Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ernst Haeckel

-lithographs by German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) 



-parquet & surface designs base on Ernst Haeckel's work Kunstformen der Natur (designer unknown)

What are you still doing here?

What are you still doing here?
I thought you’d be gone by now;
you with your dreams,
California dreams cruisin’ Route 66
in your pink convertible...
What are you still doing here?
-sittin’ on this porch with only white powdered-sugar donuts and fear...

Selma Scared

Selma Scared was afeared
of everything and everyone.

She was so scared 
she gnawed at her hair
and sliced off one of her buns!

On this she dined,
sopping blood like wine,
‘till she was promptly full of herself.

Thinking she’d eaten
of her enemies, brow-beaten
she toasted a drink to her health:

“I am Selma Scared -
I’m no longer afeared,
for I’ve gobbled the bones of my foe!
Having smited my threat,
and avoided Death,
I shall roam all my days all alone...
And if ever I’m threatened,
I’ll brandish my weapon -
ravaging my enemy’s flesh -
this I will stick to, adhere to
and cling to
'till the draught of my very last breath!”

Yet, you and I know,
she faced many more foes
and each one she gobbled with pride.
'Till upon her death, 
just before her last breath -
you’d cry out with SHOCK at the sight:
for all that remained
of this story insane
were two fingers,
a fork 
and a knife. 

- a poem about fear of others that I composed before I knew the Lord.

"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.  On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

              -1 Peter 3:9

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

              -2 Timothy 1:7

three tiny feathers

three tiny feathers
moving across the water
blown by gentle breeze

"Plumes" image:  {{PD-1923}}


Tabasco on her back,
hat on her head-
walking all the way.

Pack on her back,
full of her Life-

Houston, Texas 2001

Winged creature on leaf of gold...

winged creature on leaf of gold
white-woven wing unfolding in the cold

band of leaves and leaf of gold
such simple beauty Nature holds

Jade Burdette, Houston, Texas 2001

A long time ago...

A long time ago, 
the blood in my veins quit me and drained into the desert floor and some into the sky;
a clear dark sky and the desert night
nothing but I and the fire in my mind.

The sacred clowns in black and white
whispering smoke into my skull;
mad mad rhythms barking at my brain;
a poisoned brain with gels that quicken and deaden;
a tormented brain with torrents of blood that bubble and rip at the Soul-

I slip into the water and it burns the night off my skin and from my hair...
a thought to myself that, after awhile, all the days begin to look the same.

Now I ,by myself, sit in a room at a window with a crooked view
where flying things with wings of lace and dust and fire
take to the air in first flights of youth.

Marching, Violent colours cross my view-
My hope, carried on the feet of faith 
leaving me a kind of dulling grace, is my Salvation; 
the only thing I possess in this moment...

Abilene, Texas 2000 - before I knew the Lord and was quite alone and mired in extreme depression

Rays of the moon....

Rays of the moon sliced these clouds into lotus leaves;
dappling leaves against the inky sky.
Stars twinkling in a periwinkle haze-
the moon like a dragon’s eye glowing through a deep blue fog.

“Oh, amethyst night, ripe with dreams!”
Dreams flying with wings of lace and dust and light 
to a celestial door where Tomorrow watches and waits
for the arrival of I...

Jade Burdette, Abilene, Texas 2000

Friday, March 21, 2014

Elephants and Keys

I'm pretty much obsessed with interiors and decorating and working on my house.  A few days ago, I mounted a wooden coat rack topped by four carved elephants above my front door.  Since, obviously, I will not be hanging coats above my entryway, I thought I might suspend some tiny, sweet ornaments from the now all but unusable pegs.  The Holy Spirit gave me the idea, this afternoon, of hanging my small collection of vintage (and new) keys up there above the door and so, strung up by midnight blue ribbon, they now dangle prettily from their new place high aloft the molding.  

I like transformation, a thing having a use that is beautiful and unusual and novel and beyond that which it was originally intended for. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


The other day I asked my very young psychologist how old he is.

Wait,” I stop him from answering, “I'm afraid you're going to say something like, 'Fourteen...' and i'm going to be faced with the disquieting fact that the person most responsible for my mental health is Doogie Howser.”

He looks at me blankly.

You do not know who Doogie Howser is,” I say.

Who is Doogie Howser?” he smiles, a bit too casually.

Okay...he's not a culturally-significant icon – even in the broadest sense of that term. You don't have to know who Doogie Howser is in order for us to move deeper into our therapeutic relationship. Still...I sense we need a touchstone, some common point of reference to ground our work together when things get...'woo-woo'. Do you know who Marlene Dietrich was?”

