“I am just a memory, dead in the dust, gone like the wisp of smoke that curled from the tip of the gun that killed me…”
So Long Ago was Yesterday; I thought it was Gone…but I was wrong. I understand now; I was stuck Here all along.
Now that I know, can I go?
No. Not now, maybe not ever. You have to remember, see? I need you to remember me. My family long ago passed on, they kept my picture right above the mantle, and I carried theirs’. I carried ours. Draped it around my 18 year-old neck like the roses on a Derby winner; around my neck like the rifle I carried. Around my neck just like my dog tags-the one’s that made that certain sound when they touched. You must remember. I am not a ghost, there are no such things. I am just a memory, dead in the dust, gone like the wisp of smoke that curled from the tip of the gun that killed me. Remember me, now and then.
More now. The children are on the battlefields today- at this very minute-with eyes of cornflower blue. Searching the horizon, squinting against the glare of sunlight that slants off the desert rock like a razor. Blue eyes scanning roadsides, green eyes scouring midnight skies for tell-tale vapor trails. Brown eyes staring blindly back at the insides of their night vision goggles, looking into eternity.
” Sweet Child in time, you ought to see the line-the line that’s drawn between the goodness and the bad. See the blind man? He’s shooting at the world; the bullets flying, taking their toll…If you’ve been bad (lord, I’ll bet you have) and you’ve not been hit, not been hit by flying lead; you’d better close your eyes-you’d better bow your head…
I came across this post I wrote a few years ago, and it resonates with me today in light of recent events. War is always the worst of mankinds’ inhumanity, nothing has changed in the years since Vietnam. I was a baby when first exposed to war thru a little black box that sat on a shelf next to where Mother sat me in my crib some 50 odd years ago. To this day the sound of chopper blades overhead stops me in my tracks; I peer up in questioning wonder-not sure what I am looking for. Maybe my Mom’s cammo-clad lover to rappel down and proclaim fatherhood of me, maybe for shots to ring out and stop my questions forever…
Today I am exposed to a little black tablet that bombards me with images of my unborn sons and daughters dressed in their uniforms, riding in Hummers, riding in wheelchairs, riding in hearses, riding away, always away…Day after dreaded year the casualties mount while my one life ebbs away: How many have sacrificed themselves in my 57 years? Have I even cried that many tears in this lifetime? How many is enough (Children? Tears?) to give to the General’s who orchestrate this endless miserable charade.
I feel sick. All the time. And when I think of Johnny, I cry. I know and I believe and I am promised and he is promised, PROMISED a resurrection by the One true Ruler of this Universe, so soon I will hold my soldier in my arms and look long into those crystal blue living eyes.
Until then, I will think of Blue-Eyed Johnny, and I will remember…
Woo Hoo ! I am an artist WHIRLWIND again! Hang on, cause art is flowing out of me in a torrent, and I need more hands. I am happy to be out of “funk town” for a while! I entered six shows in the past month and now have 5 paintings accepted into these shows . Four of the five shows. I can’t believe how things snowball. The piece above is a Work in Progress, one of my Surrealist pieces, with a working title of Angry Birds, a little pun on the silly game people play on their devices. I’m rethinking that right now, I may put people off by that. But who cares if I like it, right? Naming Art is the Artist’s privelege. Kind of like children; you made it, you name it! And here’s a fun little twist…how many Birds do you see?
I painted what I believe to be my best piece as far as figurative art, it’s an acrylic mixed media piece which is a statement piece about justice and human trafficking…It is named “Stuck in Traffic (Framed) and I will post it, and the one mentioned above as soon as I sign them in a few minutes here… Be patient, I had to lie down for a minute. I decided a while back that I must sign my work before I post it online… Silly, really, you can’t stop the thievery no matter what you do, if you decide to post your art online. I recently read a piece considering the benefit vs risk of putting your art online. If you decide not to you are missing out on reaching millions of people, perhaps billions. If you want to sell your art, and/or share it with an audience, then the risk is one you must take. Unless of course you are going to let it spead just by word of mouth. Then it would take 100 years telling 5 people a day to reach 182,500 people, if they did not tell anyone else. If each one told 5 others then… wait a minute, you get the idea. It would take a long time.
