member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Climb Higher

(Not Your Usual Saint)..All artwork in this post is by Stelios Faitakis.

Stelios Faitakis’ works show influences of Byzantine iconography, Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Gustav Klimt’s swirling golden designs, and the Mexican muralists of Diego Rivera’s time: The working class, muscular and giant in their presence, take on the ominous power of grey factories, military planes, masked policemen, and many-headed (human-headed!) hydras against a shimmering golden backdrop. They are often haloed. The world is stacked, layer upon layer, and there are wood-block waves and flames and ghostly heads. Everything swirls together to create a painting or a mural that is completely “Faitakis.”

Above, on the ground we have destruction: a tsunami (notice the bodies and planks in the water), a monster led by human minds with a forking, satellite-tail, and a dark, polluting factory. There is no dry land; there is no safe footing. But there is a ladder; with some struggle, one can pull oneself out and up and into the soft gold “heavens.” The ugly disaster of physical life is contrasted with the golden eternity of a higher spiritual work.

Faitakis feels that art is part of human growth, and is a method of communication that is best when understood by all viewers. He longs to cover the “ugly” walls of Athens with public works, narratives of the average man overcoming his own monstrosity--and he has begun this daunting task already.

Trees as martyrs?

Discovered HERE.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who's Ready for Some Pills?

Part One is HERE.

Having dropped all prescribed meds, now, my thinking is crystal-clear. The sense of emergency is back, eating my food, ruining perfectly healthy conversations.
But I’m not losing sight.
The only thing I might regret, I’m thinking, is having flushed all my Adderall. This is while I’m scrubbing someone’s day-old sprayed diarrhea off the toilet bowl of my local chain bookstore in my best skirt. That was not the extended release formula, that eases you into a calm wakefulness until bedtime. That was old-style flavor, the pill that makes you giddy and grits your teeth, makes you ok to put off things you really wanted to do because you know you can do them later, you’re never going to sleep again. At least, initially.
I’m wondering why it is the closing crew thought this would be easier to take care of in the morning. I’m wondering if the lady that missed the bull’s eye, was she thinking maybe she’d catch cooties from the public toilet if she leaned down to wipe up her own shit? But really, mainly what I’m thinking is, I’ve got to get out of here.
Looking down into the toilet, the other thing it’s reminding me of, other than my job in general, is those pills. In the headiness of my grand statement about The Way I’m Going to Live My Life, I failed to consider what I could make on the streets with them.
As opposed to, say, $7 an hour.
I’m thinking about going back to that doctor, paying for the office visit as, say, an investment.
And seeing as I don’t have any health insurance to stop me, I’m thinking how many doctors could I visit before it stops being profitable.
I’m thinking all this and the manager pokes her head in, and with her ex-grade-school teacher pretend-friendly voice, she singsongs: “How clean are you trying to get it in there? You’re almost missing the morning meeting!”
Not the one about the frequent-buyer discount cards?
My best skirt, it’s got a wet spot on it now that’s seeping through to my skin. I’m not sure where it came from.
“You haven’t even wiped down the sink area yet,” she’s saying, and I can hear her breath coming out in little grunts as she stoops to pick up stray paper towels.
I’m still weighing the meeting versus the crusty diarrhea when I remember all the Paxil and Prozac and Celexa piled up in my cabinets.
These doctors, they’re like little prostitutes. That first impression, it’s all they need. They just match it up to whatever the sales rep told them, and bam, the fifteen minute session’s over and your pocket’s empty. It’s all about that first meeting, because after that, you’re too numb to complain. Some of these drugs, they’ll tell you in the research, they might even increase the instance of suicide. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal after all, pulling that trigger.
People get so lost in life. Like all of us here at the bookstore. In school or suddenly finished with school, we’ve discovered we like to read and we’ve discovered we need an income, and here’s this no-brainer: work in a bookstore. It’s low-key, buys you a little time to start your own novel or work on your paintings, or figure out how you’re going to find a real wage but without selling your soul, and on top of everything, you can hang around with people who like books, you can read books, you can discuss books with customers, recommend your favorites, Your Life and Books. So you start your job and you find out it’s like shelving at WalMart, it’s like dusting at WalMart, it’s like cleaning the toilets at WalMart. Your boss used to be the boss at WalMart. No one wants you chatting on the clock when you could be looking busy, it needs to be clear to everyone who’s a customer and who’s a friend of yours that came in to say hello, and there is certainly not ever a time when you might be leaned up against the help-desk waiting to help someone, and reading a book.
Lit. class, it leads you to think certain things about life. The workplace quickly puts an end to all that. So it’s no real task to understand that plenty of people, not just those of us who grew up in the foster system, are cramming themselves into a ball on that couch with a broken facial expression and a broken method of self-expression, waiting for someone to explain to them why they failed The Test, after studying so hard. And then they’re handed some pills, pills which clear up nothing.
After all the different doctors, all with the same solution-style for any problem, I’ve got a good half a year’s supply of apathy and cobwebs for your head in my cabinet.
My boss, she’s making huffy, stamping noises while she squeaks cleaner liquid around the mirror. God forbid these people be forced to behold their beauty through a few smudges, it’d be almost like zits.
My boss, she doesn’t just toss the used paper towels into the trash can, she smacks the little flippy lid around so I can hear it rock and know she’s angry.
I’m thinking, you probably can’t get much for Celexa and Prozac and Paxil on the streets these days, seeing as the companies are so eager to pass them out. But that’s not to say they don’t have their uses.
I’ve taken my little name tag off now, and I’m scraping at a stubborn spot, and she says, “Whenever you’re done doing whatever it is you’re doing, you can come to the meeting.”
I continue scraping at the shit stain. What do these people eat? I don’t hear any slammy noises, so my guess is she’s waiting for me right there, and I don’t have to peek around the corner to know she’s got her arms folded across her chest and a squeezed-up smile on her face like your teacher’s when you’re fucking up a presentation in front of Important People.
The problem with my boss is, she could really use some Prozac. At this stage, with her anxiety levels, she might need a cocktail of some sort, two nice, calming, anti-unhappy pills. Maybe three.
She’s just so unhappy.
Finally, I just start unraveling the toilet paper. Fuck this place. I stuff as much as I can into the toilet and lift my foot up to flush. As I walk out of the stall, I don’t wash my hands. I grab hers, instead, and open the door. “Let’s get to that meeting,” I say.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tango in a Box IX

