Max Valentine

The 99th Monkey

CatMelt1

MaxSketch    Junt

portals exist everywhere/ channels of energy/ dichotomy built up inside of us/ a hazy realm

sketchbook3    

bouncing back and forth/ dancing/ and maybe it’s not ready yet but/ pulling forth

CoasterSeries

shades of reality/ inside there was nothing but unconditional love

BLUNT

MouthHeart

if you are not realizing the light in this, it needs refinement

FlowerHead    sketchbooks

for art is not a leisure, it is a puzzle

Sketchesontickets     pagesketch

the separation of outside from inside/ where these things exist/ inside to out/ we have the power to use or lay dormant

FatJunt

you can’t be selfish if you know your self

SketchMax

 so far deep  I remain lifted

constantly momentarily forgotten

I am the 99th monkey

I am the straw that breaks the camel’s back

Lora Fike

Lora Fike is a poet. I mean that in the full encompassing meaning of the word. This woman is a living, breathing embodiment of poetry. There are few people who live to write, who write to survive, and she is one of them. I’ve had the pleasure of being exposed to her poetry at several different stages of my own life and have always found that her words have the ability to touch me and move me in whatever phase I’m in. This is rare. Her work lies on this edge of being deeply personal, as well as widely relatable. It reaches out to its reader and asks them to enter, to think, to consider, to question where their own humanity interacts with the world. This week I had the privilege of interviewing Lora on her inspiration and process. This is what transpired:

LMB: Your poetry, even from what I remember of it from years ago, has always held this strong theme of ancestry. Can you speak to this theme and what it means to you? Where it comes from?

LF: I have always been fascinated by relationships between people and the unique languages each relationship develops. My mom has done genealogy throughout the years. That, paired with my understanding of psychology’s imago theory and family dynamics in astrology, informs who I am and what I write. Ancestry is a more conscious theme today than it was before because the patterns that have been present in many of my relationships, for better or for worse, are something I work to transform.

LMB: Much of your poetry is quite visual. Images that jumped out at me during reading through this collection were those of bones and dryness – dried bones, dried riverbeds, bones seen through skin, almost a sense of wasting away. Does this imagery have a specific importance that you can touch on?

LF: Dry is a huge symbol for me. Dry, dry bones, dry skin–it reflect a lot of things about my life. Spiritual atrophy, working to the bone for the people I love and the things I believe in, often for little compensation. Self-care is something I’m working on to date.

LMB: Now, I know from personal knowledge, and as well could feel through certain pieces in this collection, that your life has been going through some dramatic changes in the past couple years. How has your writing been evolving during this time? Has it changed?

LF: I was caught up in some of the cycles of violence and compartmentalization before I quit drinking in May 2013. I have had to face a great deal of patterns I have inherited and start taking responsibility for who I am and who I am going t be instead of looking at life as something that just happens to me, the victim, My writing is more honest and transparent in some ways, for growth’s sake. I am dancing more in between different voices that comingle in my mind and heart, and writing is more for thriving these days than surviving. I used to write to survive experiences.

LMB: Can you speak to some of your biggest literary inspirations? Are there certain authors or certain genres that affect you and your writing? Have any changed your process or the way that you write?

LF: Reading Sarah Fox’s The First Flag felt like I was reading a book written inside of my soul. I adore surrealism, but dadaism even more so. Leonora Carrington, Baroness Elsa von Loringhoven, Toni Morrison, Jaime de Angulo… I try to read more female, queer, indigenous and PoC authors these days to compensate for the white male cannon inundation. I can’t say I have deliberately changed as the consequence of reading but certainly I am influenced though and through by the themes and particularly the absurdity or “queering” of the mundane aspects of life found in DADA.

LMB: You are probably one of the most dedicated writers I know, updating your blog collection with incredible consistency. I love keeping up with it. Do you write every day? If so, how? Is there a ritual to it for you, or does it simply happen?

LF: I really appreciate you using the word dedicated to describe me because I am not a daily writer just yet. When I used to keep a dream journal, I was, because that was how I started my day. When I don’t write, I am pretty miserable so the most I go is a week. But generally, I make writing dates with close friends and keep those dates weekly. Sometimes I write when I’m not supposed to, like at work. I try to let the muse run when it comes but I have finally accepted that I can’t just wait. I have to create the conditions. For me? The best writing? Nobody around but strangers, strange situations, a coffee shop, my own music and hours unfolding before me without anywhere to be. So I have to give myself that on weekends sometimes.

