Posts Tagged ‘nurture


toy soldiers*

my fantasies as a child were no different than yours. perhaps you were jealous of my solitude, but that did not matter to me. i did not have to share my toys, my books, my bedroom, my mother with anyone and although you might imagine that would make me a selfish person, it has not.

it is possible that i am better equipped to be alone, that my ability to manage on my own far exceeds that of someone with brothers, sisters, a father, and a mother. it is also possible that i am at turns gregarious, charming, shy, aloof (not necessarily as opposite as one might think, although a coolness does run through those social skills.)

these perfume bottles were my toy soldiers. i never thought how unusual it might have been that my mother had collected these bottles in the 30s and 40s and then carted them around in an old red velvet-lined silverware box. (what happened to the silver was never a topic of conversation.) i would line them up on the linoleum in the kitchen or in my bedroom; the short squat ones with the black lids the front line of defence, the thinner and taller ones making the important decisions, guarding the flanks.

the battle would stop when a bottle fell over, a quiet ceremony of picking it up, unscrewing, uncorking its cap, the left-over scent of a long-ago perfume imagined (or was it real? maybe a bit of both.) as i grew older i would try to discern the words on the labels, “mr. poulter of new york”, “divine”, “honeysuckle”, paris, london, rome, avon. each a symbol of something grander, of something more mysterious (my mother; they are mysteries to their young boys, these mothers who control your life. you know they are different, but you are unsure of what that difference is. you throw yourself into their arms in fear, in love, in fun and bury your head in their lap, their breast. your thin arms stretched around their hips, their waist for protection and reassurance.)

i’ve never thought of photographing them before today. and now that i have i think i can let them go; each wrapped in toilet paper and laid into the red velvet-lined silverware box with its faux leather exterior (a warm camel color) and bakelite black handle; soldiers buried, wars won, medals pinned to chests, conquests of foreign lands (the chenille rug, the hassock, the child’s rocking chair) remembered.

*i never had real toy soldiers; i used what was available to play my boy games. nurture or nature or fate? (all of them.)


a lack of profundity (intended)

I am drawing no universal truths from today.  It was a Sunday like many other Sundays at our house.  We slept in courtesy of ‘Spring Forward’ (even the dogs were loath to get going, sensing, I believe, that time had made an adjustment in their schedule, normally they are as accurate as Swiss timepieces.)  The sun was already up & shining brightly by the time we were out for the morning walk, fortified by a strong cup of coffee, a little blogging, the front section of the L.A. Times (me, of course, the dogs don’t drink coffee, but they do love the Times & you should see their blog.)

I finally got all things pointing in the right direction & headed over to our local farmer’s market, where I picked up the usual:  a bunch of carrots, two heads of lettuce, fresh garlic (3), a bunch of cilantro, asparagus, a three-pack of strawberries (I did complain about last week’s berries, I didn’t mean to complain, it really was intended as an observation, but I guess it sounded whiny & they gave me a $2.00 discount on today’s purchase & when I demurred they told me not to argue with them–which I promise, I hadn’t been,) 3 pink lady apples, 3 pears (bosc), sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.  I considered sugar snap peas, but they were $3.75 per pound which seemed high to me, so I passed.

Back home, M. & I had lunch (wraps & strawberries!) then bundled up the dogs & headed up to Whittier (ugh, the 5 freeway–flowing freely until Firestone, then stop-and-go until we hit the 605) to check out an antique mart, King Richard’s Antiques (for M.’s business) & to meet with the owner who’s putting together a street fair in Whittier this April where M. will be a vendor.

Dogs were only allowed in if carried, so M. went in while I stood outside with Billy & Joey.   Billy is the more outgoing of the two, always open to be petted & fawned over (he’s so soft to the touch, you’d be amazed, & I think he knows how good he feels.)

So soft in fact, that he rivals Jesus Christ, at least in this instance, in his power to demand attention & offer succor to the weary.

King Richard’s was located near a bike/running trail, one obviously well-tended by the city/state with amazing blooming trees, succulents & lavender.

M. finished his business, & then it was my turn to take a quick turn around the store.

One section was eerily lit by a frosted western window that added a note of Los Angeles ‘noir’ to the display, startling me when I realized madam was a mannequin.

But startled or not, I was completely smitten by the light being filtered through the dirt, the ages & the completely tacky 1980s chandeliers suspended from the ceiling.

I stumbled upon several gilt tables reflected in a mirror, that just begged for a photo & it wasn’t until I downloaded today’s visuals that I realized I was standing in 3rd position–gotta dance!

On my way out, I was surprised to see that metallic (the ’80s again!) was making a comeback — at least in Whittier, if not the rest of the Los Angeles basin.