Emily and Her Troll Head, by Travis Louie

Part One is HERE.

When you start your life out like I did, waiting for mom and dad to come home until the police come and it’s already been dark outside long enough for you to pee on yourself twice wrapped up inside the curtains holding your breath in case someone else is in the house with you, when you start out there, waiting, peeing again as strange men finally break open the front door and start flipping on all the lights, calling your name even though you’ve never heard their voices before, well, the relationships you’re going to build after that are heavily affected.

By the time your second mommy doesn’t come home, well, you’re sort of building a pattern, and then you might say all your relationships are the same. They’re all with DFACS psychologists and psychiatrists. Social workers. Teachers who go the extra mile. They all want to talk to you about what happened, meaning they want to be your friend. You bump around to different schools and different homes and different shrinks and you begin to think that that’s what a friend is, the guy who sits down with you and says, “Let’s start from the beginning.”

Because the people who don’t talk to you like that, regular everyday people, well, you can’t help but notice that if they look at you at all, it’s to check their reflection out in your glasses.

And then came Johnny. Johnny looked at my purple and black eye folding over on itself and just never asked “What happened?”

Because, it’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?

I mean, they have the folder right there in front of them, right?

And the prescription pad’s already out, they already know what they’re going to prescribe you, but they, like everyone else, they think that that’s the question that sets them apart from the crowd, the one that shows they care:

“Do you want to talk about what happened?”

