not even a town

not even a town

 

mud-black knees,

tunnel through hours—

 

but they were silent.

 

in-fluent veins of grass

 

conversation in threads,

the hours

 

at the ends or beginnings

of threads

 

an entire sky

 

web of threads

 

to get a sweater from the house

 

thereafter, the test

of an equine confidante

 

black plum relevant to time

and space

 

water in the foot print

 

water in the gopher hole

 

rain-wet birth of the spring creatures

balled, or translucent, wedged

in the soil

 

the red flag is up

on the mailbox

 

tires

hiss on the road

 

an unseen person

humming into a task

 

a generational field

yields a warning sign

 

an analogue feline

fades into memory

 

 

 

Avenida Chimera

To my surprise . . . I’m writing a novel. Let me tell you first why this is a surprise. a) a short attention span, b) aversion to linear structures of any kind, c) I don’t know enough to write a novel, d) I’m way too busy to write a novel. Well, what gives?

Around New Year’s, when everyone is busy setting goals for the new year, I thought, “why not write a novel.” In truth, I originally thought “novella” which sounded less intimidating.

At the time, I was reading Tracy Chevalier’s first novel, The Virgin Blue. I liked that she switched back and forth between past and present, and that there was a mystical link between the two stories, via the particular shade of blue and the allusion to the Virgin Mary. The psychic linkage between the female characters across hundreds of years’ time, was intriguing although (I felt) heavy handed.

I like reading first novels, because of their rough edges; I don’t mind if sometimes I am not entirely convinced of the “myth” of the story environment. (Entering into a story is, after all, much like immersing oneself into a mythical world, no matter the subject or genre.) I found myself considering the dialogue in the novel, which I thought did not entirely ring true, and wondered how an author creates authentic dialogue. Regular dialogue is usually boring, if transcribed exactly the way people speak. But how to spin the web of the story with dialogue that moves the story along, and sounds believable?

the-passion

Another novel came to mind, and I started reading it again on Kindle: The Passion, by Jeannette Winterson. One of my favorite novels. When I first read it, I fell in love with the storytelling. I loved how Winterson introduces each character’s story, the soldier Henri and the Venizian androgyne boatperson, Villanelle, as two separate stories that she then weaves together. I loved the unreliability of each narrator. Henri, who tells the reader, “Don’t believe me.” The directness of the characters’ voices, the way she wrote the inner dialogue for a French soldier and an Italian young womn, help me to understand how I might try this, too. Winterson’s first novel was highly acclaimed, but it was this second novel written when she was in her mid-20’s, that was a financial success. She was able to make a living as an author due to the success of this book.

In both novels, I enjoyed the historical setting, was impressed by the research I imagined an author needs to do to keep the reader suspended in the myth of the tale. I started to realize that, as when creating a drawing or painting, you are really creating lines and marks in a way that suggests reality. (If the work is non-represenational, it still must create a believable “structure” of some sort, that the viewer will enter into–yet it is only marks on paper). Is writing a novel that different? How much do I actually need to know in order to write a novel?

It is different than poetry, the wholeness of the illusion that you are attempting to create (if the poet is writing in a non-narrative style, which I do).

Now I have written (only) thirty pages of a novel that was originally titled “Estrella and the Texture of Light” and is now tentatively called “Avenida Chimera”. Loosely based on the life of Leonora Carrington, para-surrealist painter and author, who escaped WWII Europe to expatriate to Mexico City, where she developed a unique and mythical oevre of painting, sculpture, and stories. After writing thirty pages, I have started over, now with the story in a radial structure, starting with three characters around a table.

I found writing the scenes that interested me the most, helped break the ice and kept me excited about the project. Over the past two months I have read, skimmed, analyzed a dozen or so texts related to the novel in progress, in diverse topics such as: Celtic mythology, Spanish Civil War, Vichy France, Provencal lifestyle, surreal novels set in Paris, the occult, kabbalah, Alice in Wonderland, art history texts on surrealism or the movements leading up to surrealism, surrealist games, the Mexican revolution and the industrialization of Mexico, etc. I have never been more intellectually stimulated and outright obsessed as when writing this novel.

The novel starts in a courtyard in Mexico City, with three friends around a table.

A candle flickered on the table between them. From above in this light, all three appear identical. From within the circle, one with an angular face. Another, a long oval, and a third, her face shaped like a heart.

The first voice makes a brief comment in Spanish. A second voice laughs a gentle, dancing laugh. Water murmurs from a nearby fountain, now invisible outside the circle of light. The third, in a sarcastic tone, says something that ends in “inolvidable”. Of the three, only one a native speaker.

The main characters are three female artists, expatriated to Mexico City from Europe. As the rest of the novel unfolds, their life stories will emerge through flashback, through dreams, through the reader’s experience of their art-making. Overall, the story is about the challenge and power of art making. The characters happen to be female, at a time when the art world was dominantly “male”, and women were seen as the counterparts of great (male) artists. Through their work, they explore their own beliefs about the nature of the world and society. The story also explores notions of nationalism, and identity, through the thoughts and experiences of these “maverick” characters.

