Paul Barton, piano
You ask me now, I don't think she heard me 'cause she was laughing. Only got three quarters of the way through - she did not laugh like a horse, how wonderful - the teasing parable of the hurdling 100-year comet orbiting the Sun(it's meritorious tail presented to man, more beautiful than its face, through the lens for minute study) and striking the earth with such force to reveal its pearl core. And she was a hot exquisite result - including the tail. I looked at her and she was laughing, me too then, and I never got to say this: How she is rare, once in a lifetime for all mankind. But maybe it was good she did not hear. Besides, I don't think she ever laughed nearly as much as she wept.
by Bert Stern
The Last Sitting (1962)
I can cross the threshold, but angry shadows can not slip pass through the keyhole labyrinth. Savoring a kiss that steams up our glasses, two bookworms, we miss so much, except to remain embrace-ably warm before we take up our quills to dot another i. So, we clean our lenses and start over, in this drafty barn, a place to hang our hearts.
image: Lee Friedlander, 1966
She placed the black stone in my hand - the kind found along a seashore, smooth from centuries of polishing waves. Tempted like a child, I wanted to skip it along the sparkling surface and follow it to the other side of the world. She laughed, 'go ahead, I want to die, don't you see?', and when I turned with my back to the open sea to respond to her outrageous game, she was gone. I spun around and heaved the beautiful disc as hard as I could with my eyes shut, little white splashes dotting the calm blue, the silent finish so melancholy.
A dry row boat appeared, bobbing ever so queasily, abandoned. No footprints except my own, hold it steady now, her body sprawled out in the bottom on a cushion of more smooth stones I felt compelled to heave, arms above her head, pale dead. I kissed her forehead twice, once for you since the boat had your name scrawled starboard, escorted the vessel knee-deep against the current and shoved it with my bare shoulder into the clouds. A solitary seagull circled above and laughed as I shivered in the cold ashore.
image by Mostafa Habibi
The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him [or her]—on the one hand, the common human longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire … There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of creative fire.
~Carl Jung (1875-1961)
I remember it was quiet, just in off the street, and we sat in a first-come first-serve shuffle, everyone in hard heels, strangers of brother and sisterhood, avoiding eye contact, but no matter, my mouth was hurting for food. It was a clean hall, and new, but dim lit. Everyone needed a bath, all dressed in ill-fitting salvation clothes, the men with top button fastened and straight ties. Silent, expressionless ladies served thick, square, slices from loaves in clear bags with no writing, and the best ever fried baloney with crisp edges slid off a spatula of a second lady server, the one nearest me had a hairnet, but no safety net for her hairy arms.
I felt a nudge on my right elbow and wanted to ignore it, but the man said excuse me barely above a whisper and I felt compelled to clear my throat and excuse him. Our eyes met quick and I could see he had been crying.
It was so quiet. Me too, 'cause I was saying grace the whole time. And then about two rows behind me a new man said he'd sure like some hot coffee.
George Tooker, 1964
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