Sunday, November 22, 2009


The afternoon sun casts its golden light onto the flat grassy field and the tall conifers surrounding it. It is the last of the warm rays, and the promise of a cool night dances at the park’s edge, ready to overtake the fiery warmth with a cold hand. But for the moment, darkness stays abated, and sweet light covers the park, making the tender grass alive with a yellow lens. On the warm greenery is a group of three young men with a bicycle laying upside-down beside them. Two of them look to the ground, to the open newspaper between them. The other man stares into the distance, at a young woman with a camera pointed in his direction. Not far from the group, a middle aged man sits cross-legged while filling a rolling paper with long strands of tobacco. In the far distance, a young man in a red sweatshirt stares at the screen on his cell phone.
The flat field is surrounded by a narrow black asphalt path, which, by its design, has created a large rounded-edge square of the grass. On the other side of the sidewalk is the mound of a small grassy hill. The hill is long, and its shape creates an amphitheater-like viewing of the flat field below. Two men lounge on the grass of the hill, they each lay on their side, just barely looking up at the man in cargo pants standing between them.
Between the men on the hill and the asphalt sidewalk is a long green bench. Its left side is occupied by a muscular black man who is as home on the bench as anywhere else. His beard is trim and completely white. The hair on his eyebrows and arms is also white. His chocolate-colored skin is smooth and taut. He wears a pair of clean blue jeans and a yellow fleece vest over a collared T-shirt. Above his plaid shirt is an ornate silver cross that is a few inches long. There is a black beanie on his head. Both his wrists are adorned with two metal bracelets of braided copper and silver. Beside the bench are his tan leather boots, the socks tucked neatly into the foot-holes. Draped casually over the back of the bench is his extra sweatshirt. Between his legs is a tall red drum. Well-worn hands are in mid beat as his eyes trail, watching the golden-tinged sights before him.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Artist

The artist is leaning back, the paintbrush poised delicately between the fingers of an upraised hand. The brush is long and slender, a light wooden wand with blond bristles. Her fingernails are long and surprisingly clean, white tipped. Her smile radiates not only from her parted lips that reveal white teeth and the pink inside of her mouth, but also, more prominently, that smile shines in her glittering black eyes. She wears an apron decorated with pink roses over a black tank top. The table is covered with clean newspapers. There is not a stray splash of paint to be seen. The canvass standing on the table top over the support of a small easel is already halfway covered with paint. The emerging scene is a larger replication of a scene depicted on a small note pad that rests on the table top just below the canvass. Both are representations of little wooden dolls like the one that can barely be seen peeping around the edge of the canvas. Only its round pink cheek and wide almond shaped eye are visible along with the wave of visible hair that frames her face and the white cap that tops it. The eyes of the little doll and of the drawn doll and painted doll are all big eyes, dark in the center like the painter’s shiny black eyes. They are all replicas of the original, with her pink cheek and wave of dark hair crowning her head. The careful reproductions are all copies, a copy of a copy of a copy of a woman. A woman with high arched brows and pink lips and flowers on her clothes. A woman who makes things with her hands and knows the secret of making things and smiles with the knowledge of it. A goddess that has unraveled the secret of creation and does it so carefully, so painstakingly, that not a single line goes stray, that not one petite droplet of color falls wasted on the workspace or smeared on a hand or cheek. Even the brush is clean, as if the painting is being produced with nothing more than a carefully concentrated attention that burns the image upon the canvass at the painter’s will. Another pair of clean brushes can be seen poking out of a can, their bristles pointing upward just above the head of the small wooden doll that remains partially concealed by the canvass. Everything is clean. Every line is in place. And the artist beams with the joy of creation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Forest

A man walks on a dirt path. He is alone, aided only by two tools in each hand. The path meanders gently, the foliage along the edges determines its uneven shape amongst the forest. The narrow bit of uncovered earth carved between the trees and bushes is just wide enough for his feet and the metal walking stick he carries in his left hand. His right hand clutches the handle of a black umbrella to shield him from the miniscule drops of mist that come with the low hanging clouds. The man is dressed for a cool day. He wears a long-sleeved purple rain slicker and dark pants to repel the rolling mist. He smiles contentedly in mid-stride, his hands easily wrapped around his tools. The walking stick is a half a foot away from his feet, continuously scanning for rocks and mud and loose earth. His umbrella is raised a few feet from the crown of his head, as though waiting for a strong wind to carry him away. His smile reveals his ease amid the air of fall, which holds the whispers of rain and the yellowing promise of winter. In the distance are lush green pine trees which reach hundreds of feet into the sky, their long needles sit patently while delicate beads of moisture fall onto them, releasing their scent. Creating a green carpet on the forest floor are low-growing ivy with thick waxy leaves. Their leaves are shiny beneath the thin coating of mist that has found its way through the boughs and leaves of taller trees. A few feet ahead of the man are the immediate signs of a changing season. On his left, a large Japanese Maple has begun to shed, the path is littered in patches of leaves in various states of decay…brown and tan and beige carcasses are each in the slow process of transformation. The branches of the maple are covered in soft six-pointed leaves that are all a uniform shade of banana yellow. On the right side of the path, the long curved branches of a fern are completely dried and brown. It is not the mark of fall, but a breakdown of the plant itself. One lone yellow leaf floats in the air a foot from the fern. It is not the maple leaf, for the singular shape has only five points. It floats down from an unseen bough.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Plaza

