Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My First Visit to the Art Institute

"...let's go on to the next gallery, we have so much more to see today."
      They moved too fast for me, and I fell behind. How could I give just a glance to portraits that lived and breathed, to landscapes the artist had meant me to get lost in? I lingered, and while I did, art did just as it intends to do, it taught me how to see. There were paintings that robbed me of my breath, paintings that made my pulse loud in my ears, paintings that put a tightness in my throat. Some paintings had the quality of being a dream, others the quality of being a memory. Some paintings were so beautiful that after I left them they remained in my mind like the fragrance of a garden, and some paintings told terrible tales and taught me that art is not always beautiful. Art attacked me in my mind, attacked me in my heart. Art awakened me...

Recollection of my first visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, included in my short story collection titled "Stories of The Boy with the Yellow Socks."  The book is available on Amazon under the pen name J. Carter Swift.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Errand

The errand of love is to please.


Refuge From Reality

Through my experience as a writer, I've found there is only one refuge from reality, and that is to wedge myself into the space between my words and think only of my story until I forget who it is I am.


Sunday, April 28, 2013


Why a writer?  I should have been a surgeon or a mechanic, for surely a scalpel or wrench couldn't cause me the anguish words do.


Francis Bacon (1909-1992), self portrait.  The portrait, deliberately
meant to disturb, illustrates that the price of making meaning is anguish.

A Single Word

A single word on a sheet of paper is but a stain.  It is with the second word that the writer's story begins.


Just Exactly How?

Just exactly how is this harmony intended to work, between a universe that explains its story with numbers and math, and a humanity that explains its story with words and books?


                                          Andromeda Galaxy

Saturday, April 27, 2013

For the Love of Beauty

Look!   Do you see?  Someone cared.  Someone made something beautiful.  Not for money, for there is so little of that in art, but rather, they made it for the love of beauty.  This is why art restores, lifts our hearts, why beauty gives us hope.


                                   Cafe Terrace at Night by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)


Writing is a noble pursuit, yet often I end up equating myself to a rapist, a brute who has forever ruined the beauty of a virgin white sheet of paper with words that are worthless drivel.


Army of the Sleepless

4:07 A.M., March 3, 2013

Sleep, oh sleep, where art thou?  Is this Mephistopheles at work, the demon which always denies?  I know it is thee, Demon!  I now recognize your trickery.  You keep ancient arguments fuming in my head, and keep mistakes made long ago like new so they prick and sting and rob me of peace.  Oh merciless Mephistopheles, it is thou who stirs memories of sorrows that thrive in the night when sweet dreams should bring bliss.  I challenge thee then, Demon, and call upon all the sleepless this night to form ranks!  Onto the field of battle we the Army of the Sleepless march, our banners high, our armor, swords, and spear points flashing in bright moonlight.
     Let Battle begin!
     Swords thrust, spears launch, demon claws slash, demon fangs rip.  Then sudden, above the fray, I hear it ring out, the shouted word "Victory!"  The sword of some sleepless warrior has found its mark and is driven into demon breast!  But no time!  No time for jubilation!  For rotation of earth brings nearer the morn.  So rush now Army of the Sleepless!  To home!  To bed!  Yet before we sleep away the remnants of this night, let us pray together that Mephistopheles not die of his wound.  Yes, pray for him to live!  Pray for God to bring down His judgment, to imprison Mephistopheles in flesh and bone with beating human heart, to condemn the demon to dwell with sorrow and heartache as his only companions for a lifetime of sleepless nights!



Greatest Gift

As the decades pass, I've learned that the greatest gift one person can give another is mercy.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Leaving Us to Grieve

Her presence is like a light floating in the absolute darkness of the canvas.  In her eyes a silent invitation shocks us.  We want her.  We want to touch her, to touch that smooth white skin, to touch her half-opened lips with our own lips.  But we can never have her, for she is protected from us by the centuries...and with these years as her fortress, she seems to mock us, leaving us to grieve over a kiss that can never be.


Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)


Happiness is fragile, and so often shattered before we recognize it for what it was.