chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Monthly Archives: October 2012

ghosts…

HalloweenHe was two, his ghost head twisted round as he tried to peer through one ragged eye hole. I was three, my plaid skirt and saddle shoes too stiff, my black cloak too small, my witch’s mask designed for someone else’s face.

The little ghost lived down the street in a house full of kids and toys, open doors, loud voices and laughter. I was dazzled by this permeable place that seemed to have no rules, where I, and everyone, was welcome.

And while she didn’t stop me from going there, and she couldn’t stop my father from welcoming the children into his workshop, as he did all the neighborhood kids, my mother quickly found reason to criticize. These people were “unsophisticated,” “bawdy,” “loud.”

The little ghost, who was kind and shy and eventually grew taller than his tall father, was “dumb,” by Dorothy’s assessment. She was wrong. He became a physicist.

And I, confused by the twin realities of my mother’s voice and our neighbors’ house, tilted my head back to peer at the world through her eyes until I discovered that it was just a mask, and it wasn’t mine, and I could take it off.

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A friend…

trying to write…

sea foam at Nags Head, N.C. Photo: Gerry Broome / APAs I begin the morning, a spray of words runs ahead of my thoughts, dream debris: hominy, harmony, effervesce, Labrador, Argentine, cinema. They arise without sense or intent, present to be noted: scraped off the surface, foam; stirred in to the cup of thought, cream; raked up with many more until the pile is big enough to ignite, leaves.

Photo: Gerry Broome / AP

tell…

Saturday morning…

jik by jik
Not much to say about this drawing made when I was 3 or 4,
except to note that I have grown up to become this person,
right down to the hair, glasses, earrings and, of course,
the smile.

visibility…

DAK Sitting Room, installation, SITE Gallery, 1993In 1993, at age 81, my mother had her first one-person art show. At SITE Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, the exhibit was a retrospective of 65 pieces selected from five decades of artmaking. There were drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures, mostly smaller works, including a great many self-portraits.

The show was a triumph. The opening was well-attended, several pieces were sold and Dorothy reveled in the spotlight. There was a catalog and a guest book filled with supportive comments. The months of work — framing and wrapping and proofing and inviting — vanished the moment the doors opened. Dorothy never stopped smiling.

The poignant note, of course, was that this was her first solo show and likely to be her last. There was an undercurrent of regret that she had not worked harder to make it happen sooner. She craved visibility, acknowledgement, praise, called herself an artist, was extremely creative and productive, but was unable to navigate the step up to professional. Understandably, she was afraid of rejection — as an artist, and very acutely, as a person. It was a central issue in her life, which drove her to act preemptively — to reject before she was rejected. The fear also allowed her to be passive, to be “too busy,” to make excuses for not finding a gallery, an agent, a way to be publicly serious about something that was far, far more than a hobby.

As I write, I recognize this as a cautionary tale.
. . . . .
The installation in the photo was part of the show, though it was not listed in the catalog. A different sort of self-portrait, the chair, table, light and shoes sat in the gallery just as they did in the corner of Dorothy’s bedroom. A small sign, removed for the photo, admonished visitors not to sit in the chair.

above the indigo…

corridor…

the future…

carried…

beachcombing…

46…

to harvest…

naked…

we will discuss…

the deep…

that cheerless weekend…

postcard to morning*

crocheted jute

gray me for morning
roll me for dawn
cup up the dreaming
to drench these beginnings
to pour me a story
I haven’t imagined
to paddle the runnel
through fog to the light
where the grayness
is hardened to charcoal
and graphite and offered
on parchment to sketch
the gray feathers
of poem’s first flight

© j.i. kleinberg

*Since the August Poetry Postcard Fest ended, I’ve continued the practice of writing a postcard-size poem each morning — a first draft that may later be edited or combined into a more polished poem. This is today’s.

Many boast…

Nature…

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