Sunday, January 31, 2010

a hemisphere in a head of hair

LET ME SWALLOW swallow swallow in the fragrance of your hair. Let me dunk my whole head in and drink you. Let me dizzy my fingers through your long delicious locks like white silk shakes memories into skylight:

                         If you could see what I see!
                                                              Feel what I feel!  

              Hear what I hear in your hair!

My soul surfs the ripples in the rivers of your perfume like the souls of other creatures might glide along strains of music. Your hair is filled with dreams and rich with sails and masts, is vast with the majesty of bottomless blue oceans.
     In the lagoon of your hair swirls spirit me to a tropical island where the breezes are pungent with the fever of ripening fruit, juicy with the tang of human flesh.
     In the cinema of your hair is projected a movie of a bustling port, thick with melancholy airs, where hearty men from every nation and ships of every shape cut delicate silhouettes, precise and architectural, against the endless flashing and flattering of a summer sky wracked by heat lightning.
     In the caresses of your hair I rediscover those languid days we spent seduced, lengthwise on a divan in the cabin of some sturdy vessel, rocked by the rolling of the sea, among the vases half-filled with flowers and the water-jugs wet with refreshment.
     In the coal oven of your hair I taste the tingle of roasting tobacco and the aroma of opium and the funk of blackening sugar. An azure ray of starlight traces a glare on the silver horizon. Down downy banks I fumble blindly, stumbling drunk on a musky punch of tar and coconut oil. Im mesmerized by the glow of your hair.
     Let me nibble nibble nibble on your heavy black tresses. In my mouth you are elastic, rebellious. It feels like Im chewing on memories.

Friday, January 29, 2010

it was no accident

Mr. Ashbery was never involved in a skiing accident. The skiing accident exists only in his mind. What went wrong with his brain to make him think that he went skiing?

c)-blunt trauma

a stranger to my own face

Photo: Timothy Frederick

It is weird looking at your own face. You seem backwards because you see yourself more frequently in mirrors than in photographs. That's what I'm tripping on here. I keep saying to myself, "Is that REALLY what I look like? REALLY?" Not in a good way or a bad way, but definitely with a sense of revelation. In my mind's eye, my self image as told to me -- as sold to me -- by the magic of the mirror looks nothing like the man I see in this photograph.

all in your head

uncle richard and aunt muriel

It's always a treat to visit Andrew's Uncle Richard and Aunt Muriel when we go to England. Richard is a sculptor; Muriel is a painter. They restore broken statuary and other religious items and there is always something interesting to photograph. Headless Madonnas, those are my favorite.

a new porch for the old place

photo: jackie theriot

a heaven of doves

I feed a flock of wild doves. I have been doing this since I moved to Houston almost three years ago. I didn't choose the doves, the doves chose me. I just put food outside. Kind of like when someone is pregnant and they are asked do they want a baby boy or a baby girl and they say oh they will accept and love whole-heartedly whatever the baby is or like when you put a pot of dirt out and you don't plant anything in it and you just wait for God to blow a seed into it and whatever happens to grow there you cultivate. That's how the doves found me.

There are about twenty-five or thirty doves – mourning doves, Inca doves, white-winged doves – a smattering of sparrows and the occasional blue jay. Once in a while there is a cardinal. The cardinals don't come around much since I took down the aerial birdhouse on account of during hours of peak bird traffic a lot of seed would be spilled into the jasmine and philodendron and whatever remained uneaten would germinate into seedlings and smother the floor of the garden with a thick mat of roots robbing it of its nutrients and killing it. So I started just sprinkling it on the brick. Now, instead of being cooped up in some crazy birdhouse they are parading outside in the sun on the patio and I get to enjoy their eating and their parading. It is a mutual arrangement. If the sun comes up and I am still sleeping they start chirping for me to get out of bed. If I have forgotten to feed them they start knocking their wings against the windows for me to put aside my morning tea or so I like to imagine.

At first there were only eight or nine birds but the flock grew larger as I fed it. After about a year of feeding the flock stabilized at its current population. From outside the dove community the flock never ages. I know that baby doves grow into juveniles and juveniles grow into adults and adults build nests and make eggs and die but to non-doves like myself who don't recognize individual dove faces (You're so-and-so's young dove aren't you? My how you have grown!) and therefore can't follow a particular dove as it grows older and larger and especially since you only see them having breakfast and you never see the nests and the dying (Where do all the dead doves go I always ask myself?) the flock appears frozen in crystalline timelessness and seemingly never ages.

They always look the same. There is always at least one rowdy dove. When I open the window some are easily scared away and some are brave. I like it when a daddy sparrow cracks open a grain of millet with his beak and feeds fine splinters to a baby sparrow presumably his own. The pigeons arrive noisiliy and crowd everybody out. After they have dined on the coarser seed, they like to perch on the tray of herbs we hang on the railing of the second-floor balcony and observe the sparrows and the doves sharing their leftovers from their box seats of parsley and cilantro we make sure to wash carefully before eating.

