The Second Sermon on the Warpland

Gwendolyn Brooks

For Walter Bradford


This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.


Salve salvage in the spin.
Endorse the splendor splashes;
stylize the flawed utility;
prop a malign or failing light–
but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.
Not the easy man, who rides above them all,
not the jumbo brigand,
not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,
shall straddle the whirlwind.
Nevertheless, live.


All about are the cold places,
all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft–
all about are the stormers and scramblers but
what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?
Live and go out.
Define and
medicate the whirlwind.


The time
cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face
all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace.
Whose half-black hands assemble oranges
is tom-tom hearted
(goes in bearing oranges and boom).
And there are bells for orphans–
and red and shriek and sheen.
A garbageman is dignified
as any diplomat.
Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,
but she stands–bigly–under the unruly scrutiny, stands
in the wild weed.

In the wild weed
she is a citizen,
and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.

It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud.
Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the


The locus of a single corpus

Ana Mendieta
Ana Mendieta

The idea of the Internalized Landscape, as I seek to apply it, makes two suggestions or reminders. One is that the land contains endless aspects of body– our own systems are related to the land in both function and form (sloughing off, recycling water, generating and regenerating based on underlying patterns, diseases and disruptions, etcetera ad infinitum). This is one way to learn about the fabric of what (or who, as I see it) has made you and me– by looking at other things that are made. The other awareness (somewhat claustrophobic if you think on it too intensely) is that we only and ever understand the world through the filter of a body. We project our armness, our legness, our constant breathing and throbbing, our scanning binocular eyes, our skin, our sense of space and scale, from the locus of a single, particular corpus. We build buildings* and cities and electronic networks based out of this inter-relation of body systems, echoing our structure back into the worlds we construct for ourselves. Both directions of thinking are rich and complicated. A fertile place for contemplation.

*Of course, thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed, and if the house is a bit elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuges that are all the more clearly delineated. All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams. A psychoanalyst should, therefore, turn his attention to this simple localization of our memories. I should like to give the name of topoanalysis to this auxiliary of pyschoanalysis. Topoanalysis, then would be the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.” Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space

Shelter and persistence

“A number of times the thought came to me as I worked on this painting that I may very well be wasting my time.  Why continue on this because it is just not working. These thoughts feel creepy and wicked and I have learned to speak directly to them something like this, ‘Well thank you for your opinion but why don’t you go have a seat over there while I keep working on this any way.’  You just never know the out come of these things but if we don’t finish it is bound to fail.”

Thank you, Rick Beerhorst, for your perseverance. I love the sheltering Madonna with wire-rimmed glasses, the three-times self portrait that helps define what it feels like to re-present the world while being part of it. The clock, the book, the veil. Worth it!

Rick Beerhorst
Rick Beerhorst

Polyphonic, Multifaceted

The Polyphonic Spree

I was very excited when a friend of mine connected me with The Polyphonic Spree, who were seeking video-makers to help create an advent calendar of music off of their Holidaydream release, and even more excited when they presented me with the possibility of making a video for the iconic Lennon/Ono song, “Happy Xmas/War is Over.” I’ve always loved the unapologetically idealistic peace-work of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and I happened to be in the middle of reading “What is the What” by Dave Eggers– a story written with and for Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It seemed providential that I should be ingesting this eyewitness account of the ravages of war, the content of which was stirring up my senses of justice, empathy and aching frustration at the way things are between humans. And so I said an enthusiastic yes!

And then the work faced me. How could I, an American woman with no actual experience of war, touch this idea? How could I avoid it being too dramatic, too didactic, too cute, too easy, too hard, too sloppy, too slick, too obtuse, too cliche, too boring, too frenetic, too political, too religious, too white, too pretty, too morbid, too lite, too heavy? Well, I’m sure I slipped down some of those slopes, but armed with all of these internal warnings, I proceeded, and am overall happy with what came out. I’m happy to be a part of releasing something that I care so deeply about, and at a time of year when I need reminders about mercy and peace and strength in numbers. The video was premiered on NPR’s All Songs Considered blog, which was a great honor. You can see it and read what they had to say here.