Tuesday, April 17, 2012

OpenLinkNight: as we walk

Street Art Festival (Richmond)


At Shockhoe Bottom, downtown Richmond,
in the parking lot across from Main Street Station

I'm taking pictures on my phone of street art
adorning the sides of brick buildings & hear

the skritch of step, out of step with mine,
a man following behind me, around the corner
drawing closer

(heart beat/heart beat/turn to look)

"There's a Street Art Festival
down by the canal," he shares

we talk brief & he moves on after
rave carding me---

you've got some sun, i can tell by the freckles
when you arrive & we walk down the side
of the canal, where slaves once came into the city,
you tell me, as we walk & you are no tour guide
by your own account, but i am rapt in-a-tension

the old stone bridge ruin beneath the new,
& we walk, the arches all lined up, it's your
favorite view, i can see why, it's got geometry
to please the eye & we find

the festival, all these artist on automatic lifts
& scaffolds, with cans & cans of spray paint
pssshhtt then step back then psssshhhtt, spit
shade & texture to bring life to a wall, into fish,
to bodies thrown like darts at a bull's eye,
to an elegant victorian lady

in the moment, i watch art's head crown,
its eye roll round to peak out the birth canal---
to WhAT?--maybe measure the temperature
(it's mid 70's) to see if it's time & i say, "come on
out, you can do it," my hands in the catcher position
trembling in anticipation as creation dawns,
an MC Escher pipe dream/scape

& we walk back the way slaves came, i ask
if as you walk this way you ever feel like one, 'maybe'
you say & we laugh, with-held tears, nor ankles
shackle marked  as we walk

OpenLinkNight @ dVerse Poets - time to get your poem on, go---now---write something poetic, because at 3 pm DST, Claudia will be opening the doors and the verse will start flying.

This poem about an afternoon I spent with Joanna of The 10th Muse, prior to the poetry extravaganza that was last Friday. The pictures the last couple posts have been of the Street Art festival and the walk along the canal is really cool if you are ever in Richmond.

118 comments:

Jen Chandler said...

First to comment! Wow! The world just shifted on its axis :D

I love the sound in your poems. There is always motion through sound. If someone were to read these aloud and I closed my eyes, I just know I would see everything vividly!

Cheers!
Jen

Liza said...

...and a street art festival to boot...jealous! Have a great time!!

Daniel said...

Love how you see things. So different than me. I have loved the pics of the pieces that you have shown. Some pretty talented and passionate folks out there.

Heather said...

so cool....
also wanted to tell you NPR is reading poetry submitted via Twitter this month for Poetry Month...thought you might submit!
:)

Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like quite the time
And oh so sublime
Slave to the art or the rat race?
I think the former would be a better pace
As more are slaves to the later though
Once more you let your gawker powers show

Myrna R. said...

It sounds like a great afternoon, artists admiring artists. I felt like I was walking along with you, and love how your poem describes something mundane, and yet is infused it with a sort of spiritual essence.

Natasha Head said...

you got some sun...I can tell by your freckles... Brian, your ability to capture those moments and phrases that make up our every day and inject them into your work is unbelievable! You use the comfortable, then use it against the reader to twist our expectations. Must say, LOVe the art too...Never change your viewpoint, Poet

Sue said...

Makes me want to visit Richmond too.
In the meantime, visiting your poetry is a trip in itself!

=)

benmind said...

This poem is so alive as it becomes part of what it captures/celebrates, carrying the reader into its story. Even your use of "street language" points to something bigger than the words themselves might suggest. Very impressive!

Magpie said...

A wonderful way to commemorate the moment and meeting.

hedgewitch said...

You make the scene come to life, past and present and future. I love street art--wish we had more of it, because most buildings are drab and soul-crushing things. Unlike this alive, shiny poem.

Laurie Kolp said...

Sounds divine... love how you brought it all together with art and...

the skritch of step
and
pssshhtt then step back then psssshhhtt

... brings the poem to life.

turtlememoir said...

the way the walk with its details and discoveries pertinent to this so-modern world is couched between references to the old slave walk... really silenced something in me - what is anything I might suffer compared to that?

Cheryl said...

