Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram

Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram
This diagram was created by the co-producing artistic directors of Rude Mechs to depict the complexity of creating and crediting collaboratively devised work for theatrical performance.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

This I believe #3

You know what to do!


  1. Ten toes buzz electric beneath a white-hot faucet.
    My infrastructure trips the light fantastic,
    as a scorching purification creeps up my bones.
    I ran the water too hot. I do this every time.

    My confidant Malbec and I sink
    back into the lavender-scented center
    of this, our elliptical orbit.

    Strong, but silent, is my fermented friend.
    He speaks softly in soundless sanguine,
    and carries a big stick of pensive faculty.

    So together, we think.

    Futile, I suspect, it is to ask how the conductor
    of such painfully common blood finds the time
    to speak to me in counterfeit language.
    A patois of thumps, telling me to love something hopeless.

    Lividity burned in blue-gray eyes,
    as they looked at their progenitor’s,
    reflecting correctional neon orange

    Even I was astonished at the guts I had,
    as an eight year old, to eviscerate paterfamilias.
    “...I hate you, dad.”

    It took five trips around the sun to digest that moment.

    I am my father’s emergency contact
    because he has no one else
    to take him to the hospital when his chest hurts,
    or when he begins to drown in the fluid of his tar-spackled lungs.

    The plexiglass separating our identical eyes
    was replaced with cataracts
    years ago.

    Perhaps I am a fool for perceiving
    decaying physicality
    as the renouncement of a delinquent soul.

    Either way, I send him a funny birthday card every June.

    Thoughts scatter, as my eyes are caught
    by the milky film of spent bubble bath
    swirling like a lazy tempest
    atop water that had long-since turned cold.

    I believe in birthday cards.

    1. OOOH the line about plexiglass/cataracts is EN POINTE

    2. This is powerful writing, Sarah. At the risk of sounding like a college professor, I must ask: have you considered taking a Creative Writing class?

  2. I believe in moments.

    I collect these fragmented pieces of life. With each step, they jingle and rumble and bounce in a hidden knapsack with drawstrings worn from use. I reach my hand in often, most times yearning for a smooth-edged moment, one I can easily run my finger along, no catches or tears. I love these sea-glass moments, with their handsome purples and teals and dancing reflections. These are tiny handprints in cement, a pine tree with low branches aching for a friend to climb. They are two people, shoulder-to-shoulder, asphalt beneath them, hands clasped and drunk with love until headlights appear and an engine’s growl splits the night in two, the people in two. I have many of these sunny moments, and my fingers rarely fumble long to pinch one out and softly drop it into my open palm.

    But a collection of moments is not complete if it is only filled with the soft and easy. Drawstrings are loosened and my searching hand enters. This time the moment is neither light nor smooth, but weighed down by sorrow and fear. I remember an unpleasant pair of incisions strategically placed on my body by the steady hand of a surgeon. A part of me cut away and sent off to a place where decisions are made about the future of a person, where positive means cancer and negative means life. I remember my mother, my father, the waiting.

    I tip my palm over and the moment falls into the knapsack safely hidden inside my heart. I tighten the drawstrings and once again, my moments begin to jingle and rumble and bounce.

    1. I'm glad you decided to share.

    2. An impressionistic meditation on life and mortality. Beautiful.

  3. The following is a real conversation shared between myself and a Barnes and Noble customer via telephone.

    Thank you for calling Barnes and Noble. This is Johnna, how may I help you?

    Johnna, did you say? What a beautiful name… Are you a woman?

    Yes, I am. Are you looking for books today?

    Um, yes. I am a female body builder. These books are older ones about the art of women’s bodybuilding. They may be pretty difficult to find.

    That’s all right. What’s the first title?

    You’re name is Johnna, right?

    Yes. What’s the first title?

    So I just give you the first title, Johnna? That’s how this works?


    The first title is Wake Up to My Muscular Thighs.

    That’s actually not coming up in our system. Let me do a quick Google search, please.

    Well, can you repeat it back to me? Maybe you didn’t hear me correctly.

    Yes, you said, Wake Up to My Muscular Thighs.

    Just one more time, please, Johnna?

