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Showing posts from August, 2014

For Rent

I'm gonna start selling rental slots in my hammock. At fifty cents a minute, guests can suspend themselves above the ground and their worries. By design, a hammock orients your attitude, forehead and toes toward the sky. Facing the curve of the world, my guests might wonder if the membrane between our world and "space" is hard like a robin's egg or viscous like the snotty plasma of a cell. Or maybe they will search the stratosphere for contrails, imagining the itineraries and distances of the soaring passengers. Or maybe their thoughts will tumble like clouds over meeting confirmations or back-to-school sales or speaker wire or taboo flesh or roasted zucchini or blood.

In 10-minute blocks, my hammock guests can lull the jabbering narrative of their day to a dull hum. The hard angles of power lines and rooftops etch into a view sometimes mottled with the cotton candy dissolve of clouds and, sometimes, scattered with the white embers of stars. Always, always the hammoc…

Stupid is...

“I’m stupid,” she said, a question mark wilting at the end of her sentence.
She looked down to her hands. She had long, elegant fingers. I looked down to the baby in my lap. He was 30 pounds of dimples and cooing and intent on surrendering my fingertips into his little gobbler mouth. Still looking down at her hands, she was surrendering to the first slide of tears.
She showed up at 9am on Wednesday, just as she said she would. The same invitation had been extended a year ago, at her request, but she hadn't come. We’d had, let’s say, a “defining moment” when she pressed beyond my polite silence to ask what I really thought of her boyfriend. Now, she stood in my living room countering a son and a car seat with one hip. I walked over to her, lifted the diaper bag from her shoulder, and led her to the basement.
“You tried to tell me,” she said on the stairs. “You tried to tell me.”
I learned that everyone she knew shared my opinion of him, including his mother and immediate family, and we…

Riding Shotgun

Of the hundreds of teens my arts program has reached in the past 12 years, fewer than 20 have sat shotgun in my car.  Many were bashfully grateful for the ride, murmuring turn-by-turn directions to their front door.  Some were intimidated by my banter; others were uncomfortable with any silence.  All of them left behind bits of their story, perhaps as fare, and I would wait for them to wave back at my car before disappearing into an open screen door. I would drive away, counting the coins of their hard and glimmering truths.
Nakila made me rich.  She filled every minute of our rides with her observations, dilemmas, musings and questions. So many questions, with that one.  In the early years, she asked about poems and slam and her team and how our program started and how I started and where was I from and why did I write and what did I believe in and how would she know that she’d found her voice too.
In a recent interview, artist Dario Robleto said, “I didn’t know what an epiphany was…