Prison art

From Cerrillos to South Capitol

Poet applause in my heart


I wake into a Sunday of NPR discussion of Evangelical adoptions and Irish music and texting about a new odd job –to add to the five I already have in that slow flexible climb to enough a month for living. I wake from a dream that spews forth like the Pavlof volcano erupting in Alaska. Percolating notions and stand-ins for something important all mixed together and exploding from my unconscious. The most vivid: the boa constrictor emerging from the side of the yard that is really a bedroom who turns into an alligator at the curb and flies across the street to climb a concrete porch where it is now a psychedelic lion with pink and purple flowers all beautiful and strong on the stoop. Whoa. From fear to glory. And I fly too. On my back, levitating in a long hall while two men look on. As if I have to prove myself. To rise up from “the help” wiping the salad dressing off the floor. Okay. Enough. But I find dreaming fascinating. And at the end of it all 34A appears. A long ago number on a hospital bracelet that belonged to my mother. Her room. I made art out of it 10 years ago. What are these messages? These stories unfolding?


On Thursday I take my car in for brakes and walk from Cerrillos to South Capitol. It is morning and I walk in the shadow of the buildings on the East side of the street as if I am in a foreign country. Alive and elated and joyful. Where does that come from: a walk outside the perimeter of our own lives? A change of direction? Graffiti and signage and the dishevelment of an old street. Gritty. I like gritty. I take out my new smartphone to snap photos as I go. It so thin and heavy and I fear I may drop it. I feel a bit conspicuous but that doesn’t matter. Really. At Baca Street I push the button to cross and take myself to Counter Culture where I’ve not been and eat the best lemon poppyseed cake ever with an equally delicious latte at a table by the wall beneath the art of photographs for pets. The phone rings.


I rise to the occasion of the question and outside find a path I did not know that carries me all the way to the Railyard Park in a matter of minutes. Past the community garden. The Rail Runner runs and I pause to take its picture. On my way to work but I have a moment to spare. And now I vow to do that weekly. A walk from this neighborhood to that neighborhood on a path that will carry to coffee. To rambling thoughts of possibility and a person I use to be — on other paths. In other places.


In this slow coming spring the days pass without focus. A blur of interview and company and shuttle here and there. The Etsy site undone. The blog unwritten. No poetry for Wednesday. But there has been art. In Microscale in Madrid at Metallo Gallery and An Affair with the Muse at Kristin Johnson Fine Art in Santa Fe where my work shares the walls with other artists, known and emerging and the joy of friendship and good times and wine and food and walking beneath the stars of the New Mexico sky. A glimpse at “behind-the-scenes” of movie making on porches and side streets and vans with kitchens on Armijo. Those yellow signs with letters sideways and upside down that instruct those in the know on where to go.


And the trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida that blew open my closed perceptions has come and gone and my photos not posted or sent to friends, but still I keep the weather of St. Pete on my homepage. Just in case. I check rentals on craigslist and subscribe to a newsletter and the Warehouse Arts District but will the humidity be too big an obstacle? And my mom has gone into the hospital and is out again as I plan a trip back for the family reunion. For my birthday. To get together with sisters and brothers and cousins and those aunts and uncles that remains. A hug to my dad and hopefully more than 30 minutes. So hard to fit it all in. A moment here and dashing off for a moment there. Maybe a swim in a lake, a walk on the beach of Lake Michigan, wine tasting and a walk in the country but how to get from Detroit to Durand? No public transportation that allows independence except a car I won’t really need and one might as well pay the difference to fly into the local airport. For convenience but it is steep. Pause.


Everything is changing.


Today a poetry reading in Eldorado. 200 NM poems. I will sit in the audience to applaud the poets. Important to applaud the poets.


Go well into the tomato starts, the basil outside the door, the pots of pansies that make you smile. Through whatever gate you walk into whatever street you travel onto that path that carries us forward. To life without fear. To love. To ourselves in all our imperfect beauty and authenticity.


Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives too far from the ocean but loves her new digs in South Capitol. Her work can be seen at Kristin Johnson Fine Art or here. In Microscale is up through the end of May at Metallo Gallery in Madrid. Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

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