He does not know that this is a general go-to question of mine used to determine cultural intelligence in those gay men quite a bit younger than myself (He is gay). For the record (if anyone is keeping a record), I cannot claim that the standards which I employ to determine cultural intelligence could be considered in any way to be high standards. In response to my question, he shakes his head slowly and sideways in a stultified “no” and I realize with no small (nor concealed) mix of disdain and judgmental pity that he no only does not know who Marlene Dietrich was but that he would not know Marlene Dietrich from a toaster oven if he had them both side by side in front of him.

Okay,” I say, throwing him a much-needed, and merciful, bone, “Let's try a different approach. How do you feel about Britney Spears?”

Oh, I loved her in middle school...” he smiles broadly and with hope that is misplaced at best.

I see...” I say, rising sadly from the IKEA chair he has no doubt chosen himself, “We have to stop. Perhaps we can pick up here next week (perhaps not, I think to myself). Gliding elegantly to the door, I thank him beatifically, sadly dismissing him as yet another young gay man who had to endure the type of unfortunate upbringing as to make him all too intimately acquainted with an entertainer the caliber of Britney Spears and not at all (and to my way of understanding the world, necessarily) familiar with the vintage doyennes of Hollywood royalty.

'Till we meet again...!” I say, wistfully taking his hand, in my best attempt at evoking “The Scarlet Empress” or “Shanghai Express” or even “Destry Rides Again”. He offers a polite but clearly confused smile and retrieves his hand, both gestures confirming that he thinks I am coming on to him.

Date of writing:  October 2013

Image of Marlene Dietrich cropped by TonyPolar 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happiness in a Box (Fiction)

"Do you need anything?" she asks.

"Sure," I say into the receiver, "how about a box full of happiness?"

"We may be out of that," she responds dryly, "how about some kombucha or broth?"

"Sure," I say, "I'll reimburse you."

"I'm not worried about it," she replies, "I still have about half-an-hour of work to do, but I can be there by 4:30."

"Okay, I'll see you when you get here...thanks!" I choke hoarsely, hanging up the phone.


I watch her through the picture window coming up the grey sidewalk, her angular frame silhouetted against the greying five o'clock sky, a thumb hooked through the amber glass handle of a gallon jug of the kombucha soda I've developed a taste for.

My mouth waters.


"Here, I found this," she says, curling into a corner of the couch and pushing a small, silver box across the cushion towards me, "I thought it looked like you."

It is a silver-leafed cardboard box about the size of a box of assorted chocolates, the lid hinged by a thin strip of silver paper and two delicate burgundy ribbons, and she has written the words:  "We went here, bitch people" across the lid with a skinny green permanent marker.

"What does this mean?" I ask, gesturing to the viridescent, familiar scrawl of her left hand.

"I don't know," she answers, "I think I had too much coffee.  It seemed funny at the time.  I thought you'd get it."

"Do you get it?" I ask, raising an eyebrow, furrowing my forehead.

"I said I don't know what it means.  It just struck me as humorous - at the time," she replies, defending herself, lighting a joint she's fished out of her new, taupe Bottega Veneta handbag.

"Cool...thanks," I say, "I can put weed in it."

"Whatever," she croaks under her breath, exhaling.

"You wanna...make out or something?" I ask, unsuccessfully trying to not sound overly eager.

"You have a cold," she says, leering at me through the smoke, sounding vaguely disapproving.

" snot's been pretty much clear since this morning," I say, selling it.

"In spite of that enlightening information, Charles, I find that, for some reason unknown to me, I remain greatly disinclined towards the idea - thanks though..." she says, smiling a really good fake smile, stubbing out her spent roach.


After she has gone, I turn the box over in my hands, feeling its smooth, silvery surface against my fingertips, surprised now by how heavy it feels.  Opening it again, I discover its interior to be lit by a soft, peachy glow that I do not remember from my first exploration of the box.  It begins to feel warm and the warmth radiates through my fingers and into my palms and at the same time, a deep blanket of warmth begins to rise up in my chest and I feel something heavy and leaden break and fall away from my heart - like the leg irons of a captive bound for slavery.  

"What the..." I mumble.

I cannot fully understand, but I am filled with love.  

