Monday, November 28, 2011

Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist by Lucas Olson

Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist
by Lucas Olson
- Preface -
Here I sit.
Book at my feet,
storm rolling by above my window.
There is no better time to write,
I think
than in the evening
while nature happens upstairs.
It's a poetic occurrence,
that begs a poetic response,
begs the writer to write,
the reader to read.
“Now.” the thunder roars.
Yes, then.

- I -
Portrait of the young man
as an artist
Can the former
be the latter?
Young has connotations.
Youth, even more.
It doesn't call to teenagers
as much as to children.
To me at least.
To my ear
and eye
and finger.
It summons
what the young call young
The elementary
and the kindergarten.

Pouting on foam letters
because I annoyed my
best friend too much
But it's nothing in ten minutes
(When looking backwards,
all time ten minutes)
Because we'll run over rocks
and over a red wooden playground
(That's gone now
I used to have a splinter as a keepsake.
That's gone now too.)
Ten minutes later
we're around a spring pool
filled with tadpoles and April mud
In ten minutes
it's dried.
In another ten minutes
the park is gone.
In ten more
so is he.
into a deeper Mass.
He's a different person now.
Of course, so am I.
The caster of the shadow of my former self
But it was nice while it was there.

I met him
when we moved in,
Into the light blue apartment
(like a castle to me then)
The rug was dark blue,
I always scraped my knees on it.

There used to be
a bush in the front
(two actually,
but one was
the hornet's castle)
If you crawled under a break in the brush
(your knees squishing the
powder blue berries
into green juices)
you could climb through the web of branches
and peak into the outside
from your cavern of wooden arms.

It's gone now
(Both of them)
Pulled and tugged
from the place it called home.
To make room for patches of dirt,
I suppose.

- II -
I didn't want to include
my age in the title.
has connotations as well.
More apt to conjure images
of a magazine built on stereotypes
than of a young man with a notebook.
(Though it's not like I'm
the target audience)
That's the problem with
branding an age.
They've stolen a year of associations.

- III -
B is a loaded letter,
isn't it?
It's one that stings
and one that questions.
What is it to be?
what is it to be a bee?

Though I suppose many of us know,
since it's hard to be a child
and not dance through a field thick with pollen
breathing in the smell of June.
(That's a smell right?
That's not just me?)

I know that I have.
I've stood in more June fields
than you can count on one hand.
I've stood in June fields in
and in
and in

I've stood in June fields in
the pine forests
on grainy, sweating beaches.

It's not so much an actual place to me
as an idea.
A picturesque grassy field
fenced in by leafy trees
waving “Hello” as the wind prods at them.
This isn't somewhere real.
Not really.
If it is, it's uncommon.

It's a usurped memory.
The seeds of a whole forest
planted in our heads
perhaps by media
perhaps by evolution.

Whatever the case,
we've all run through Elysium
and come clear out the other side.
We forgot where it was,
so we just made more
and projected them on top of
other memories.

- IV -
Does the world
ever really get older,
if there are still young eyes looking at it?
It seems to age personally.
The 80 year old war veteran next door
certainly didn't live in my world.
Nor me in his.

His was a old world
with new things coming in
and trying to change it.
My world is new things.
My world is change.

But somewhere there is a newer world.
Where someone still doesn't know how it works.
Or how we think it works.
Or how I think we think it works.

Where there are still witches in the basement
and dragons in the attic.
And where your room can
still become a forest
if you think hard enough.

I can still turn things into a forest.
It's different though.
I have to describe the stretching,
bedposts as they grow thick
and throw their rough limbs outward.

I have to describe the carpet,
as the light brown
melds into a darker one
and softens into earthy loam
thick with curling leaves
and orange needles.

I have to describe the walls,
as they melt away and fall into
the trees behind them
taking along the ceiling
leaving only damp leaves
and moonlight
in its stead.

I have to describe the air,
as it thickens
and deepens
and the smell of petrichor
and moss
begin to bleed into the oxygen.

I have to describe the sound
as the roar of cars
and the ring of speakers
tilts into moving water
and chirping crickets.

