Artist

It was in a prior life, before the bustling din, and the empty ring of tin, before the restless rustle of concession’s sin. I’d been pure, or more so than after time’s cowardly compromise; I’d been the limitless possibility told of in faith’s fable. I was a sculptor. Gypsy tramps, and theater-mask molesters spoke to me, words which a narcissistic world couldn’t hear, each pair of eyes confiding in me their secrets. I’d seen things, stories drifting in whispers, and inscrutable emotions which bard’s scratching quill hadn’t yet exhumed, I’d been privy to that which lay sobbing deep within the shadows’ keep of the gnarled sidewalk hobblers and the salt-eyed ragged children of the street. I was an artist.

I’d written then, though I hadn’t thought myself a writer. Two decades drowned in conformity’s shallow millpond, I now write again, and I wonder, as I begin to return to who I have always been beneath sanity’s guise, if writing itself is not art. Is this not who I am? Do these palaces built of words not need artist’s eyes to gain entry?

What my hands may craft with paper and clay is simple mechanics, an experienced hand’s tool-turn, easily– a counterfeiter’s street market mockery. What I may see, what I may feel, and pass on, what I may question, turning on its reluctant end to shake out its severed-head truth, would that not be where art resides?

I’ve a recalcitrant avarice to feel my eyes slashed open again by the jagged-glass monocle of those years. I’ve ravenous need to return to who I’d been, to see once more– things as they are. Life then, was honest. The foul immigrants swearing, breaking things upstairs, the bare-knuckle fights in the street outside my window, the shuffling hostility of the trains jostling down the tracks which ran behind my dark apartment, pushing deep through evening’s screaming virginity– it was all authentic, every one of us an exposed nerve, though we hadn’t enough paupers to assemble in revolution. Still, I wish only feel– as the artist I am beneath all this. Though, I shall never call myself a poet.

8 Replies to “Artist”

  1. I love your words. So many I’ve never used but love to hear. As an interpreter and caseworker for those less fortunate, I frequently had to dummy down my English to be understood. It has been too long among the less educated, that I had forgotten we had so many more and better ways to express oneself.

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    1. Hi Jo, so glad you found the blog. My son just came from a shelter where the cub scouts were donating some needed goodies. I’ll say this of the writing community as a whole, it has taught me not only some new words, but some new ways of looking at those thought known.. Thank you for the kind words 🙂

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        1. Yes. I found him a little tough to follow (damned artists!), but after a second read, I think I understood the nuances. The part in my piece that references to word, ‘poet’ is a reference to several other pieces where I’ve expanded on the notion of a ‘poet’. My thoughts on the term make it difficult sometimes to have a dialogue, or even to write for understanding on the subject. To me, a poet is a very special thing, not always about one’s ability with words, and not a term one can assign to one’s self. That said, the (in)sight mentioned in the article is something a poet is likely to have, and even to a higher degree than that articulated in the article.

          Here is the article, for anyone interested in reading it..

          https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/04/13/james-baldwin-the-artists-struggle-for-integrity/

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