Conversations with a Human Heart.

the preacher man.

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on a Tuesday I woke to a preacher preaching.

he dipped figure eights inches from a hazel gaze—spreading the good word of salvation.

I felt myself transform that morning—the womb keeper of sacred secret things. and I carried his gospel through weeks of quiet ritual, days upon days of bible thumping. and the truth, it would set me free.

I saw signs like diamonds break through the grey shades of my deepest fears. I listened as blessed truths sweetened the breath of the daily hum.

but on a Sunday the crimson came; wiping clean the pages of well-intentioned prayers. the preacher man is dead, and the good word’s gone with him.

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black & white hollywood.

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On some nights, when the lighting is just right, I pretend I’ve walked into the tired frames of a Hollywood film.

I listen to the rain as it falls with sadness from a street lamp, the ancient gentleman with his head hung low, punctuating an already-tragic scene. I allow my mind to listen for stirring things in a moment of exasperated stillness—the torture of a setting conflicting with restless dreams. In this particular frame of this particular film I’d be waiting, though for what or whom you, dear watcher, would not yet know.

I’d take an exaggerated pull from a cigarette, I’d lock eyes with an alley cat on his nightly rounds. I’d breathe deep the static of this damp evening, unsure of my role in it all.

Black and white nights are for suspended living—caught someplace between exposition and conflict, between all that was and what might be.

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mercury, you saucy bastard.

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mercury and I are friends again. we’ve buried another bloodied hatchet, rank with the death of yesterday’s order. encrusted with the spoils of another silent war. times will arise when we must bow to the might of otherworldly tempers, to the foxing of forces insistent on out-foxing.
it all happened so fast, the dissolving, bending, breaking me—try to keep up, child, you know I cannot wait.
so I took my licks like I take my coffee, unadulterated and strong. I folded to a wiser man, the street smart king of wicked games. white flag, you saucy bastard.
the cleverest move I had up these too-stretched sleeves was inward, to a place of wait. home base. safety. fled. we’re not weak in these moments, as cutting loses can free hearts of buried bruises; and time away from a battle field can restore shards of hope—to be reinserted in the privacy of home. stay low, sweet warrior.
because after the reconnaissance I emerged the humbled one, and my foe took note and put down his sword. the hard work of wisdom-bestowing finally done.
artwork: street art news

—this post was grown on the gram

gather your broken hearts.

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sometimes I wish I could gather all the misshapen little pieces of all the broken hearts of the world.


I’d collect them with a dust pan and hand brush, whispering words like “there, there” and “don’t worry about a thing” before letting them slide to a free fall with a tinkle-tinkle-tinkle to the bottom of a velvet-lined pouch.


I’d walk those pieces home while humming bob marley’s greatest hits, and when I arrived at my doorstep I’d promise those little pieces that miracles—the likes of which they’d never believe—were to take place tonight.


steady hands would guide their fall to an altar, pieces of my steadily singing heart set out, waiting to receive them.


with ginger swishes of painted fingernails, I’d stir and heap the pile—a tiny mountain of good intentions and banished dreams.
I’d cry songs of forgiveness for all the fragments holding tight to broken promises, I’d cry songs of hope for all the shards missing their once-familiar prayers, I’d cry songs of redemption for all the slivers tarnished with the residue of shame.
and for the ones who now knew only the wretched pain of long lost love, I’d let them wail, and I’d wail too, until every last cinder ceased to rage.


under the watchful eyes of this restless soul and her loyal moon above, I’d wait. for hours, for days, for relentless weeks, until the hurt made its way past mournful curves and angry edges, settling at last for good. only then would I exhale the tender breath I had stored safely away in the pit of my belly, freeing the pain from every last crevice. “your work here is done,” I’d whisper to wandering ashes. “this is where we say goodbye.” I’d watch with unbearable anticipation as the pieces, wrought with a lightness they’d all but forgotten, softened into one another, reclaiming their space in this world.


and when I was certain the moment had finally arrived, I’d lift the now-beating mass to the heavens, transformed to a wholeness, a new heart for growing beautiful things. a new love just begun.


artwork: collete saint yves

—this post was grown on the gram

keep smiling.

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nice boys and nice girls keep smiling.
nice boys and nice girls swallow sad.
nice boys and nice girls keep smiling.
there are no nice boys or girls feeling glad.

when I was confronted by the man with the grey hair, the grey teeth, the grey breath, I winced a smile for approximately seven minutes.

in those seven approximate minutes, I learned how to seem agreeable (nice) without being rude, all the while subtly objecting to the suddenly opposite-of-nice feeling in the room. I learned how to fake nice manners like a nice girl while a once-thought-to-be-nice man touched me. in approximately seven minutes, I learned the difference between feeling nice and feeling not-nice. not-nice feels like wincing a smile through a confrontation with the man with the grey hair, the grey teeth, the grey breath.

thirteen years after those seven approximate minutes, I learned to forgive myself for that smile. I learned that forgiving the nice girl over the once-thought-to-be-nice man was a quiet revolution. I learned that not-nice feelings, like not-nice people, can change everything in as few as seven approximate minutes. I learned that claiming a piece of not-nice-according-to-whothefuckever for my own can be bravery for the nice girl who kept smiling.

the nice girl does not keep smiling.
the nice girl only smiles if she feels nice.

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take this moment.