And Johnny, he wasn’t checking his nose in my glasses, either. He looked straight at me, but I never had to formulate any stupid goddamned sentences to express my feelings about the burglars who turned out to be cops who kidnapped me and never let me see my mom and dad again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Memory and Perception

“Into the Woods,” by Alexander Korzer-Robinson

“As we remember the books from our own past, certain fragments remain with us while others fade away over time – phrases and passages, mental images we created, the way the stories made us feel and the thoughts they inspired. In our memory we create a new narrative out of those fragments, sometimes moving far away from the original content. This is, in fact, the same way we remember our life – an ever changing narrative formed out of fragments. This mostly subconscious process of value judgments and coincidence is what interests me as an artist and as a psychologist.”
--Alexander Korzer-Robinson

Although as he cuts he leaves the images in the place they would have been found in the book, he creates a new relationship between those images by directly linking them, removing the many pages of text and images in-between, by putting a spotlight on them, by bringing them out of the author’s context and into the sculptor’s, and then into the viewer’s. The images, stripped of the text and the order of relation that the original author had given them (unless you consider the Original Author to have been the Creator of the Universe), are given a new relational order by the sculptor that means something to him but will easily stir completely different associations from any viewer, based on books they have read—because of the format--, as well as on their own experiences.

I am, of course, a sucker for old castles that instantly take my mind to tales of haunted families and grimly obsessed, fearfully driven scientists...

And the above image made me think of the discovery of the New World, right off, even though the man pointing forward and coming out of the dense foliage is, upon closer scrutiny, dressed like an old Roman. The “old ways” are small, beneath him; he heads fearlessly over them, a giant...

“Suspended Lion,” by Alexander Korzer-Robinson

There are so many different perspectives in the above image: the giant lion, heading downwards, the buildings facing one way, the book facing another, and then the topographical view, the map, offering yet another—this one brought me back to all the thoughts of physics and the many, many worlds all occupying the same space at the same time...the idea that we pick and choose what we see, what we even notice, what we *live*...

And this one? What does it make you think of?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tango in a Box VIII


Mad Bunny Has Many Friends, by Yves Lecoq

You’d think all kinds of dates would stick in your memory. Like the day your parents died, for instance. But I didn’t know how to read a calendar then, and besides, it took me a while to get just what, exactly, was going on.

After that, every day’s so fucked up, just none of them stand out.

Except January 8. January 8, Johnny told me he’d been accepted to hotshot school for math geniuses. Johnny could kill some math. He never bothered to study, but you could see it. Everything he did was perfect, like it would fit in an equation.

Like one time, because I was failing math, Johnny whipped around my book and stared at it for a few seconds, and he started pulling it all out of a hat, like a rabbit. Johnny talked, and I could see math, like colored handkerchiefs, all knotted together. I asked him where he learned all that and he said it was just all up there in his head. He said, “It’s up there in yours, too, you just ignore it.”

Anyway, I remember it was January 8 he told me he was leaving, because January 7 was the day he almost kissed me. His thumb was underneath my chin and my heart let go of all my blood at once. Tingling it all out to the edge of my skin and my knees disappeared, but it had to happen, right? I mean, after all this time?

Learning to Fly, First Lesson, by Yves Lecoq

But it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen, and the next day, he was so excited, he spun me in the air. He said I brought him good luck.

This hotshot school, it was on the wrong side of the country. I didn’t feel like good luck.

Johnny, then he started acting like he was my big brother. He got this look on his face and he said, “You’ve got to get serious.” He said, “The only way out of this place is flying.” He said, “You’ve gotta stop fucking around.”

We were in the mall, and everybody else’s life was still going on around us. Their smiling jaws were still flapping as if their stupid little town wasn’t in the process of losing its only asset.

He put his finger under my chin again, but all he did was say, “Don’t disappoint me.”


by Yves Lecoq

On an earlier January 7th, the one that came the year I caught up with my age group in reading but not in math— not, my teacher pointed out, because I didn’t understand, but because I was sloppy--, my first foster mother explained to me that she was going to adopt me. “This means,” she said, “that daddy and I will be your daddy and mommy forever.”

This would mean something to me later, but at the moment, I just tried to make my expressions match hers, so she’d know I was listening.

That January 8th, my new forever mommy didn’t come home and daddy wouldn’t take his face out of his hands, and as I was watching him, a trickle of pee ran down my leg and then the policemen took me back to the station with them.

