Lines (of longitude and latitude)

Though the tree is dead, it’s home to a lot of bugs, birds and bats, you can tell by the holes. It’s like the abandoned factory across the street from our apartment in Philadelphia that became home to the homeless, the time I asked our neighbor if it was on fire and he said it’s just the bums, cooking pigeons. We moved there for the raw art of it, the desperation of north Philly. The hollowed-out spaces and what occupies the cracks around the edges, the artists. We thought living there would make us that, and it can to an extent. But maybe the reverse logic holds true, too. Out here in the suburbs I’ve grown comfortable parking my Mercedes each day in the grocery store parking lot, picking out boutique wines, fresh fish. The tree in the park was dead but they left it there for the birds, and I wonder if it made me an artist by the sheer fact that I noticed and tried to do something about it. Even the birds seem cleaner here, they’ve got more options. The starving artist vision holds charm when it’s desperation you need, to create. I’ve never come close to starving, and the only lice I’ve had is from my kids. It’s a fine line between art, craft, and hobby. And many, many lines in between.

Categories: prose, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. The more I look at it, the more I disturbed I am by that pic of the tree. I was trying to equate it with something, like diseased flesh, and then I remembered that cornhead mask, which is just as disturbing, gives me the same icky feeling. But that is neither here nor there. Sounds like you need to go find that old Volvo wagon, take it for a spin. Seriously though, this is good, thoughtful, true. A silhouette of two faces, or a vase? An artist who is starving or an explorer drilling for art?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, the photo doesn’t capture it, it’s too bad. I really tried! It’s like the face was there at first and now it’s gone. It’s a really cool tree. And you’re right, it all ended for me with the Volvo. This is me spinning something and trying to catch a sunbeam in it. Sometimes you get it for a second, but probably worth spinning still. I don’t know. What do I know, WALT. Thanks for visiting. Digitally and spiritually.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “the sheer fact that I noticed and tried to do something about it” It’s the second part of that phrase that makes it so.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Even the birds seem cleaner here, they’ve got more options” – great line. Captures something of inner vs outer city. Jaunty, confident birds. Probably think the tree died just for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I guess because I grew up in the northeast, decaying trees generally don’t strike me as creepy or sinister. The trees die, fall, and humus is added to the soil, holding moisture and nutrients, and seedlings thrive. Urban decay is different. “That smoke? It’s just the bums, cooking pigeons…” That’s a funny line, I guess, except it also isn’t. I spent one summer living on the edge of north Philly, and the decaying houses were left there to be homes for rodents, insects, and people, because once the copper pipe and wiring have been stripped, and the termites get in, it’s not worth investing in, and costs a lot to tear down. If the hipsters would promote artisanal, smoked, boutique pigeon meat, produced over 55-gallon drums of burning trash, I guess that might provide employment for the folks living inartistically in the hollowed-out places.

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  5. And I’ll bet you’ve never eaten a pigeon, either. I don’t mean squab. I mean what those bums had to eat. Well, me, neither. I try to avoid suffering, even if it means compromising my artistic integrity.


    • Yes, like you by threshold for suffering is pretty low. Happy to complain about an in-grown toe nail, for example. Some of us have to feed off toenails.


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