randomness

tiza (excerpt)

The children...called him "Tristeza del Padre."

       When in town, he always sat there, alone in the corner table, lower back nailed to the wall in a coiled-to-strike, folded-shoulder funk. He rarely shifted, save to spin his sweaty tumbler of exactly three ice cubes poisoned in Old Crow. Indistinctly bathed in the furthest reach of ochre light, the shadows wept like chilled molasses over the blackened felt brim of his 7X, his eyes glinting as shards of smoked glass. No living soul knew his name. The children, who tripped aside in the street as he reverberated by in a suffocating stir of red clay on the spine of his infamously unapproachable Sturgis, called him “Tristeza del Padre.” Like the summer vow of distantly dark clouds lurching forward with bulging bags of angry rain and the crack of heaven’s whip, he was no stranger to the slam of small talk and shutter. Everybody, hidden behind sidelong glances and other-way turns, understood better than the gist of a nursery rhyme as to why he had come.


18 comments on “tiza (excerpt)

  1. ‘bulging bags of angry rain and the crack of heaven’s whip’ – beautifully descriptive. This made me want to read more. Is the rest of the story on your blog? I’m being lazy and using Reader.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is just a teaser, Raili. The story’s not up on the blog, nor is it finished. It’s been my side-project for a couple of weeks. In sharing this excerpt, I was just hoping to get a sense from the community as to whether or not it was something that drew interest…

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  2. Your writing is exquisite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jane. That’s high praise coming from you, honestly. You have quite a way with turning a pen into a paint-loving brush yourself. I appreciate you carving your initials on my tree!

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      • I have just said something similar to you, though not with such an elegant turn of phrase.

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      • I laughed out loud at this, Jane. I read it with an entirely uncritical heart; I wholly believe that, pretty much invariably, what you gotta say is gonna crush the scale on how you go to say it. I’m right in the middle of humility with your compliment, trust me!

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      • I’m curious; how long ago did you start writing poetry?

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      • I don’t honestly know! But I was quite young. I was an only child in a single-parent home. Mom worked two jobs and had an affinity for drink when home. Never remarried. Church was the outer limit of her social investment. Please, don’t misunderstand me; I love the woman and, without a doubt, I know she did the best she could. I’m hugging her right now in my thoughts. In retrospect, I damn sure didn’t do enough to make it any easier. I say all that to just say this: it was my job alone to get up to something…

        I grew up with three very important routes of emotional escape: our Wurlitzer upright piano, my drafting table stuffed with art supplies, and books, all kinds. Each one of these areas of retreat and discovery were, in and of themselves, quietly nurturing teachers. I ricocheted between them. For example, I wrote the essential key progression of my song ‘Letting Go’ when I was about fourteen. True story, so help me. Obviously I play it now with a far more effortless familiarity and ability to express than I did back then, but it’s literally been a song in my heart for decades. And my poem ‘Wildcards Were Made For Mixed Hands’ was written a few weeks before my seventeenth birthday; I was tired and heartsick for someone 500 miles away and getting metaphorically farther every month. The poem was a half-lie I gave myself to feel better against the raspy wall of obvious inevitability. It has never been read before being posted here. Finally, as an example, I had a piece of artwork on display for a month in the Texas State Capitol rotunda, a colored paper project inspired by the Kuna culture molas. I was in the seventh grade when Mrs. Cain pushed me on an extra credit project. She submitted it to the Texas Sesquicentennial Art and Media Showcase without my knowledge. She and I flew together to Austin about a month after it was selected for the Center Star. The universe has galaxies spun with pure gold and softest down for people of her purity in goodness to recline in like a heaven-hung papasan…teacher was a far too-tiny word for Mrs. Cain.

        I’m not gifted. I’m a 110% ordinary guy on any day, on any street. It just comes down to these things, these expressions and the irrevocable trust I have in them to heal me, being all I had when whatever hardship came to rake everything else away. All I had. To this day, they remain my safe havens, above all scorched earth, dumb turns and self-leveling restarts. They didn’t come to me naturally; I went to them out of hungry necessity. And I’ve always been able to find my way back there from anywhere and nowhere…

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      • My sister claims that she’s not gifted. She says that any success in art, or anything else, for that matter, is purely as a result of hard work. I’ve always disagreed with her. She’s an artist who has, indeed, worked hard for years, but she did so because she had both natural talent and a love for her chosen medium.
        I may be wrong… the reason I write is because the moment I learned to read I was enchanted by books – the smell of them, the thrill of opening them, the mystery of what secrets they may contain, what lands I may visit, what people I may meet – none of whom would embarrass me or ask anything of me. I used to stroke the flyleaf, putting off the moment that I would turn the pages until I was so excited I could wait no longer, and even then I would close my eyes, put my nose to the first page, and smell it. I kid you not.
        I knew that I wanted to be a part of their creation. Maybe I wasn’t born with a foetal talent for aranging words – maybe I was just determined. Maybe both you and my sister are right.
        It helped that I was part of a creative family. It was assumed that we would all develop a passion in one or another area of the arts. My mother was a ballet dancer who often secretly wrote poetry and prose. She had a beautiful singing voice, but her wish to have her voice trained was not allowed by her guardian, who dispised the stage. Neither did her guardian let her dance; she didn’t start practicing until she left home, and yet she became good enough to join a dance troupe… that’s determination My father was a photographer, artist and sculptor, as was his father before him.
        Writing has been my oxygen tent since I was ten years old, when my life began, subtly at first, to go off-course.

