On Couches


couch cruising
through
old bookmarks--
a casual narrative
of past pleasures.






 

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Martini Metaphors

Found Poem from The New York Times Book Review; Sunday, November 18, 2018

New York Ladies: PARKER, Selected Stories By Dorothy Parker.
Reviewed by Sadie Stein 

Two New York broads of urban legend
known as martini metaphors, too often 

reduced to a quip on a coffee mug;
chroniclers of contemporary New York

flapper highs and breadline lows.
Downtown speakeasies rocked by 

a hard-boiled world and legendary
cabaret shows. They struggled with 

alcoholism pairing whiskey tenors and
yearning hearts. Always lurking in female 

characters—justice, sympathy and
poignancy. Take it gladly—straight up. 

 

How Do You Do It Mabel?

Today I was introduced to a charming used book store appropriately named  the Old Book Shop. A fellow artist drove me to its location down a backroad past the lumber store near railroad tracks and housed in a nondescript square brick building. Upon entry, you are greeted by the scent of musty books lining tall wooden shelves along narrow aisles and wooden filing cabinets filled with postcards and sheet music dating back to the late 1800s. Welcome to old school bookstore heaven run by a couple of energetic and friendly seniors. Everything is neatly categorized, and there are framed and signed photos of by-gone B-list celebrities, scenes out of World War II and rural America. What an amazing find. Time passes without notice as tasty morsels of old newsprint and magazines tempt a slow perusal. I picked up a periodical called The Pansy dated June, 1892 and published monthly in Boston, MA… Inside were short stories/articles, woodcut prints and “special announcements” like this one:

It is said that Cardinal Manning left two messages into a phonograph, to be listened to by his friends after he was dead. He is the first one who is known to have used the wonderful invention for such a purpose; it no doubt it will be often so used in the future.

 

I also picked up a few music sheets including:

HOW-DO-YOU-DO-IT-MABEL-ON-TWENTY-DOLLARS-A-WEEK 
By Irving Berlin

As a professional gardener/farmer, I was also interested in the Farm Stock Journal, August 23, 1906 published in Rochester, NY for “ONE DOLLAR A YEAR.” Articles of interest: POTATO BUTTONS; CORNS AND TENDER FEET and THE BAT’S SIXTH SENSE. Another fun read is UNDER SUMMER SKIES with a seemingly unrelated bunch of information, however surely making full sense at that time.

The artwork is lovely in all the periodicals. This was a fun find in an unlikely local neighborhood. I will return, and if I can ever bring myself to take these poetic pieces of history apart–they will be collaged into new artwork.

 

Tux and Tails

We have a cat at the farm named Hops, after the plant that is a better bitter in beer. He is quite the character–napper by day and hunter by night unless he decides to switch it up. He sleeps in our design/sales room that was once a chicken coop. Hops was rescued through the efforts of loving souls and now lives the “life of Riley” as we used to say. Don’t know who Riley was, but he must have lived a charmed life.

Anyway, I went for a stroll around the nursery fields on a sunny day not too long back with our farm dog, Lexi, and Hops. We three ambled slowly among rock and grass and brush up and down rows and around trees and shrubs that were just resting for the season. The sun felt warm and winter-satisfying. I watched as both canine and feline sniffed and peed and generally hung out with me. It was a lovely breath of fresh air and quiet conversation.

once again the beggar at my door in tux and tails

Pentimento

pentimento…regret is always a choice ~

A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent. Since it is my practice to work over much more  than traces of past paintings on the canvas–it would seem that I am very regretful for the failure of the original work. Hardly–and on the contrary, I look for used canvases and boards to paint over. A sterile and bright white blank surface often hinders my work. I love to work on borrowed art as long as I sand it down to simple traces of other artist’s paint. In fact, it’s like solving a puzzle to match a new concept to an old board of “borrowed” color and shapes. I am always grateful to repurpose these boards into new life. Some examples below:

Fractured Time

Distances in Time and Age

After a New Sentences column by Sam Anderson in the NYT: 9.9.18

“We all host younger selves inside us…a multitude of nonsychronous selves.”
~Sam Anderson

The distance between our birth
and today is fractured into a host
of younger nonsynchronous-selves.
To wit—I will always be the skinned-knee
gangly clumsy bookish girl reading
about others changing the world;
the protesting hippie college-dropout
out to charge change into the world;
the youthful but serious nursery-worker-
let’s-break-this-occupational-barrier woman
out to change the local landscape;
the menopausal haiku poet out
to change the world one syllable at a time;
The artist/painter out to change
the world from the inside out.

I am now sixty-six years old.
The skin-kneed girl is still six years old.
The hippie is eternally eighteen.
The nurserywoman is forever twenty-two.
The haiku poet is evermore fifty-four.
And the artist-painter–ageless.

Despite all of this and worthy of it all:

busy day
if not for the wild phlox
this moment lost  

ag

 

 

The Unfinished Poem

Yesterday morning, over a breakfast quesadilla and too hot hot sauce– a discussion took place on sadness, particularly how it looked on my face. 2018 was particularly sad year in terms of loss. So I turned to one of my favorite sages on this and other wisdom– Kahlil Gibran in his seminal work: The Prophet. Thus his writing on joy and sorrow:

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”.

I confess to really not understanding this. How can sadness be contingent on joy or vice versa? And yet I do understand–the greater the love–the deeper its response (sorrow) when that joyful love is perceptively lost. Perception is the key.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

The takeaway here is that sadness is truly an act of love–damn that it just doesn’t feel that way. So I’m learning not to push it away, and instead invite it in for conversation.

walking with sorrow
around the corner
a begrudging friendship
~
long after
the after
lingers on
~
if not for sorrow
the unfinished
poem