Intriguing piece, Brian. Loved every word.

chromapoesy.com said...

We used to have street murals adorning the nonprofit arts centers. During the democratic national convention the city came by and covered them up. The best part was their apology and paying $10,000 to replace them (the original artists were unpaid so it was wonderful to pay them several years later). Great work.

Claudia said...

i love all the details you capture here like with a camera, then fine-tune them, add some vintage grit or blur it a bit with your verse and we can see them and also catch the mood of the walk.. you're very good with seeing details like the freckles & noticing the man's steps behind you..but most of all i think the slave walk hit me, leaving me think of how many modern slaves we have that are probably more bound than they used to be in the past

Tabor said...

Next time I visit Richmond, I am going to look you up and ask for a guided tour!

Joanna Jenkins said...

I've never been to Richmond but if I ever am, I'll try to retrace your footsteps-- I'm a big street art fan.
Thanks, jj

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"the festival, all these artist on automatic lifts
& scaffolds, with cans & cans of spray paint
pssshhtt then step back then psssshhhtt, spit
shade & texture to bring life to a wall, into fish,
to bodies thrown like darts at a bull's eye,
to an elegant victorian lady..."


[Being an artist...The poetic words above..."jumped right out at me...and "slapped" me in the face!]


Hi! Brian...
This afternoon your [uber] poetic words bounce with a rhythm, street-beat [or the beat Of the street] and movement...Tks, for sharing the image which compliments your poetic words... too!
deedee ;-D

Louise said...

You always have fabulous rhythm in your poems..this is no exception. I loved it and caught the excitement in it...nice... :)

Tara Miller said...

I agree with Claudia on this. One doesn't necessarily think of it as slavery today but if we really open our eyes to today's life that's what it is in many ways. You always capture such detail and breathe life into your words - well done, love!

manicddaily said...

A wonderful flow here between the art and slaves and shackles and birth and re-birth. Lovely energy. K.

poemsofhateandhope said...

Amazing capture here Brian- there's something here about the freedom of art balanced against the slavery of everyday life- your two realities connected by that route the slaves walked - this was so smooth to read...like butter! Ha ha- this just reinforces for me why art is a reflection of life...

PattiKen said...

You paint such vivid word pictures. I was there. But "rave carding"? You lead a different life than I, my friend.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

Great poem , very vivid. There is a great animation to your writing. Always like watching a documentary with a heart, Big Props to you, Mosk

Buddah Moskowitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daydreamertoo said...

Isn't it nice to discover a small piece of history that you didn't know before. Even though it's not a very grand slice of history, it still is a part of life of what happened there all those years ago.
I love how you describe your heart beating faster at hearing someone approaching from behind you. Loved the art.
Fabulous imagery.

JeannetteLS said...

A tapestry and a dance, this one. Man, is it good to be "home" among the blogs. Lots to catch up on, but starting with the now works well.
Especially when this is part of my NOW.

Anonymous said...

Groovy sound in these:

"skritch of step"
"we talk brief & he moves on after
rave carding me"
"i am rapt in-a-tension"
"spit shade & texture"

Feel like a slave. Thanks for leaving me with that delightful thought.

rosemarymint.wordpress.com

amyjosprague said...

Brian you always have such a natural story-telling talent. Loved this!

Jerry said...

Street art makes you street smart Brian. Not to mention a descriptive genius...Richmond, nice.

zongrik said...

this is great imagery -> an MC Escher pipe dream/scape

SueAnn Lommler said...

Oh I so enjoy a street show!! You captured it well.
Hugs
SueAnn

Joanne Elliott said...

"but i am rapt in-a-tension" Love how you play with words and paint a scene. Great ending!

Arron Shilling said...

hitching a ride inside the mind of a poet on a trip - a ticket to ride! great stuff brian - i enjoyed every word,step and tag :)

1emeraldcity said...

You make the city come alive with its art, festivals, strangers meeting strangers; I like much that you blend the past, the slaves...to the present, and the personal "freckles" gives the entire canvas a personal touch, that is so you, Brian! Great job!

Laura said...

"i am rapt in-a-tension" brilliant phrase Brian!!!

Susie Clevenger said...

