Aug 2020 A Photo Essay

This Is A Time Unknown (August 2020 In Photos)

How are the current conditions affecting us? The fear of catching Covid-19, the fear of spreading it. The political turmoil in the United States and what feels like an impasse in communication, in discourse. How are the restrictions and isolation affecting our mental health? Sometimes, we need to look backward in order to move forward. The following photo essay takes us through this time unknown.

This blend of bits of observation with fatally perfect fine art comes home to roost. I impress no one by sharing this towel. Sleeping, I cry for no more stages of adjustment. With deeds to do, I remember another and another. I spilled coffee on today’s mail, patted the mail with tissues like a wounded animal. Poor mail! San Francisco to LA. Asleep in passenger seat. Grapevine. That means we’re here. We’re in a small place you know well, built over and bought by sunny faces. Its streets reject me while I see heaps of essence too beautiful to leave behind as I fall up the back stairs to my celestial garret with a breeze. We get nowhere, fear no place, careless to put perfection in our day, unless we feel the whole world, like running with our pleasure, just alive through dark years with flower light. I switched on the hallway light. I endured the ride behind the dark side of the sun. I smelled fresh-cut grass on the manicured battlefields. I smelled wet pavement after rain on a back road outside of Charlottesville. I had this feeling that the Civil War dead could still smell the same aromas as we passed through music from our decade. The radio played our bones and showed us how to do “The Madison.” This bounty of aroma passing their senses is the soldier’s eternal reward as it is ours, a tenth alive who’ve ever lived.

August 20

You caught me just lingering on my stoop after moving in. My guests are cameras. Everyone stops for a brief look at how the pictures turned out. Guests are fruit of all preparation. See how you and I sustain life for each cell, through heart?

August 19

The lights are on in the work trailers this dark morning which spells crisis when the upstream dam is nearly finished. A failed moral obligation to warn the canyon people and the farmers below of an imminent deluge will guarantee a pariah’s public life for years. I lift up the morning with my arms outstretched knowing I’m jammed up and can get nothing done here. The truth is I’d be dead by now by most statistics so this is a time unknown that can’t be limned with silly formality. I know I don’t fit in and my pants are ridiculous and tiny.

August 18

I’m a face inside a cast, eyes watering. We thought the hope of a generation stood with and within us, but only because we lasted while others scattered. I woke up long and mature today, too big for silly things like what I’m “about.” I will rise connected to two or three unrelated things and feel optimistic all day long.

August 17

Against silence I have color. The slow river is now at my door in dancing sunlight. Yellow falls in patches for my yellow team to claim and raise as a flag. I’ll live in happiness and let them live on hope.

August 15

People flying home tumble down my street to a stop. It’s actually an evil planet where creatures kill and eat each other. I’m at a table chewing hard to be done chewing. I saw a woman sitting at tea with a make-believe dog-creature. Then she water-skied. Writing is simple when you write with your experiences not about them.

August 13

The sun rose as I passed Mel Blank’s old house Heyworth’s, Lemon’s, Matthau’s, and princess Grace K’s. Ambient light, purple pier, pretty.  Freed from discipline and routine out of legitimate ennui and now with a soft pain like backache, I’m with the winds of my moments, stuck to bubbles, shucking stalks for a story, preening private feathers, knowing I’m life, self-made. From my experience nothing, with it, all.

August 12

We wave our palms inward to greet people and to send them off or wave just to feel air vanes cross our grasping hands. It’s still dark and quiet and adults from east of here are here. You can tell because they don’t crack jokes this early. “Don’t look at me, I just got up,” one says as she tries to pump the empty coffee urn.  I sit on a barstool and wait with them. I see awards and severely annoying celebrity faces in frames and hear a distant train. A young man from the kitchen crosses the empty restaurant with fresh coffee. Everyone pulls cups from the cup silos, forming a line.

August 11

At my new door, I turn and see a new neighbor waving, holding a dog. Inside the house, there are my things. Did I sleep that late? I was happy in all the cardboard boxes of life. After work, I come home for a quick meal and then we run off to see fifteen Hollywood film and TV stars cold read 12th Night. Fun. A privileged benefit of the underprivileged. Fun.

August 10

We’re in a Dutch village in the path of pillage. Through summer winters I wander into the cool air-conditioned, refrigerated, and primly stocked supermarket. I hear an angry “get lost!”  I ask for batteries, shaving cream, and 81-milligram aspirin. Cranky planes pass through the sky over adjacent zip codes and the ocean holds fast to the sand. You crowd me, young voices, while I’m nosing through your balloons to find my happiness.

August 9

This is the way you always wanted you to be but the forest of best years begins with an exception. You’re hunched under a table missing its legs on one side to make the tipping room look normal. Your morning starts with held breath. A clock tries to warn of seconds until it perishes somewhere in the day’s noise. I look for things to note. Doorways, green cars, anything in series, clashing geometries or faces in plumbing fixtures. I walk back through a neighborhood of homes that killed all the old people living there. Deaths have wrinkled my old smile.

August 8

A party without a house is unusual these days. Guards hover in teams as the governor marches in with teenage shoes. I wake, make coffee, and practice the craft reaching for the knack. It’s better that it’s dark, like the coffee.

August 7

The spitting wind blows creeks through the yard as clouds drown out dawn. A wreath of numbness hangs on the door of our house as I review mistakes during the rain, in the wrong town. Time caused waiting not increase. You are known and unknown.

August 5

Today you profit from the hand-in-sock Prince of gambits for the good, determined to enjoy, to get his, to be loved. Is that a beautiful thing. Is that a proud futility.

August 4

We are asleep with no ambition or envy and cry for departed children. Rents subtract us. Our legacies narrow to a path. Oh, you don’t want to hear my troubles. Here’s to hope that returned scolded.

August 3

We are asleep with no ambition or envy and cry for departed children. Rents subtract us. Our legacies narrow to a path. Oh, you don’t want to hear my troubles. Here’s to hope that returned scolded.

August 2

Here you are, active in photography with a little zippy hat in a quiet forest fainting with earth’s jive from a windmill hill, old, alive, and surplus, unable to run down a meal. I close the door, hoist the flag sub-rosa, sub-silence, and rotate the dishes as, freely, I send empty letters on the lick of stamp.

Lawrence Bridges is best known for work in the film and literary world. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Tampa Review. He has published three volumes of poetry: Horses on Drums, Flip Days, and Brownwood. As a filmmaker, he created a series of literary documentaries for the NEA’s “Big Read” initiative, which include profiles of Ray Bradbury, Amy Tan, Tobias Wolff, and Cynthia Ozick.

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