Impressionism is my dearest love, and I hope one day to paint like Pissaro, or maybe Gauguin… Of course I have my own style, and I concentrated more on my brushwork in this piece, and multicolored skin to show my feelings rather than accurate realism. I especially love the dramatic shadows, I tried to be brave! Like I’m not passionate enough, right? I’m proud of the results! I will list all the shows I’m in in the next few days, with their websites and dates…
How true, how true that Pennsylvania Dutch saying is. I squander my art endeavors, rushing from this deadline to that, frazzled, befuddled and unsatisfied. That may be what drove Van Gogh insane, the constant turmoil to do better. I am making the presumption that perhaps the rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder that I enjoy(!) was somehow effecting him, too. Many artists share this mental illness, I know that The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation has held Insights Art Exhibitions, to establish a permanent collection of works by artists who are effected by this disorder. I am proud to be one of the Founding Artists of that collection, and proud to know these beautiful people who have done so much to further research in the field.
Three years, three works of my art in this collection. It blows my mind, just as my art has been blowing peoples minds since I was a child. How easy I forget, and wallow in my mire. That is part of this disease also. The dark days, when no amount of internal dialogue can push me out of bed, out of the bleak landscape in my head. Do you think Van Gogh, or Matisse, or Dali had such dark times? What about Francis Bacon, Pollock, Warhol ?
Then why do I feel so alone in my efforts? Yes, I’m sure the worldwide pandemic has a dampening effect, on artists as well as everyone else. Perversely, I also treasure the isolation it affords me. No one can chastise my late hours, or visit to be aghast at the paint on my floor, on my walls, on me. I think I need to get out of the house more, go walk on the beach, visit a park. All things strange and alien nowadays. I know this will pass, I have been in counselling and under proffesionals care for my Bipolar Disorder and PTSD for nearly 30 years, I take my medication every single day, because I have been all the way down into the abyss and made friends with the monsters lurking there. Only to find out that they all wanted me dead. I don’t want to be dead. I can fully understand why I did, because this pain is all encompassing. I feel each cell screaming at me to give it relief.
The only thing I can do is paint myself into a painless reality, a utopia of color, a sweet dream of lavender and silk, a field of gold. When sleep won’t come I will disappear into the garden that flows out of my pen, winding its way into sweet fantasy-lands where no one is mean and there is no such thing as loneliness…
“…running to the window, still asleep, she fell thru the glass with a crash…”
A short story by Susan T. Martin…
She was never very confident. Her mother said she was ‘pretty’. She did not believe her. She didn’t want to be ‘pretty’, anyway. No. She wanted to be ‘breathtaking’, achingly ‘beautiful’, devastatingly ‘gorgeous’. A ‘real heartbreaker’, ‘homewrecker’, a ‘ten’. A ‘perfect’ ten.
Like Tracy. Her best friend with the huge blue eyes and pretty lips, nice hips and long, long hair. But she was none of those things that Tracy was. She had a sneaking suspicion that her mother was lying about ‘pretty’ as well.
The boys did not say she was pretty. Not that she liked them. Only one. Joey. He was super smart. Super duper smart. Almost as smart as she was. But smart didn’t rate very high in her circle of giggly little girlfriends. It especially didn’t rate with Tracy who thought being smart was ‘stupid’ and ‘a drag’. A drag with a roll of the eyes added on.
It seemed she was just doomed to be a ‘bookworm’, which was a term that also elicited an eye roll from Tracy and the gigglers.
Oh, how she loved her books. She longed to go to the exotic places depicted in her ‘National Geographic’ magazine that her dad had ordered for her. He thought she was beautiful, but not in the ‘Tracy’ way. No, dad said she was beautiful for her brains, her intelligence. This made her feel very good. Her and her dad would walk in the garden and he would point out different creatures and plants for her to name, from her study books in the library. Oh, that’s a salamander…or, That one is a chickadee. His eyes glistened when she got this right, especially his beloved songbirds. He could whistle just like them, he knew every call. She could not whistle, because her tooth was missing in the front. He said he would make sure the tooth fairy knew that she had to have a mouth that would whistle for her next birthday. It was coming up soon, so she was excited.
Something bad happened that next month, tho’. Her daddy had a heart attack and died, and mom said he had gone away to a better place, in heaven. She didn’t get to tell him that the tooth fairy gave her a whistle, or that she could now tweet, almost as good as he did. She didn’t believe that heaven business, her dad said that heaven was a place where the birds lived, not dead people.
She spent a lot of time alone that winter, walking alone in the garden. She would whistle all the time, and learn about new animals and birds. She dreamed about her father every night, sometimes she would sleepwalk.
One cold, rainy February night she had an especially bad night. In her dream her dad was locked out of the house. He was calling to her, from the garden, and in her dream she wanted to fly down to him, like a beautiful exotic bird. She knew if he saw her, all arrayed in bright and glorious feathers, that he would be saved, and they would be together again. If only she could just fly down there. She started whistling and flapping her arms, and running to the window, still asleep, she fell thru the glass with a crash, landing unconscious in the garden below. Her bedraggled wet little body, so twisted and broken, was rushed to the hospital.
