Saturday, December 26, 2015

Monologue for Basquiat

It's nothing new when artists or figures of genius proportions are lauded, studied and replicated once they're dead.

I was at the museum last week. Mistakenly, I went on a Saturday. Even with high ceilings and central air, the place was a zoo. All types of sounds, smells and sights in housed in a space designed to crystallize genius immortality.

We all came to see this artist's exhibit. It doesn't matter who, because the point is, he's dead and more relevant than a god or terrorists. Which actually may be a better figure to worship...

His, the artist that is, his journal entries were on exhibit. His journals. Each page was torn out, probably with a laser, and then framed. Some were enclosed in Plexiglas, as if the fumes from his number two pencil needed to be protected by our raunchy breath. 

I'll tell you, I am no better than the people who were taking photos of his scribbles, doodles and smudges. I was there to ogle too. Maybe catch a whiff of whatever artistic genius that wasn't enclosed behind bullet proof glass.

It wasn't until I saw a framed composition notebook page that was only filled with three words:

1. milk
2. bread
3. ink

I got irrationally angry. So angry that I wanted to rip down the frames, punch the Plexiglas and steal each page from the walls, away from everyone's stoic gazes.

This man's grocery list is up for display along with the inner workings of years' worth of torment, glee, doubt and in this case, hunger. And it's all displayed neatly, cleanly, under high security cameras and fluorescent lab lighting; when I bet when these journals were alive,
they were run over,
stepped on
spat on,
ashed on,
and even drowned.

If I owned these pages, I'd be one of two things: pissed that my secrets are revealed, or piss drunk laughing at how my grocery list is framed, like I'm some god damn marvel of human nature.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mono. 2


I just bought a new desk. It’s this modern – or, contemporary – piece. A desk. It’s asymmetrical, you know… the color blocking, on the leather, I mean. The top of it, where I write is divided into two. The left side is white and black is on the right. The white side is much smaller than the black..

So I try to write on the black side. You know, it won’t get as dirty with my smudges, being a leftie and all. But the white, it’s so beautiful, it’s not stark white, but it’s a warm white, if you know what I mean. I keep it pretty clean. I polish it every day. It’s the nicest piece of furniture I’ve ever owned. It was such a stark comparison this beautiful, polished, dignified desk floating in a room full of stained rugs, tattered ottomans, chipped coffee table. So I cleaned. Vacuumed, mopped, tsk, even steamed, everywhere   . The living room, the kitchen, my boudoir, bathroom. All of it.

Before I knew it I was done, wiping down that grimy bathroom mirror, and I saw myself. I mean crystal clear. And I looked like I just made love with the hero of my life. Hot cheeks, hazy eyes, sweaty brow, and the best, panting.

So ­­­E__, that’s what I’ve been up to.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monologue No. 4

Hey, I know it’s late. I was selfishly hoping you’d be up right now about to go for a run or making a juice or something. I need someone to talk to. Well just you, actually. My ears are still ringing. The sun is almost up. I just got back from this party somewhere in deep Bushwick. You had to be invited or some shit like that. I can see why though, the music was unbelievable. House at its finest. Too good to be in public. It’s a good thing I wore sneakers because the dance floor was waxed and people were moon walking like they were dancing on butter. It was like high school in there. Balloons. A spiked punch bowl. And a buffet. Ha, kinda like adolescent heaven. You know, nostalgic and whatnot…

Listen, I’m not sure if what I’m gonna tell you won't surprise you or shock you. Either way, it’s fucked up. I was walking back through some crusty street back to the train. I turned the corner to see a dead man splayed on the ground. “Splayed.” That’s the only time I think I’ve used that word. “Splattered’s” drunk cousin. He was dead, Jo. Blood and everything. We even had a staring contest. Remember that Ginsberg poem? Something about Brooklyn. But I immediately thought of that line, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..”

Shit. If I skipped that last butter dance that could’ve been me. Dead man in my path. Like some voodoo tarot shit. No one was around. And Jo, for the first time in my life, I felt this raw fear. I was surrounded by concrete, windowless blocks. It’s dead there. No life. I was in the void of the jungle. Not even rats hang here. And nothin’s more terrifying than being alone in a void where at any given moment, you’re the prey.

Anyway, I got my run for the day. The sun’s up. I’ll catch ya. Night.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mono. 1

When are you really done? Is it after three days when your phone stops ringing? Is it when you find the job of your dreams? Is it after you cook that meal to sheer gastronomical perfection? Is it when you move to the city of your dreams? Is it after you ripped up the letters? You know, the ones that are now cigarette-soaked top soil in Steuben Park? Or is it when you start cleaning again? Polishing, scrubbing, perfuming… Are you really done once you walk from 1st Avenue Loop up to to E. 60th, and back? Are you done when you start dancing in the underground platforms, waiting for the G at 4:07 AM? Are you done after you had a spontaneous intimate relationship with the toilet bowl after Mr. Bullit told you to go fuck yourself? Are you done after riding a bike with a crooked wheel down an overlooked street? Or when you find a soul mate on the dance floor? Are you done when you stop questioning your logic? Or when you let your emotions sift through you to silently salt the sidewalk? I love sibilance. Or are you done when you fill up a page? Or 10? Or 20? Or a book. Or a magazine. Or an obituary? Are you done because you’re supposed to be done? Or are you just treading water until the Unrequited pays another visit?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Quickie in the Board Room


please wipe that bored look off your face
as i can see
your mind, too, wanders 
off to sultry places

Play | She's Art

| Incipiens |

sharpen this pen
coil strummed strings
around my teeth
as white as piano keys,
and play
to a beat
that is my own.

ladies. yes, ladies and gentlemen,
she's losing her hair,
and her eyes,
the color of violet rain.
and she's here
to shed her locks
and cry amuck,
while the grand folk
rattle luscious jewels,
suck on stringy baubles
and quizzically mutter,
she's art.