I can still do it.
It's different than before,
but it can be done.
I can put the thoughts in the ink.
But it may take a lot of ink.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Empty House by Lucas Olson

            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. To him it felt like an unnatural, uncomfortable darkness, as if his eyes had refused to adjust. But that didn't make any sense, because he could see everything in his room. Actually, there was light leaking in through the crack of his door. Stumbling his way out of bed and into the hallway, he came into the bathroom. He tried to remember leaving the light on, but that thought trailed away from him. He simply wanted to go back to sleep. To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, he thought, and he flicked off the light.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. Finding the bathroom light flooding into the hallway, he got out of bed and turned it off. As soon as the light was off, Mark was left in the same blind darkness he'd woken in. He rubbed his eyes, giving them a few moments to readjust, when he looked up he saw something written in condensation on the mirror. Yet Another Walker in the Darkness, it said, in rough, uneven strokes, as if by an urgent finger. It occurred to him that he really shouldn't be able to read anything in this sort of darkness. And that there was no reason for there to be any sort of mist on the mirror, unless someone had been breathing on it. In that moment, Mark was keenly aware of his own discomfort. Of the standing hairs on his neck. Of his tightening muscles. He was quickly overtaken with the idea that if he could grab a flashlight it would be okay. It would be okay. But the flashlight was downstairs. Then he'd go downstairs, he thought. He moved hastily out into the hall, and wrapped his fingers tightly around the bannister, urging his feet to move forward.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. He got up to turn off the bathroom light, and found discomforting words written in the dark on his mirror. He felt a pull to get his flashlight, and rushed to push himself down the stairs. Moving as swiftly as he could down the wooden stairway, he was overwhelmed with a sudden thought: Eyes Front. He'd be alright if he kept looking forward. If he just kept his eyes facing front wherever he looked, he could make it to his flashlight. Just, don't look in the periphery, he thought, don't turn around. Eyes Front. Do not think about what might be behind you, or around you, or above you, or below you. Eyes Front. He just needed to keep his eyes ahead of him, and get to the flashlight in the second drawer below the cupboard. The big metal Mag-Light flashlight with the rubber grip. Eyes Front. He moved over the linoleum of the kitchen. The cold floor made his back shiver for a moment. At least he thought it was the floor. He hoped it was the floor. He made it to the drawer, and urgently yanked it open. Too urgently, as the drawer fell out and its contents spilled across the linoleum floor. He swore, and clamored over the mess, feeling for the flashlight. He let out a relieved breath when he found it, and let his eyes wander again. In the periphery, out behind him, he caught a shadow flick away from the base of the stairs, into the living room. His breath caught in his throat for a moment. That had been foolish. Eyes Front. He thumbed for the button on the flashlight. He was suddenly taken with the idea of leaving the house. Yes, he thought, get out of the house. The flashlight came on, splashing light against his back door. He moved to follow it, and clutched the doorknob.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. He got up to turn off the bathroom light, and found writing on his mirror. He rushed to get his flashlight, keeping his eyes from noticing too much. He got his flashlight, but his vision betrayed him. He was moving quickly out of his house now. The flashlight was making deep shadows as it washed over the copse of trees in the rear of his yard. There was a term for that sort of thing, when it was used in art. It seemed to escape him, but the word Chiaroscuro came to him after a few moments, as if coming in through a back door. He couldn't think about that though. He had to focus now. Keep the light on. Eyes front. Get away from the house. He couldn't take the car, the keys were back inside. He'd move around the house then, following the long dirt driveway. The road was out there somewhere, behind the trees. He moved with the same urgency as before, keeping the light in front of him. But the light only made the darks seem darker. And twice he swept over a pair of glowing orbs, leering out from the edge of the lawn. The trees rustled above him as he moved. At first he thought it was the wind, he hoped it was the wind, but it was only one tree at a time. Worse than that, every now and then he would hear something behind him. Noises. Organic noises. Breathing and moving and pulsing and living and stalking. He ran now. He gave up on just an urgent pace. He ran. That seemed to be a mistake though. It was harder to keep the light focused. To keep his eyes front. He caught edges of shade and tips of shadows. Still he kept moving. Then he tripped, falling forward into the dirt of the drive. He kept his eyes closed. At least this darkness was his own. He had wanted to get back to sleep anyway.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. The darkness seemed impenetrable, except for the light from the hallway dripping under his bedroom door. The words left his mouth before he knew what he was saying. To Sleep, Perchance to Dream Again.

Life's Music by Sarah Zuidema

Life's Music

A whisp of words,
A tinkling of notes,
The soul's sweet voice raised on high.
The harmonious trails of silence ring in our ears,
And intonations built on emotions
Reproduce their origins in passers-by.
The bottles of screams roll down cheeks,
Smiles squeak and bounce to pull past teeth,
We wiggle and sway,
To the rhythm of our hearts' familiar grace.
The peace of sorrow,
The heights of joy,
A burst of pure life,
No flat sound do we hear.
The colors of sunrise,
The trickling of rain,
A vitality so near,
A pounding in sync.
We vibrate within our shells,
Creating melodies of our own,
Adding to the waves we receive,
And building our song.