Drawing

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I thought I might do a drawing today
and maybe you would pose for me
You don’t need to reveal anything that makes you feel uncomfortable
I can see all that I need in the skin
under your eyes
and the positions of your fingers
and the width and length of your lips

Instead a person I love died
and my eyes won’t work that way today
I won’t see fingernails or eyelashes
I won’t see the geometry of your crossed legs
or the devastation of the sunlight that rampages through your hair

The things I see are in-between this
world and another one
One that comes before and also after
the world that embraces both stages of infancy

His cold breath is on all our necks
He wears a watch that tells no time
that only ticks and doesn’t move
that bruises and stretches and breathes heavily

This morning I felt the sun on my chest
like it didn’t know summer was over
that lit a new path for my feet to follow
and offered plausible explanations for
the lies I told myself
about how I’d draw you in stuttering sunlight
and ask you all I want to know
like I didn’t know summer was over

The Presence of the Past

History is the process of the past negotiating its terms of surrender to the future.

Although the past cannot defeat the future, it will do, and is currently doing, all it can, to break as many hearts as possible in the present. Cruelty seems to be the guiding principle of those in power, in the USA and across the globe, as they confront the horror of knowing that their power will soon be gone forever.

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This is nothing new. In 19th Century Europe, monarchies crumbled under a rising tide of democracy. In the 21st, with a little courage and devotion to honesty and justice, we might see white male privilege go the way of kings, kaisers, and czars.

See if you recognize our current situation in these words that Victor Hugo wrote in 1862:

The past, it is true, is very strong right now. It is reviving. This revivification of a corpse is surprising. Here it is walking and advancing. It seems victorious; this dead man is a conqueror. He comes with his legion, superstitions, with his sword, despotism, with his banner, ignorance; within a little time he has won ten battles. He advances, he threatens, he laughs, he is at our doors. As for us, we will not despair.

We who believe, what can we fear?

There is no backward flow of ideas any more than of rivers.

But those who do not want the future should think it over. In saying no to progress, it is not the future they condemn, but themselves…There is only one way of refusing tomorrow and that is to die.

He concludes that chapter of Les Miserables with this observation of the relative powers of the hopes of the future and the fears of the past:

The ideal…thus lost in the depths – minute, isolated, imperceptible, shining, but surrounded by all those great black menaces monstrously amassed around it, yet no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds.

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I Never Knew Your Name

When I say I never knew your name, I am not talking about the one your parents gave you. I am talking about the one you gave yourself. You know the one I mean, the one that bubbled to the surface of your life on a hot summer night, like this one, when you were all alone in your room, feeling inexplicably sad but hopeful.

This name was not one that you had heard before, yet you instantly recognized it as yours.

Although at that time I was hundreds of miles away from you, and had not met you, and could not hear the name you gave yourself, I felt the reverberations of its echo.

When I am calm enough, I still can.
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We never will be done…

Every leaf on every branch of every tree in the forest
dances to a different tune
Every star that twinkles with a million-year-old light
looks all the way into you
Every bit of foam on every wave in every sea
likes to know that you are here
And every moment of a lifetime in eternity
offers up its own opportunity

Every brick in every wall we build to keep us apart
cries to be taken down
every lie we ever told and all that we believed
hide from us now

we’re stalking something wild and empty
without a penny, or a gun
we’re following the trail of something free, and
we never will be done
we never will be done

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This party has got to end

This party has got to end
After I bandage up this kid
I think this party has got to end
Remember me?
I’ve got to bandage up this kid I think
This party has got to end
After I bandage up this kid
Remember me?
I think I remember
If I bandage up this kid I think
This party
I have got to end this party
After I think
Remember me?
I think I remember that
This party has got to end
After I bandage up this kid and
remember me
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Antigua Sketchbook

Antigua is an island bordered on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and on the other by the Caribbean Sea. The only things more beautiful than its beaches and the breeze filtering through the shade of its palm trees are its people.

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The word vacation comes from the Latin vacare – to be empty. I spent last week on vacation in Antigua and was so busy being emptied that I only found time for three quick sketches. Sometimes even the enjoyable parts of life are a chore and I need emptiness to appreciate the fullness of the life I’m lucky enough to have.

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I spent a healthy portion of my vacation with my eyes closed,  not sure if I was asleep or  meditating. The membrane between layers of consciousness becomes so thin that it would take a mind more analytical than mine to measure it.

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