Starry night

On a trip this summer, I had the chance to admire a collection of quilts. The technique of quilting actually requires a lot of pre-planning, design and calculation – very rational stuff. But the visual result can be wild and dizzying, as the colors play off each other and invariably the whole is somehow greater than its parts, something that the quilter must see before the quilt exists. Back home, I began a series of quilt designs on my iPad, and walking to work one morning, the first two lines of this poem came to me.

vincent quilt_shape

Starry, starry night

We love the works of madmen
for saying what we don’t dare:
that Life’s a swollen yellow room,
with a pair of crooked chairs,
a narrow bed where restless dreams
have led our hearts astray.

How brave! The man who looked outside
before the break of day
and saw the quilted sky of stars
turned into ferris wheels!
He gave such beauty through his pain.
The art of madmen heals.

Walk the Baby

You could call this one “the mom rap”. On the way to work this morning I saw a woman pushing a baby carriage while walking her little dog on a leash. Efficient, I thought. A happy image. The little dog was certainly happy anyway. The mom? You don’t really know. Her pace looked a little mechanical. One person’s happy excursion is another person’s nullifying obligation. Maybe she’d rather be running. Maybe she’d rather be designing spacecraft, or coding software, or doing whatever it was she used to do that required more than 20 minutes of uninterrupted concentration. Don’t let the books with pink and blue covers and curly writing and gauzy madonna photos in the background fool you. Motherhood is not the same for everyone. 


Walk the Baby

Walk the baby
Walk the dog
This routine
Can be the flog
That gets you through
The dismal fog
Of your depression.

Have a baby
Lose your life
Just because
You are the wife.

He doesn’t care.

He’s never there.

He says his money
Gives him right
He’d rather work
all day, all night

(and so would I,

and so would I,

at something else.)

But all my time
Is taken up
With endless tasks
That interrupt
all train of thought.

No flow of words
to fill a page
while the baby
cries with rage.

No time to write,

no end in sight.

You tell the doctor
You are ill
The simple truth
Is that you feel
You’d rather die.

Why should you lie?

Walk the baby
Walk the dog
And disappear
Into the fog.

It may be best.
You need some rest.

Peatones al poder!

I wonder what the result would be if every pedestrian on the sidewalk wore a sign saying “this is not a bike lane.”

Caminante, no hay camino

The cyclist rings to warn me that he's riding in my space. If he expects I'll step aside, he's about to see my face.

I'll tell him loud and clearly that wheels go in the street, that sidewalks are for walkers. And I swear by my own feet, I've right-of-way, and he does not, although it makes him mad.

He’s swiftly passed, three red lights run, and surprise! There is a crash. The cyclist races off unscathed. The old lady that he bashed will take a while to walk again, but it won’t make the news. City hall thinks that bikes are cool. Pedestrians, you lose!

City walker

Back after a long summer break. Walking to work again. Since I get lost in my  thoughts as I walk, I’m known for tripping (not that kind!) and occasionally taking a glorious fall, garnering lots of attention and immediate sympathy from any old people near me. So intermittently I have to remind myself to “walk consciously”, “be in the moment”, pay attention to where I am and the fact that I’m in motion and not to disconnect from my feet! Once again, this poem is an ode to my city, Barcelona.

sidewalk strewn2
City walker

Walk consciously, and keep your gaze
fixed on the path ahead.
Discreetly dodge the dog shit
and any pigeons lying dead
upon the sidewalk that you cherish.
Keep on walking every day.

A city has its faults and flaws,
and some have history.
This one is built on Roman stones,
has two mountains and a sea.

The sidewalk bears an artist’s stamp.
Another artist draws
with wind and leaves and cast off flowers,
an ephemeral collage.

Such beauty more than compensates
for anything I dodge.

Design

The other day, as I was photographing cyclists riding up and down Rambla Catalunya with total indifference to the  “bicycles forbidden” signs, I saw that I had captured something much more interesting….. Design is everywhere.