Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Some short things I have been writing about


The roots of the trees in the part looked like fossilized animals and like heads that could be placed over a mantelpiece on the way. There was a gator poking his head up menacingly out of the water, a tortoise shell at the foot of a tree.


“Maybe downtown is finally coming back.” They have waited their whole lives, 40, 50, 60 years to see the downtown, any part of town, restored to its former glory, a place of shopping, cheap movies, theatre and hotels. They sat on the bus recounting their youths, when their parents, long since dead, had taken them to a quarter movie or to the penny candy counter, a day when you could sit at Woolworth’s and have an ice cream soda.


The mispronunciation of names, it occurred to her, My’ lan for Mil an’ or San Joes for San Jose’, it occurred to her, might come from the dual desire of settlers to start fresh in a new country, but to take some of the comfort of the old country. They knew that this town could never be the same as Milan, so the renamed the name, keeping the spelling to remind them of what they once came from, but remembering it was impossible to go back. And then there were other settlers, from other countries, the so-called melting pot, each coming and finding it difficult to communicate with their neighbors who all spoke strange, different unpronounceable languages. They would have to negotiate as best as they could and My’ lan was the only way that they saw fit. Picturing herself, her parents or her grandparents in this situation, she vowed that she would try neither to snicker under her breath nor to join in with anyone who laughed at these names anymore, but would think about the resilience of people who were trying to start over.

Love Songs Lie

She had to forget about every love song she had ever heard. They were all written by men anyway – about how misunderstood they are and how the right woman could save them and how that was only you – only you understood the real him. Johnny Lee was wrong – just because you heard it in a lo-ove song doesn’t mean it can’t be wrong. In fact, it likely was.

As she went through her day, doing laundry, writing, grading papers, she tried to drown out all of those infernal, misleading lyrics combined with pictures of him and the sound of his laughing voice or his apologies ringing in her ears. All of those were lies. Maybe not intentional lies, but they were certainly not truths to be believed, that much was certain.

The fact that she was still in this relationship at all made her feel worthless and stupid. Stupid most of all. How many other women had she worked with and counseled? She of all people should have known better and here she was falling for all of the apologies that all of the abusive men had been making for decades (since it was only in the past few decades that this was even thought of as abuse) and she had been listening to them for years – since the very beginning of the relationship. What was wrong with her? Why had she put up with this all these years?

She couldn’t bear to admit it to herself – was it because he was one of the few men she had liked and approached that has reciprocated? The first blush of a new relationship had stayed, maybe even been renewed through the constant pattern of fighting and making up. It was as if she had met him all over every time he apologized and was tender. She was embarrassed to think that she had been just as stupid, just as fooled as all those women before her.

Or maybe it was her black and white way of thinking. When she had worked with abused women, she saw only the bruises, the fighting man, not realizing that there had been reasons that the women had fallen in love with the men in the first place and that it was those traits the women saw in the men, just as she had seen his vulnerable, tender side all these years – had seen and even shared in his dreams. She had to let his desires for a new life go, perhaps even more than her own. She laid down her head and cried.

She was not going to see their every moment together as a lie. That kind of denial would not serve her well. But she was going to try not to be taken in anymore. I have loved you and will be glad for that.