    Wake Up to My Muscular Thighs. I can’t find this book anywhere. Is there another title you’re interested in?

    Ah, yes, Johnna. It’s called, My Legs in High Heels Will Drive You Wild.

    Yes, that’s not showing in the search results either. I also Googled it, and it seems impossible to find.

    Just, please, repeat it back to me, Johnna. Just one time.

    I’m sorry; I just can’t seem to find it.

    Oh, Johnna, repeat it back to me.

    No, I won’t repeat it!

    I believe I accidentally assisted someone with masturbation. I also believe I am too naive.

    1. Wow! This is funny and poignant and understated and powerful. Not sure if I should feel sorry for you for having had this experience...

    2. this is too funny.....traumatic....but traumatically funny

  4. Mint Green Rain boots in snowball slush. Squealing when the box arrives. Can’t wait to open the package you purchased for yourself. Doubting the color until you see the perfect shade of green through the tissue paper. Jumping up in down in a matching mint green room in the library. Forgetting the fact that you have a test in less than 24 hours. Capturing the moment of excitement on Instigram so the world can then understand your enthrallment.
    Drawing on the white board two stick figures. Both young girls with long marker hair. One’s hair got in the way of her arm, which resulted in a slightly awkward elbow. Either way the slightly malformed arm reaches out towards the second girls arm. Their stick arms meet so I guess they are holding hands. Perfect in their triangle dresses. Cheery smiles without a care.
    After filling your head with too much knowledge your stomach is empty so it needs filled. There is only one place to go after midnight. Eduardo takes your order at Taco Bell. Karaoke in the car the whole way back. These girls in the car are on fire thanks to Alicia Keys. Nothing is better than living out your junior year with a senior’s point of view. I believe in understanding what’s its like to live each day like it’s the best day of our lives, like you know an end is coming soon.

    1. I feel like everyone should live with this sense of urgency.

  5. I wrote two food poems. I believe in both of them. Sometimes I just write and can't control myself. sorry.

    Beer! Beer! GLORIOUS Beer!

    West Sixth as nectar of the Gods.
    Primarily just Dionysus.
    He had orgies.
    Very Liberal and Forward-thinking for Ancient Greece.


    Eliza Doolittle's Dad said that.
    no one taught him "take" instead of TIKE
    Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?

    fear. fear. Glorious fear.

    afraid their children may tike what's theirs.
    whereof one cannot speak,
    thereof one must be silent.

    Peanut Butter and Honey.
    My comfort food.
    Some may argue for Jelly.
    This may be crude,
    but I'd say, "fuck them. they're boring."

    I've been eating it since I was a wee lad.
    and, no, I'm never mad
    when the honey makes the bread change texture.
    Who needs soft bread?
    it's been caramelized by the fruit of bee's labor.
    You can't say it's not productive.

    Peanut Butter and Honey
    eating it for lunch on hot summer days
    when your family left you to tour own devices
    in the clutch of after-school YMCAs

    Sometimes I like my peanut butter crunchy,
    sometimes smooth. Things change,
    but whenever I get Lunchy

    1. Peanut butter and honey on toast is my favorite snack! I appreciate you expressing your taste for it over jelly :)

    2. BEER! PEANUT BUTTER AND HONEY! Your love affair with both sounds amazing.

  6. I believe in the rain. I believe in dancing in it, whether it’s sprinkling or pouring, and letting it rain wash your face, and smear your mascara until you look like a raccoon. I believe that rain is not only the best way to make corn, which as we all must know, makes whiskey, but I also believe that it symbolizes purity. I like the way I can lay in bed, and watch each raindrop slowly slide down the slippery window. And then there are the faster ones which, side-by-side, race down to see who can make it to the finish-line puddle first.

    However, there are more than a few reasons why I DON’T believe in rain: frizzy hair when you’re on your way for a night out, slick roads when you want to get home, that feeling that automatically comes over you when it’s suddenly just WAY too early to get up out of bed when it’s raining, even though you have gotten up at the same time every day for months.

    But I can’t complain too much, because rain brings life. That’s why I believe in it.

    1. I like rain, too. The feminist adventurer in me is not really sure where the undercurrent of your watery abyss is taking my subconscious boat.

