevie Nicks
© ag ~ 2018
Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry (a literary equivalent of a collage) by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning.
This found poem was distilled (and collaged) from an article in the New York Times, Sunday, December 31, 2017 titled: “A Watering Hole for the Bus Station of Life” by Alex Vadukul
No words were added—only omitted and all words appear in the order they were originally written in the article.
The Bus Station of Life
On the second floor
a lone Irish bar has no bathroom
and its regulars
drink in 1945.
Bartenders stash beer
into brown paper bags.
Known for its steamtable lunch
and corned beef
it appears briefly in “Taxi Driver.”
It has cracked black and white
and green vinyl couches
bandaged with tape.
Its regulars include
crumpled shirts and loose ties.
A wedding once happened
near the dartboard
and a tryst between two commuters.
“I met my wife at this seat…
we’re still together.”
84 year-old Manny Muniz
rests his cane and ordered
Johnnie Walker Red with soda.
As evening approached
A trio of women—
The Ladies of McAnn’s
took their seats.
Teresa Brewer, 50
ordered a vodka soda.
“We’re all going through
life while we wait
for our bus.”
© ag ~ 2018