In part 1, I described taking on a new art/poetry project, getting to the beginnings of the page design, and then hitting a block wall. The wall came up when I looked at what I’d done and found it foolish and amateurish. The acrostic lettering was floppy and scrawly. The end words I’d chosen seemed like seeds for verse idiocy. I got a hint of the worst F word there is in English: Failure.

So I put aside what I had done and tried to loosen up my drawing hand and build up some mojo. One thing I do to practice portraiture is watch a DVD and freeze the frame when I see something I want to draw.

 

 

So here are Karl Urban and Matthew Modine, from their movies BENT and FULL METAL JACKET. I was medium-happy with these, though I should have taken more time with them.

I also worked out  a set of words for the acrostic, thus:

Loneliness lets birds to feed on half

Effervescence gives us a giraffe

Finding a subjunctive scheme’s a goal

Tactile predators will touch a colt

The lines relate, though not sequentially, to Left/Lest/Fest/Felt. Loneliness relates to being Left. A giraffe seems intrinsically Festive. The word Lest is subjunctive, i.e. conditional. And tactility and predation relate to Felt.

The lines got tweaked when I calligraphed them, and became this:

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I also worked on the illustration some, but the results were so bad that I will not reproduce them here. Still, I gave that block wall some of my best punches, and cracks are developing in the masonry. For good or ill, part 3 of this multipost will include the final form of “Left/Lest/Fest/Felt.”

 

 

 

 

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Friends, as of 8:27 PM, Mountain Standard Time, May 29, 2028, your humble host has been afflicted with a peculiar form of creative block for more than a week. It is not that I cannot draw or write. It is that when I turn these energies to a certain project, I choke up.

The project is a page that will include a quadruple acrostic. The pillars of the acrostic are the words Left, Lest, Fest, and Felt. The poem is inspired by a blog post of a new friend of mine, a poet named Marta whose blog is called MOMENTS. The magical, enigmatic post talked of sisters Left and Felt, and their influence on women named Laura, Selina and Maria. Here is a link: https://momentsbloc.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/left-and-felt-three-abnormal-women/

I was jazzed and energized by Marta’s post, and also could not but notice that the words Left and Felt, both of four letters, would lend themselves to a double acrostic poem. And then I realized that two additional words, Lest and Fest, if placed between Left and Felt, would imply a transformation from one to the other, one letter at a time.

Excited, I texted Marta for permission to use her post as a springboard for one of mine. She quickly and graciously granted permission. I thought I would have it done inside a week, and within a day or so had gotten this far:

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And then, my friends, I hit a block wall.

(End of part 1)

In my country the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, reserved for the remembrance of deceased soldiers who defended our homeland. So one of the first things I did this morning was to remember and record the remembrance on my timeline on Facebook. It is for defenders of homelands worldwide, though most of the focus is on the defenders of my own homeland…

memorial day 2018: measure

imagine a field
of all of the fallen
white stones on green lush grass
on a vast series of hillsides
crosses six-sided stars crescents infinity symbols
the visages of the soldiers finely etched into the stone
with the grins and gentle smiles and handclasps
that defined them
and their placement in the field defining them
as defenders

torpedo squadron eight in full complement is there
the unknown soldier is there “known but to god
and his sisters and brothers in arms” it says now
eisenhower and roosevelt and roosevelt and churchhill
and dr james miranda steuart barry (born
margaret ann bulkley)
m*a*s*h units with nurses and docs at rest
submariners snipers grunts grunts and more grunts
jarheads flyboys seabees fuelers bagntaggers
defenders

shot down sharkbit shrapneled gassed sliced
at parade rest now
at ease now
unafflicted and unconflicted now
defending the dignity and continuity
of homeland

“the last full measure of devotion”
“between their loved home and the war’s desolation”
“theirs but to do and die”

thank you o defenders
we are here
because you were there

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Yesterday my friend Bob K posted a link to my Facebook timeline, and captioned it “Gary’s Anthem.” It was a YouTube video of a man with a magnificent voice, dressed as a clown and calling himself “Puddles Pity Party,” singing a pickup ploy posing as a lament, entitled “Humdrum Blues.” I enjoyed the video but wished to set my readership straight on what my anthem would be like, if I had one, which I didn’t, but now I do, because I wrote one on the spot. It is playfully titled “We Are the Work,” riffing off the 20th-Century anthem “We Are the World.” Between the two asterisk-segments below are a prefatory ditty and the anthem, which comprised my Facebook comment-response to Bob.

