Training Artists

Dearest Missive Receivers: Don’t faint: This post is actually short.  Love in postcard proportions, S.

this train is bound for

Training Artists

A young man with a cap and pencil-thin, short dreads passes through my train car with handfuls of what look like pamphlets.  He holds them out, fanning them.

I wrote these! He trumpets, leaning over so he is at eye-level with the passengers.  Here, you can look at it! He extends his mini-book, back-jacket side up.  His dreads shake like a bowl full of jelly on a Lazy Susan.

I am loaded down with bags—even a mule would laugh.  Returning home from a week in Boston with root vegetables, family and friends.  Among my equipage, big, empty, mason jars.  This is just in case of an ER requiring a sealable lid.

I can feel the mucus race down my nasal passages.  Humans can make a quart of the stuff per day.  Though I could use his papers as tissues, I try to look disinterested in his autobiography.  Luckily, he is interested enough for everybody.

He puts a booklet directly in front of my eyes.  I wrote this, he says again, a marketing strategy he seems to trust.  And you can buy it. He is nimble.

I’m not going to, I say, but that’s awesome.

Many things are awesome. I’m not sure his book is one.  But his good cheer is welcome.

This guy also wrote a book but I haven't read it yet

O.K., he says. And you have fun in the woods.

What, did my knit hat confuse him?  My dirty rainproof jacket?

I’m not going to the woods, I say.  But maybe you could try selling your books there.

To some cows? He asks.

Do woods have cows?

Sure, I say.  You’d have to give them a little context though.

O, He laughs.  You could do that for me.

So now I am his agent?  Because I didn’t want to buy his two-dollar book but talked to him about it anyway?  I think this similar to how the publishing world really works.

I’m going to Brooklyn, I say.

He leans against the subway pole and flashes a big smile. It’s his E-Z pass.  He has all his teeth but looks like he’s missing them; so naked and small do his pearly-(off)-whites seem so when his lips pull back.

Where are there Woods? He asks.  I don’t even know where there is A Wood!

One wood? I think about it.  You should start in the Park. I say. And see from there.

O.K. He nods happily.  I will.

He gets off at the next stop and moves on to the neighboring car.  Same gig.

The woman beside me pulls her purse strap out of the way of my arm with great dramatic flair.  I know—it’s contagious, this communication.  And I could have bed bugs.

I’m trying to figure out how to bring my own writing into the world and I wonder if I should follow the young man’s example: Photocopy it by the dozen, whore it on the subway and ask for money with a big smile?   To do this you have to be more than O.K. with getting a “No”—but can’t let the “no” turn into a clot.  It’s our duty to keep the bloodstream of art in motion.

sometimes art even has a nice ass

Other artists make other choices: they share their work with anything that lives, for no price at all.  Telling their stories to trees, ivy, the vermin in dumpsters.

The 2 train screeches horribly along its tracks, grating at my nervous system.  I have so many bags that my fingers can’t reach my ears to plug them, so I hum madly.  The woman beside me perfects her expression of annoyance.  Like Prometheus’ face when he registered that he’d been nabbed for stealing the fire for mankind.  He was annoyed about pyrotechnics, she’s annoyed by the proximity. I look towards the adjacent car.  I can see the writer there, arms outstretched, his story prickling at his fingertips.

What I feel like when art happens

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2 Responses to “Training Artists”

  1. Zenzile Says:

    This was hilarious! I always enjoy your pace.
    : )

  2. James Says:

    Reading this I kept imagining a post-something Christopher Robin with amnesia, so lost he can’t remember the 100 acre wood. What might that booklet have contained? Maybe the story of Pooh.

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