September 14, 2007

What is a tomato?

As I was walking with Lila this morning I was having an interesting conversation with myself. We were talking about what art is to us, so to speak. I was saying the paintings are not “me”; they have a life of their own. And, thinking about Sue’s comment about not throwing out my old journals (journals that are too embarrassing now to want anyone to read them) my paintings have been way ahead of me in every way: intellectually, emotionally, physically. They have taught me how to be a stronger person. Their insistent boldness is my teacher.

The other day my gallery owner in Toronto said someone had asked how I had named a series of paintings: Tomatoes (or to Tell the Truth). The name comes from a poem I wrote about thirty years ago. It’s a musing on what it feels like to be a Sagittarius. A sign that is always concerned with truth and seeking. I sent her a copy but as I was reading it, I realized how I would have written it differently now. I thought I might have said “sometimes the day to day realities are too boring to record” instead of “petty”. But then I thought, I’m never bored. There is always something around of interest, whether in my mind or in the environment. Maybe I am sometimes restless and impatient, a truly Sagittarius trait, but that doesn’t last long.

So, since my journals are in the recycle bin, here’s a bit of the past:


Part I

There was a cockroach in the mailbox this morning.
Actually there were two. One was lying on its back
dead, feet up, in apparent bliss. Is peace quiet or
fullness or something else.

Art is the worship of beauty.
As Aristophenes says: Worship god first
and then do was you damn please.

Sometimes the day to day realities seem too petty
even to record. There was a time when I felt I could be
writing masterpieces of poetry and prose if only
I had my typewriter set up.

And my god is beauty and truth.
But I don’t believe in god.
Just the worship.
And I am not afraid tonight.

Help me please to have the patience
to wait for to get to where I am going.
All is upheaving along the way.
One must be prepared.

Part II

I pray for protection and guidance in my search for my sneakers which I left somewhere in my hurry saying later I will attend to their order but now when the urgency of my need to move is upon me and my thoughts are in piles scattered around my life as I pass by, I see that it is faith that keeps my house together. Faith in the ultimate truth that will unveil my shoes if I really need them.

Part III

I am concerned with big, bigness, size, vastness, space, big spaces, big ideas, big moments, monumental art, large parties, big houses. Monumental, oneness, wholeness, vast reaches; impatience: I want it now. And do you ever realize young (old) man (boy, dog, horse) that I am sizing up your being as you stand or walk before me. Yet it was only when confronted with the endless quivering muscles of hind shanks of horses in the Royal Mews of London that I could understand my newly pubescent daughter’s fascination for the animal who only eats and runs,
her citing endless statistics and correctly
picking winners in every race by the sturdiness
of their shanks,
and my knowing that when you touch
me there, I feel the quivering
as if I were
a horse’s thigh.

Part IV

Since the race is over once it is begun, I can grasp and eat the carrot and
worry about the details later.

Details like stars in my hair and mud in my shoes.


Posted by leya at 03:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 01, 2005

Memories of foolishness

Today, April 1, always reminds me of my mother. She loved a good joke and every year without fail she would substitute salt for sugar in the sugar bowl and every year my father would fall for it and be furious with her. But she would just laugh and do it again the next year. (I know, I wrote about this last year, but it continues to amuse me, like it did her, every year.)

It reminds me of her also because the plants are just beginning to push up out of the ground. I see some tulip and maybe some daffodil and hyacinth leaves just barely visible. (I don't know yet what has happened to the crocus.) She loved her garden. I once wrote a circular poem, one that could be written in a circular form and read from any point. If my memory serves me, it went something like this:

my mother who was secretary to chrysanthemums and planted the hyacinths to bloom after the daffodils in her garden they were my mother who was secretary to chrysanthemums in her garden

Posted by leya at 08:42 AM | Comments (3)

June 20, 2004

To my father who has been gone a long time



My father wrapped packages with excellent finesse.
With perfection he kept all loose ends from fraying
Kept all feelings from freeing
Kept me wrapped in wonder
When would he see me
when would he
love me.

Now I wrap my precious memories
of being with you
so that I can take them out
in the middle of the
lonely nights
far away
when you are not


The devil got in bed with me last night.
He jumped in three times in rapid succession.
I sat up and screamed and he went away.
He was tall and thin and wore brightly coloured dance tights
and his long-tailed jacket forked behind like dressy tucks
flapped in the air behind him as he dived in to get under the covers
and steal my place
when I was just beginning to be warm.