LMB: Great, Lora, thank you so much for sharing that with us. You can find more and evolving work from Lora on her WordPress, which I highly suggest following, as well as at her less filtered Tumblr. Now, without further ado, a collection of work by Lora Fike:

 

*****//*****//******

 

because I wanted it that much, because i could touch it, taste it, lick it, and press it hard against my chest pretending it was a part of me. because I didn’t care what venom anyone could spit about me. because i didn’t acknowledge tomorrow. because i didn’t believe in the sunrise. because it was mine to keep. because i imagined breath in its still lungs. because i saw a light in dead eyes.

said possession

 

*****//*****//*****

 

attachment

if I were, I would
to sleep in the scent of sandalwood
pain rock-a-byed love
through childhood

&—with the sober smooth landing of today
still waiting for the heavy stone thud

wait & wait & wait—until baseline
until riverbed ancestry revealed and oh, the bones
all the bones licked clean by
the water needle weaving
in and out of flesh
the ouroboros of time
swallowing measure away
& back again

why I say ‘love’ sideways
why I serpentine to stand
rib for rib—fit to your frame
and then square to you
as I spit in your flame

why I will always love you
pain-cradling arms of dead body
why I will always be known
to you as only an absence

the one that got away
I got away
I got I got I got

      away

*****//*****//*****

 

dry
+++is it rusty now, the dagger? is it blunted by fooling at the cement with an absent mind–a cinderblock on my shoulders for half a year. a cinderblock to fall through my ribs, I lied my heart stone, though. I lied it stone until it was hard enough to break a bottle over it
again & again
bottle after bottle
I didn’t count on finger nor thumb
and I wasn’t proud
of all the broken glass at least
I wasn’t proud of how the sheets fell off the bed
or the piles of dust
or the dirty laundry
I wasn’t proud of the way my hair fell
or the crust in my eyes
it was the hanging lightbulb I revered
somewhere in the basement
swinging mad
I worshipped it, a moth
to my own light
beating against
other people’s faces
stubble-burns
and lipstick smears
the way my arms my legs could fall
++++++so far ++++++++so open
the way I could stomach so much soot and ash
until I spit and shit green and told myself it was temporary
that the coal cleans the system
that I am a system of simple machines
but what of the wedge? ++++++forget the clever lever a moment
and then I remember the cinderblock
+++geometry
++++++falling
and the lightbulb is broken glass
and I am not a moth and I am not a light
I am a dry river bed sucking fish bones
and the stone is never was cannot be stone
because it was always heart
and I am crushed flesh beat beat
simple machine turned two-dimensional art
flatline—still—stiller—stillest
dead?
no, just sleeping
in
until the water starts flowing
and I am rich in the slate colored smooth
tumble of stone beneath my toes
and I don’t have to count the suns since all the broken glass
or finger red on faces or spill red down my own front
that blade?
just grass now
that pulp?
an organ
that sound?
muscle flexing
against empirical evidence
and that color running through every thread of my being?
that color lives within but is greater than
the word for love in all the tongues

 

*****//*****//*****

 

Apology Event*

+++Start by giving away the knot in every muscle.
++++++Let all your fingers and toes unfurl.
++++++Give up the catch in your breath, the stoop in your shoulders.
++++++Give up the grind of your sleep against waning molars and canines.
++++++Give up your ideas about right and wrong, or make it seem as if you have.
++++++Pretend you never stole the color blue from anyone who was still crying.
++++++Have your friends pretend to be bridges, have your enemies pretend they are your family.
++++++Speak peace or if it’s just too hard, learn to speak it in another language.
++++++Carve a tunnel out of your castle and realize it was just this one wall the whole time
and plant caraway when you come up the other side with dirt under every last fingernail.
++++++Leave every book you borrowed and never returned as stepping stones away from who you are unbecoming.
++++++Bring your chin down level and don’t pretend to dance with the answers to why anymore,
just link arms with what and let all fingers fall away from pointing out who.
++++++Give each other bullet shells.
++++++Give a name to every wound and move your lips slow over the pronunciation so that the sound sleeps in the ear drum and wakes up in the heart.

