Category Archives: Art

A fairy tale of crossed lines

Once upon a time a three-year-old boy sat in a church. At the front of the cavernous space, far away from him, an adult voice yammered on. The boy squirmed. Squiggled. Stretched out on the floor.

To entertain him, a woman handed him an activity sheet. It had a maze printed on it, full of dead ends and clever diversions.

Child's activity sheet maze where a squirrel find an acorn

Happy to have any distraction, the boy sat up and began to trace the path with a finger. He made his way through the maze with delightful disregard for the lines. After blowing through any twists and turns that might have blocked his progress, his finger reached the end.

He raised his arms in victory. “I did it!”

“Yes, you did,” the woman affirmed.

Why tell him that crossing lines isn’t always that easy?

Why burden him with the idea that some lines are best left uncrossed, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out which ones.

Better to send him out into the world excited about obliterating barriers blocking his path. Better to equip him to cross the many lines that need to be crossed.

And, far away from him, the adult yammered on.

Find things beautiful: van Gogh and us all

Vincent began to make his presence known in my life. Books about him passed through my hands at the library where I work.

The book Vincent Van Gogh by Mike Venezia

A library patron returned the DVD Loving Vincent and took time to tell me how much he enjoyed the movie.

DVD cover for Loving Vincent

A blogger I follow wrote about Vincent in A Sunflower Story.

And then I immersed myself in his art and his thoughts at Beyond van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. (Go, if it comes to a city near you.)

At the exhibition Vincent himself melted from the ceiling.

His brushstrokes came to life on the high walls and the floor all around me.

His artist soul reached out to my creative one as if he had written sentiments to me personally across centuries. I am certain every person immersed in his experience felt the same.

Quote, text against van Gogh brushstrokes: "I also believe that it may happen that one succeeds, and one mustn't begin by despairing; even if one loses here and there, and even if one sometimes feels a sort of decline, the point is nevertheless to revive and have courage, even though things don't turn out as one first thought." To Theo van Gogh, The Hague, 22 October 1882
Quote, text against van Gogh brushstrokes: "...I always think that what we need is sunshine and fine weather and blue air as the most dependable remedy." To Theo van Gogh, Arles, 29 September 1888

Vincent told me to enjoy the air and sunshine. He urged me not to despair.

He reminded me to seek out the beautiful. A message sent to me, and you, from 1874 to the present.

Quote, text against van Gogh brushstrokes: "...find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful." London, January 1874

Giants

My final poem for Poetry Month. A tribute to people doing important, unacknowledged work.

Giants

Giants are the smallest men
As measured by scales of Job.
With poison scorn and fountain pens
They slash and jab to rule the globe.
 
In glass towers they strut and spit.
The height a craved collusion.
Fragility keeps them separate
In fantastical delusion.

For city smog mugs their glass
Dying skin cells dust book spines
Ink-stained downsizings fill the trash
And stains streak their ample Calvin Kleins. 

The humble arrive and quietly hedge
Their mops, dusters and garbage bins
Around the small mighty who can't acknowledge
That cleaners are our greatest ones. 
Hand with a cleaning glove, squeezing a sponge.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The up and down journey through tasks

For this week’s post, I thumb my nose at a piece of writing advice. (Well, two pieces actually, since I just used a cliché.) Good writers, they say, opt for the word “said” during dialogue so as to avoid scenes like:

"Let's go to the movies," he posited. 
"I disagree," she demurred.

Herewith, consider my nose thumbed.

Task

“I want to climb that mountain,” she says.
   The foothill lures her spirit,
   Beckoning wide paths seduce her.
      Flooded with energy, she skips.  

“The path gets narrower,” she notices. 
   A switchback challenges her footsteps, 
   Scribbling tree roots trip her.
      Worried but still powerful, she continues. 

“Should I carry on?” she puffs.
   The incline steals her breath,
   Aching muscles betray her.
      Depleted of oxygen, she schlepps.

“I can’t do this,” she whines. 
   An obstacle blocks her progress, 
   Darkening skies shadow her. 
      Deprived of hope, she sleeps. 

“But . . . my goal is just there,” she awakens.
   The dawn illuminates her next steps,
   Daunting barriers dissolve before her. 
      Reinvigorated by inspiration, she climbs.

“What a view!” she cries.
   A summit reveals her success, 
   Haunting memories flee from her.   
      Satiated with completeness, she savours. 

“Now what?” she wonders.
   The downward path answers,
   Waning desire to remain prompts her.    
      Evolved for a new task, she descends.       

“If I go down, I can climb a higher mountain,” she says.  
      

ABC dialogue poetry

My second poem for April Poetry Month is quite different from my first.

At a workshop sponsored by the Canadian Authors Association on Saturday, Tim Wynne-Jones challenged us with the exercise:

For 6 minutes, write lines of dialogue. The first letter of each new line must be the next letter in the alphabet, A to Z.

Here is my result. Keep in mind . . . I only had 6 minutes so, yeah, it’s a little crazy. And I didn’t get all the way through the alphabet the first go-round. I got as far as O. All the letters after that I completed in a subsequent 6-minute time allotment.

Z Solution

An elephant can't fit through there.
Butt's too big.
Can we push?
Don't think that'll help.
Elephant weighs eight tons.
For F*&!'s sake.
Get me a lever.
How about an axe?
In case of emergency, break ass?
Joker, ha ha.
Keep thinking. 
Look behind the mandrill's cage.
Manny the Masturbator?
Notice how he drools when you walk by?
Oh no, he prefers blondes. 
Perhaps everyone does, even the elephant.
Quite annoying, that is. 
Ridiculous, like this situation. 
Suppose we go around? 
Through the zebra's field. 
Unbelievable how you used the Z word before the end.
Verily, I say onto you ... no worries.
Why? 
X was the real problem, because there's another word for Z.
Yes, this place is a real ...
Zoo. 

Riven

My first poem for April’s poetry month. I decided to do an Ottava rima because it sounded like Ottawa, where I live, even though Ottawa has nothing to do with the number 8. (Ottawa is derived from the Algonquin word “adawe”, which means “to trade.”)

The poem has eight lines with an abababcc rhyming scheme. Inspired by the photo below.

Riven

An ash where deer once roamed in sombre shade,
  Returned to ash by lighting strike — one flash,
Nature's lumberjack felled this spine so splayed,
  With a forked bolt, one cracking, wicked lash,
Defiant though blackened, stripped and decayed,
  It will birth new life from the V-shaped slash,
Out of mottled dust and ashes of death, 
Life ruptures forth, emerges, takes first breath. 

© 2021 Arlene Smith