You might think all these coincidences are impossible, but you’d be wrong. All the world’s religions developed from the desire to please whatever force out there was capable of such symmetry, such perfectly ordered chaos, such endless possibilities in devastation.

Snowflakes, snowdrifts, avalanches. The perfectly patterned fur of a tiger. A volcano.

Our fear of the number 13 stems from our re-creation as a patriarchal society. 13 was good luck for the pagan goddesses. For witches. But good luck for them meant bad luck to those that came after. The number represented an order of things beneficial to the wrong party.

Seven was how many fingers I held up when I met my first new mommy. Seven was the day on the calendar she pointed to when she said, “By this time next month, it’ll be official.”

Even now, when I go to the grocery store, which isn’t often, I buy the seventh box or bag or can of whatever item on the shelf. If I ride the bus, I only sit if the seventh seat is open, that’s the first one on the driver’s side after the three vertical seats. For a long time, if I had to say something, I said it seven times, and I dug in my heels for most of the way through a second year of 7th grade, making no progress, a defense which finally caught the attention of DFACS employees who, upon investigating, found me needing three fingers and an elbow re-broken and set straight, freeing me at last from that cursed house.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tango in a Box VII

Chef II, by Lawrence Winram
Part One is HERE.

Tango in a Box, Part 7/8

So the next time I go to see Johnny in prison, Sir’s not there, but he asks, first thing, did I find out about the anatomy classes.

Conemen, by Lawrence Winram

I tell him it takes a long goddamned time to get to anatomy class.

That’s followed by this wretched silence, and I’m racking my brain to see if I have any memories of swearing at him like that, but I don’t find any.

I cram my hands between my knees and watch them, all twisted up. It’s still quiet, I mean, between us, so I start smudging my right toe with my left toe.

Johnny says, “Sit up for chrissakes.”

My right hand is so far under my legs, it’s pulling my right shoulder across in front of me. I yank both hands up and they go straight to tuck my hair behind my ears and my ass slides down the seat until I’m almost like him.

The problem is, Sir wants organs. Not for him, for other people, like when you donate your organs. Only he’s not planning to donate.

You can see that Sir missed out on some basic biology courses. What’s going on in Johnny’s head, I don’t know.

The bodies you cut up in anatomy, well, they’ve been dead a while.

So Johnny explains to me, from his usual slouch, feet planted about hip-width apart, his ass at the edge of the seat closest to me, his hands resting on his thighs, he says, “Yeah, but someone’s gotta know how to take the organs out.”

Am I awake? My mouth wants to say something awful, you can tell by the way it flaps, by the way my brain has to perform an emergency shutdown to prevent word formation.

Regret, hope, they’re still a few steps ahead here.

And I can’t believe I’m suggesting this, but what I hear come out of my mouth in the end is, “There’s an easier way.”

I’m thinking of foster mommy number three and her perfectly manicured nails and high cheekbones. Before I met her, her hairdresser had burnt the skin off the right side of her face, and the skin transplant that followed was the opening of a new vision of perfection. The drug companies, they’re greedy for meninges, those little membranes around the brain and spinal cord, just right for the medications used in those skin transplants. Next came the eye tucks, courtesy of the muscle membranes of some butchered corpse’s thighs.

Anna, by Lawrence Winram

Vital organs are so picky about when they’re taken from the body. A chunk of thigh will wait on you for a good bit of time before refusing to help out. The image of me, slicing some corpse’s thigh and digging out the muscles, is making me forget where I am.


Of course, I have my own plan for all this, and it’s got nothing to do with anatomy. And, like I said, nothing to do with lawyers. Physics, that’s where we’re going to find our solution.

Think of everything being made up of little atoms. In humans, the atoms that make us up keep changing out. Every seven years, they're completely changed out, you're not just replacing parts, you've got a whole new car. The atoms that are in me now could later be part of you, or part of the table we’re sitting at.

Really, if you follow the panpsychic implications of all this--and that's physics panpsychic, nothing to do with Madame Belaire--, you're in a constant dynamic with all the conscious particles around you, particles residing in both animate and inanimate objects.