*inspired by Gift Event adaptation of Kwakiutl Indian poem from Technicians of the Sacred

 

*****//*****//*****

 

(re)turning

+++what +++a +++rusty +++door

unhinge me ++++++++++++(if you) ++++++++++++please

to put the pages back on the calendar

after they’ve already been torn
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++not quite +++but +maybe +just so

+++to join the cake fight in the bathroom

instead of becoming a pair of beady eyes

++++++++++++++++clucking tongue & washing dishes at 1am

while everyone else passes out

+++petrified wood

how +++DO +++you ++get ++the ++wisdom ++out

+++++intravenous needle pull me out of the amber

pull seed from the sown hollow reeds of ancestors

scatter me—-cast me out—-no hook—-no line —-

just

s

+i

++n

++++k

+++++e

++++++r

funny how the belly crawls away from the fall

funny how a picture hooks the belly button backwards

funny how an imagining turns heart beat visible

just beneath the marigold and pink flesh

&

funny when I grab the tiny water gun and don’t think twice

about the idea of ruin or spoils

& in this hammock I will sleep

& cry fat tears as moved

& sing as song tugs on notes quivers thrushes of the ruby red throat

+++dry dry river bed

watch hands claw at sucking sand

++watch little bones lift little bodies into strong jaws

watch until I forget the way I take one step toward kin

& two babysteps back again

++a tapestry of my advances and backpedalings

I weave & weave, birth cold clay

 

birch wood mask, let me wear thee yet

+heavy heavy sighs +++as if

breathing, be ye burden?

teething on the rings of the tree

 

petrified wood

not kindling for the family fire

cobalt blue flame of the ache

the sadness no finger reaches

& I call to her

+++++++wisdom ++++wisdom ++++++wisdom

& the resounding echo

+++++++++++no face +++no face +++no face +++++at all

Titular a Writer

In the dark with half a face bold from whiskey in dim lighting, a man, whom I was surprised spoke English in these smoke-glazed Colombian surroundings, I told him I was a writer. A title, a label, new, a fresh definition of this voice that once lay quietly private, so pompous a name but I wanted it, known, and perhaps titular, but the word rolled off my tongue like sweet and his eyes justified its saying. When asked what kind of writer I am I never know how to reply; not an essayist or novelist or fiction connoisseur, not technical nor journalistic. I suppose poetic lends its liberation to what I do, but I fucking hate limericks and  I can’t stand structure, rhyming makes me nauseous and I could go with free verse, prose poetry, conceptualism, but it sounds so fucking conceited and sometimes I vaguely say “I write about life” and that’s enough for some people. I go with poetry this time and he asks me to recite a poem. In my drunken haze I roil at the request and light another cigarette, the flame a beacon in a consuming darkness that was threatening to linger until morning. I don’t know how to explain myself and trip over several ways to say no and end with “Let’s take a shot. You can look at my blog later.” Poetry, my poetry, ugh – no, my words, are not necessarily those meant to be spoken aloud, in fact many times are better left not. I liken them to parasites, to sickness, something expelled. When a piece hits the page, hits the computer screen, as soon as it has left my mind and traveled out through the tips of my fingers, it is no longer my responsibility – it is not my responsibility to care for, to memorize, to maintain, to obsess over, to control as it works its way into the world; most times I’ve forgotten the words as soon as they’ve been released from the grip of my brain. These words, even the ones I’m putting down right now, they are something belonging not to me but to an other, perhaps something to be absorbed and manipulated for meaning, or maybe not, sometimes these words are just better set free to explore than burrowing inside of me, eating acid-like away at my conscience as it attempts to comprehend their supposed importance. Sometimes when I am sitting at home, alone, and interacting with my self, I say “I am a writer” and it sounds to me like “I have cancer”. Not in the sense that I seek victimization in mortality, but that I feel as though this state of being is slowly consuming my life in irreparable ways that separate me from normality; these words as some sort of separate entity commanding space inside of a shell that simply seeks to exist for fun; sometimes even purposely directing its host away from content – as in happiness, simplicity in existence. I cannot explain this to the man in the dark in the bar with his literary degree and skepticism, mind swimming in alcohol and the exhaustion of 4am. I cannot tell him that this last shot is an escape from those words, from all words, from inquiry and obsession, that all I want is to forget about my brain and focus on my body and its corporeal ability to glean pleasure from life. That I’d been dreaming about the primitiveness of us, the archetypal us, naked since I’d born lust in my life. I can’t tell him this because my tongue is thick and my throat dry and I am tired and on the edge of lethargy, and the image of another man, a man who controls a good portion of the words that dangle at my fingertips, remains imperiously forged in the fore-center of even my drunkest mind. So I take another sip of whiskey and fall out of conversation.

