Edvard Munch’s ‘Separation’

  
Painting: “Separation” by Edvard Munch 1898, oil on canvas.
 

A smoldering heart weakens,

hunkers him down gut deep

inside separation’s burn.

When distance collects between

a lover’s love and loving hand,

the road span widened, dear doves,

a brooding beat blackens fear,

rends aortic drums split sideways,

burst blood pooled and anchoring.

Longing’s weight drowns victims,

pins their boots to muddy bog,

only sludge and sink might free

the ache, loosed from bony cages

as echo moans sorrow’s sympathy.

Severance maims this lover’s heart, 

rendering touch crumpled amputee:

grip-shattered, shivering despair. 
 

Singing Joni

Joni Mitchell sings, ” I am a lonely painter. I live in a box of paints.” And when she does, I am stilled. But it is not the last sentence so much as the first, and not the last word so much as the word before–lonely–that moved me dozens of hearings. She moans the word, extended ‘O” evocative of Munch’s howl, though far more subtle, deeper and soulful. The anguish is not Munch’s, overlaid with fear, so much as the rooted, internal groan, petulant sugar, that she bemoans.

I sing that line out of nowhere driving in my car or listening to a conversation drifting in and out, particularly imbalanced ones where I witness more than counsel or contribute.

At first the metaphor of living in a box of paints brushed up against the literary lover in me. I imagined her a genie in a bottle, except a box of paints, transporting me back home–in my imagination–just visiting others’ worlds when I choose or must. But I know it’s the howl of the loooooooo that draws me to the line, to sing it. And not the lonely of loneliness. We are all lonely, though more like unsatisfied, unfocused and disassociated too often. A spiritual loneliness more than a lost or severed connection with others often characterized by missing someone or something. I do not consider that lack as lonely. It’s bigger yet smaller than one human or animal or other being, one activity.

No, the oooo in the looooo is both a ‘no’ and an ‘oh,’ like a sort of toggling between braking and accelerating a car or a dance, patterns of release and restraint.

Joni wants to paint but she sells songs instead. She is an artist, vast and particular. Many artists tear at the thrust of creation thwarted to pay the bills. We yearn to paint.

It is not so much a complaint–I can find a modicum of pleasure and certainly gratitude in anything I do, given that I allow myself to do so–as much as it is a longing, a desire ever felt, within centimeters of impossibly outstretched fingertips, a taste, a scent, a faint melody or flash of recognition come and gone. The hollow left behind–of not reaching–the come and gone, is the oooo. Both full and empty space, both present and absent. An ache. But one informed by the mind’s consent. I hurt because I worked out, something good for me. It will get better.

A promise. We live on promises. Some say that is wasting time, wasting away. Waiting is my least favorite thing to do. Impatience is my pratfall. But there is the impatience at not getting what I want–an open lane for some fucking space, room to race onward!–and there is impatience with something larger, more profound. Not attaining because…Perhaps that is the larger impatience. The because. What follows elicits the moan, sigh and gut grief.

Today “I am a lonely painter” with many mutterings to utter before the day is through, puppeteering a teacher, word-pump, and merchant. And as I dive into a replenishing yet jolting plunge into gratitude, I will channel Joni, fighting for all that is ordinary and plentiful right now–air, thought and motion.

 

Fær

 

 
The hordes arrive, in families of twos and threes, all nationalities,

as I sip tepid tap water coffee, thirsty for succor in this jailhouse sweet shop.

Regulars, strangers, all alike, from the gym, retail store and pet trainer next door, 

all drop by at an appointed day of the week coinciding with their weekly habits and chores. 

And they ask the same questions, and look around with the same concentrated effort of choice.

The anesthetics of the daily hum through a storefront window surpass surreality–mere abstraction.

 
“They have too many choices,” one Yelp reviewer complained. 

A desperate failure for sure, this absence of the given, circumscribed, delimited and allotted. 

Failure abounds, thrives in the cracks and on roof tops, announced, derided, ridiculed and feared.

Professional success is a teflon mask of muscular smile, amused at fun house mirrors while

a stranger looks inside herself and winces at the truth: faking bemused stares.

Not a single one, no one is good enough, not since Caesarian born fær thundered alive.

 
A curious beacon, this failure, negative space, vertical inversion, binary split, 

a vacancy, trip, stumble, snafu and inferno too–blazing bailiwick’s forest funeral.

Fiery mourning howl weeps losses unfathomable but not forlorn forever.

No one stumbles on a pavement crack unscathed, eternal-glimpsed of false stability:

reinstating an upright illusion, death defying gravity-riven, absolved, re-calibrated,

restored but bludgeoned awake by the faltering blow, newly armed in science or religion.    

The Art of Becoming the Latest Me

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” 
― Shannon L. Alder

  
credit: upload.wikimedia.org

Pure sound, entirely un-mattered, 

voice and air I was, intoned grief
laughter inverted all-in deranged
9th dimensional twisted despair 
shattered lines in flecked powder
bruised cilial cringe at the edges
ears only producing me, my being.

The howl I had become was vast
as wide as a woman’s crumbling
cry thro’ ancestry pierced endless
millennial fear of falling in losing out.

Coming undone, not always so sexy
by another’s fullness, sentient sea, 
the wailingly frothy palpable spume 
when the other subsumes, absorbs
light and time, screams in unfolding.

When I disintegrated, a pupil mirror,
you witnessed naked sound as sign
death knelled body downed into dust
no thud when the shrieks hit ground.

You hold me now, recombined anew,
not in tubes of echo or image’s flash
the grimace of dying inside etched in,
but in re-sight devoid of formed words,
broken past filtered through particles
ionic and clear, trampled and repaired
in memory as manifest born, a human
with skin sensate to the pelted stones
now mere flesh weighted walking on
descended far from aural awakening.