    2. I like how you oscillate between believing and not believing in rain. I think I should write a reflection about why I don't believe in snow more than I believe in it.

  7. I took for granted my younger years spent with you. I guess because I thought you would always be here. I was wrong to assume that, as wrong as it is to assume that from anyone. Four years ago you found that painful lump beneath your breast tissue. With enough prayer, love and treatment, over the course of that next year, you seemed to be back to normal. We were ecstatic to hear the news. They said the cancer was gone, and gone for good. It was a miracle, I thought. Your strong and life ridden hands were as strong as ever, your color was radiant, you were the person I had always remembered you being; the same person I have looked up to since I was able to speak. We proceeded on, living life to the fullest with you, because, after all, it’s a rare occasion that it’s given back to you. Last year, at exactly this time, we were horse riding in the beautiful forested hills of Brown County, Indiana. The same place and campsite we have visited every year for as long as I can remember. My precious memories of those past trips were fading, but I assured myself that now we can make more; just like we were supposed to all along. The plans made between you, my mother and I were exciting; we were going to take our trailer of horses to the Smokey Mountains, in the brisk fall air, and wind our days down by the camp fire; that you so easily built on your own; they seemed to be the best and warmest fires. We were going to camp at Big South Fort with our horses, where we have also camped uncountable times. We had so many incredible plans.
    Two years later I find myself here, sitting next to you, looking at pictures of you and my mother from years ago on the farm. That’s when you helped her raise my brother, just the two of you. I’m holding your hand as you uneasily flip through the scrapbook pages, because your hands are no longer the strong, sturdy farmer hands you once had. They’re cold and brittle, now. Your once soothing voice has withered down to a harsh whisper, one I can’t stand to hear come from you. Now, the loudest noise you can make comes from the machine that you’re plugged up to; that follows you everywhere. You wear that toboggan we bought you for Christmas to cover your hairless radiation-burnt head. But that’s the last time they’ll hurt you, because you did what you knew you had to do. You told them you have had enough; you were done. You quit. They said you wouldn’t make it to Christmas, but you somehow keep holding on. I lean my head over and cry on your shoulder, it’s hard for me to look at you. You try to comfort me, as if I were the one in pain, who deserved such comfort. After a moment of silence, clinging to each other, you whisper to me so only I can hear, “You will never know how much I love you until you have children of your own. Only then, will you know how much I love you.”
    (continue below)

  8. You were supposed to come to my college graduation, you were supposed to be there at my wedding, you were supposed to meet my children, and be for them what you’ve always been for me. You are my rock; My mother’s best friend; My dad’s Vegas buddy; A second mother to my brother and me; The person who convinced me of my love for James Taylor. Your tears land on my arm as you sob into me and hold me close. You cry, not because of the misery and pain you endure, but because you feel you’ve let us down. The guilt seems to be what is hurting you the most. What a cruel joke that has been played on you; on all of us. The false hope given to you that your life was reassured and you had nothing more to worry about. The only question now is “when?” As much as I love you, I wish it was today. For a person whose life that was as full and exciting as yours, this isn’t any way live, bed-ridden and unable to even step outside, just smell that sweet southern air ever again. But I will wear your old black-gem ring on my finger, and your pink ribbon on my ankle, and ride until I can’t physically get myself up on a horse anymore, because I know that’s what you would be doing; and when you are finally free, I will miss you terribly. But, I believe in the relinking of the chain of friendship and love after our short time spent on earth is up.

    1. You are a beautiful soul and I am so proud to call you my friend, stinky. We are sprinkling so many gergins when I get back from Paducah.

    2. This is incredibly moving. Thank you for sharing such an emotional experience and part of yourself with all of us

    3. I hope that you will share this reflection with the woman to whom it is addressed. It will mean so much to her, even if it makes her cry.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. He drove through the night from New York to Kentucky—771 miles in a Crew Cab pickup. His crew included four kids who jockeyed for space and battled for the prize of who would sleep the least—every car on the highway announced like a dignitary arriving at a royal ball. Makes and models made a mottled chorus of shouting and the clock was glowing bright green—everyone found another stick of beef jerky. The odor of partially digested dried meat pierced metal and the cold air pouring through his open window to keep him alert as he flew toward me in the dark.