They said she would not be the same if she ever woke up. But they did not know that deep inside her amazing little mind, she was just fine. Her and her dad had both learned how to fly, and they tweeted happy little birdsongs back and forth as they flitted about a magnificent garden.
…the room seems to awaken with her…golden rays fall…like the petals of an opening rose…
this isolation is kind of nice, (she thought), it gives me time to explore my thoughts. But too much pondering of self is no good, (she thought to herself), it can get messy. Really, it is messy, all this thinking in isolation, (she remembered), because it makes me so sleepy, (she yawned), not doing the dishes, nor combing my hair, (she sighs), flummoxed, just flummoxed. I should try to eat something, (she groans), but there’s nothing here I want, (she moans) it all takes too much energy… e-n-e-r-g-y…(she sleeps…)footsteps recede, door closes.
Ahhhh, fresh air… Curtains of pale yellow blow in the morning breeze. We know it’s morning, hear the cardinals breakfasting at the feeder. A nuzzle of cold snout under the hand leads to the opening of an eye: Here is Izzy, the proud mom, ready to show us her new brood.
” Good Girl Za-Za!”, we exclaim, thrilled now to sit up, taking a long draw on the crystal glass of water at our bedside.
. “Hey, Kiki old-man! You gonna show us the grand babies?”
. Swing the legs over the side and stretch, then again before standing…
. With that, off they dash as we stumble along behind, into the hall then into the den. We can already hear the tiny grunts and squeals as the teeny pups angrily demand breakfast.
“Get in there, Izzy!” She’s already in the basket, dutifully cleaning little backsides as they squirm and nuzzle in for a teat. “Good Za!”
. She gives us a look of pure bliss, eyes narrow and smiling with a mother’s pride. Not to be outdone, Uncle Kiko, gives a little nose-nudge to the basket as if to say, “I helped too!!”
. ” Good Boy Kiko, you’re a trooper, indeed!”
In the quiet of the morning the scent of brewing coffee tantalizes our senses, and as we look up into the kitchen, there is Dad, in his Dad chair, reading the newspaper as he’s done ten thousand mornings before. He glances up from his cup, mid-sip, to wink and smile, mouthing a silent ‘good-morning’.
. We move down the hall towards Mom’s bedroom, still closed as she slumbers on. We can’t resist a peek, gently opening the door and gliding over to stand and caress her sleeping face with our eyes. She is so beautiful in her repose, a wisp of brown hair touseled over her brow. We must have made a sound, she stirs and the room seems to awaken with her, the birds chirp louder, the golden rays fall around her like the petals of an opening rose. She stretches, smiling, her hand reaches out to touch ours…
…see what this work has gone thru on it’s journey to fruition…
. You know I like to keep working on my paintings, don’t you? I believe it comes from not having enough money for canvases , as well as not sketching out my paintings first, as well as total and complete impatience to put my idea down fast, for gratification. So I thought I would make a brief compilation to see what this work has gone thru on it’s journey to fruition… I will make a better video tomorrow… No sleep for me (again) last night…Can you say, “MANIA!!!!” It may Hurt later, but right now it’s SO EXCITING!! PAINT PAINT PAINT!!!
. This project was a couple years in the making for me, and was born from the bottomless grief I was dealing with then. As caregiver to both of my parents after a 23 year-long active addiction, and after a devestating breakup of my marriage when my ex went to Federal Prison, I was an emotional train wreck. I had not been creating visual art except for private sketches and some mural work, but I made a smart move during those early years back home with my parents by purchasing a Surface Pro in 2006 with all the bells and whistles. As a result, I did have a creative outlet in the new digital editing and photographic capabilities of this amazing device.
. During the long illness of my Mom, who was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2007 (after years of passing blood but afraid to get a colonoscopy!!!!), I had much pent up emotion to release. Any moment of freedom I had was spent exploring the new medium I now possessed. I think I was at an advantage due to the fact that I knew no rules about photography, so I was very free to experiment and play. As a computer illiterate during my long years away from civilization, this was both hell and Utopia as I navigated thru the most basic techie stuff. But I was enthralled. I could take a photo and make it a work of art!
. Alas, my next 9 years were so pain-filled, as Mom’s cancer progressed she and I had to navigate colostomy’s and ileostomy’s and her suffering was so acutely mine that I wanted to die with her. And a huge part of me did, on the first day of spring in 2010, her birthday and day of death. I wrote endless prose and poetry, keeping her alive in words and rivers of tears.