Monday, February 2, 2015

R&B: Red&Blues

I’ma sit here
While the paint dries.
Wet since last night.
Last night,
When the lights were out,
And without a doubt
Mine was yours.
Yours and mine.
Your blue,
those blues,
even in the dark
are electrified.

But those walls,
Once smooth
Now cracked.
Those blues
even in the light
are black.
Daylight unveils
The flailing shadows
I bathed in
Last night.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In the Garden

Image by Randi Ward

Holdfast XXI

In the Garden
where footsteps
much smaller than hers
pave paths to dwellings
much more fragile than hers,
she sits in a clearing
under the shade of a willow
to listen
to the Tiny Green Gnome Band
bellow out a tune so loud,
she could finally say
she knows the wind
is a siren soprano
and the bees buzz a bass
keeping the Band's heart beat.
In the Garden,
she is Home.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Image by Elizabeth S. Gilliam-Hedgepath

I want to see all of the caves
and stride so gracefully,
through its spiky, glistening, chilly
that even the darkness
wonders at my ghostly
I will
spelunk silently,
swiftly through
silent streams, and
crystallized pools
reflecting icy, daggered ceilings; where
a frost so palpable,
the streams marvel
at their own reflections
in the dripping sky.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter: Under the Mayo Bridge

Take me down by the river,
Where the waves
wave hello and go,
where sharp stones
stab my toes
and once
the basins
of now-forgotten
and stones that scrub
my skin away
from dead

Take me down by the river
Where blue herons
crack their reflection
when their wings graze
against an endless
Stuttering ripples
crashing into
my ankles,
as I watch
the grey sky
now speckled
with blue.

Take me down by the river.
Take me down by the river.
Take me down.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Observatory

i'll admit
i came for the booze --
a liquor
whose fragrance
wafted and whirled
through a room
of grotesque, mummified things.
a fragrance that
morphed into a curled finger,
beckoning me,
enticing me,
to ogle the color of her hair:
pink like the jarred worms,
encapsulated in formaldehyde.
the sweetness
of anise
and licorice
pulled my wallflower taste buds
off my tongue-floor
to waltz
the way we would
on a crowded dance floor
in a dive bar
during Prohibition.

i now know why
Van Gogh himself
lost an ear
to the luscious green
his senses
squished together
craving clear air,
the way we did
in a dive bar
during Prohibition.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Winter's Bite

My lip split,
from Winter's dagger.

The Wind shouts,
en garde!
And I falter,

For I wish not
To bicker
With Winter's bite.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Video: Silent Whistle

* Spinion Note: This piece was previously published in Quail Bell Magazine.

Director: Tyler Rosado

Winter. Sparse. Cold.
Yet nature continues to cycle Her course. Bare branches resemble cerebral synapses. A symbol of a macro and microcosmic unity between all organisms.

Book Review: The Green Condition

*Spinion Note: This piece has previously been published in Quail Bell Magazine.

The Green Condition is a lyrical collage composed of raccoons, metal-casting, Roman history, Seattle, and the trials and tribulations of moving. Though Colen dives into these distinct and metaphoric images in a stream of conscious-style, she ties them together through the narrator’s revealing one-liners:

Once I know what to listen for, I hear it all the time.

The Green Condition evokes the lush, overgrown arboreal environment that is the Pacific Northwest. At the same time, it evokes the loneliness that comes when a new job absorbs a significant other. The narrator has no choice but to observe her (his?) new surroundings.
When she leaves I put her toothbrush in my mouth. I hold it here two hours.
Comparisons of Seattle and Rome further evoke the narrator's loyalty to nostalgia. Unlike Rome, Seattle stands, and continues growing. Does the narrator hope for the fall of Seattle where the couple can return to their old life?

At one point we had a symbiosis. An understanding of how a life should look.

Enter the raccoons and metal-casting the narrator continues dissecting during these lonely days. Colen weaves these vastly different images together in a way that reveals a the narrator’s resolve in this new environment: scavenging to survive and building a thick skin despite a dissolvable core.

In the green condition there must be adequate strength for handling.

I am most interested in the bronze sculpture of the wolf, and the core that was made to hold it. The core that was designed to come apart in the end once the casting metal had cooled, held shape.

Was it the move? The raccoons? The longing for a fading love? The casting of a new shell to survive? We won’t know—but through these images, though at first glance appear irrelevant, Colen deconstructs them in a way that inspires readers to find symbolism and meaning in the most uncharted manner.

Elizabeth J. Colen is the author of the poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Steel Toe Books, 2010) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies (Jaded Ibis Press, 2012), as well as flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake (Rose Metal Press, 2011). She lives in Seattle.