Charlotte Street Foundation identifies the needs and fuels the evolution of an ever-changing multidisciplinary arts ecosystem, acting as its primary provocateur. We cultivate the contemporary, the exceptional, and the unexpected in the practice of artists working in and engaging with the Kansas City Art Community
Is it cooler down by the water? I ask him, reaching for a sweater.
Yes, but in that way you like, he says to me, not taking his eyes off the canvas and easel.
I love him so sincerely in this moment, as my hand skips the hanger and stops at the cuff of the sweaters’ sleeve.
Alright, I’ll be back by dark, I say as I slip out the apartment door. Nine years. We’ve been best friends for nine years and there’s no closing the book on us no matter how hard I try. Sometimes I feel destined to be in love with a gay man and in lust with all the elegant philanthropists and tattooed beauties he brings into this studio, often (also) our living room. I have more than once been lovers with his muses. They’re always disappointing, to my heart, not in bed. It’s like they’re only lovely when captured in oil or precise shutter speed. When I’ve tried to free them of their prisons, between the sheets, between the lines of poetry, they would rather remain captive. I would bet Mona Lisa was a huge cunt in person. I don’t think she was a peasant, a patron, or a wayward lady lover. I bet she was some bored girl with a predictably arranged future trying to piss her father off.
I am at the waters edge of the Missouri River near the northwest waistline of its home state. I sit center to both bridges. We could make a triangle if my arms were long enough or I understood geometry. A balding, chubby Latino man eyeballs me while trying to keep pace with his much taller, leaner, stoic friend whose thick salt and pepper mustache is the definition of prestige. I light my cigarette in the face of joggers as the trains scrape by behind me. A solitary tree trunk bobs with the current and I am astounded at how close I feel to a God I’m not sure I believe in, when a priest and a parishioner enter my periphery. Father Michael and Avery introduce themselves. I tuck my notebook under my left arm to free up my right hand, cigarette still blazing. They love my publisher and poetry and the only bookstore that carries my work. It’s funny how I’m sitting here hoping one day I will be an author like my idols, except most of them write faith-based literature and well – it’s good work. If you marketed me to my most obvious demographic (the queer community), you’d almost expect a shitty book cover and a predictably cheeky plot line.
I’m not sure if I’ll be any sort of big deal. Maybe it’s all a social construct and when I come out of my weed haze I’ll reread all these pages and be embarrassed that I said anything at all.
The wind is picking up and the frequency of traffic is lessening. It’s like the sun is pulling all the important things toward it as it disappears. I text my friend in California, Heads up, the sun is headed your way, like an ambush, like parents about to stumble upon a raging kegger.
There’s a stack of Bukowski’s next to me to kick start the writing process if need be, because that’s the kind of girl I am; too American Dream backwoods redneck to not laugh off all the misogyny and wish I was the kind of man who got away with shit like this. I think that’s what 45 means when he says Make America Great Again! I think he wishes for another life where he has scarred knuckles and psoriasis of the liver, hears the Catholic church bells at night as he lights his cigarettes on the stove. What he doesn’t know is men like that pour out all of their self-loathing in poetry between shifts, have the same amount of enemies and women who hate them; have the same debt and disdain for their fathers. There was no greater time in this country than now, because now every tribe is demanding an equal seat at the table — and we finally have a chance to all be ourselves. I suppose when you’ve never had an opportunity to be anything other than what you were groomed to be, you possess a dysphoria about what a complete YOU actually looks like. Somewhere, everyone wishes they were someone else. I wish he’d stop pretending like silence is healthy for a person or a nation.