Technically, Johnny should be able to convince the walls to just let him pass.

I just haven't figured out the logistics yet.

Behind the Sky, There is a Wall, by Yves Lecoq


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tango in a Box VII

Johnny’s roommate in prison, well, he’s a tall black man. Sir, he’s been in prison since he was twelve, but when he got there, his name was Willie. He doesn’t say much, either, but you always get the point.

Johnny brings him out for the first time not too long after my 34D bra played witness to his lawyer’s ego. There’s not actually a visitor for Sir, but, like I said, he’s been there a long time, so he gets to come out anyway.

When he talks, he talks to the empty seat in front of him, which is next to me. I spend most of the visit trying to remember to inhale without forgetting to keep track of my bladder. If I didn’t love Johnny, if I hadn’t spent the last several years hating myself for losing him, I would hate him right now. I think he must be punishing me. But he doesn’t even mention the lawyer.

Sir, what he’s interested in is my education. He’s looking at the chair next to me, he’s fascinated by anatomy. I tell him I haven’t gotten there yet.

Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, well, they take a while.

He asks me when I’ll be getting to anatomy. I stare at my fingernails carefully. I try to remember, I had a doctor once who told me, the way to stay in the room when your head really, really is fighting to get out, is to focus really, really hard on part of the other person’s body. I can’t look at him, not even at his fingernails, so I’m trying to substitute, here. Little spikes of hard skin push away from all my nails. Underneath the nails is clean and I wonder if it’s because I ate everything.

“I’m not in med-school yet,” I say, and I’m carefully tasting each word, sure I’m saying it out loud, even though the whole room’s taken on a kind of distant, hollow feeling. “In biology,” I say, “the closest thing is cutting open a frog.”

Sir, he says everyone should study their body carefully, know it well. He says I have a privileged position, getting to see the insides of one up close, to touch them.

“Actually,” I say, “I’m not in that position. I even have a little trouble with it. For instance, I vomited when we cut open the frog. In front of everyone.”

Lost all Sense of Time, by Lawrence Winram

Sir, he wants to know when the next semester starts, the earliest I could be taking this anatomy class, overcoming my fears.

Johnny, he hasn’t said anything. He’s leaned back in his seat with his legs hip-width apart, he’s definitely watching me. I'm thinking I must be dreaming, because nothing is making any sense.

The story on Sir is, his big brother was baby-sitting him and some business complications came to the door. You might think that little Willie, finding himself in the midst of a good-sized crew of agitated cocaine addicts, would be nervous. Maybe fearful. Looking around, he might be trying to find a place to hide, wait things out.

But someone’s girlfriend, powder flaking from her nose, came to the front and pointed a curved red nail in his brother’s face, her lips bunching together every time her mouth closed and her neck bobbing back and forth, tossing little blonde curls around. Little Willie snaked his hand into his brother’s pocket and tugged. The girl’s knee sprayed little chunks of white and red, and her mouth fished open.

You might have guessed by now, Willie’s older brother, he’s not the most together, most organized criminal out there.

The story on Sir is, he had served his time plus six months when he committed his second crime, which was beating his prison counselor’s head into the desk until he was unconscious.

Sir says, “You’ll be fine.”

My mouth opens and I say “In Shah Allah.”

Now Sir looks at me. “What did you say?” he says.

But I’m looking at Johnny, now, and I’m saying, “So I guess you gave up on that math stuff, then.”

And Sir says again, “What did you say?”

And then Johnny says, “Yeah, I guess so.”


Monday, April 4, 2011

Tango in a Box VI

Part One is here.

