Art brings me to the very edge of myself. Creating art tips me over completely. This poem was born while at the very end of my artistic crisis. I had gone through a dry spell for over a year, no paint, no pen to paper, no movement, nothing. After attending The Seattle School’s Artist Residency, a week long retreat where you live into your expression in the company of others, I was undone. I made piece after piece, illustrations, and portraits. I finished a book I’d been writing, and turned my apartment walls into a canvas (and no, I did not get my deposit back). This poem tells the process, and speaks to the importance of faith in the face of resistance.
I step in.
that’s how it begins.
One pinky toe dipped in wet paint.
then a foot. a hand. a body submerged.
I fall in.
that’s how it ends.
All my insides on the outside.
dressing a blank canvas.
It’s a mess.
I don’t try to clean it up.
I’m a mess.
I try hard to clean me up.
The artistry lands between the two.
like an exaggerated crack in the sidewalk.
Where we play four-square.
with slapping hands and mimicking smiles.
They are all stories.
like decoupaged life layers.
that we crawl under and cuddle beneath on blistery days.
This art is where I roar my life.
I’ve been caged after all.
now I break the bars and pound the ground.
Here in expression we can make drumming sounds.
with beats that bleed a million colors.
This variation is holy.
I hope it’s not exclusive.
Like a burning bush.
the secrets of our life fan the creative flame.
I’m taking my shoes off and throwing them in the fire.
It will make the smoke rise.
We need more light. We need more signals. We need more shoes to throw in the fire.