a.e. hart's sketchpad

Month: January, 2011

shoppers. 5 minute sketch, #4

tonight the body is a cavern
and you are host
i play the fiddle
to your great affair

you bend light and shape
demand reparations
while i build monasteries
imagine for myself
a quieter life

in the parking lot
of the a+p
we grow famous
for our endless exhibitions
your tiny sculptures
there’s nothing to do in this town

when we argue
i forget my shoes
and go barefoot
for three days
without noticing

there are temples for love
the small tubes
the endless supply of paint
i wonder
“where does the money come from?”
but accept your generosity
and never break stride

we forgot eachother one morning
and went about our lives
i have six herbal remedies
for our common condition
collecting dust
one my kitchen table

midnight seems holy
so we part
in search of the last word
you tell a dirty limerick
as i collect my masterpieces
from the pavement


rememberance #2 (draft)

you are marching found objects
a yard flag covered in apples
your petticoat
is dipped in
crayon wax

we are having a parade
in black, in white
up trees
and into the doctors office
i roll up your flag
tuck it
beneath our waiting room chairs

you proceed to invite me fishing
pass along a rod
and reel
and i flap on your

you are in love
with the doctor
and have visited
several times
this week

i grow concerned
when i hear
the words
‘restraining order’

we are sitting on a stone
you are not telling me about
your child
or your

you are making the sun rise

you need help
but some days
i am frightened
and i pretend
not to believe

nothing happens
we walk home
almost arm in arm
you look at me as if you might decide to love me
and say
“this was never supposed to happen”

when we get back to your bedroom
you wait for me to make a move
i sit locked in your gaze
for hours

5 years later

you have rung my phone
every half hour
for two days
and nights
i answer

i tell you i will write
i take down your address

ten years later

the letter i wrote then
still stains my fingers

no one fishes in the waiting room now
no one marches, ecstatic about nothing

i join the great sufis in their madness
i measure g-d

all because the line between divinity and madness
crossed your palm
far too close to my heart

“with the birds i share this lonely view…” a.kiedis

i know too many people
this can make a person lonely

i memorize handshakes
a new friend’s taste in shoes

with so many oceans to explore
the mind grows confused

i cast a critical eye on each horizon
and root my feet in the sand

this is not the path to enlightenment
too many to bear witness

i scan the surface
grasping at the winter air

a familiar hand
etched in hope
or in memory

stills the tides


lately, everything is buzzing.  why is life either poetry or action? im burning calories, asking questions, reading books and working too hard.  id like to sit still, let the dancers body emerge, as leonard cohen wrote so simply.  im witnessing the ways my body is changing, even at this young age, the early notices of post-maturity.  the muscles that ask for more than a tiny stretch to grow limber.  the sore feet, the new rules.  america is obsessed with youth, and i am quickly becoming a beautiful relic.  the chandelier, the faded paper.

still, i look at myself and i see the dirt of ageless joy.  i see camouflaged talents and  toes that laugh with me as i sing, as i move.  i see the tree climber, the best friend, the cynical humour and madness i have always carried.  nothing is lost.
i have to work harder now to remain unafraid.  to walk the bending limb, to brave the steep dives. my collected disciplines are small, but growing to meet the new and unexpected demand.

as a kid, i was a flexible ninja with an unlimited capacity for indulgence.  i miss the easy swing of my legs, the sharp edges, the dance marathons.

i spend evenings with a woman bound to a body that can not speak clearly.  that can not shape the multitude of words necessary to explain how she is feeling.  tonight she left to have dinner with her mother, and came home to cry on the couch for half an hour.  i did my best, as a hired friend, to allow her her sorrow, and not to frustrate her with questions she cannot answer.

i imagine what life is like for her, every day we meet.  the endless stream of companions. the arm that reaches out and warns her when it isnt safe to cross the street. the inexplicable restrictions.  the diet plan laid out by her controlling mother.  she is thin, and will always be thin, but craves chocolate, soda, chips.  i do as i am told, serve nonfat milk and yogurt, raw vegetables and pre-packaged microwave dinners meant for dieters.

i finally have to admit, that i am no longer thin.  that i have to make an effort.
please understand.  i do not need to live up to a standard of beauty.  i love curves and fat.  my body however, forgets how to climb trees, forgets who she is, doesnt dance as long or as happily, and that just will not do.

hafiz wrote that we all desire a master with a skilled whip, and i am no exception.  i am tired of my own habits, and call on a higher self, one with the power to calm my cravings, to simplify things.  still, i can not be jealous, when my client comes home in tears, and i live with the choice to wage my internal wars, or to surrender to base desire.


sugar free jello
raw kale
lowfat yogurt
grain cereal
almond milk
rice cake
hot sauce

i am incapable of the perfectly organic, even after training as a yogi.  even after the spiritual retreats, the years of sobriety, the support i am offered.  so, jello: from here on in, were  going to be very good friends.

discipline is lost on me.  so i will just have to play more. ill surf, and tree climb and sing.  go for bike rides with friends, slow and laughing.  ill take opera lessons.  ill snowboard.  ill jump on trampolines.  ill have more sex.  more fun.  thats my plan.  and i have the choice, and for that at least, i am grateful.