So naturally I feel guilty when I have to be away from home for a few days. Every day I was in England I thought about the birds. I wondered if the flock would be hungry after six days. Of course they were hungry. If you were served breakfast for a hundred-and-eighty-days in a row and then all of a sudden breakfast stops and you don't know of any other place open for breakfast wouldn't you be chirping hungry too? I consoled myself with the notion that the deprivation would be good for the doves, would toughen them. It would caution them against their over-reliance on the pair of giant hands that feed them. Or it would kill them. Plus it was freezing cold.

When I came home from England I put out some bird seed. It usually gets cleaned out pretty quickly – by noon all the seeds have been eaten – but by morning the following day, the bird seed appeared untouched. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday nothing. I feared for the worst. Sunday the sparrows returned chirping. Then today, Wednesday, I saw a dozen or so bobbing dove eyes peeking over the peak of the roof and welcomed them home with a smile. The doves are alive. I repeat. The doves are still alive. Maybe they were having breakfast with someone else this week. If so I am happy for them.

miss gail's typewriter

elegy for an uncommon mannequin

I stumbled upon the department store in the summer of 2005, drawn by its charming window display: four handsome mannequins tenderly posed and positioned in a manner reminiscent of yesteryear, a painstaking re-creation of a mid-century fashion aesthetic. Surely some savvy designer had rescued them from an attic, swept the cobwebs and dust from their faces. Then it hit me. “This is Lafayette.” It was no re-creation. The mannequins were so old they had come back to life.

I returned to the store in 2009 to visit the mannequins again. The store-front was deserted. The awnings were rolled and tied. A half-century of grime traced the shapes of seven letters where a sign spelling SALOOM'S used to hang. The USE OUR LAY AWAY PLAN sign sat with frozen and barren delicacy on the pile of an off-white carpet. Where mannequins once stood boldly empty dresses draped from hangers. I recognized three of the four dresses from my last visit there four years ago. “The turnover made a fabulous museum ,” I thought to myself, “but it didn't do anything for business.” A note with a telephone number was taped to the inside of the door. The woman who answered the phone said, “Oh there's years the mannequins have been spoken for.”

the making of mirrorbox hare

PERUSING PAPER in Texas Art Supply a couple of years ago, I overheard a conversation between two pre-teen girls, probably sisters. They were standing near a rack of tiny plastic animals which could only be called toys — finely rendered toys, but toys all the same. The younger sister, maybe nine, was mesmerized by the animals, picking up now a rhinoceros, now a dragon, now a pig, but the older sister wanted nothing to do with them.

invisible ribbon

Cardstock, vellum and rubber cement.


my favorite piece of trash i ever found

There was a sidewalk in Houston I had recently come to enjoy: spray-painted with enigmatic poetry. Running my eyes over its cracked and buckling surfaces I was reminded of a sidewalk from my childhood. The sidewalk ran from Gammy and Gampy's front porch steps beside a small anonymous tree which memorably bore pomegranates one summer in the prism of my memory toward a squat gnarled oak whose growing roots had pulverized the orderly sequence of squares over time into an uncountable number of pieces. I was reminded of me trying to count them. After all these years, I am still staring at sidewalks.
My eyes go there automatically. Over the years I have discovered untold visual treasures – dozens of cicadas dead and dying, elegant knobs of soil-starved grass, serenely reposed dragonfly carcasses, wistful tableaux of fallen oleander petals, the skull of a fallen bluejay.
So I'm walking on this sidewalk in Houston one day a few months ago, staring at it like I tend to do, and in this view-space I discover that someone has decided to paint poems. Well, poem-like things at any rate: large carefully-stenciled-then-spray-painted-in-red-and-black-and-white words. My favorite square was written in red. It said:

motion motion motion motion
motion motion motion motion
motion motion motion motion
motion motion motion motion

The way the motionless words moved on the concrete moved me. And the concrete buckling beneath it. I happened upon it today as it was being sledge-hammered into pieces. The merrily-this-way-forward-up-and-turned-a-crooked-stile.

the ethel slice

photo: jetheriot

My mom always asked for an ethel slice of dessert. I assumed it was a standard measurement. Turns out, my mom had a friend who had a mother named Ethel. The tiny slices were named after her. Was Ethel thin? Was Ethel resourceful? I know nothing of Ethel except for the size of her slices.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

grief in joy's clothing

Some background behind my photography project documenting the painted concrete madonnas of southern Louisiana. The photo-accordion is made from 28 2-by-3 photographs hinged with vellum and rubber cemented.

the folly of self sight

THE COLLISION between glass and light is a silent one, the reflection purely visual. A blind woman cannot feel or smell or intuit her image in a mirror.
     No matter how closely she cups her ears to its shiny surface, no matter how thoroughly the pads of her fingertips probe the contours of her second face, a mirror will always strike her as oddly cold and flat, a magical tablet of glass with a switch she can never turn on. Light sounds no noises when it bounces from a mirror.