Finding the Undertown Near You

When I was little, I dreamt I jumped down the stairs outside my bedroom and crashed through a curtain of water. In the water, blue, bright, and warm, almost prepubescently erotic, I felt safe. An otherworldly kind of safe. The kind of safe you feel deep, if briefly, in your body, when you come home from travel.

In a lot of ways, I’ve been writing The Dredge Cycle (10 years this month!) to formalize that place for myself, to make a scale diorama for my safe, dreaming body to walk around in.

Then I started to see that kind of town, an undertown, here, in Burque.

If I followed the same path photographically that I’ve taken in writing, I’d make images that look like memories. That seems a bit ahead of me technically. I’m not talking post-processing, though that’s a lot of it; I mean my eye isn’t developed enough yet that I can sense a consistent way of seeing. But my seeing started to change a few weeks back, when I returned, safe, from travel. And again, a few days after that.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been waiting for this. If you work as an advanced artist in one medium (I’ve put roughly 13,000 hours into poems over the last 20+ years), and start in another, after the many lessons and strange discoveries of starting over, you get a little frustrated, a little impatient. While answers are obvious, you still feel the questions: Why can’t I just figure it out? Why’s everything I do here still so much less sophisticated? Why do I still feel like I’m bumbling in the dark?

The undertown is always here.

It’s what vibrates behind the visible, the communicable. You could say it’s like the light of a place, running through everything, everyone. And the poem, the photograph, the painting, the dance, the novel, the perfect carne adovada burrito, is the result of splitting that beam through your particular prism.

Of course, come to think of it, that’s how I think of art, anyway. So just look at the pictures already.

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