My New Thing: Poetry? Word Art?

Hey, Fickle Readers! I haven’t posted here in a while, I know. The truth is, I’ve been hanging out on Instagram and putting together these…things. Not really sure what they are. I like calling it micropoetry, but some of it is only a single line or a single word. Plus, there’s a visual element that I’ve been working with. 


So I’d call these pieces mixed media, but I’m doing all of them on my phone. Which would be one medium.


So what are these things? Are they any good? What should I do with them? Why can’t I stop making them?


Anyway, if anyone’s interested, I’m obsessively producing these little visual/verbal items at @missficklereader on Instagram. Come visit if you’d like to see what’s running through my brain at any given moment!

Fickle as Charcoal

I don’t know, Hypothetical Corinthian Woman Who Drew a Portrait of Her Lover and Thus Invented Art. I kinda like the impermanent feel of charcoal…

Jan Blencowe, “Landscape with Castle”

Pencils are all very well, but our Corinthian artist would probably have rejected graphite. She was, we can assume, not out for profit but for permanence, and she was most likely looking for a nice stable ink instead of a fickle charcoal or an erasable pencil. Ink would be far more symbolic of the longevity of her love and, of course, would also be particularly useful for writing letters to her sailor on his foreign travels.

–Victoria Finlay, Color: A Natural History of the Palette

Let’s Look at Pictures! Inaugural Edition

What a crappy, crappy week. Screwed up meds. New diagnoses to deal with. Scrambled brains that leave me with the concentration of a 3-year-old. Not to mention the fact that our universities are turning out liars at the graduate level, Wisconsin is trying to kill the tenure system, and the Duggar child abuse scandal keeps getting worse and worse. (If you’re interested in commentary about the situation without all the salacious details, try this article from boston.com.) Sometimes the world just seems like a shit platter, and when that happens day in and day out for months and months, it takes its toll. So instead of stoking the flames of my Inner Outrage by ranting until I’m ready to start gnawing throats out with my teeth like some Internet-addicted cyberzombie, I decided to post some pictures.

Ah, that’s much better, isn’t it? I developed a vast appreciation for snails after reading Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s fabulous memoir The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. Not only does it delve into details about a snail’s existence that I never would have thought to wonder about, it’s also a profound and accurate account of the way catastrophic illness sweeps into your life and upends everything.

So now I’ve just sent my brain on a mini-expedition to consider the simplicity of a snail’s world and to remember a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I feel more emotionally stable already!

Let’s try something else. Ever google your own name?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I google both my real name and my fickle name constantly. A couple of days ago, because I was feeling adventurous, I decided to google-search for images and not just web pages. And what a treasure trove of amazing mish-mashery I found! Most of the hits had absolutely (and refreshingly) nothing to do with me, but sometimes–like a Tarot reading–they seemed to be speaking to issues burbling around under the surface of my awareness.

Take this post on Pandora’s box by blogger Tabatha Yeatts. We  all know the story of Pandora: first woman in the world opens a box and releases all the world’s evils. Usually, the story is interpreted as yet another in the long line of myths trying to justify why women are treated as inferiors. Yeatts, however, doesn’t focus on the story as much as she gives us a collection of Pandoras–women of many times, traditions, and attitudes. (All very European, however, and all with the usual Caucasian belief that the universe was forged around their concerns.)

What I love about looking at Yeatts’s visual list is that the women remind me of me: pale, pathetic, bedraggled me. Me in my blue nightgown sitting at my laptop, thinking I can just check my four email accounts and maybe my Twitter feed, and then off to bed I’ll go!

when really I know I’m going to stay up all night and imbibe from the stream of electric horrors rushing by, even as I keep telling myself I need to stop,

until eventually I’m hunched over my box of infinite outrage and won’t let anyone else keep me from it.

Yup, this is me, all right. Quite apropos, Google. I should have realized you’d know me so well, since we’ve spent so many hours of my life together.

Also apropos that you (and Yeatts) would know the perfect way to soothe the indignation-weary soul in the digital age.

Thanks, universe. I absolutely needed that.

Good Art Break for a God-Awful Day

Wow, what a horrendous 24 hours. We had a hostage siege in Sydney that left the gunman plus two women dead. Then, at virtually the same time, there was news from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, of an ex-marine who killed his ex-wife and five other members of her extended family (including a 14-year-old girl) and fled the area. (The shooter, Bradley Stone, was found dead in the woods today of an apparent suicide.) Then this morning, there’s news about the Taliban raid on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which nine staff members and 132 children were killed. (A further 3 staff members and 121 students were injured, in case you wanted a larger helping of awful with your sandwich of unbelievable horror.) Note that I’m not even talking about the case of Jessica Chambers, the 19-year-old Mississippi woman who died on December 6th because someone poured flammable liquid into her nose and down her throat and set her on fire. (Her death is making news this week because the group Anonymous as well as other bloggers and Internet trolls are leaking information about her case and spreading claims that Chambers was the victim of “gang activity” [read: African Americans], a black boyfriend [although so far there’s no evidence she had a boyfriend at all], and/or Ali Alsanai, the brown-skinned guy who runs the gas station where Chambers spent some of her final moments.) Note I’m also not talking about the report, published yesterday in The Smoking Gun, that details how the star grand jury witness who said she saw Michael Brown act aggressively before being shot down, in fact, lied on the stand and has a history of mental illness and making false statements to police.

For a year that’s boasted some astonishingly heinous, ghastly, and terrifying news, the headlines from today and yesterday are almost too far over the top at being bad. At this point, I’m so exhausted and disheartened and stunned by everything happening in the world that I’m even starting to deplete my thesaurus of synonyms for the word “bad.”

So here’s a little balm to take our collective minds off of the dark, ugly, unutterable badness out there. First, some art:

Yes, we all need rest. Especially me. (My meds have been shot to hell because of some surprise dental surgery I had last week. As in, “Surprise! Your tooth is coming apart!” And let me tell ya, you really know you’re aging when you find yourself discussing your dental surgery on the Internet.) If that rest can occur on a bed of butterflies, please make it happen.

Next, a couple of lovely pieces of writing that I just discovered in Twitterland: “Warriors,” a spare, mythic poem by Thato Angela Chuma; and “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon,” a short-story by Ken Liu that combines an ancient legend of lost love with a modern tale of two teenage lovers soon to be parted–AND manages to be surprising, real, surreal, and gorgeous in the execution of both elements. (And I’m VERY hard to surprise.)

How about some science and philosophy with that art? Here, courtesy of Salon.com and created by Kurzgesagt, a German design studio, is a video discussing how life and death may all be the same thing:

And, in case you’d just like some good old-fashioned goofy comedy antics, here’s a skit (also posted on Salon.com) that was cut out of SNL this past weekend. The topic? Santa traps!

Stay safe and happy and peaceful tonight, everyone! Hopefully, tomorrow will look just a teensy bit brighter.