Words > Poetry

The atmosphere in the Deep South where I was raised seemed permeated with secrecy and illusion. Navigating this mandarinesque social system, the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and our tight family surveillance produced a suspicion that life was being designed behind many delicate screens. Meaning and intent were constantly veiled. Snakes were in the water.

I became an artist, putting a high tolerance for ambiguity and risk to good use.

As a child who loved words and hated confrontation, I learned to make lists as a calming activity while hiding out.

Here’s one from my studio practice: The Louisiana List

the secular sound of a screen porch door slamming,
the guillotine slide of the confessional screen,
the suffocating, intoxicating scent of liturgical incense,
iridescent dragonflies on hidden ponds,
fragrant red and pink roses in bowls of water by my bed,
the disturbingly erotic and punishing presence of embellished chasubles,
greenness as the color, smell, and texture of outside,
holy water and lace on the heads of women and girls,
red lipstick,
blue TV light,
red clay,
black dirt,
white oyster shells,
white panties,
whispered betrayals.

The Louisiana List