Blickley fiction, - aaduna in exile spring 2021 issue, Vol. 10 No. 1
Meet the Author
|Mark Blickley (photo provided)|
Mark Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatist Guild and PEN American Center. His latest book is the text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams via https://www.claresongbirdspub.com/featured-authors/amy-bassin-mark-blickley/
Judith Luongo is a visual artist with many years of experience as a creative arts therapy professor and as a psychoanalyst in private practice. She is also an essayist, poet, and playwright.
Belinda Subraman is a mixed media artist as well as a poet and publisher of “GAS: Poetry, Art & Music” video show and blog. Her art has been featured in Flora Fiction, Unlikely Stories, Eclectica, North of Oxford, Raw Art Review, El Paso News and Red Fez. She sells prints of her work in her Mystical House Etsy shop.
Painting “V Rising” by Judith Luongo
Text by Mark Blickley
Author’s Note: This is a dramatic monologue that incorporates italicized stage directions meant to aid the actor’s performance of the theater piece.
“VALADON: RECLINING NUDE”
A spotlight comes up on VALADON reclining nude and completely covered beneath a sheet that’s pulled up over her head, signifying her death.
Suddenly, she springs up naked from the gurney, bewildered, and wildly paces back and forth across the stage like a panicked, caged animal. She squints at the audience, trying to focus on the people sitting there in the dark.
Where am I!? What happened? Somebody help me! Maurice! Maurice! My precious Maumau! Why is it so cold and dark out there? WHERE AM I?
What the hell happened? I close my eyes for one seconde, in the middle of a fantastique brushstroke, and then this. Where is my easel? I have not completed my self-portrait! Why have I been abandoned? Maumau, where are you? WHERE AM I?
She shades her eyes with her hand and squints at the audience.
Allez savoir pourquoi !Va savoir pourquoi! Who are you? Why am I in your company? You sit in the dark while I am blinded by this terrible light. T’sais?
She scans the audience, shielding her eyes with her hand.
I know who you are! (she points to an audience member). You’re the great sculptor Anna Hyatt! I remember when you won first prize in the 1910 Paris competition for your life size statue of Joan of Arc on horseback, but the judges take back your prize when they discover you are a woman!
And you, (points) Artemissia Gentileschi—the first woman to be recognized in the Post-Renaissance art world. You paint the trauma of being raped by your art teacher, yet after your death your paintings are attributed to your father or other artists! Merde alors!
And you, (points) poet Elsa Von Freytag Loringhoven, Godmother of New York Dada! Pioneer of performance and body art, no longer remembered except as the woman who enters Duchamp’s urinal into the 1913 Armory show! Art historians to continue to pissoir your name and reputation!
And you, (points) Ann Vallayer, one of the greatest portrait painters of 18th century France, so beloved and popular that your patron Marie Antoinette gives you an apartment in the royal palace!
And you, (points) Corinne Michelle West, Gorky’s lover who turns down his six marriage proposals, determined to be an independent artist, forced to paint under the name Michael West in order to gain légitimité as an abstract expressionist painter!
Why am I up here in the light while you incredible women are down there in the dark? I AM NOT FRIGHENED! I refuse to be pulled into a feminine purgatory of neglect and disrespect. I am Suzanne Valadon! One of the greatest artists France has ever produced. And that includes painters whose cocks and ball sacks are crushed into their laps whenever they sit in judgment of their female peers and betters.
I am called a slut, a common putain simply because I lived my life like a man. I took my pleasures, seized them without coyness or waiting for approval. I am not one of France’s greatest female artists--- I am a great French artist! How unfair it is for women to be cursed with child bearing? When we choose to drift from one lover to another, a swollen belly of lust is often the punishment extracted for our freedom of choice. I am the bastard of a washerwoman who also birthed a bastard, a bastard who became an artistic genius like his mother. My dear Maumau, Maurice Utrillo.
As a bastard who bred a bastard, I am an upholder of French la tradition, no? Truthfully, don’t many of you Americans think of the French as bastards, oui? Too many men like to believe we came from their ribs, but they all came from our vaginas. Their balls are so delicate and vulnerable, but our vaginas can take a pounding, ooh la la, yet we are called the weaker sex. After I make love, my sweet juices flood into a river that drowns me in creative visions. Ideas do not come from my head. They come from my womb! Do you know the difference between good sex and really, really good sex? It makes me feel invincible. You see, mon cheri, orgasms not only heighten my creativity, my creativity heightens my orgasms! It is why we women cannot have fantastic sex all the time---I would burn myself out being in a continual creative mania.
Not only has my erotique behavior been criticized as being too aggressive and unfeminine, but so has my work. The critics loved to dismiss my art as too masculine because of my loose brushstrokes and coarse forms. Did you know I am the first French female artist to paint a nude male? I’m speaking of real cock and balls studs and not some fig leaf hidden flowery Greek God. C'est vrai! Men can be such frightened bebes. It was believed when I was young that women who worked with naked male models would lose, if not the flavor of their virginity, at least its “sweet parfum.” Not once did it ever prevent any man from suckling my juices---Renoir once told me that his sips between my legs was like honey to the throat, but poison in the blood. Men can be such hypocrites!
I displayed uncommon courageux being the first artist to record so precisely and mercilessly the progressive damage of time to a naked female body—my body! I had a stroke while painting my final canvas, a nude self-portrait at age seventy-three. Stripped of the female sexuality that was the rasion d’ettre of France during my lifetime, my realistic naked self-portraits not only created a new art form, but endowed it with the importance it deserves.