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      • I tend to believe your sister defends those who aspire by placing the whole value of art solely on the existence of art, perhaps even to the point of evaluating the endeavor of creating art an art in and unto itself. Like you, I don’t know that I see it that way entirely. And, like her, I think the chains of a self-inflicted sense of inadequacy and the false locks of an often cliquish establishment are broken from the wrists of potential when one operates from the perspective that being gifted is not a necessary prerequisite to becoming so. But, it’s just not tenable to go all in on either view. In my opinion, the comparison is circular, where the only right answer must be an amalgamation of the two within that sphere. The stick-fight between behavioral and cognitive psychologies has been making an annoying racket for a long time; I tiredly remember the breathless back-and-forth of it in my college psychology and sociology classes. Because I can’t clearly divine the definitive source of why I am who and what I am, I simply choose to possess nothing remarkable from scratch. Not only does that decision serve the honor of humility, but it emancipates me. From that cloud, when I sit at the clay wheel of creation, I can lean forward into the freedom to simply create and, I might gamble, create an achievement of higher altitude. Too, the pages of my life are then also drenched with emotionally rich and meaningful color…I much prefer that storybook over an ash-eclipsed rearview of a diffuse, desolate and indeterminate past. To me, it’s maybe the lovelier idea to embrace…

        Having said all that, and in consideration as to the predisposition of giftedness, I offer this bit of honesty. Like your father, my father was an accomplished artist, chiefly a sculptor on various materials but almost always invoking light and shadowplay. I remember near-fainting at the asking prices for his stuff. He was also a professor of Art History at two universities, one rather prestigious. He had a fathomless mind for art. I was always astounded and mystified by that aspect of him. His father, I’ve been told, was an ivy-league educated doctor, but also a reputable piano player who in his youth traveled the country for gig-work. Like me, he never learned to read music. Here’s the thing, though. I did not see or hear or read or meet my father until I was almost sixteen. Not a single exchange. The child support check in the mailbox was the only evidence of his existence. I saw him last at around 10:30am on my eighteenth birthday, and I have never again spoken to him. We have been absolute zero in a vacuum since that day. I do not look back or to either side through the trees. His father, the play-by-ear doctor-pianist, I met him once. One day, for a couple of flat and unremarkable hours. The only things I remember is that there were two gorgeous pianos in the foyer of his home, he was wearing a white button-down tucked into sky-blue slacks and that our verbal exchange that afternoon would fit neatly on a prescription label. Literally, a nothing-freckle on the face of my life. Ultimately, did they pass me a genetic lottery scratch-off, tucked away on the ladder of a double helix, such that I was born hearing the siren call and to come by my love of the arts instinctively? Who can answer that with any authority whatsoever, despite the apparent lean of familial evidence? And, if we’re Frank-with-a-Straight-Face about it all, should I care much one way or another?

        I know I love writing and music and drawing. If I approach being competent at any of these things, I’m satisfied with the reason being that I love and enjoy them. And they have loved me back over the yap and yawn of years, unflinchingly and unconditionally. You said ‘oxygen’. If we’re gifted, then, we are inarguably gifted with an awareness of what our survival and quality of life require…

        What a thread, eh?

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      • That’s the bottom line. Those who are required to try and pick apart the workings of our brain – and students who learn by debate – can argue the tired questions of nature versus nurture until they spiral way into space; rather than intellectualise, I tend to practise the epoloquence for which I am famed, and say “Oi! Mate! ‘S a bit o’ both, innit!”
        What matters to us is that, for whatever reason, our creative endeavours feed and nourish us – without them we are insignificant to ourselves. We strive towards artistic perfection – or at least improvement, and when we create something which tastes as good as creme brulee – or sushi with an explosive blob of wasabi, we experience a sense of fulfilment. For my part, underlying this, there is often a feeling of surprise and gratitude, as if some generous entity had gifted me these particular words, and shown me how to arrange them. I’m aware that my phantom thoughts are down to low self-esteem.
        I’m mixing my metaphors… I’ve abondoned oxygen in preference of food…
        It sounds as though your history is a warehouse piled high with rich, unwritten stories.

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      • Life’s a trip, Jane! And then we get to frame it!

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  3. Much fascinating and interesting……

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi, Wisest. Please use the contact link along the header menu. You can also find a contact link in the slide-out menu. All contact links point to a personal email only I have access to. You can use the contact form in confidence, my friend. If you don’t want to use your real name, please simply use your blog url. Look forward to hearing from you.

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