Stick around long enough on this slowly-twirling bonbon of a Planet and you’ll get little hints that the Fates want to keep you from overstaying your welcome. Your body begins to betray you, sprouting skin tags and inappropriate hair, gifting you with gout flareups and tooth tragedies, scaring the stuffing out of you with odd sensations in the chest, or the lungs, or the throat. Can’t you take a hint? Time to go.
But, Friends, it is not time to go. Not for me, and I suspect not for you either. Some of us have unfinished business, and that business includes the fulfillment of long-held dreams. It also includes betterment. What kind of difference might we make, in the time we have left? Whose days might me lighten? Which causes are the most worthy of our contributions financial, advocative, or immersive?
Today I went shopping, at Arizona Art Supply and the supermarket Fry’s. I had a less cluttered version of the page above with me. I was especially keen to get an electric eraser, being frustrated with the limitations and ineffectiveness of the erasers I have. A demo online showed a little jackhammer of a thing making precise, superclean erasures. Want!!!
Got!! And now I hope my images will enjoy a crispness many of them have lacked. I mean–look at the page above. Don’t feel bad if you think it’s ugly. It makes its metaphorical point with overlay and Breughel-like misdirection, but damn. The next one better be easy on the eyes, and a joy to behold.
Inventory: there is a grocery list for an art supply store and a grocery store. Art supply items: big paper (got some Stonehenge White 30″ x 40″, three sheets, $7.21 per sheet, and a 99-cent bargain basement whocares practice sheet, 20″ x 30″), electric eraser ( they had three; I got the most expensive one, Sakura’s SumoGrip, $41 and change), scratchboard (didn’t get) and plaster/resin (got modeling clay instead). Grocery items: St. Pell (San Pellegrino, my favorite sparking water; got two glass-bottle bottles at an outrageous $1.99 each, just to tide me over till I get another case), dental floss (got the Glide, two kinds; my personal superstition says that if I ever run out of dental floss, the Universe will punish me severely), bus pass (31-Day Reduced fare because I’m over 65 years old, a STEAL at $32!!), and “old people vitamins” (didn’t get; decided to wait till I used up the ones I had, even though they have probably lost some of their potency).
Lists like these are death-defying. They tell the Fates that the listmaker has better things to do than die. And realizing that fact, as I held the list, the notion of making the list a part of a death-defying image took hold. So, Inventory (cont.): an ominous hooded figure with scythe is saying “Time’s UP, Bud.” Defiant not-THAT-old Gary holds up a “You Shall Not Pass” left palm, balls the right hand into a fist, and says “Get lost. My number’s NOT up–I CHANGED it.”
Inventory, concluded: The double acrostic “grim repo.” Defiant signature beneath
go black camel to the rear
rise and trot off far from here
in the prime immortal soup
my bird bathes–so toodle-oo
26 May 2021
Trivia note: the Black Camel is a symbol of death in some cultures. When it kneels in front of your tent, it is your time.
This has been a time of loss, and many we’ve lost managed to reach the century mark. Lawrence Ferlinghetti was one of them. He was a dreaming visionary, and one of my heroes. I will strive to live at least as long and as dreamily as he did.