What a fantastic afternoon...love your impromptu street guide. in the moment, i watch art's head crown,
its eye roll round to peak out the birth canal---love this!!

lifeisaroadtrip said...

You, my friend, are a virtual art festival of words!

mrs mediocrity said...

wow (again) so much i love about this...

art's head crowning just made me smile, and that last stanza pulled my heart...

i could see it all, "an MC Escher pipe dream/scape"

perfect

Tino said...

Richmond must be some sort of twin to Nottingham, if you have ever been, which I am sure you have. The 2nd one today to carry me on the wings of words to a place I have never been but know so well.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

See, now I want to go to an art show with you, B. I can only imagine some of your interpretations...

^.^ said...

Makes me think of Amsterdam ... miss it ... you captured everything,, B ... except the canals stink in the summer ... miss that too ...

PoppySilverUK said...

Your work is very clever in the respect that it literally can deliver the reader there! Wonderfully expressed love, I think I shall re-read with a cuppa, linger a while, fabulous! xoxo

Kavita said...

That street art festival sounds like so much fun! My kinda fun anyway!

"rapt in-a-tension" - loved that!!!!
Strangers can sometimes be the the gateway to a new world altogether! How awesome is that! No?

Chris said...

Thanks so much for sharing your walk with us! Really enjoyed this.

mairmusic said...

Cool reminiscence-- always love your sense of place and motion. And the photos are great too.

paul mortimer said...

A high quality and evocative piece of work .... some wonderful lines that really engage the reader

Samantha Webb said...

Cool Beans! You are such a fab story teller!

Aaron Kent said...

Excellent piece. There seems to be a lot of mentions of heartbeats tonight, it's nice.

Never a bad poem with you.

Truedessa said...

Hi Brian,

I always find your poems an adventure. You are able to bring a scene to life with words and that is the magic of your art.

colleen said...

Wow! And your near me in VA? Your question upon walking the slave way reminds me of driving home from my brother's funeral. So tired, I laid still in the back seat while my husband drove and imagined myself unable to move, dead in a casket.

I love the idea of art being born on that wall and thinking about how things have changed. How odd would it be if both worlds merged and slaves walked while others were spraying graffiti?

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Your poems always have that come-on-let's-take-a-walk feel to them. So casual, and yet so full of detail and seesaw balance. Up some, down some; keep thinking you might jump off, and bam, my but's on the ground. Yep, that's kind of how your poems seem to me, Brian. I enjoy the heck out of 'em!

joanna said...

it feels a little weird commenting here, seeing the afternoon from your eyes...

love the way you describe the artists-- yeah, it was exactly like that... smiles.

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

Wow, Expressive and see the art exploding on to walls, the bridge and the steps that you all made.
http://leah-jamielynn.typepad.com/blog/2012/04/only-god-knows.html

Jannie Funster said...

I like when art's head crowns!

Never heard of "rave carding." Educational over here too, as well as mind-blowingly poetic. Wait, that's a Brian Miller original term I bet!!

Adura Ojo said...

Deep, really deep, Brian. Your unique wording, phraseology storytelling - the unity of these things is amazing.

Heaven said...

I felt I was walking along with you and hearing and watching art come to life in the hands of artists ~

Thanks for sharing your words ~

Wolfsrosebud said...

you'd be an incredible eye witness... you got me thinking about the different types of slaves there are no matter the color of the skin

Steve E said...

Street art--I used to do that, as I awakened. I'd reach over and 'magic-mark' on the curb "Kilroy was here!" When I did that successfully, I knew I had another "Good-to-go" day.

That IS some pretty stuff. Your 'meandering' is some pretty stuff also, my friend!

When in Richmond, I never got under that bridge you viewed, but some day again--who knows?

Zouxzoux said...

Cool poem - love the description of the artists at work. Good street art (as opposed to just tagging initials) is a passion of mine and I regularly prowl the city to photograph new work. The success of Banksey and Swoon are pushing it more into the mainstream lately and I think it's bound to lose the flava of the streets. Which will be too bad.

Margaret said...

This is just packed full of amazing imagery.... from the birth canal to shackled slaves...

How do you do it?

flaubert said...