When you can see his eyes, Johnny’s got ears like perfect shells. Not all folded up like everyone else’s, but smooth with long water-polished ripples. If I have to look at him when he’s talking, I focus on his lips, because it helps me remember I’m trying to listen to him talking, but it’s his eyes I’m thinking about anyway. When you can’t see his eyes, he looks like someone you would ignore on the street, he’s not a sunglasses kind of man. All the threat that moves the world and makes each breath come out just in time to jump that next step so there’s no chance to think is in his eyes. When he laughs, it makes me deliriously afraid. I close my eyes tight, and I remember the red wet animal flipping around the tops of slightly crooked teeth and the lips starting a slow curve upwards. That slow curve, even just in my memory, it’s like a trigger, my body immediately ups the oxygen intake to prepare for intense activity. I’d say, “In-Shah-Allah.” He’d laugh. The pacifier popped in and he’d grab my hand and we were running. Whatever we’d done, there was always lots of noise behind us, but all I could see was Johnny’s back and hair in front of me, making everything else rush into streaks of color. I’d focus until the halo of white pushed the colors away from us, and then we were in the car and the rest of the world rushed back to me all at once. The impact of the wind, the car’s throttle and the rattle of its muffler. The sun glinting harsh across the windshield and us, laughing.


Hog Belly Dance, by AZ Rainman of the Independents
In front of me is this impossible man, fat like a tent, kicking up his legs and catching himself with his palms on the floor, throwing himself from one palm to the other. I imagine him as a puppet, someone from the fourth dimension is yanking him from side to side, from palm to palm, up to his feet and down to his hands, entertaining all of us here with the idea of a leaping, dancing tank. As I watch him, someone is trying to convince me of the mundane. I do not say, “Don’t bore me.” I do not say, “Compare, dear audience, that which is before you with that which is next to me.” The thing I notice is, if I had seen him sitting, I would have figured this dancer couldn’t get up by himself. The other thing I notice is, his face is the color of what I got when I asked for well-done, and he’s breathing so hard I can smell his breath from here. The lawyer sitting with me, he’s a vegetarian, and he’s looking at my plate. He says, “You might send that back.” Obviously, he’s never worked in food service. The place, it’s very Middle-Eastern, so we’re sitting on these huge cushions, perfect for disappearing into the corner. The dancer, he’s definitely Middle-Eastern, because no self-respecting white man that size would get up off the couch. The lawyer’s telling me how famous Johnny is. He’s been all over the TV for years. He says, “You see bank robberies all the time in the movies, but they don’t really happen that often in real life. And when they do, the guy’s in jail before the movie’s credits would be done rolling.” I’m thinking, if the cook’s already pissed in this, it’s probably crawling with hepatitis. The lawyer says, “It’s not a matter of appealing in this case.” The tank throws himself down to his right palm and kicks his left foot up in the air, alternating from palm to palm, foot to foot. Sweat sprays onto my steak. The lawyer says, “Between state and federal, Johnny’s never going to get walked out the front door of that place.” And then there’s the dead security guards, at the one place where the video tape got all twisted up and useless. A miracle. “Otherwise, he might have gotten the chair,” says the lawyer, and he makes a loud motion like he’s brushing dirt off his hands, holding them up for me to see, fingers splayed. He’s so impressed, it could only be an act of God— so he can’t take credit. The situation is this: I don’t give a shit what this guy thinks. He’s a lawyer, wrong field. I’m here because I haven’t figured out a way to explain my plan to Johnny yet. Or exactly how to carry it out. The reason I’m still here is, my eyes have glued my ass to the seat. Every time the tank flips, my mind screams amazement. Right now, it’s peripheral vision, but I swear the guy is bouncing on one foot and kicking the other out over and over as he turns in circles on one palm. Right now, I’m thinking about memory. I’m remembering where the psychology textbooks tell us that a whole bunch of people watching the same thing will not remember the same incident when asked about it later. For instance, your average, averagely fearful white suburbanite will tell you that the perpetrator was a tall black man. Thirteen people present at the same bank robbery will all point confidently at someone different in a line up: someone who was in Germany at the time, someone they saw on the news, one of the other victims. Anyone the police officer next to them seems keen on. A tall black man. This is your mind, having bracketed the world into patterns, seeing what it expects to see. It’s called the Bartlett Effect. People get frightened in these scenarios. If your mind can’t grasp what it sees, it’ll do a little overdubbing, see something it can grasp. So I’m thinking, it might be hard to see the power we have over our future, but some part of us, at least, seems to have all kinds of power over the present and past. Right now, you’ll focus on what’s key to your survival or sanity: the gun in your face, the dancing whale. So that tomorrow, I’ll remember this impossibly large man leaping from side to side on the palms of his hands like I couldn’t when I was a six-year-old ball of explosive fearless energy. Tomorrow, this asshole will daydream in the shower about my dark green turtleneck stretched tight across a padded and stuffed 34D bra. It’ll never occur to him that I didn’t say anything through the whole meeting in which I’m pretty sure we were supposed to discuss some type of plan of prison-release, like mine, for example. Me, I’m thanking God this guy’s dancing so I won’t have to remember anything I’m supposed to be listening to.