Confessions

I’ve said many times that art is about getting personal, so personal that we can no longer deny the individuality and meeting place of shared emotion  possible within humanity. Well, this is about to get personal.

I’ve spent a lot of my life hating myself.

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I’ve told myself I was ugly. I’ve been embarrassed of my very core self. I’ve obsessed over my own assumed stupidity.

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I’ve manipulated. I’ve lied. I’ve used other people to make me feel better about myself. I’ve purposely caused harm to myself and others in an attempt to rectify my own feelings about my self worth.

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 I’ve blamed myself for the misery of others. I’ve taken responsibility for the suffering of the world. I’ve martyred myself in my own mind over external situations that have little to do with me.

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 I’ve been selfish. I’ve been self absorbed. I’ve treated others as if their individuality were a by-product of my existence.

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I’ve shut myself off from others for fear that they will discover what a terrible human being I am, or how stupid I am, or how boring I am, or how unimpressive I am. I have hidden myself from others for fear that they will discover how ugly I am, how insecure I am, how uncreative I am, how selfish I am.

But also…

I have loved genuinely and openly. I have bared my soul for somebody who needed the tenderness and empathy. I have forgotten about myself in the midst of another’s problems. I have looked in the mirror and found myself beautiful. I have used the warmth of my body to show somebody I love how much they were worth.  I have written a piece of art that I found breathtaking and important. I have cared so much that it was painful. I have been passionate and devoted; enchanted and amorous. I have loved greatly and fully.

I am human. I have many flaws. I am learning how to love them.

This is me.

And these are my confessions.

- Jaime Dyna La Mondain

 

Morning

sleeping

I like you in the morning
before you’re really even awake
when the crust still lies at the corner of your eyes
and your hair is sticking up in funny directions

sometimes I pretend to still be sleeping
so I can be around you longer
lay next to you while you read your email
and wish I were brave enough for morning sex

but for some reason I always have somewhere to be

 

 

(photo copyright of Eric Eich – find more photography by him here.)

Journey to the Holy Land: Coffee in Quindío

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My lovely hostel. I suggest all travelers coming through Quindío stay here, the cafe downstairs is the coolest hangout spot in town. It’s called Casa Quimbaya Backpacker’s Hostel. The owner, Diana, is a cool chick worth getting to know.

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Expedición Cafe is a must-stop if you’re travelling through Armenia and you love coffee. The owner is friendly and knowledgeable and pours a fantastic shot of espresso. They also run weekly cuppings open to the public.

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Night of the Living Bread: The Dough Rises

 

Are you a fan of independent films? Then help make this humorous thriller with a message a reality. You could be a partner in this amazingly creative project with the change from your pocket (transferred online).  The creators are a group of quirky artists based out of Olympia, WA, where they’ve been dreaming up this project for a long time. Set in a real life bakery in Olympia, the Blue Heron Bakery, this film seeks to horrify you akin to the simple fear inherent in any Hitchcock film, and at the same time form collective thought around the validity of GMO production in today’s society. Ms. La Mondain has contributed what she can to the project, now she asks you to do the same. Support small artists, support community, support dreams. Enjoy the spoils of being part of a highly creative project based on your level of commitment – a private link to the finished film, a compilation CD of music produced by the employees of Blue Heron Bakery, a DVD with illustrated cover of the finished film, a full size movie poster, producer status in the credits and a pound of GMO-free granola prepared by the filmmakers at Blue Heron Bakery. This is what community is about, guys; coming together to support each other. Click here to be a part of it.

 

NightofLivingBread

unwilling participants

bloodspatter

scratch scratch and
scratching skin flaking
blood lines separated by the
crack of a fingernail
mound poisoned skin swelling
veined translucent air
vibrating tiny oil slicks of life
reminder that no space is ever
truly yours
cycle is
my blood moving from here
to there for
by cargo
mingling with in with out in
consistency in transit
powerful Powerless
as a specie choosing
it is not your choice to be removed

You

Tonight I am craving the representative you. The you that diverged from you the moment my footsteps disappeared in the snow. It was an idealistic you with worn thread ties to reality.

Tonight I am craving the ephemeral you. The you I never found necessary but fixed, or rather faceted, as an attachment to some description of existence I’ve lived to death.

Tonight I am craving the reality of you. Quickening heartbeats, unfocused eyes, lidded, and your gravel voice saying something else stupid, or rather, purposefully oversimplified.