The early evening light is the palest of blues. It marks closing time, the end of another cycle of light, to be replaced by twelve hours of darkness. The sun has just begun to fall behind the wall of straight buildings. Dozens and dozens of them make the city skyline. There are the large mirrored homes of finance that reach towards the clouds, the more squat government buildings and the high-rise condos marked on each level by balconies. Interspersed among the modern buildings are the few brick constructions that have managed to survive earthquakes and fires. Adorned with the marks of their craftsmen, they contrast with the straight, sleek lines of modern architecture.
Cutting through the clustered marks of men are geometrical streets. Black and marked with yellow lines, the roads sit without the faintest curve, providing only 90 degree angles in evenly divided intervals. The low golden sun shines against the reflected glass of the downtown buildings like light on sequins, calling out for one last acknowledgment before it says goodnight. Ample rectangles and squares shine like electric gold with its last rays.
The downtown streets are bustling. Men in dark tailored suits and women wearing black heels and fitted skirts flow out of the buildings and into the crowded sidewalks. They are like rivers that ebb and flow with the alarm clock’s set intervals.
In the middle of the financial center is a large cement plaza. The periphery of the plaza is a single row of green grass and sparsely planted trees that are thin and tall as some of the shortest buildings. Two sides of the plaza have buildings that create a wall behind it, but the other two connected sides are open and face two streets perpendicular from each other.
One of the open sides has a single doorway with an open wrought iron gate. The doorway is made of stacked rocks and mortar, but the long walls around it have fallen long ago, leaving only the frame of the doorway and the tall gate itself.
The flow of business people walk through the square diagonally, coming from the corner beside the wall and the street and flowing out through the wrought iron gate. Close to the center of the plaza is a young blond woman with a microphone. She is talking and pointing to the moveable statue of a thick man with a trombone held to his mouth. Coming out of the trombone is a large fake tuna fish. A small crowd of business people are gathered around the woman and the statue. They are laughing at each pause in her speech, nearly doubling over with her jokes.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Wet Mountain

There is a rocky mountainside, covered halfway up in stones the size of human heads. All the boulders are dark gray and cold and slightly wet. The mountain is wide and tall, but it connects to an even larger mountain range to the north. In the distance, the mountains are brown and barren and covered only in scattered patches of dry grass. The sun is hiding somewhere behind a thick haze of clouds. The light is still very bright, the kind of light that requires squinting. The day seems new, but slightly drained in energy, as though something very intense has just vanished and what remains is slightly diminished. At the base of the mountain range is a receding sea. The water is dark blue and choppy with white caps. It flows out towards the horizon in a hurry, as though something was waiting for it beyond the thin line of sight. The wide mountain is mostly covered in heavy rocks, but as the mound moves closer to a tip, the rocks become smaller and smaller, until they are just small pebbles hidden between blades of dried grass. There is one four foot trail that travels the length of earth from peak to ocean, but there are other scattered trails that are much thinner, only wide enough for one person at a time. Close to the shore is a thicket of trees beside a clearing thirty feet wide. They are as tall and thin as eucalyptus, only they have darker and wider leaves and more full reaching boughs that create a wide canopy. The clearing is smooth and flat and free of all rocks. Because of the trees, it is covered in a nearly green-black shade. The earth here is damp and smells of wet bark. To the left of the clearing and trees is a grouping of dark wood condominiums. The singular structure is angular and modern and would give off a very cold emotion if not for the wood used to construct it. The collection of two-story houses each have double pane windows and wide sliding glass doorways that face the seashore and the thicket of trees. On the lower floor, beside a sliding glass door, is a dead white horse laying on the ground. Its legs are curled close to its body in the fetal position. The glass doors reveal the occupants of the houses. There are people. They are swollen and pale and laying on their backs on the damp linoleum of their kitchens. Their bodies are moist, as are the T-shirts and shorts which clothe their bloated bodies.