. That seemed like a joy ride compared to nursing my father until his death. Dad developed dementia even before Mom died, and it became full blown Alzheimer’s afterwards. He also had prostate cancer which had been diagnosed 20years before but had never been treated. Years of violent outbursts and vile language and hate filled conversation poured out of my Father for the better part of Six years, and out of my warped sense of love for my mean Dad I determined in my heart to never let him go to a nursing home.
During those years I had a catastrophic fall which injured my brain, neck, back, shoulder, hip and knee, causing me to undergo a 12 hour double neck and back operation so that I would only have one recovery and could be up and about within weeks to caregive again. Wow. Five levels in my neck were fused and a previous 3 level lumbar fusion was repaired and taken up another level. I had torn major cartilage in my hip, needed arthroscopic surgery there and in my shoulder, and also was left with a type if vertigo that still effects me on a regular basis 7years later! Oh, my. Need I mention my mental illness battles with rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder and PTSD from a history full of childhood sexual abuse, violent sexual assault and rape as an adolescent and severe emotional and physical abuse due to 7plus years of Domestic Violence? No, I really had given myself a heavy, heavy load to carry with Daddy. But somehow I did it.
. I cannot describe the last weeks of his life, as there was a lawsuit and a non disclosure agreement with the establishment that hastened his death. But his last night was spent in a hospital bed at home, alone with me, while he screamed and pleaded with God and me to help him. For hours. And hours. The morphine did absolutely nothing so I covered my ears with my fists and screamed with him.
. During this unimaginably daunting, heart-wrenching and overwhelming time in my life there was a story on the news that just planted itself in my brain, because it was so horrific. A group of 27 immigrants were being smuggled into this country from South America. My video is my interpretation of what they went thru, and also a cry for compassion towards all who suffer such indignities and trauma.
…crack a smile or frown a frown…about the wonderful gift of creativity!
You open your eyes in the morning, and briefly it feels like a regular day. A “before” day. We need a name for that now, something catchy, that we don’t mind saying. I do mind saying “before the Pandemic”, “before Covid”, I suppose because I am on sensory overload about the ” situation”. I want to be safe, follow the guidelines, but I also want to talk less about it!!!
I am getting used to the “new normal”, a phrase that seems to be a paradox. If it is “normal”, the very definition suggests it is not “new”. I just want to ‘breathe’, and ‘let go’ of all the must do’s and need to’s, to float above it all mentally. Isn’t that a lovely thought?
. Remember the movie “UP”? I hope you’ve seen it, if you can be your inner Child while you watch; you will love it. The whole premise of a bunch of balloons carrying one away into the sky… Did you ever have a scary moment as a kid when your older brother told you to hold onto something or you’d float away? I kept imagining that I wouldn’t be able to hang on when I was so high the fall to earth would smush me, and that I’d be afraid to let go when I was still low enough to survive. What a lack of confidence in oneself, even in an imaginary setting!!!
. Who was the cartoon character who said, “What a Maroon!” every time the main character did something ‘dumb’? I’m thinking it was Barney on the “Flintstones”. It was said so often that it became this background sound, and up until today I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say about Fred. Now that I sounded out the word to type it, I am thinking he was calling Fred a Moron.
I’m a wee bit disgusted about not being paid my winnings yet for recent painting, nor have I received payment for the sale of it. The Show and sale ended May 30th, and here it is July whatever…Poo. The organizers must know we are all starving.
. Anyhoo… I still have time to draw a line or make a dot. So I’ll write words again afterwards. Words. Just not the “P” word, or the “C” word, or “19”. I’m going to share some of my digital art with you tonight, hope you crack a smile or frown a frown, just have a thought about the wonderful gift of creativity! Goodnight all.
Shall I call it “UNBAGGING”? I told you that you would never guess my source photo, in the last post’s images. Well here it is:
. Here’s the deal: I was ready to take Kleo for her daily walk, mask on, prepared to face the outside world. I had just finished watching (another) horrible newscast about the indescribable suffering going on all around the world. They had pinpointed the lack of PPE(initials we now know by heart that stand for Personal Protective Equipment), and the total disregard for life being shown by leaders who shall remain nameless,. The glaring situation that faces those on the frontlines who work to save the sick and dying was very much on my mind, so when Kleo and I stepped onto the street I was shocked by what I saw.
. Up and down my street, in front of every house, were little pink plastic bags, big enough to slip a hand into. And they held a single folded newsprint page with a small sheaf of advertisements tucked inside. I had been upset by these exo-system destroying little plastic bags before, being tossed all over the ground by secret eco terrorists each night under the cover of darkness. I mean- No ONE HAD ASKED FOR THESE! NO ONE HAD ORDERED THESE, OR REQUESTED THEY BE SCATTERED ALL OVER CREATION!!!!