    I woke and started to vacuum—making the house clean for his collapse. He arrived and unloaded two hours earlier than expected—because he drives fast and because he forgot to calculate for the different time zone. Children poured into the house like water—flowing to fill the lowest places. They assembled blow-guns from pvc pipe.

    My brother, nearly napping with his head on the cat-shredded arm of a couch, was dragged to the back yard to sit for a meal he never asked for, a meal prepared quickly by many small hands. He pulled the brim of his cap down to protect his eyes and opened wide his mouth while leaning back in the chair. Tears ran down his face from nervous laughter and from the intense clenching of his eyelids to save himself from what his cap may miss. Eight of us loaded our pvc blowguns and tried to fill the back of his throat.

    I believe in marshmallows

    1. I really enjoy when you share stories about your brother... I think those of us in the class with siblings can relate to all of the different dimensions of sibling relationships.

    2. Traveling long distances by car is exactly how you describe it. Beef jerky is such a staple.

    3. You are able to convey your brother's big heart in such an understated way. I am sure he would be outwardly embarrassed but inwardly thankful if he could read your reflection. You know what this means, right?

  11. I believe in surprises--the way in which Spring is a surprise!

    the way the blooms that expand
    and have blushed

    cannot really mean
    the demise of skies
    drenched in grey
    or the kelly-green grass that grins
    sharply up at me
    those blades turning like windmills in the virgin sun
    are now dipped in snow
    puddled in cream,
    crunched under inch-thick soles.

    After all, it was just a prank!
    now ignited by my muffler's sputters--those tricky seasons,

    that mushroom up
    catch me in their punch
    and leave me sputtering up spores
    till season come.

  12. This is a story of what happened a few days ago.

    A few days ago I descended the stairs to the first floor of our 1948 red-brick home and fell into the question of my 6-year-old daughter, “Mommy, can you sing along?” The song she and her 3-year-old bother were playing was the first track on a CD I had purchased the last time I visited Bulgaria, 7 years ago, pregnant with my first child, trying to fulfill filial obligations. I purchased the CD before I knew how much I would come to dislike CDs made for children, how I would one day assert the quiet of my own life over the assumed musical needs of my children.

    On that morning a few days ago, my English-speaking daughter and son asked me to sing along to what turned out to be a Bulgarian song I instantly recognized. In rare compliance with my children’s demands, I started singing words which sprang on my tongue even though my tongue becomes lost whenever it speaks Bulgarian. Though the words’ origins eluded me, I knew that I knew them and I sang along about a childhood both real and magical, a childhood dearly missed now that it’s gone.

    This instant recall astonished every part of me that I consider American. It astonished my commitment to being strong and unsentimental, to not dwelling on what is no longer, to being future-oriented, outspoken, and honest, to questioning everything, to not missing Bulgaria or anyone in the entire country, to loving my American confidence and unearned freedoms.

    On that morning, I grabbed my daughter’s small hands, spinning her in a dance so dizzying she would not notice the tears threatening to spill. On that morning, I sang along, wondering about 10 years of childhood, about words that will not leave me, about the part of me that remembers.

    On that morning I was afraid my daughter would ask me what the words mean. But we kept dancing, my voice cracking at the high notes.

    On that morning, I believed in singing words that are almost forgotten.

    1. Like Savanna's, this moved me to tears. I'm not sure if they were happy or sad.

  13. As a general rule, I hate snow. I thoroughly believe that I was born with some genetic mutation that has caused me to be either cold blooded or thickened my blood to the consistency of molasses. Either way, I get cold unbelievably quickly and in temperatures that by no means should be making me shiver. And when I get cold, I FREEZE. So naturally, I have come to abhor most forms of precipitation. And by most I mean all, except rain in very specific circumstances. VERY SPECIFIC.
    So, when it began to snow yesterday, I fell into my learned state of cold induced anger, imagining that I had radioactive vision or could summon fireballs in order to enact my righteous fury on this pestilence that had dared to fall. It always makes me angry when people say things like "I love the snow" or "it's so cold, I wish it would snow." I think that the only places snow should exist are Christmas morning and postcards. I believe that everyone who loves snow should be rounded up and sent to Antarctica.