But for now:

The three friends gather as many evenings as possible in the summer, in this high walled courtyard crowded with blue palm and bush sage.

Inside the summer courtyard, quiet music of the fountain. Outside the walls, the concrete sounds of all-enveloping Mexico City repeat at the same pace as they do every day. The conversation topic one day is Mayan mythology. Last week, Sufism. A week from now, interpretations of the Fourth Dimension. Interwoven between these conversations, memories unfold. An insatiable desire to understand oneself as a being in the world. And human comfort to hear the stories of parallel paths that bring each of them to this table.

The first, rises and walks into the kitchenette, brings back a bottle of tequila and in the other hand, three glasses pinched together in her fingers. Sets these without ceremony onto the enameled metal table top. The second pours. The third says, “Salud” and they drink and pour another which they sip slowly now.

It is now completely dark. Two smile and lean in, while the other talks. The candle adds an incantatory effect. Shadow ebbs and flows around the edges of the round table, a table with scratches in the enamel, and polished spots from elbows, dishes, bottles. Blots of wax cluster in the center, and a red wire twists in an upward knot, from the time they constructed an impromptu sculpture into the network of the table.

Picking up the thread of an earlier conversation, Stella, the woman with the oval face, says, “I just do what the painting asks of me.” Adi, with the heart shaped face, nods. Noa, the aquiline, responds, “Eso es lo unico. . .”. They each sip the tequila, and think quietly to themselves as a means to extend the conversation.

I cannot tell you how terrifying and exciting it is to start a novel; all of my fears of my own ability to complete a project arise, at the daunting nature of the task. Then, I get back to work.

breach the pattern

breach the pattern

 

internal effect

waits,

on gravel

 

wild chamomile is a weed

in the road, don’t

eat it,

it is tainted.

 

in each direction, the distance

misleads—The road

never narrows to a point.

Convergence

continues,

out of reach.

 

faces in vehicles–

barely a face–

zoom past, a moment

of round recognition

 

the high

speed mirror

carries part of my face

out of reach.

 

in defiance,

I carry in my palm

the answer to an unasked

question

 

 

 

a priori

a priori

 

not so evident in the boundary

of my skin

 

the dawn toll

 

a (mis) nomer

 

fed to the city noise

an other—

 

*

 

a ruthless calm

 

within the stagnant

fountain, miniscule

creatures move

 

they listen with their feet

 

all the manmade

hollows, the cobbled

secret, the causeway,

the dead wires

 

–vacancy

 

and nothing to fill it—

 

*

 

the dreamed incident

totters and tilts

 

(             how I do neglect

my origins)

that’s not what this is

that’s not what this is

 

 

a package

once opened

past limits

leaves all wires exposed

 

 

a decision has been made

 

 

you were peeled away

and hung there, in a hole

behind the law

 

if you had reached

across, the border

would have grown

to absorb you

 

there is no entry and no

leaving

 

 

in an effort to diffuse

the witness—

 

(never agree to what

you’ve seen)

 

call the word out

as it is,

 

through the reflection,

 

 

through to the ground

 


 

 

 

Resist!

Protect human rights, and basic decency.

Protect all First Amendment rights.

Support the ACLU.

post facto

post facto

 

inhabitable space

behind a word

like freedom

 

will no longer hold

 

now, walls

enclose the walls

 

i ask you to remember

the dancer’s movement

 

outside the confines

of a spotlight

 

free of any stage

or constellation

 

attribute, subjunctive

 

 

if i could begin again

 

 

i’d disrobe the dark

 

write my way through

subjective memory

 

 

i’d arrow me an opening,

and move,

there

 

alternate truth

alternate truth

 

 

the road through concrete

canyon cannot hold

 

 

a voice yells in an alley

candy wrapper

in the grating

wet cardboard box

cigarette

penny

reflection

 

 

all erodes

eventually

 

 

water,

air

find home

beneath asphalt

 

 

 

absent

ideology?—

 

 

“things as they are”

expands

 

 

*

 

 

less an antidote—

 

 

 

 

nourishment

 

*

 

 

algebraic confrontations

clog perception

 

 



Thanks Ms. Kellyann Conway for giving us “alternate facts” this morning. What a vein of gold you’ve given us. To the rest of us: fiercely protect the freedom of the press at all costs.

after the procession

after the procession

 

snow covers the monument

the tree-punctured sky

does not speak

 

an engine grinds

through the heart

of every brick

 

ridiculed to the point

of treason—

 

an avenue is not for walking

 

the ancient city

heaves up its dead

 

in the fliers and posters

that cover concrete walls—

 

the weight–

our armor,

our weakness

 

messages in cursive

 

stare hard at the face

in front of you

to remember

yourself before—

 

the lines and creases

words writhing

 

someone left the door ajar

to instinctive cruelties

 

to get out from the wall—

 

 

once it breaks, it breaks.

A Mind

Jack Bennett

Gelli® Printing Projects

Simple DIY Printing Projects

Wolfgang Paalen

Painter, Surrealist and Philosopher of Contingency

spilling some

giving myself a good talkin to