Well , excuse me, there was SOMEONE…
Like I said, this had already bothered me, but now? NOW?!?
. I had just viewed nurses in New York City going to work using “gloves” fashioned using sterilized newspaper bags, shopping bags ( using clean garbage bags for goodness sakes) to shield themselves, and their CHILDREN, AND PARENTS, AND STAFF, AND NEIGHBORS, AND YOU AND ME from the virus!!! So here I was, rushing up and down the street, very angry, very sad, and self-righteous over this waste. I wanted to SCREAM AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS AT THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL!!
I may actually have screamed something, or at least shouted into my frayed cloth mask, which successfully muffled my words…I marched home with Kleo falling behind, tilting her head curiously, as if to say, “Mommy, I didn’t poop yet!?!”.
I paid her no mind, but kept up my March all the way to my couch where I threw the offending bags on my couch, and made an angry video about the whole mess of emotions I was feeling!
. Then I watched said video, and the old, grouchy Lady with the pink bandana (who was wielding pink plastic bags like a weapon) -well, she just looked pathetic. Very Ineffective.
Therefore I did what artists do best:I made meaningful art, and in doing so I made a statement, a loud statement… A SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS, A SCREAM AT THE TOP OF MY PHOTO EDITING VOICE!!!
“HERE YOU MONSTERS! Here you UNTHINKING BOOBS!!!!” “SEE WHAT I THINK OF YOU!!”
“THERE WILL BE A RECKONING” Because my friends, it’s not up to me with my little pictures… No, the GREATEST ARTIST, the One True God, says in the BIBLE
” …AND HE WILL BRING TO RUIN THOSE RUINING THE EARTH!”, Revelation 11:18B
. Now with the situation reframed, and with me letting go of a job that my Higher Power is doing, way, WAY better than I ever could, I can be happy again. I can use the little pink bags for doo-doo bags for my Ragamuffin Dogs, and be eco-illiterate myself…or, I can make a collage with them and use the adverts also! Ooooo, this will keep me going till nightfall, anyway!!! Then I will have to search for a new, fresh bee to toss into my bonnet! Another vital quest for justice for little furry creatures!!!
. ONWARD, AND UPWARD MY FRIENDS! Let us keep pushing on to better tomorrows!!!
I don’t know about you , but I’ll starting to feel it…It’s like a weak electric current close to the floor , strengthening as each day passes… More awful news, more isolation and “distancing”-the current gets a little stronger moving to the top of my legs now. I’m getting antsy, and even though I have learned how to cope much better with my Bipolar Disorder-the tension is here. Little headache-y, a little grouchy, a little jumpy…
. Stress makes me hungry, and tired: I slept all day. All day. I didn’t go to bed before 6a.m., but still. One reason I’m getting stir crazy is because I’ve been told to stay home, just like everyone, and oooooh, its aggravating to be told to do anything…But I want to help save lives, and I am happily doing it. However, Bipolar mood swings really seem to occur more when I’m isolated. The undercurrent of sadness and negativity makes me want to eat poptarts, watch murder mysteries and worry…
I know what I must do: Work. On something-on anything, just like when I was in jail. If I have a project , something to engross myself in, then the anxiety can’t grow. If I don’t feed the elephant hourly negative news updates then maybe it will leave the room. Just like my Kiko-Dog does when he realizes the lunchmeat is all gone…
. This is the perfect time, as day blends into day, to start on all the furniture projects I have scattered in every room of my house. I am foregoing jello molds for a while, and instead working on tables, chairs, lamps, headboards, murals on my sheds, my laundry room, in my bathroom and all over my back fence!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
. I placed a huge order to Jerry’s Artarama, counting on my free Government Virus Check to pay for it. So instead of chewing the inside of my lip, I can do this:
Hopefully I won’t wig out , because my mind and hands will be making beauty, soothing my mania, and preparing me for a future of unimaginable wealth when I sell all thus stuff !!!!
Just a thought: I never want to seem insensitive to the pain and suffering of my fellow man. Not during these trying days, nor ever… But for me, for my sanity in coping with my own mental health issues, and depressive and manic upswells during stress, I MUST STAY POSITIVE. As an individual with PTSD, Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder and Complex Grief , it means my very life. This is my health regimen. My art frees me, my voice strengthens me, my faith saves me… I hope someone out there can glean a small token of comfort from the routines that help me, or from the art I create. Let’s keep pushing on! And, oh, by the way, my art is for sale! Yup, it really is!
*and don’t forget, if you need cheering up…there are always puppies!