You’ve Been Doing What?

It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I feel like I’m at confessional.

But, really, it’s not like I haven’t been doing stuff. In fact, I have so many writing projects going that I’m drowning in them and can’t keep track of them all…a couple play rewrites, the guitar book, research on a couple new plays ideas that are just terribly weird. Which all may be bad or good, I’m not sure. Either way, the ink’s been flowing.
Of late, I’ve been writing long, narrative, free verse poems that may be…. Well, I’m not sure what they’ll be. Poems or prose poems for literary magazines? Performance monologues? Some kind of concert/chorus reading with actors, music, multimedia, helicopter fly-bys? It’s still in flux. But so far, there’s 35 of them, so I’m going to have to do something with them.

And, just to prove it, here’s one (still a rough), formatted to be read as a monologue. Or a prose poem. Or something. Whatever the hell it’ll be, I’m having a great time. And that’s good. Innnit it?

Mall
The weekend old cars, restored and polished, fill the mall. People passing see their reflections lengthen, distorted in lacquered, shining features. So far from the road. Like lobsters in dark tanks, white banded claws. A small PA plays Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochrane. The latter clearly a bit of attention to period detail, or a vaguely subversive sense of humor. Hang out, maybe they’ll sneak in Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” as shoppers drift from temptation to temptation, purses and wallets pulsing cold blue, signs come and go, come and go. Half the shoppers seem to have just come from a board meeting, the others from a session of weight training or swimming, chlorine-scented hair.

Woman in a turquoise sheath dress, as though lost on the way home from church, sells ice cream bars from a yellow cart, a line of children waiting while their parents check email on smart phones. She wears flats with discreet orthopedic wedges, the days on her weary feet, patiently waiting for their nightly soak as their owner rocks the remote

Little girl, dressed in some combination of cultures, little black zip-up coat, running shorts and saddle shoes, concentrates deeply when presented with choices. Very serious, this one. Asking questions regarding the nature of chocolate, hard or creamy, plain or French vanilla, her mother finally making a decision, which the girl accepts so readily that one wonders if that wasn’t what she wanted after all. Not knowing there’s a good chance that someday the roles would reverse

She sees them all, the impossibly nice or difficult—sometimes the same couple. But largely, a swath of the utterly ordinary, who, in her younger days, when her hair was long and straight, and she wore vests that jingled, she would have labeled plastic people. She saw them now as the shipwrecked, thrashing for their life preservers, waiting for anything to rescue them.

Above her, banks of tube lights behind translucent colored screens shone in alternating bands of color, pointing to an artificially vanishing horizon: a mural of land and sea, right out of the renaissance. The rest dark wood and painted fiberboard, disguising the mall’s warehouse like bones. And she wonders how they came to choose the painting, how they decided the sea would lead to higher consumption levels, for nothing here had been left to chance, every shine or surface carefully imagined.

At the end of days, after giving her feet their well-earned treat, she sits in her deliberately wild garden, watching sparrows and finches fight at the feeder until the night comes, city lights painting cloud bellies a dull magenta. And then the sirens sing.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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