This is a great, Brian. Yes, from birth canal to shackles. This one packs a punch.

Pamela

Janice said...

I'm always amazed by your work and love the way you put words together. By the way...I, too, am a fan of street art.

Yousei Hime said...

You have such a wonderful way of making your poems a dialogue between you and your reader, conversations on the bench or swing. :)

Henry Clemmons said...

Love the slavery comentary and tour. Excellente once more. For some untrained reason, this reads like one of your better posts to my ear, not that they all are not great. But I liked the layers and sincerity of presentation. Or maybe this just struck a chord with me. It read special.

Kay Middleton said...

Thanks to Joanna for sending me here, We walked... Great piece of poetry.
Kay Middleton

Lolamouse said...

Haven't been to Richmond in years, but your poem made me want to visit again.

Charles Elliott/Beautyseer said...

Thanks for sharing that slice of your visit to an interesting event in a historic town. Alas, the way I hear it we may get slavery back this year...

Jebbi said...

lOVE the narration in this ..the story-tell is perfectly written...I like the word skritch...that is a bad ass word!! love this.

Patricia said...

You made me think of you as spray painting your words all over our cyber walls. How I love your colors.

KB said...

Sounds cool.

Mark Kerstetter said...

I've never seen an art festival like that - where they paint on the buildings. Sounds really cool.

Life is good when we can laugh at our little oppressions.

Vodka Mom said...

oh, I loved this.


As I do ALL YOUR stuff.



you have a gift, my friend. A gift.

C Rose said...

I love how you capture the moment, it is as if I walked with you! Loved it! ~Rose

Beth Winter said...

in-a-tension <- v nice

Love the moments, thank you for taking me there. Wonderful

Beachanny said...

Sounds like art is one of your favorite things to do too. It's what I love to do on out of town trips - New York and London rock so much! And it sounds like you found the heart of it in Richmond. Wow!

Felt said...

You always have some clever phrases hiding in the middle of your descriptive poetry.

De said...

Beautiful. Especially struck by: "the skritch of step"
I can just hear this.

Zoe said...

I wish I could have been there in more than just verse... your words capture me and pull me with you, and what a trip! :)

Other Mary said...

Very cool, wish I could have been there, but this is the next best thing. :o)

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Graffiti is almost always an extremely artistic expression and I appreciate that part of it.

The Happy Amateur said...

Thank you for the trip!

ladyfi said...

I love street art!

Your words are wonderful, as usual.

Raven said...

Brian, I really loved this ... I could see it all and I enjoyed the guy who took you around. Excellent! Not currently writing.

pandamoniumcat said...

Wonderful... I love street art and by the sounds of it this festival was impressive...thanks for taking us along.

adeeyoyo said...

Street art, architecture, lovely... thoughts of slaves in shackles - bring back our past shame! Your piece is quite a photograph in words again, Brian.

Fred Rutherford said...

So strong Brian. Such a multi-faceted read. Love the spraypaint section, so cool how you brought the music out from within the art, love the way the notion of history is carried through, slaves, the new, mid-70s, great touch there. Great read. thanks

Semaphore said...

A kaleidoscope of ideas in this one, but what I enjoyed most is the origami perspective: the unfolding: turning back the street art scene on itself, in the camera of the narrator, and then again in the words of the poet describing the camera describing the art scene.

James Rainsford said...

For me, it's the power and intensity of the description here which raises this above the norm and heightens one's perception of the scene. Great job as usual Brian.

Dave King said...

the skritch of step, out of step with mine,
a man following behind me, around the corner
drawing closer

(heart beat/heart beat/turn to look)

Yup, this made the heart beat faster - and want more. Excellent write.

Aidz Giannini said...

Enjoyed the tale and the last stanza in particular...

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

SO cool! Love this stuff, your vision of daily life a poem!

Secret Agent Woman said...

Whew - just catching up. You are a prolific poster! Too early in the morning for me to make any stab at a worthwhile comment, but I am reading!

Jyoti Mishra said...

raw and basic form of art..
awesome lines on that :)

I always admired street arts may because of the variety and richness of expressions..

Charles Miller said...

