Maybe

Maybe is a no-man’s-land, 

A place of nothingness, 

No committal, no decision, 

Only slightly better than no

Answer at all. At least maybe

Deigns to acknowledge you-

I have heard your request, but

I refuse to accept or deny.

Perhaps I an waiting for

A better offer or a viable excuse-

Perhaps maybe is not better after all. 

Maybe  it’s worse. 
Today’s post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/maybe/

In Memoriam

1-Paintings

These are some of my paintings and drawings, none of which would have been possible without two men: my father and my art teacher, Charlie. Seven years ago this November, the heavens were made richer by the passing of my father; less than two weeks ago, Charlie joined the heavenly studio and enriched them yet again.

Back in 2007, my father asked me to join him at art class over the summer. I said yes, not because I had any particular artistic leaning or thought I had any talent but because I wanted to spend time with him in a pursuit he loved. Even if I was simply driving him and schlepping the materials, I was happy to be there, but that wasn’t good enough for Charlie. As long as I was at the studio, I would draw; I would paint. He would teach me.

Charlie did so much more than teach me how to draw. First, he taught me how to see, how to look at a picture or a still life and see a shape rather than an object. “How big is it? Where is it?” These are the questions he would ask whenever we started a drawing. They are the questions I ask myself now still. Once the preliminary shapes are in, Charlie’s chorus of “lights and darks” sounds in my mind, and his lesson on perspective with the disappearing railroad tracks lined with trees is vividly with me as well as the circles of shading from dark to light that decorate every beginning student’s sketch pad. “If we put that head in a closet and turned off all the lights, it would look black,” he would say of the bust we were drawing. His lessons remind me that how we see something depends on where we stand and how much light is shining on the subject.

But some things were not relative to Charlie, and these are the more important lessons I learned from him. His strong faith guided him. He not only knew his Bible and the lives of the saints, but also developed life long relationships with priests and sisters who are doing good work in the world today. His faith was a living faith, and one of the ways he lived it was in building a community.

Popular culture has built a reputation for artists as cut-throat opportunists vying for  the best showing, but that is not what one finds at Charlie’s studio. There is a warmth there and encouragement, from Charlie for sure, but from the other artists as well because he created an atmosphere of celebrating art, our own and each others. We look for the good and highlight it.

Now, Charlie has died, and part of me relived my father’s passing when that happened because Charlie knew and loved my dad. But, just as I know that my father lives on in me, Charlie is not gone either. His beautiful art is still here; his wonderful, caring family is still here, and his studio, the supportive community he built, is still here. He often said, “Remember, the real reason for painting is to leave our mark—to celebrate our existence.” Charlie, you left your mark on me and so many others through your painting and your life. For that, I thank you. Requiscat in pace.

Likes, Revision, Imitation, Comments

Today I received a notification from WordPress of a new like for a poem I wrote in April, “Take Off.” This particular like did a few things for me. It reminded me that I have been remiss in writing my blog this past month. I have allowed myself to get bogged down in I don’t even know what, but I have also been spending some time revisiting and revising stories and poems as well as writing new ones. Hopefully, I will have something to share with you soon. However, that reminder was not the only benefit of the new like. Of course there is the gratification of hearing that someone likes something you have written. We all crave that, do we not? Why else would we blog, if not to be heard and interact? Without that desire, we could write and simply store our writings on our hard drives or in desk drawers. But writing is about communicating. This particular like spoke to me in that it sent me back to the poem I wrote in  April. And as I have been experiencing this summer, rereading and revising are an important part of the creative process.

When I received the notification that “Take Off” had received a new like, I immediately thought of the poem, or at least I thought I did. I remembered a poem in which I compared starting a new career later in life to a plane readying for take-off. I remember writing the poem; I remember what I was thinking and whom I was thinking of when I wrote it. I smiled thinking about that. Then, I clicked on the poem’s title and realized, oops, that’s not the poem that was liked! “Take Off” is a poem about imitation–both good and bad. The poem I was remembering has the words “take off” in it, but the title is “Departures.” So, I reread both poems. And I have to say, I still like them both. Even though “Departures” received no likes on WordPress (though it did receive some small notice on Facebook), I still think it is a good poem. But it is churning in my head now; perhaps because I have reread it and am willing to revise it, I can make it better. Let’s see what I come up with in the next few days!

Rereading “Take Off” also reminded me of the importance of practice and imitation. We learn from those who have gone before us. If we want to write poetry, we must read poetry too. Let’s comment on each other’s poems with something more thoughtful than “I like it.” Though it is always great to hear that, let’s tell each other why we like it. Let’s help each other develop the better parts of our poetry. Let’s also read some of “the greats,” the established poets, and imitate them. Try writing in the style of Wordsworth or Cisneros or Komunyakaa. These may end up being the poems that stay on our hard drives or in our journals, but it is an age old practice to imitate others in order to learn and to find one’s own voice. We cannot stay there in imitation, but we can start there, learn, and then take off on our own.