*****

Fella’s got a hella set a pipes,
And ducks in rows, however he may slant them,
But I’ve got past my litany of gripes,
And so herewith present my REAL anthem…

We Are the Work

I’ve learned to put my pants on
Both legs at a time
Nothing to it
You can do it
Sit and scootch and rhyme

But you’ll remain frustrated
And frowned on and anointless
No mystery
Life’s blistery
When focused on the pointless

So let us grab utensils
And eke our tools of choice
And unberserk
And DO THE WORK
That gives a soul a voice

To feed the fire within us
Takes fuel in double-rations
So stoke that flame
No need for fame
Just grist and grits and passions

(chorus)
Tell that story dance that step
You’ll be rich as Imhotep
Be a sacred glorifier
You will take your high much higher

With brush or verse or banjo
With chisel, app or Net
We’ll work the room
We’ll shirk the doom
They ain’t seen NOTHIN yet!!!

*****

I AM my work, and it is I, which means it has something going for it, sometimes something astonishing, but is subject to my worst flaws of hurry-up-impulse, cheapskatism, and not knowing when to quit. The two sketches above are good examples. I was watching the DVD of the thriller THE COMMUTER, index cards at the ready to practice portraiture. The two results were disappointing in different ways, but I signed and dated them anyway, because a) the provenance is established when I do this; b) I’m prolific enough to often not remember when I did something; and c) doing this keeps me (not always, though) from making something SO God-awful that I must throw it away and disown it.

Friends, I hope the Work you do today fills you with pride and joy, with just enough of a touch of dissatisfaction to compel you to surpass yourself next try. Cheers!!

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The words:

How barefaced lying by this toad

YET fools the base, whose souls corrode

Perplexes us, as wildlife gasps

OIL-COATED in a pipeline’s grasp

CORRUPTION so rapes land unwell

Fait accompli it’s Road to HELL–

I’ll tell the world the Truth–my word–

You’re even now suborning murder

Worst Earth Day ever for Mother Earth. 😦

The illustration is of the 45th President of the United States of America, talking out of both sides of his mouth.

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Here is how you and I got here: Last night at Walgreen’s the DVD of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS was on sale for $4.99 and a two-pack of Papermate’s Flair pens went for $2.49, as did a five-pack of ArtSkills 11×14 poster board. I bought them. This morning I made coffee and started watching the DVD. Will Smith’s character, Chris Gardner, is an intelligent man who through overoptimism and lack of foresight has landed himself and his babymama and son in a tremendous financial, and therefore personal, pickle. If he got the right kind of work, which would involve the exchange of his smarts, personal magnetism and enterprise for enough money to get him and his afloat, he and his would be far more capable of pursuing happy destinies. The two words, if Chris’s problem were to be distilled into two words, that occurred to me are NEEDS WORK.

Like a lot of the English language, this phrase is ambiguous. I thought of it as a descriptive fragment, but if it were a complete sentence, it might mean that having needs is helpful to us. Being hungry, for instance, can compel a person to start a day that may otherwise be spent staring at the ceiling…

An ambiguous phrase creates an artistic challenge. Might an image fit the many aspects of the phrase?

My half of how we got here involved creating that image. Your half, whoever and wherever you are, involved free time and curiosity.

Thank you, whoever you are, whatever your needs, however you happen to work, for completing this latest circuit of awareness. I hope the satisfaction of your curiosity was a good use of your time.