Wow, I really enjoyed the way you intertwine art, history, and now. I personally love street art, and the way these guys work is amazing. You always bring us right into the moment, the creative matrix where so much combines and textualizes itself in you. It's always a pleasure to see your artistic sensitivity at work, no more so than when it opens up to the world being itself.

mo.stoneskin said...

I remember going to one of Banksy's first exhibitions, with music pumping from a portable stereo and all the art types mingling. I bet it had a quality vibe :)

velvetinapurrs said...

You are walking too Brian, different scapes, but are they really? ~ 'of the canal, where slaves once came into the city' touched me, as with the return to them at the end, lovely interweaving, of and beyond concept to the emotion of meaning, micro, macro, societal, personal..

Mary said...

Sorry about my lateness in commenting on this. Life got in the way. I really did enjoy the walk. Loved the sound of "skritch" of step. And also a bit of fear "heart beat/ heart beat/" as the man caught up to you. That must have been one very interesting festival! Sometimes I am first posting on yours. This time I will be near last. LOL.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

OH, I would REALLY like to see that art! On a beautiful day and actually seeing them create it would be magical.

AmyLK said...

Love this story. Sounds like it was a beautiful day.

janaki nagaraj said...

Loved the use of your language...felt the tension too. :-)

Friko said...

When you write, your words are always immediate and graphic. Every scene you set comes alive.

Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil said...

"Spitting" at the wall with beauty. The reference to slave ports and the final line, alluding to that once again, brilliant. I'm running out of superlatives, Brian. Peace, Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/04/18/bud-is-bummin/

path of treasure said...

Walking on the same road that slaves used to walk... going to a street art festival... and the "with-held tears"-- those get me, make me think.

Apryl Gonzales Sweet said...

spit
shade & texture to bring life to a wall, into fish,
to bodies thrown like darts at a bull's eye,


Love this imagery! Well done Brian :) I can't help smile when I recognize your wordplay and know, that's your voice! Thanks for sharing it with the world!

Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous description in this!

Victoria said...

I just savored this, Brian. I lived in Richmond in the 60's-in my "other" life. In the facility where I nursed, they still had separate dining rooms for the "colored" employees. Just so hard to fathom all this is my lifetime. Now I'm feeling old.

Dolly said...

as always, love to walk with your word pictures; "in the moment, i watch art's head crown,
its eye roll round to peak out the birth canal---"...Thanks, Brian, for this and for helping Emily :)

Uneven Stephen said...

Cool word weave, Brian. "MC Escher pipe dream/scape" is such a fantastic line! It's amazing what some artists can create with a bit of chalk and concrete.

ipenka said...

"You got some sun, I can tell by the freckles" was awesome, for some reason felt like the scene just rushed out at me (zooming in on the freckles) after that.

Definitely liked the street art pics too.

momto8 said...

I would love to be there, as I picture it from your writing.
I am confused about the slave walk..maybe because i am almost finished Uncle Toms Cabin and that is all I am thinking about....

Steve Isaak said...

Vivid sensory, good read, my friend.

Quick (possibility) opportunity for you - or somebody you may know: I'm guest-editor at the Leodegraunce for their next issue, whose theme is cinema.

I thought of you, having read some of your short, sharp and overall effective/striking prose.

The deadline is April 30, 2012, and could prove to be an easy $5 (with additional, resultant publishing opportunities to follow), if you - or anybody you know can stir up a 200-words-or-less story about, again, cinema.

Here's the guidelines.

BTW, I would have emailed this to you, but I don't have your email address - I love your work, as you should know by now. Feel free to pass this on to anybody you know who might rock this microfiction/cinema/Leodegraunce gig. =)

CiCi said...

I cannot imagine being enslaved and talked to as if I were not equal to or human enough. My youngest was born in VA and the history there is tear jerking and awe inspiring at the same time.

Ryan Taylor said...

Quit being so talented :U

Gerry Snape said...

such a great story to follow and it catches you up into it all with the street art and the relationship that we're not quite sure about.
I love the line that makes the sound of the spray can...great
...ppppsssssist!!!

Syd said...

Sounds like a great place to visit. I've been to Richmond many times but haven't walked along the canal.

poeticlicensee said...

Richmond reflections, quite vivid with historical undertones...