And later in the night as I wandered, afraid still of my bed,
my voice still sore from screaming at the devil,
I found myself descending in an elevator in a tall building and the
car was going much too fast and I was afraid it would crash
and so I put my fingers together in Buddha fashion
and willed it to slow down
and it did
and then I could rest.

(For young girls each and every one sing fearfully
in their sleep to their fathers, O, daddy please,
dance with me
and circle round my life
and warm my waist
for then will I perhaps
be free to dance with Anyman.)


It was indeed my fathers birthday once
when he was seventy-five and I was too
fearful to say the yes I am glad to know
you and yes thank you for being in my life
and including me in your
(but did you yet)
and thank you for never having really made love to me
in the flesh though we were both fire
and thank you
for waiting while I burned and for
not burying my charred body with your mind.
And now you are free from wanting me.

Posted by leya at 10:11 AM

April 09, 2004


the way the mist lays on the lake in the mornings
is quite beautiful
and sometimes it is not.
It seems to depend upon
the way the lines of the tree tops
draw across each other and across the sky.
They depend upon each other for their beauty.

I took a walk in the woods today for you.
I could not have done it for myself.
Two trees were holding hands and
I parted them as I passed through, returning
their bare branches to their tender touch.
And traces of this years last snow lay on the ground
like puffs of mildew.

Thoughts drop like a snowstorm in April
never touching ground, finding no home.
The sun slices through the clouds;
leaves fly like birds on the wind;
and I am here to see it.

Posted by leya at 09:13 AM

March 01, 2004

Dog Gone

My dog of sixteen years died on March One.
She was not my best friend.

She had great needs
I could never do enough for her.
Not enough walks,
Not enough food,
Not enough friends.
Not enough excursions.

She was in love with the world,
I was not enough.
We rubbed against each other
And forced response.
Her spirit was very big.
My little house is very big
without her.

We were the best of friends.

Posted by leya at 01:37 PM

February 03, 2004


As I was driving home yesterday
I thought that perhaps
if only
I should not have
given you such lavish gifts
as pain and suffering,
perhaps I should
take back my mistakes and misunderstanding,
if only I could.

I know perfect childhoods do exist
as do content adults,
but I do not know many close up.
They are not the tulips in my garden.

My wish is for you to see what blooms now.
I love you. Every day.

Posted by leya at 07:53 AM

December 29, 2003

In Response

To Tamar's entry entitled False Cheer, I am reminded of something I wrote back when I was a living in Manhattan with my two young children quite a few years ago. I called it Yesterday:

Yesterday when the sky was blue I witnessed a man hit by a car speeding down Broadway at Houston. The man flew into the air, did a half spin over the hood of the car, and crumbled to the ground. 513-CWT backed up, drove around the motionless man, looked back once, saw he was only another drunk, and drove off fast down Broadway. I then went into the subway with my child who hadnt seen it and the woman in the ticket cage said, with urgency in her voice, Smile! Smile! Youre on Candid Camera! and my son said Is that true? and I was still too shaken and stunned to understand why she dared to tell me how to feel.

I feel my reality.
I feel my separate being.
I want to feel your soul
in my body.

Enough of separate realities when we are together.
My identity is my own, my realities is where I am.
If you are there where I am, need I say more.

Maybe the knees of 513-CWT shook as
he drove off and maybe they didnt.
Maybe the bum was badly hurt and mabe he wasnt.
513-CWT couldnt go too far unknown.
So he learned: (a) to drive more carefully
or (b) to drive off faster before anyone could
see his number.

I would like to know where you are.
I would like to feel that I am not always alone.

Surrounded by smiles on the grocery shelves,
I look over my shopping list and discover
I did not include my feelings.
I would have to make a decision on the aisle
which ones I wanted and which I did not.
Loneliness, no, happiness, definitely,
joy and freedom. Love and fear and hate and
yes give me pain and loneliness too.
Give me my depressions. On a tray with
orange juice and a warm bed.
Give me my joys that I have earned.
Allow me the happiness I always feared.
My smiles are my own.

Posted by leya at 07:06 PM

December 18, 2003

Use My Sky

Use my sky.
It might be slightly tarnished
from previous times
when I have walked across a cloud and slipped
through, missed my cue,
not understood the rules.

You can use my sky:
you can polish it by the way you walk into my life.
How that may be
considering all possibilities
and probabilities,
you would need to learn to read between the stars,
to see the moon by day.

Use my sky, but dont take it.
I still need it
most of the time.
There is plenty of room for you.

Posted by leya at 12:02 AM