Sunday, January 27, 2019

Stealing From Our Mothers

Opening hidden jewelry boxes as if they rightfully belonged to us.
Selecting the green lacquered Oriental pendant,
tasseled and strung on woven cords.
An outdated piece, a style from 40 years ago,
is now a treasured vintage piece.
She never wore it anyway.

The dangling and jingling earrings,
as worn by our grandmothers and villagers,
the kind we would never wear in America,
is suddenly Ethnic and Tribal Chic.
She won’t miss it since she has others.

We dive into hair accessories drawers
as if it’s an extension of our own collection.
Selecting the most practical or the most extravagant to make a statement.
We will only borrow until she asks for it back.

We spray posh scents she was given as presents,
until we’re caught, 
betrayed by the scent and a bottle slowly drained.
The fragrance is now tucked away.
Fine, I'll use mine.

We conveniently take these bits of her womanhood,
hoping to reap that core essence of femininity.
We hold the arrogance of youth in believing we know better, 
and the entitlement of the child with a free reign of her possessions.
We patch bits of her onto ourselves, even after we've stepped away.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

They Call Us the Ship of Fools

This is my poem inspired by Hieronymous Bosch's painting "Ship of Fools".

A wispy ship laden with hearty sustenance and false promises.
They told us of glorious blue seas and starry nights.
They gave us ladles, not oars, to prepare for our new land of aplenty.

Yet, they piled us onto the boat with harsh decrees:
Be gone, ye mad folk of the village!
Our innocents must be shielded from your madness and sins.
Ye clergymen and women, messengers of God, 
thou hast shown us little Providence by submitting to wickedness.

We submit wearily to our fates, climbing the steps with heavy hearts.
Among us on this ship are those who have hidden in fear.
They know too much, but say too little.
The power of their knowledge scared so many.
Thrust brutally onboard, these awkward shipmates suffer 
at the hands of the Inebriated. Ay, those are poor beings.
They only want to forget, not remember.

I am the only one who openly wears my Fool’s vestments.
I have felt the despair of life and only sought to heal.
Yet, one utterance, an ill begotten jest, brought me upon this listlessness ship 
into the shadows.

As we sail into the waters, we leave behind our sins and sorrows.
Our burdens will be borne by those who stood in the water to push us from the shore.
They gave us songs to remember.
Go on. Be merry and drink your wine, have hangin’ pancakes and all will be fine.

Sing heartily, ye fools. Our bleakest days will soon be upon our frail bodies.              
We will drift on the unknown seas, seeking a land to call our broken souls home.
Only the wisest among us, the Owl, shall pilot our ship into the darkness.

- Ashini J. Desai 2018

Note: I have on my other blog a post about Garden of Earthly Delights. Since then, I've become obsessed about his work.

A Commitment to Words

Saturday, November 24, 2018

To Be Frida

1.    To Be Frida

To be Frida is not to just tuck flowers in your hair
and don cotton skirts, beads, and stern gazes.
It is not to sport a lunch bag with an infantilized avatar,
         oversized eyes under a unibrow
         with a monkey.
         She is not Dora the Explorer.
She is Frida the Artist. 

To be an artist is to plunge your brush into your heart,
as if drawing the blood through an IV tube
and letting quivering veins bleed upon the canvas.
Droplets spill onto your dress.

It is to remember the bone crushing pain
below the waistline, broken columns, and
to lie in bed to watch fissures fossilize and distortions calcify.

It is to mirror yourself,
give birth to your self,
and adorn yourself with thorns.

It is to be cut wide open for the world
to stomp onto your pulsating heart,
beating all alone.
Repel and compel others to look at your wounds
and dare to pronounce you less of a woman.

To be Frida is to laugh and think with spirit.
Be fearless, and find refuge in the nature, 
Love so openly and deeply, bringing it forward to soften the pain.
It is to master peace and beauty, and melt into the surreal.

Don't even try.

Note: This Halloween I dressed up as Frida Kahlo, and someone joked with me if I embodied her spirit. This poem came from that remark. I could only be her on the surface.
Secrets are stitched into colorful fabrics
to shroud your soul. 
Sidelong glances at men,
while only one streams in your heart.

You shout through your brush to him:
          Let me cut you off and drain my veins of the pains  
          and life you’ve given me. 
          Let me go dry and renew myself. 
           As a cicada loses it shell – let it be a fragile
          impression of the woman 
          I was paining and painting. 

Note: I wrote this in 2008 after viewing a special art exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was so wonderful that I wanted to touch every painting to get closer to her.


3. Dorothy and Frida

When she fell from the window,
she took the clouds with her.
-         -  For "The Suicide of Dorothy Hale"


Note: I saw this painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and I was blown away by the painting and the story behind it. This is one of the examples where Frida painted the frame as well as the art work. The story behind the inspiration and events behind this painting truly show Frida's fierceness.

Dorothy Hale was a socialite and aspiring actress in the 1930's. In 1938, after attended social events, she pinned on yellow flowers and leapt from her apartment window to her death.  One of her friend's was the prominent Clare Booth Luce and she paid Frida to create a painting in Dorothy's honor as a memorial gift for Dorothy's mother.

Frida obviously went dark on this. Rather than presenting a traditional tribute or memorial painting, she painted the grisly scene of the death. Supposedly, she was battling her own depression and suicidal thoughts at the time. When this painting was delivered to Mrs. Luce, she was horrified. There was nothing she could do, especially since her name was written on the painting as the patron.

Honestly, I don't blame her.  Personally, I wonder if this was a statement to Mrs. Luce and what she represented as part of the American elite class. She was miserable with the whole scene that Diego was falling into and she rejected. See her painting "My Dress Hangs There" It's not as if Frida does not know how to do a portrait, but she chose to let her feelings and emotions paint this one.

I also have other blogs I wrote about Frida Kahlo's art and life:
Assumptions of Frida (2008)
Frida Kahlo (2007)