30 some-odd years from now, when i am 65, and you see me perched in a tree, don’t call me eccentric.  im on a fucking diet.

insomniac files #1

the trouble is, i don’t want to sleep. i tell everyone im trying. that the insomnia has gotten the better of me again. truth is i never lay down. i scribble for a few hours. cut and paste useless pictures, artifacts of my time spent in exile, out of rhythm.
sitting with the television as if a novel has run off with itself, left me to dwell in the pages… the more realistic, the more it reminds me of my own life and losses, the more im glued in.
i feel british tonight from all the damn television, and i don’t feel like writing. i’ve got this checklist in my head of things i have to do each day. so consider this a check-mark in a box. and no, im not putting any thought into it, so please toss it off.
im not in love with anyone. not really anyway. i dont feel like jerking off.  im disgusted with porn and my imaginations shot, so there’s not a chance in hell, anyway.
i need white paint.  everything i put together is solid and bold. garish. i need something to carve out the variables.  yellow is fucking useless.
everything is a performance, right?  it could be 7am, and i could be pulling on a coat and tie for work.  i could be a corporate lawyer, on my way to fuck some poor sod of some house of cards hes collected and built. so fucking tender.
im just saying, be careful. the screen is glowing and im convinced im allergic.  my old friend is dead and sometimes lately i miss our jokes.  my dad is dead and right now i dont miss him at all.  i will miss him tomorrow, or on sunday, unexpectedly. and maybe then ill sleep.
people can be fucks, but they can be perfect, obscenely so.  a little bit insane, obsessed with the beautiful details, so much so that they grow to hate the broad strokes of society. the noise of it all.  i feel like that now. its 330 am and im still narrowing it down, carving out the details. im addicted to night time. to the sleeping city. to my own waning sanity.
she loves someone else now, anyway. and like i said, im not in love, not really anymore, not enough.  its just when i finally go to sleep, i will feel her hand rest into mine. thats when i know somethings wrong. its the fucking bat signal, that hand showing up in mine.  her jealous lover missing the mark again.  shell draw a lavender thread between us, just like shes always done, and well both sleep, eventually.


Make me hollow, and fill me with paint
Teach me your rage in wall eyed dominance
In darkness… I want you to know my secrets
To push me into the deeper well, where the sounds escaping
Are more animal than human
Then I want you to tell me to shut up
My shattering divide, held tight, generates an impenetrable distance
I want you to strike and withhold
To leave me lingering and cold
To empty my body with
More than an ounce of cruelty

I want black gloves, and objectification
Rope so tight that I fly inward to meet my own shadows
I want you to leave me there
Bound but not held
In a stillness beyond earth, and beyond prayer
I want you to forget me in the morning
Make your coffee
Bury my unfamiliar scent, in the earth and grime of your daily routines

I skip. I dance, and collect my reasons
I paint my life the colors of twilight, autumn, and fire
I forget about you in the morning
make my coffee
Notice your unfamiliar scent
And my tender bruises

I put on a careless perfume
I half dress and wander
collect the universe
that might stain your greedy palms



i have a suggestion,

sing two octaves down
and i
will take off my pants
and shake it

turn on the moon, the vhs
we’re kicking it old school

we’ll tap dance
when delila plays celine dion

turn heads when
weve got our day glo on

someone owns this shade of red
someone owns this texture
im sure
by now

they’ll try to pin the whole world down
but you and i
and that kid over there
he doesnt know it yet

but were gonna dance, dance revolution

no patent
on my wide curves
no sale
on the things weve learned
theyve got butterfly nets
but we
scorpion bat banana and shapeshift
through the widening cracks

well make the sidewalks
our business cards
empower every preacher
on the path of love
fuck shameless
in the backseat
with the windows down
on a sunday

were gonna turn heads
no i mean really
turn heads
beating ecstatic joy
into the moon eaten sky
this is business

you and  i
will be the bonnie and clyde
of unacceptable joy
well have to cross

i came home so happy tonight i took of my pants
before i took off my motorcycle helmet
pulling out my most regal garment

it must be that time again

howl spit and sing…
we’re remembering
there was that divine invitation
the drunken celebration
someone’s sacred lover laughing
mine too!
when we folded the damn thing
paper airplane style
left it circling

saturn, was it?
doesn’t matter
i’ve got it

were going home
no matter where we lay our feet
in the meantime
there are stars to eat
gods every bone
and eyes for the witnessing


back to stalking the sacred prey
back to the business of love
we’ve got strangers to serenade
empires to undermine
three misshapen meals to eat

we’ve gotta sleep
wake the dreaming beast songs too
they want dragons?
we’ll give em’ dragons!
true: anyone can raise heaven like us
find me the one who does

i just really, really want to wrestle god
i really want to hold her heart
out of my chest

lets just keep this simple:
if you’re looking for sanity
remember it’s colors are electric
if you want the great grey sleep
trust me, the forgetting is
impossibly easy

we get windows.
lets break some,
you and me.

