Art. Love. Revolution.

Though I can’t make a political statement under the auspices of the alt-weekly paper I write for, I do want to speak from the perspective of a longtime arts writer and editor. Because art is what we have. Art is the conversation. Art is our great gift, to ourselves, each other, our communities and the world.

The election results were a blow to many people I care about and even more who I don’t know but whose concerns — LGBT rights, the environment, multiculturalism, civil rights, justice, the arts — mirror my own. But this is not the time to lose heart. Rather, this is the time to be brave, be bold, stand with those we love and stand for those who feel disempowered and disenfranchised. And this is the time to make art.

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Public art, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

We have not lost our freedom of speech. We live in a country where we can express unpopular opinions, speak out against our government and disagree with our neighbors without fear of being imprisoned, or worse. We owe it those who do not have such luxuries to exercise those rights. And for those who don’t feel safe to speak out, we must be their voices and tell their stories.

To love in the face of hatred is a revolutionary act. To hope in the face of fear is a revolutionary act. Defy that which insults your good heart. Stand tall, radiate, invest in what you love, what feeds your soul, what strengthens your community, what represents your humanity. Continue reading

In the beginning there was the word

I was recently at a writers’ conference where a fellow author said to me, “Oh, I hate writing. I’d quit if I could.” I thought it was a funny statement, but also sad. Why would anyone give their time to a pursuit that they don’t love? Just because a story presents itself to you doesn’t mean you have to tell it. As author Matthew Quick writes in his YA novel, Every Exquisite Thing, “Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.”

For me, the word — both written and read — has long been a joy. I’ve lived in books. I believe I’ve loved fictional characters (both of my own creation and others) sometimes more deeply, more completely, than I’ve loved actual people.

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“Woman Reading” by Félix Vallotton, 1906

There was Kip, the Sihk bomb defuser from The English Patient. I’m not ashamed to say I loved him. And I love Michael Ondaatje for writing him. George Emerson from A Room With a View is both one of the great loves of my life and my spirit animal. Continue reading

Time Machine

You’re sitting on the back deck watching a small, brown rabbit nibble grass. He’s nervous, shooting you worried looks. But he also stays, keeps eating. It seems like a sign of something good, or at least not a sign of anything bad and sometimes it’s enough to just be still and watch a rabbit be a rabbit.

And then the weird next-door neighbor, the one who lurks behind his expensive shrubbery, pops out from the mock orange. The rabbit darts away and even though you shouldn’t take it personally, you feel your heart sink.

“Come see what I have in the garage,” the neighbor says. You’re going to decline because, seriously? Who would even think that’s okay to say? But then he adds that it’s a time machine.

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Image from the Predestination film poster

Okay. All the rich people who move to the mountains from Atlanta to retire can afford central air and reclaimed wood kitchens. (You have already pointed out that your kitchen is also wood. The original. And more than once you’ve reclaimed it from the rats, so. Maybe that will be the big trend in ten more years — rat-salvaged wood kitchens.) But this guy. This guy is so particularly rich that instead of installing a cedar-lined sauna or a recording studio, he’s gone and bought a time machine. Continue reading

Poetry for a moody Monday

I haven’t posted much poetry here, but I’m collecting pieces for a future chapbook and so it seems like a good time. This particular piece, dealing with the darker aspects of love, will also be part of a project I’m carrying out on my personal Facebook page, called 28 Days of Love. If you’d like to read more musings about love in its various forms, visit me/friend me here.

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ANTIQUING

You were supposed to decode the message behind
my stupid jokes and over-bright laugh. The brash word
“like,” ricocheting around us. I like you. Like you, like you.
Some younger version of myself tap dancing for attention
while this me winces at the acrid need. Why do we want
what we can’t have? Why want for anything
when there is already too much? To cool the crush Continue reading

October (flash fiction)

Written while listening to Ourobouros Boys, live.

img_20131016_095151The first thing you think when the leaves begin to fall is that it’s not really autumn yet. There are so many leaves that the few lost will never be missed. The shoulder season is not a season at all, but the new now, and it will never end. That’s actually four thoughts, but it feels like a single, continuous idea, and you’d stay there, drifting on the updraft of that idea, were it not for the immediacy of the next thought — the fraternal twin directives of gold and crimson: proceed with caution and full stop — the world you know is dying, and you will never love again.

Of course that’s a lie because everything in October is the bristle and thrum of love. Gold and crimson mums flourish on porches. (Later they will wither, but in the first chilly flush you want to press your face into their bosomy softness.) There’s a proliferation of pumpkins, the piecing together of costumes, the promise of velvet-dark corners in which to steal embraces from masked strangers. The piles of quilts and the cold nights that lull you into dreams. What are dreams if not love, the ultimate abandonment of the senses? Continue reading