“Sunflower, bullshit. I want everything beautiful to burn.”
Tiny yellow pedals point outward like triangular rays of sunshine. The face of the blackened middle, smiling to the sky, turning to drink up sun, sleeps in the darkness. Maybe it tilts, just a little. I recall singing a school song, rather a song at school, for a spring concert, at Lacordaire about a sunflower. The whole thing is on VHS somewhere. I might’ve had a dress too that I wore with a sunflower on it. Might’ve been navy blue with black and white checks. Some song and dance routine where we move toward the rhythm and sing songs about how God is the sun and we are just all sunflowers turning toward Him. My mom really liked the song. It was in the sweaty gymnasium, which also doubled as an auditorium. There was a stage in it and everything – bigger than Good Shepard for sure. I still remember that gym, that was technically in the high school. There might’ve been cookies and fruit punch afterwards. A combination that never makes sense outside the context of being a kid. When Hawaiian Punch and Juicy Juice ruled. Capri Sun and Sssips and here I just going on and on about juice. Hi-C! So many flavors, so much cardboard and aluminum and high fructose corn syrup. Plastic straws attached. Parents really put up with a lot of our bullshit, huh? So much commitment, so many activities; Birthday invitations and playdates. It’s a lot. I realize that now. But when you’re a kid, you don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no context because there’s nothing to base it off of, there’s no experience. You’re so fresh and new in the world and everything is just happening to you all at once. Aging is annoying. Just when some things stay the same, other things are always changing. Like my eyesight. I haven’t seen a legit sunflower in awhile. Pictures, of course. I think my great-grandma had a singing sunflower that may she got from my mom when she used to sell Avon. They always had strange electronic things in the early aughts. But this sunflower had a face in the middle and when you pressed a button it would sing you are my sunshine. And she got a real kick out that. And that was all it did. That was the gag. And I guess when she was feeling blue and no one else was around, she’d hit that button and laugh out loud because that was the kind of person she was. Back before she got dementia, back before she had to have her car keys taken away, back before she had to walk around with a name tag that also had on it her address and who to call if she was lost. Back before nursing homes in Kenilworth that we dreaded to go to on a Saturday. It was a lot. I get that now. My dad always made us go though, despite it all. And I think that was the right thing to do.
Bluish hourglass with open top. Put some fresh-cut flowers in there, or leave it open. The craft of this pottery project – Wet clay, two hands, a kiln, a dream, glaze and paint. The fire smooths and purifies. Dancing outwardly, stillness inside. Stillness outwardly, ricochet pinball machine inside. Bells and whistles and neon screens. The noise and the solace of being lost in some activity that is here and now and perhaps has no meaning. Vase on the coffee table . These things can be built and they can break. Sobbing, the sound emblazoned in memories of haunted objects in a home. I will need to find a new way. Down spiral wooden staircases that lead to empty wine cellars and old black and white movies with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Was the world ever right? Does history just smooth everything over – like glaze and kiln? Panic attacks in little cycles. Little amplitudes, waveforms, wave patterns. Scared to look. When the big to bubble I wish them away, but that genie has long gone. Adored photos on walls. Fixer-upper house. I can still feel the grooves in the old hexagonal tile, the creak of the tan linoleum floor. Splashing lifesource. Ships in bottles setting sail to nowhere. Please let these eyeglasses be the one. Please let this just be an adjustment period. Impatience and anxiety make for a miserable cocktail. Sterility, hospital bed and gown. Totally cancelled out by whatever they’re serving for dinner on this floor. Reminiscent of convalescence and nursing homes. Shatter, break, and crack – A million pieces scattered and now we have to gather them all up, mourn this lost piece of art. It was accidental with universal purpose. Sometimes we move too quick for our own good. Get caught in emotion, talking with our hands, moving our bodies too freely. Look what can happen. Spin and smash like I’m the Hulk, or Donkey Kong.