-date of writing:  November 11, 2013

Sunday, March 16, 2014


It is upside down whatever it is.  At first it appears to be a cardboard soup cup or a colored tin can, squat and round, nothing nice.  I almost don't go back to see what it is, but I do.  Whatever it is, it is soiled and I do not want to touch it; human excrement?  With the deft assertiveness exhibited only by those who are simple or mad, my right hand darts toward it and snatches it up.  It is hard and cold, neither cardboard nor tin, but ceramic.  It is a coffee cup.  I wonder what a coffee cup is doing on the side of the road.  Did a pedestrian, after draining it of its contents, then decide that it was burdensome to lug around?  Was it flung mercilessly from the passenger side window of a passing motorcar?  How much of its contents had been consumed by the driver of the motorcar before it was ripped from his non-steering hand and thrown from the window?  My head tilted slightly, I stare at the coffee cup curiously, then pocket it in my overcoat and walk on.

Emerald Green

Have you ever seen a turquoise the size of a hen's egg or a viridescent aquamarine the shade of the deepest tropical lagoon?  Have you ever seen an emerald which is so purely green you are lulled, and nearly mesmerized, by its perfect green-ness?  It is like the pulse-quickening green of a viper whiplashing through the dense sea of grass moving now about your ankles.  Imagine the thrilling green of a jungle viper twisting around an overly-ripe pomegranate:  lush.  I'm thinking of things which are rich and deep and lush and verdant.

It was not uncommon, where I grew up in rural Texas, for elderly ladies to have as their names the names of precious or semi-precious stones:  Opal, Pearl; one of my great-grandmothers was named Ruby.  I think there was one woman named Gem.  Even my Granny Billie's dog was called Jasper.  No Emerald though.

Something else green comes to mind:  the deep, emerald green of my own envy-fueled lust.  Specifically, it is a highly-active and envious lust for a certain archetype of butch man not unlike, perhaps, "the great dark man" of Quentin Crisp's youthful fantasy.  There is, to me, a distinction between jealousy and envy:  jealousy is a fear of losing something one already possesses, envy is being desirous of that which another possesses.  The boy who lives inside me will think that he wants such-and-such man and his healing balm of approval so badly that he yearns for both with an intensely lustful and envious, green possessiveness.  His habitual, compulsive and hyper-comparative thinking only glaringly clarifies to himself his own inability to measure up, simultaneously robbing him of any chance to understand his own real worth.  Instead he is left feeling empty and alone and still deeply inadequate as a male person.  This emptiness then compels him again and again to seek out the sexual approval of some man, or the acquisition of his much-admired masculine traits via the tandem, escapist use of fantasy, pornography and substances.  The boy's song it, "I Could Do Anything if I Were You".  Doesn't he sing this quietly all the time to some male or another with swagger who catches his attention; whoever passes by that fits his template of virility?  "I could do anything if I were you...".  He puts it all on like an overcoat that is much too large for his small frame; like his father's coat.  Of course it doesn't fit; it isn't supposed to.  Even with the understanding that he cannot, he longs to possess that type of masculinity within himself.   So, he puts on the overly-large overcoat and looks at his reflection in the mirror, and lowering his voice to a gruff decibel, chants words to himself which he thinks that type of man might say.  He play-pretends.


The emeralds and rubies and vipers of earlier make me think of the Orient and of opium and of the warm, smoky allure of the opium den.  I don't know how other addict artists maintain an active body of creative work at all.  My own energies, when I've engaged in drunken revelry, have usually bee wholly consumed by lustful pursuits.  Substances have acted as padding for my boy to stuff into the arms and pockets of the too-big coat; convincing material.

" does, too, fit!" he crows triumphantly at me.

It is easier for me to agree with him at the point when I've reached sufficient intoxication and begin to think that the coat does make him look like a man, the padding even looking like muscles instead of wadded-up newsprint.  Inadequacy plus escapism is a heady cocktail indeed, like a sweet, green, insanity-inducing liqueur.

To assuage the ache of his empty woundedness, all the boy knows how to do is play-pretend.  Behaviorally, it is inauthentic, yet there is an authentic need there.  What is it?  What is the shape of the emptiness inside him?  Isn't his true need this:  to accept that he is good enough?

I know that I have a Heavenly Father and that He "knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13), that I am, "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), and that He made me the best Jade he could imagine.  He accepts me.  If I am good enough for the god of the universe, why am I not good enough for me?

A short time ago, God entrusted to me a gift for the boy, "a richly ornamented robe" (Genesis 37:3) like Joseph's Biblical coat of many colors, a Heavenly gift from his Heavenly Father who wants him to know, "My son, this is how I see you".

I imagine the boy's robe mounted like the ephods of the tabernacle priests of Moses' time, with his favorite semi-precious stones:  malachite, lapis lazuli, leopard jasper, cabochons of garnet, and probably a fair smattering of milky green jade.