Source photo of the above, by Sideshow Mom

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tango in a Box V

From the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil. Artist Unknown)


The third time I met Johnny, I was still on my second set of foster parents, and I thought he must have spent the evening with them while I wasn’t looking. He didn’t say anything about my bruises, so I figured I shouldn’t say anything about his and instead I said, “There’s a circus in the theater parking lot.” And: “I’ve never been to the circus.”

He grinned and we were off, and I felt this bubble swelling in me, and when the man did a double flip off the back of his horse and landed perfectly, I was catapulted from my seat, I squeaked.

We cut out of the tent through the side and wandered around and I tried to make my breath fit back in my chest but I couldn’t focus, there were all these lights and sounds and I didn’t want to shut them off.

Behind this one tent, we suddenly found ourselves part of a gaggle of performers. A tall Russian man in tights was walking beside me and I was following a clown whose lady’s teased up bangs reached the top of his thighs. I looked up at Johnny, but he was looking straight ahead like nothing was happening, even as the woman practiced little leaping turns from one side of him to the other, her tutu sparkling pink and silver in the lights. We moved like that, all of us, across the lot until suddenly, it was too much for me, I had to stop, doubled over, leaning on my knees.

And then he helped me up a little hill outside the gates and we just sat and watched from a distance until the lights blinked out for the night.


"The Lesser of Three" by Bill Carman

By Bill Carman


Another disaster in the chain of disasters that is my life was my third foster mommy. My third foster mommy, she was so kind, she said there was no reason why I should have to carry all that emotional baggage around on my own. “And,” she said, “we’re certainly not qualified to help.”

The problem was, I was just so moody. The problem was, I wouldn’t let anyone touch me. The problem was, I had painted more than half the window panes in my room black, leaving exactly seven panes see-through in each of the three floor-to-ceiling windows. She thought maybe I was involved in a cult.

The problem was, the whole time she’d be talking to me, she’d see me mumbling something, and she wasn’t sure it was prayers. The problem was, if I said anything at all, I said it seven times.

I could understand her concern. I didn’t think she was safe around me, either. One of us wasn’t.

The doctor where she took me was a special friend of hers. He squeezed her hand before she left. Foster dad number three was an electrical engineer, he was somewhere on the other side of the country. He traveled a lot.

The doctor promised to take good care of me.

What he meant was, he was going to hand me over to someone he suspected would. What he meant was, he’d be there when she came to pick me up.

The guy who got stuck with me was an intern. That meant he’d be around a lot, like all night.

I walked on the other side of the hall from him.

On the wall right next to the room I was supposed to sleep in, there was a painting of an upset-looking woman. Later, my first non-repeated sentence would be, “She’s broken”. Like me, I meant.

The intern, he had another theory. He said Picasso would say she’s more whole than anyone we’ve ever seen in a photo or portrait. Picasso would say we’re seeing all the sides of her at once, each one fully developed.

The intern, he had a lot of theories. He had one about foster mother number three and the doctor, for example.

That first day, before he handed me off to the intern, the doctor said to me, “So I guess you’re Irish.”

I was silent.

Seven times is a lot of energy, you choose your words carefully. And your audiences.

The intern, though, he didn’t ask anything that first day. When I stopped to stare at Dora Maar, he stopped too. He looked at her as long as I did, and he didn’t say anything either.

By Bill Carman