So explain to me how my 1938 Parisian obituary only mentions that I, the great Suzanne Valadon, an internationally acclaimed artist of the first rank, is reduced to be written up as just the mother and the wife of an artist while ignoring my many artistic accomplishments? I left behind 478 paintings, 273 drawings and 31 etchings. My funeral at the church of Saint Pierre of Montmartre was attended by the most celebrated of Parisian artists---the mourners included Pablo Picasso.
Why must I continue to suffer discrimination as a woman, even as I lay within my freshly dug grave?
Sculpture “Tree Root People” by Belinda Subraman
Text by Mark Blickley
“Trees are sanctuaries. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” Hermann Hesse
When I was alive, my favorite joke to tell was the one about the woman who was arrested at a cemetery for peeing in public on her husband’s grave. When the arresting cop said she must have really hated him, the woman was shocked. “Hate him? I was crazy about him. I’m just crying from the place I miss him most.”
Yeah, I know. The joke’s vulgar and silly. But guess what? It always cracks me up when telling it, and truth be told, most people at least giggle if not outright belly laugh. So, if it offends you, get over it.
My name’s Craig Luzinsky and I recently died at age 66 of what my liberal lesbian daughter calls Covfefe-19. Zoe’s a smartass, but I don’t blame my President. I blame China. Both my parents died at 66, though 4 years apart. Who’s to say I wouldn’t have bit the big one at age 66 anyway? I did have diabetes. To quote my favorite President about the hundreds of thousand recent American deaths, “It is what it is.” Not wearing a mask or social distancing didn’t kill me, it was my heartbreak over the loss of my God-given right to protest those fascist restrictions that did me in.
I am honored to have my favorite leader’s signature on my Presidential Memorial Certificate, issued by the sitting Commander-in-Chief to all veterans who died with an Honorable Discharge. God knows what my lefty daughter will do with that noble document. Hope he won re-election.
I’m a Navy veteran with three years submarine service. I earned my dolphins, and am
proud to be called a Bubblehead, the Navy nickname for sailors who serve on underwater boats. My wish was to be buried in a National Veteran’s Cemetery, lying in proud solidarity with my military brothers, although I don’t have much use for those Air Force vets who consider themselves military. Most of them were a bunch of wusses, except for the combat pilots. Or if not planted in a military cemetery, I wanted to be cremated (the VA pays) with burial at sea, a proper end for a Cold War warrior.
Neither of my requests were honored. Here’s a tip for those of you still walking above ground—avoid seriously pissing off your kids for long swatches of time. I was estranged from three of my four kids and as luck would have it, the only child who continued to have contact with me was my self-proclaimed “progressive” youngest child, Zoe. I have her to thank for the horrible place I am in today. I can only dream of being buried in a proper graveyard where anyone who feels the need could piss on my grave if they want. I learned in the Navy that urine is sterile.
Every night the news would run sob stories about how all we Kung Flu victims on respirators have to die alone, without the comfort of family beside them. For Christsakes, we’re all born alone and we all die alone. Suck it up. Who needs a bunch of “loved ones” crowding around your bed, gawking down out at you as you rattle out a final breath and lose control of your bowels? Give me a break. They pay people to clean up that kind of mess.
Zoe and her angry what she calls “wife” would often visit and argue current events with me. I think I did an admirable job defending myself, as they usually stormed out of my apartment, speechless. I may have won those battles with Zoe and her girlfriend, but damned if they didn’t win the war. My environmentally zealot daughter is turning me into a tree. And believe me, it couldn’t be further from a green peace. It’s humiliating.
Zoe had me stuffed into this biodegradable plastic pod that looks like a giant egg. To fit me inside, I was placed into a fetal position. You believe that? A powerful, manly person like me going out like some helpless naked baby. Hope she’s enjoying her last laugh at my expense.
Here’s her plan. As my burial pod disintegrates, the surrounding soil gets nutrients from my decaying body and the tree sapling they planted above me begins to take root. I’m so lucky to have died in one of the 33 States that allows this burial mockery of patriotic, God-fearing men like me who served this nation. I went from a proud former First-Class Petty Officer to a goddamn eternal tree-hugger.
I must be planted in some kind of left-wing pod forest cemetery because there are a bunch of other people down here and we are all connected in some kind of crowded, twisted network. Most of them look like brown and beige freaks, but some of the women are still pretty hot, though I could do without the smell of our evaporating gasses. In a weird way it reminds me of being close quartered in a below ground submarine.
A pleasant surprise is how really sweet it can get down here, an added treat for a former diabetic. Every root pumps out a sugar hormone into other roots that often leaves me feeling like a young sailor on shore leave. I did get upset at first when other guys were pumping me full of sugar and not just the ladies, but it’s executed with such organized harmony I can’t help but admire its military-like precision. Sue me.
Don’t get me wrong. This place is no hippy-dippy paradise like my daughter probably believes it to be. Actually, Zoe’s not such a bad kid. She’s just mixed up. I don’t really buy that she buried me in a fetal position to humiliate me. She probably figured it was something joyful. I used to get tired of her always asking me, “Pops, don’t you feel any joy or passion? What gets you excited or curious?” I told her I haven’t felt any of those things since her mother died.
When I was a young sailor, I used to eat magic mushrooms with my buddies. I liked them very much, especially all the intense, colorful visions during sex. But the fungi down here (that’s what they like to be called), these mushrooms, are truly magical. In between my sugar rushes I get crackling jolts of electricity from this internet of shrooms. These flashes of energy pinpoint exactly how we’re feeling. Trust me, it’s not euphoria and bliss pulsing in and out of my body. It’s most often a melting anger alongside cackling surges of fear.
We are all wired.
Yet none of us are alone.
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