We drove home (605 south to the 91 east to the 5 south) in record time & then the dogs & I went for a short walk, where we stopped to admire the coastline & say a little non-denominational prayer, re: how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot on the globe.

But we turned away from the view & headed home (doggie dinner!) but had to stop to admire the sego palm in bloom & consider its erotic aspects, its fecundity, its ancient, pleistocene ancestry.   That’s it!  Draw your own conclusions (I’m fresh out.)


four eyes

It doesn’t come easily.  But when it does, it’s all at once in a rush of feeling, memory, cascading words/images/thoughts/dreams/impressions/dots of color/black & white/gray scale/composition/color/form/volume/spatial insight/unedited & unfiltered.  It’s up to me to sort it out and discern the truth or perhaps the paucity of truth–let it settle/digest/flow through my veins/spark a synapse/skip a heartbeat/take a vacation/work hard.

Four eyes:  quadruplet orbs/two real/two parallel to reality–I’m just saying that it’s possible & although adopted my mother’s mother/my mother had four eyes.

Four eyes:  when you’re a child & wearing glasses + there may be other differences/tall/skinny/effeminate = certain harassment from the middle, because they are the middle & always will be.  Do you think they know that?  Some little voice in their head, nagging/nudging/abusive/that keeps them chained to their middle-ness.   It never bothered me.  It was jelly slipping across cream cheese on a warm bagel running down your finger/hand/catching it with your tongue, m-m-m delicious this ridicule & ridiculous.

Four eyes:  the glasses go in time for you to become yourself, but the stigmata of otherness branded around your eyes/raccoon/bandit/yosemite sam-like anger lurks just below the surface/nessie & mythological/legendary eruptions/mercurial/these visions come unhindered & unwanted.  They drive you WRONG WAY DO NOT ENTER, but you go anyway & it’s years before you can extricate yourself from that choice.

Four eyes:  one day it just comes back, you can’t see clearly [reality] + it’s too late/you’re too old/habits challenge you & chain you–you allow it–still that vision/foresight/demands of the future unspool leaving a trail perhaps breadcrumbs/roadside markers & then you’re there–it’s not déjà vu, it’s not the future it’s now.


if there were any doubt (halloween costume)

Halloween 57

A trio of female cousins (collectively known as ‘the sissies’) put this costume together for me when I was four years old, which I believe was the one and only time I dressed up for ‘trick or treat’ing, finding that there wasn’t any need to ‘gild the lily’ (thank you, Carol  Ware) in the future.

Being flamboyant was a challenge growing up; my natural inclination was to go as far as I could and still be recognized as a male:  rodeo ‘show’ cowboy boots, Nehru jacket (hand-made by my mother, somehow a willing participant in my excesses)–well, you probably get the picture.  Place, of course, plays a role here; I grew up in the hyper-masculine world of the rural west (even the women were ‘butch’.)

When you’re four years old, your identity is still a work-in-progress, a more fluid you as it were.  It’s not that I didn’t love ‘boy’ things (war, destruction, the apocalypse) but it’s that I also embraced those ‘girl’ things (looking beautiful, being swept into the arms of love, thinking before acting.)

Now, through the lens of time, I firmly believe in nature; what appears to be nurture was just an extension of character already emergent.


Preemptive Apocalyptic Thought: The Angel of History Reconsidered in Light of Climate Change, the War on Terror, and the Discovery of the ‘Gay’ Gene (with Apologies to Michael Taussig)

Olive at Dawn, September 30, 2009

Olive at Dawn, September 30, 2009

The Dresden Duke and Duchess curtsy on their ossified legs
Fearful that a dance, a glance, a whisper, will forever change their

Accompanied by a duet of silent music, a violinist, a pianist, they
Grace the mantle, their smiles, their pleasure a rictus of Protestant

Glistening in the leafy light, bone, earth, water float in pastel
Clouds of pinpoint lace; hardened, nurtured by fresh hands after the

Would it not be ordained, the progress of life, evolution, these changes Swirling barefoot, orgasmic, and immutable?  Inevitable, that push that Toppled the Duke and shook the Duchess.

Fuller in gaslight, Duncan at the Parthenon, Nijinsky one afternoon,
Graham wrapped in fabric, a living Cubist sculpture; all

A hand from heaven gently rights the Duke, erasing his
Fall. Coolly, dispassionately contemplating his frippery, his finery, his

A reliquary, whose bones? Neither saint nor martyr. If they had known,
Would they have loved as deeply? Or would they have changed their

If they had had no choice, if they had had no knowledge to craft,
Create a perfect copy of their sharp embrace. Not a waltz or minuet but



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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