    1. You know, just now--on reading Sarah Caperton's reflection about rain, I decided to write my own reflection about not believing in snow. I could not agree more with your anti-snow sentiments.

    2. there is something so wonderful about the snow though. a clean white layer that blankets the dead and the dying. all the litter, all the dirt gone for a single moment. Snow creates a new fresh ground untainted. you can be the first to crush through the ice and create a trail of boot prints all your own. the first to touch a snowflake. its like the ground and the world is new again. theres something about the cold that brings everyone together in a shared since of pain and un-comfort, bitterness, and ultimately a healing. people are forced by harsh conditions to huddle together for warmth, for conversation, for intimacy, for togetherness. In the summer people talk about the weather, but its a selfish relationship with it. what "I" did today, how good "I" felt, how "I" got away to the beach, how "I" bathed in the sun; whereas the cold and snow is much more communal to me. The human touch is amplified in the winter. Homemade food is more delicious in the winter. Your house becomes your sanctuary in the winter, whereas the summer everyone just wants to get away. warm hands warm bodies. just wonderful.

      I was a winter baby born in december so i admit i have a certain affinity for the cold. Antarctica so much.

  14. More often then i would generally like i find myself falling, careening through the air, out of control and out of touch. frequently when this happens it is unfortunately brought on by my own actions, sometimes even my lack thereof. And as I quickly plummet to the earth i usually have quite a lot of time to think. what else are you going to do in free fall anyway? So i fall. and i think, i think about every tiny minuscule detail that may have possible kept me from this situation. I think about how the only person that could possibly pull me out of this free fall is the same person who pushed me off the cliff in the first place.

    every once in a while though, i'm able to make things right, and at the last second, when it seems like my fate is to have a wonderful reunion with the ground, the very person who caused my fall plucks me out of the air.

    I believe in second chances.


  15. Out the door, past the brick walkway, down the steps, right at the light, onto the sidewalk, right at the corner, past the stop and shop, left at limestone, and in the door of sidecar. That was the path. That was the night. That was the destination, or was supposed to be at least. Grab my coat, out the door. Dropped my flask, picked up and past the brick walkway. Thumbed around in my pocket, then walked down the steps. Check my phone then right at the light. Lit up a camel, then stepped onto the sidewalk. Right at the corner then stop. Oh shit, then Anthony.
    "What are you doing pimpin'?" he slurred with a toothless grin, eyes wide and colored like melted butter.
    “Sidecar, my man. There’s some females I gotta check in on at this show. Headin there now,” I said, cutting my attention down to phone buzzing in my pocket.
    As I tried to fix my gaze past Anthony, my eyes traced the sidewalk past the stop and shop, to the street sign just a few steps away from the bar.
    “I need you baby,” he cocked his head and stared past me like a coy fish looking though inch thick aquarium glass. “Just a pint. We’ll go down here to the store, buy a couple bottles and you can meet up with yo honeys when we get back.”
    Standing on the corner of 6th and Broadway, I looked down two open roads. The trek to the liquor store was a bit longer; up the sidewalk, past 7th, cross at the speedway, through the line of check 4 cash shacks, then into the store with the brightest neon. I reached back into my pocket and sloshed around a near empty flask.
    “Alright, I got you.”
    Up. Past. Cross. Through. Then went inside. Grabbed. Paid. Change. Nodded. Then back outside.
    We traded a few quips, as we headed back to the same corner at which, we first bumped into each other. “Aye man, my dudes got some funk if you need. He’s right down there; it’ll take a second. Come on man, them girls can wait,” his words pushed loud past his churlish grin.
    “Weed right?” I questioned, knowing full well that funk comes in other flavors.
    “Yeah Pimpin lets go.” He uttered, planting a hand on my left shoulder blade.
    Down the block. Through the alley, I grabbed a seat at a plastic orange chair outside of the only house with a broken streetlight out front. Anthony quietly mouthed,
    “Alright these my dough boys, you hang back,” as he waltzed over to the white Yukon with the busted taillight. And so I sat. Waited. Tapped my foot, and stole a couple glances, as shadows shook hands, spoke softly, and sped off. Anthony strutted back with his hands deep in his pockets, I quickly got up and we walked into Gene’s place. We both grabbed a spot in the living room and sunk into a winged back couch with fabric as rough as burlap. As Anthony peeled back the petals of the sizable ball of tin foil, I saw two white rocks nestled in the center like oblong seeds, stuck deep in a sour fruit.