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take this moment. learn its shape, its smell, the way it speaks to those precious, vibrating bones.

take this moment. feel its pulse, its weight, how it fits into this gloriously imperfect life.

take this moment. hold it up—to the heavens who know you are strong enough, to the skies who understand you are brave enough, to the winds who sense you are capable enough—and set it free.

because the moments that come back to hurt you are the same moments we haven’t released—the ones we’ve pushed down, locked up, covered, buried, and ignored.

the ones we’re scared of, the ones who speak to a story we’re too ashamed to own.

so we pretend we’re lucky. we pretend they’ll stay there, in the makeshift east wing of our hearts. “oh no,” you’ll tell guests, “we don’t go to that part of the house. it’s being… renovated.” but this is life—real life—where buried things will start to rot. where hidden things will start to stir. where neglected moments will rage at the injustice of it all.

so take slow, deliberate steps to that forbidden place in your heart. retrieve those moments and take them for everything they’re worth.

feel the sharp edges, smell the putrid breath. feel the nausea rise to liquify your throat. stare those moments in their disgusting, cruel faces.

and when your insides are on fire, when your knees have given in, when your face is blotchy and tear stained from the horror of it all, whisper “thank you” to the heavens, to the skies, to the winds for believing you had it in you all along.

“goodbye” you’ll say to those swallowed moments, “today, I set you free.”

—this post was grown on the gram.

she in me. 

  

she’s been of two worlds and I sense the edges—which inches of she is me. the fantastic pulling, eyelash by eyelash, to the heavens. the dreadful wrapping, fingertip by fingertip, to a hungry earth. the way songs make her feel free and insignificant all at once, until the bridge. at the bridge, she wonders. 

what would it be like to fall through the valley’s vein with things like cruise control and airbags and automatic windows? what would it be like to find a voice in an unrelieved cacophony? she’s always wanted these particular answers; and in this moment the outside limits of her bleed into inside limits of me.

pictures change with decades—the metallic taste of sepia, spat against a paneled wall; the airiness of black and white, strung like little pearls against a picket fence. the details of us—she is she and me is me—are fading, and us is we remains. 

so I watch as preferences for coffee and space and self write songs, new songs, for newly sharpened ears. a beating heart, a humming tongue, a picture of you, but me.

choke on poetry.

moon throat

I read poetry, write poetry, choke on poetry.

Lines making sharp k-turns in on themselves

allowing no space for interpretation because my

own words interfere with his words and

then these words are discarded as not-quite-something enough.

This body was made to grow things.

Babes. Wishes. Words.

Growth means many things and I used to think these things good.

Too much is too much.

I’m being picky with expression; learning what it feels like to struggle with everything that’s left.

Thoughts root whether or not we nurture them

the burden of a creative mind.

the setback of an everyday.

Life can grow through concrete slab and, much the same, words find their way.

Wash dishes and watch as hopeful words sprout from damp fingers.

Ping. Ping. Ping.

Snip. Snip. Snip.

Into a jar. On the windowsill.. for later.

Chase sleep and listen as angry words bellow from a place you only vaguely know of as “away”

Stuff. Stuff. Stuff.

Fluff. Fluff. Fluff.

Into your pillow. Under your head.. for tomorrow.

Fit tasks into hours and feel the moment explode as language swells impatiently to incomprehensible dimensions.

Pick. Pick. Pick.

Plink. Plink. Plink.

Into a glass. Onto the shelf.. for soon.

But the foundation can’t hold with all these hidden messages, all these waiting words.

Not anymore.

I’ll have to compose

for fear of losing this house we call home.

for fear of being a home-wrecker in this nasty little love affair they call “art”

 

[image: Luciana Urtiga]

 

red.

 

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In her mind, the most demanding hurdle of adulthood was learning to apply lipliner and red lipstick. This didn’t strike many as a great accomplishment, but she was acutely aware of the improbability of it all.

Crimson was the most unforgiving color; without the supervision of a good lipliner it would bleed into her pale and freckled veneer—a color insisting, announcing, intruding.

Red lipstick stained the moment it had new territory to claim as its own. Creeping along microscopic gullies, these web-thin lines actually reminded her of veins, but she rarely reported it as so. Veins almost always made her think of a scrotum; and considering a scrotum in any serious manner made her self-assess relentlessly. She wondered about her mental stability in these moments. Was she strange? or had she had stumbled into some adolescent scar begging to be mended? Did she have a some sort of sac infatuation? Were there support groups for this? Would this lead to other obsessive patterns, moving southward perhaps, past the perineum and straight on to the anus? These digressions would ripple across her skin until she shook them from her body like a unwanted chill. That was silly. Man parts are silly. 

The weird would then reconfigure itself as gratitude—for the universe had, thankfully, decided to provide her a vagina. And she knew well that vaginas were fantastic—a piece of anatomy cultures had created entire mythologies around. As far as Sara knew, there didn’t seem to be anything mythological about the ball sac.

Lipliner was—as a result of these microscopic gully veins—a necessity. Without lipliner to fence the fierceness, she’d fuck up the application anyway. Not quite understanding the dimensions of her own lips, she’d be left to choose between wearing a crooked pout or wiping away proof of her efforts.

Other shades would allow for her clumsy, not-acustomed-to-adulthood-ness, but no shade stirred her in quite the same way. Crimson was unforgiving, yes; but spoke the same language as her heart—a beckoning from her past life as a Hollywood scarlet, an imprint on the fabric of the soul itself.

Red screamed when her voice could not. It honored the fire she so-seldom let rage. If she could put on lipliner and red lipstick, the passion she felt surge under her excited skin would finally make sense to the outside world. Red meant owning it all—the failings, the triumphs, the passion, because red offered absolution.

Wear red lipstick, she thought. Wear it and be unapologetically free. 

 

[image: color]

the hall of mirror effect.

reflection.

everybody loves you here

is all she could hear when his hand let go

and she found herself standing in my image

softly blinking at a vision of strength where there once was only fear.

and when the voice returned it whispered:

there are pieces of courage embedded in your skin; and

I am here to press them deeper

until your body remembers it as always being so.

the reply to an infinite reflection is love; the hall of mirror effect containing you.