remembrance #1

back then we wore cutoff jeans without irony, and wore our hair wild and long. i knew you by the length of your arms, exquisite, as teenagers go. you didnt smoke, but you drove haphazardly. we spent long nights memorizing the curves of huckleberry road, driving backwards with no headlights.

its not that i dont think of you now. this moment is evidence enough that you stained my fingertips, the dim edges of my subconscious. its just that these days you drive too cautiously, and your body grew into itself.  you married me in thought, again and again, over a stretch of ten years. no matter that i was in love with a woman, and came to your bed for solace from her rejections.

we would pretend we were in the movies. our lover christine tossing her lit cigarette at the gas station, expecting chaos. my face lit with fear and laughter, but nothing happened. the hiss of cinders in a puddle, and we should have felt relief.  instead our faces fell, in your crowded jeep, as though cinema had betrayed us.

we spent sunny afternoons at the cemetery with a home movie camera you stole from your mother.  along with that her gas card, and her signature.  i stole my mothers voice, called myself in sick to school.  you were a liar, and i despised reality. the arrow straight path of life in a white, wealthy suburban town. as we grew older you thrived on inheritance, and i moved west.

the last time i saw you, you were walking your dog on 14tn street in manhattan. i had been up half the night on the sidewalk, waiting to buy radiohead tickets.  we embraced, and i watched you walk away. it was casual, like all of our comings and goings.  you always believed that life had  tossed us together irrevocably, so you didnt bother to call. i grew tired of creating fates, let myself roll farther and farther from you, from your bed, the soft white linen.

almost ten years later i can imagine you, sitting in your studio, a guitar propped on your knee.  an angry lover in the next room, desperate for your attention.  you have sex for the sake of sex, but throw around words like love, and daydream as stories unfold behind your studio door.  a slim body pacing and smoking, too proud to knock.  when she finally leaves, she doesn’t lock the door.

you are an editor. cutting things into workable segments. creating the same fictions that betrayed us at that gas station in the late nineties.  you remember my smile, my ass and my teenage breasts.  you edit out the arguments, the disconnection, the bad acid trips and our screaming mothers.

these are livable fictions.  the stories that did us little harm.  in the backdrop there were the deaths of our fathers, and the grim silences. we comforted each other the way boys do, sitting quietly over a drink, coughing and sighing.  there was the crack in your windshield from a thin skinned lover, and the tears we shed when we finally asked christine to leave, after one final sleazy afternoon. there was anne’s cancer, your surprising friendships, and the lies your family told to keep your mother young.

there was the dinner party, your mother and i casting sideways looks.  celebrating your shared birthdays, no one guessing your relation, the guests shared salacious details over burgers and champagne.  expecting you both do the same, there were the horrified and private exchanges as she gabbed about sex, the mile high club, the back seat.

you were a liar, and eventually i grew enamored with reality. your real estate in my heart lost value, the cinema billboards rusting and peeling.  standing here, i tune in to the creak of a swing, and wander through the truth of things. i step off the set, to the chair i once occupied. one to the right of the director.  you stare at the empty scene, light a match, betray your sensibilities.  you do not notice when i slip away.

first draft

dear friends, family, strangers….

in the event of a solar flare, or any unnamed catastrophe, leaving us without modern amenities, this is where you will find me:

a courier arrives at a strangers door, by bicycle, bearing a letter from a distant loved one.  she asks only for a small bite to eat, or a handful of seeds.  she is dirty and tired, but kind and well worn.  she will not harm you, she is cultivating peace. if she carries a shotgun, it is for hunting, but she will defend herself, her bicycle, her water storage and ukulele, if provoked. there are farms nearby where people know her name, but she is only as safe as your kindness and gratitude will allow.

she will sing you a song, if a song is what you need. when she is too tired, she will cross some stretch of earth to return to a homestead somewhere.  you might never see her again.  she loves you.

she will have little, and you might have less.  accept her paltry offerings, and she will learn survival with you, even in a moment, if you allow it.  her feet will hurt, and she will cry sometimes.

as your children grow, she will remember their names, and carry them with her.  eventually she will take root, gardening rooftops in a small crowded city, and she will help it to find itself whole.

she will think of her family often, and with great hope for their survival and happiness.  do not imagine that she has forgotten you. she never will.

all in light,

ps. ironic, isn’t it? writing this letter to a machine.  we will laugh about it someday.

in short

if i dont dance
every day
i might forget
my crush on shoelaces
the delicacy of daylight
the arch of my own back

the most essential things