We have tamed a wild weed in the South. It grows here and nowhere else (maybe). There is a blood history behind it. Drenched in cash and profit and exploitation of human beings and their rights. Hot, humid summers – How many passed under the aversion of God’s gaze? Dry, cotton mouth. Dehydrated water supply. It’s all just air around me now. Expired breath, ghost mist. Fog on a mysterious morning where I drop my knees and thank God in fear; For fear if I don’t, I too will not be spared, I too await the blade of an axe from the angel of Death; Jump off the mountain, or be somewhere at the wrong place, at the wrong time. The opposite of luck: Unfortunate circumstance. What becomes common place smooth fabric, has a long journey ahead. There is a method and a process. Plantation that has history we must reckon with, must acknowledge, must accept guilt and complicity. Vultures caw hollow, searching for the remains of the missing. Missing memories, lost in some black hole of Alzheimer’s Disease, some black hole of dementia. They circle and spiral inside. Perhaps their outlines remain, but the coloring book remains devoid of color. The smell of manure, fresh mulch. Earthy tones and senses. If I were a child in the field, I would want to hide in the shade of a tall stalk, or the shade of my mother, so I could sleep in the heat and stay tucked away out of trouble, and not be afraid of bugs so that when a little fly lands on my arm, I will barely notice and not spoil my calm quiet. The wind doesn’t blow, doesn’t answer calls. There’s just the answering service, and if there is an emergency, just run. And keep running; Make the wind move for you. Kick up your bare feet and cuffed jeans. Kind of run where you stick out your stomach and hips and just bolt, just go for it. Leaves on trees get rustled as you brush past. Heavy breaths and pants until you can no longer take it anymore, slowing down to a stop bent over, hands on thighs, leaning forward. Gasping.
Pre-calculus, pink dress. Wintertime, chalkboard, Shadow light projector, magic markers. Heavy textbooks, the memory of which still curses my aching back. Large graphing calculators – Fuck you Texas Instruments. Tiny square buttons bringing to life bullshit equations that I can’t stand. A class I’d love to cut. Math class annoyance dome. Headache and dehydration. Frustrated head-scratching leads to apathy. Tasting disappointment. Always false confidence when I hand in my quiz or test. Disappointment always when getting it back. Always worse than I expected. Could never get the hang of it. Don’t want to. Pressing little raised colored buttons. I remember the two Texas Instruments calculators – the non-graphing kind. One was more updated the other. The older, navy blue and quite rectangular; defined angles all around. Looked older. The more modern had somewhat curved edges; Calculator was navy, but the lid was black, some graphic scribed into it. Writing “HELLO” with upside down numbers and a decimal point. I definitely rely on calculators now, though I’m not sure where these other models have gone off too. Stuck in some clutter somewhere. I remember being a kid and being so scared of multiplication. I really didn’t understand it at first, couldn’t grasp it. Not sure when I actually did. I can see my desk in 3rd grade, and recall the way my classroom looked; Teacher’s desk to my left, door to my right. Blackboard, straight ahead. Multiplication table to the left of that. Before calculators it was just abacuses and fingers, I’d imagine. Some post-Greek world, lamp-lit pulp paper substitute, writing things out with ink. All those years, all that time spent wasting sitting in classrooms when I could have been writing songs and literally doing anything else with my time. Punch and crunch the numbers. Was it worth it, and who would I have been without it?
Thirsty for integrity of what I believed the stars and stripes stood for. A More Perfect Union. Was is all just horseshit? I am tired and mentally exhausted of interpretations of antiquated documents that only serves to benefits the white men who identify with the the Enlightenment spirit of the 18th century. There are different people now. There were different people then. It seems all like some elaborate game where 99% of players don’t get pieces, but they are directly affected by decisions from the 1%. I don’t ever want to taste blood in my mouth for the wrong reasons. I never want to self-vampirize and self-sabatoge. That’s not who I am or who I want to be. I remember the DC museums I visited and walking around, but you can’t feel the energy of history through glass boxes. Well, maybe you can but it has to be strong. Locomotive train, campaign trail with no microphone. I guess people really did listen then. We’re all so spoiled rotten now. Ignorant and alliterate. Believing the reverberations that bounce back within our own little bubbles. I told you I am tired. Spreading butter on toast and topping with orange marmalade, jelly. It’s always less filling than I believe it to be. Am I overreacting, or not reacting enough? I’m holding breaths again and forgetting my full lung capacity. The balcony of the auditorium at FMS. The 2nd floor. The flag. The wings of stairs. I still hear birds chirp every morning, I still hear landscapers working, dogs barking, cars driving. But it is quieter, more still. I do not know where it stands or fits. I have not felt like a fitting puzzle piece in awhile. I feel the piece, but not the fit. Nothing fits now. We missed some timeline jump. Illuminati network at work. Something is wrong in the timeline. To pray to Section 31 to make it all go away. Paper-maiche solidified dreams. The slime and residue of art class. The smell of Mr. Sketchers or a fresh box of crayons. Diving back into the swimming pool. I don’t want there to be anyone around. Scared to dance and hold hands. Here I am alone, bottom of the pool and hear the quiet hum of water pressure. I cannot hold my breath any longer and catapult to the surface.