"You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you:  ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl.  Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared."
                                                  -Ezekiel 28:13

It occurs to me as I begin to make some sense of the murky trek I've trod through self-loathing, substance abuse and sexual obsession that in "The Wizard of Oz", just before Dorothy and her troupe of unlikely heroes enter the beautiful Emerald City, they do get mired down in a field of seductive opium poppies.  There was hope, however, and "hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5), and in the end they ran joyously from that poisonous place and straight up to the gates of the glorious city.  Hope, like faith or love, is often not a feeling, but is always a commitment one makes - and which is renewed by God again and again - reminding one of His promise that it is there.

date of writing:  November 6th, 2013


He really was a beautiful heroin addict, with a face not unlike that of the death mask of Tutankhamun.

"Steffan, your face is so pretty I want to kiss it!"

"You'd have to shave first," he says.

Suddenly nervous, nonsensically, I shoot back with,

"You, too!"

(His face is devoid of even peach fuzz)

"Yeah..." he says, "'cuz I'm so hairy!"

Metaphorically (inside myself anyway), I tug at my collar and then I turn, continuing down the basement stairs.


"Eve is the most beautiful transgender female I've ever seen," he says.

I roll my eyes.

"And..." he continues, "all without having ever taken any hormones."

I roll my eyes again.

He is sitting at the computer with no shirt on, his long-sleeved flannel tied loosely around his waist by its arms, despite his having a gut and two tiny, conical boy-breasts on full display.  Why, from his perspective, I ask myself, is it necessary for me to shave my face in order for the loveliness of his countenance to be on the receiving end of my affections, but he can sit there with all that hanging out?

This time, before withdrawing from his presence, I retort jabbingly, "Huh - I don't know about all that, but I bet Eve would strangle a whole basket-full of kittens for a rack like yours..."

He says nothing, lost in fascination at whatever online fancy has engaged his attention.  His double standard regarding what doth offend irks me and I cannot stop thinking about it all day.  In the morning, I write in my journal, "I will not compare  myself with another".


     Watching Jane Birkin onscreen, I can't help but be distracted by her unfettered sixty-year-old breasts.  She is wearing a thin, grey t-shirt (sans brassiere) and I stare, simultaneously transfixed in repulsion and admiration at her allowance of herself to be seen in such an honest way.  I think at first she must not be vain and then realize she is wearing lipstick and that her hair is perhaps colored.  I cannot say these are signs of vanity, only artifice, as perhaps the presence of a bra might be construed.  While I cannot say I have compared myself much to Jane Birkin, I have compared myself with Raquel Welch more than once, and never flatteringly.  In fact, it was watching Raquel Welch that, in part, called in the purple tide of impulses which first led me to begin taking estrogen and living as a female at age twenty-five.  As a male who once took female hormones, I am left with small breasts of my own, a situation I have found less than thrilling throughout the years since discontinuing my hormone regimen.  Add to this a heaping measure of deeply low self-esteem and I have often caught myself engaged ardently and quite faithfully stirring a neatly-constructed but rather mottled stew composed of pictures.  These pictures are photographs, and at the insistent sloshings of my spoon, they bump against each other in a contradictory whirl of comparisons.  They are the kind of photos one might flip through in a plastic surgeon's waiting room:  before-and-after pictures.  The images of less-esteemed physicality are always images of me.  The correct, appropriate, beautiful (and worthy) imaged correlate with those beings who meet the standards of the world.  "Cruel" is the word of summary which comes to mind:  cruel standards and cruel behavior towards myself on my own part.


"My only regret is that I wasn't born beautiful."

-a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt

     My only regret regarding this quote is that anyone would harbor such a sorrowful thought about herself, a thought clearly based on the sad standards of a broken and hurting world.  I read in the Bible this about beauty:

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  For this is the way he holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."

And yet, when I see my own reflection in a looking glass, perhaps like Eleanor Roosevelt, I am disappointed.  Later, of course I am disappointed that I care at all what I look like.  I know better.  Surely Eleanor Roosevelt knew better, too, I think, but maybe she did not.  Perhaps there was inside of here a little girl who believed there is some intrinsic worth in measuring up to what the world says is good.  There is inside of me a little boy who has for a very long time believed just that, but I've been trying to help him see that it isn't true, that I don't want to believe this anymore - that I cannot.  It isn't what God made me for; to believe in lies.  

Rallying, I move forward, this chant my current refrain:

"I will not compare myself to another,
I will not compare myself to another,
I will not compare myself to another."

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...