    ...Continued in reply...

    1. “The fuck?” I bellowed, as I got up and paced the floor of the living room no bigger than two or three closets.
      “You cool man,” he confidently confirmed. “Aye, it’s no different from a joint, stay cool,” as a pulled out a brown stained pipe from his inner coat pocket, sparked the glass, and sunk deeper into the burlap couch.
      “I can’t get down with that man, that sure as shit aint like no joint,” I recoiled, staring out the shoebox window, now spotted with crawling roaches.
      All of us creepy things. Wriggling to get through the glass.
      I opened my mouth to say I was gonna split but as I turned to Anthony, I caught a cloud of white smoke where my words should have been. His mad laugh came after, as he blew another puff in my face. “Could I get a contact, from that?” I quickly drowned the thought out of my head with a shot of cheap bourbon from the flask in my pocket. Much drunker then I was before entering this situation, I began to toy with the idea of trying crack for the first time. Anthony was all smiles at this point .
      The big chief of the pipe, sitting alone on a white mound at Little Big Horn.
      I could surrender. It became a possibility in my mind. I prodded it and poked at the idea like a cat with its claws in a fallen bird. “Hey where are you,” it read about a dozen times as I glanced again at my phone messages. It was then that I took a good long look at the man beside me, now a puddle on the floor, mumbling in a language only he could decipher.
      I left that man to his own device.
      It was then that I began to believe in taking opportunities. Taking risks is the spice of life, the story makers, the character builders, and if you trust yourself to make the right decisions, chances are you will. I had seen that boogyman, that hard, that crank, that mess with your mind, in a pipe to my left and came out alive, un-phased and didn’t surrender. Staring straight down the barrel without flinching is the only time you can realize that you’re no longer afraid of the gun.

    2. Wow, this is quite an experience to have, Patrick. Glad you came out alright.

  16. I believe I wouldn't survive alone in the wilderness.

    “That looks DELICIOUS, but I don’t want to try it.” Needless-to-say, my relationship status with food has been set to “it’s complicated” for as far back as I can remember. This is quite odd because I come from a family of adventurous eaters. For instance, a typical family gathering of ours includes contests of who can eat the hottest chili combinations, having grown various types such as ghost peppers (a fine delicacy that is technically illegal to consume in America.)

    My eating habits have become so refined that I, with certainty, have eliminated three whole groups of food from my diet – nuts (I don’t enjoy them in any form), berries (though I do enjoy berry flavor, just not the actual berry), seafood (which includes everything that lives in the sea and yes, shrimp is considered a seafood.), and meat that I have to extract from the bone myself (I am reminded that it was an animal and therefore cannot consume it.) I believe we have reached the conclusion that I will not survive long if left in the wilderness alone to fend for my life.

    So, let’s have a go at a scenario. I have long been wanted by the government for something highly illegal and dangerous. I cannot go into detail, for I would also put you at risk. Anyways, since the death penalty would clearly put their members in peril, I have been sentenced to a life of exile on a small remote, but tropical, island. I have debated about the location, and it has to be tropical or else my scenario would not work. Okay, so I’m on the island, and what do I eat? That’s where I’d put my food crisis on hold and avoid the situation by constructing a beautiful fort out of found materials such as large fan leaves, rocks, and branches. I would take care to make sure the location is ideal – the fort would be protected from heavy rain, wind, and predators. Next, I would further procrastinate and look for seashells down at the coast. I imagine I would soon collect an impressive amount and have to construct a display in my fort to showcase my findings. I assume that after all that strenuous activity I would become very parched and would require water to further my projects. Digging back in my brain, I would retrieve my 6th grade Water Purification science project and build it. Of course it would also situate in my fort in an aesthetic spot.

    And that’s where I will end the scenario to save you from all the boring details on how I would continue on to search out the best flavor bark and leaves while being pursued by one hungry grizzly bear (who also happened to be exiled to that same island) … and I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that.