Dadaism Revisited

Gobs of various colors have burned themselves into my retinas. So that red blinks white and white blinks black. I stood so long and stared the way children stare at light bulbs. Bespeckled everything I saw for hours afterward. Jackson Pollock, an egoist with an unnatural ability to paint feeling. The way colors feel. Like taking a beautiful natural rainbow, unraveling, mangling, cutting it into bits and throwing it into a blender. It’s the art that we are sure we had created in some fit of rage in kindergarten. When all you needed was a grey crayon for your elephant.

Angry at the injustice of it all, you scribbled frantically in every other color, especially red. Maybe you even went over to the other tables and scribbled on the other classmates drawings, no one could stop you. Or when you were painting the walls around the ceiling and the phone rang; a startled splatter of paint that made it beyond the masking tape barrier, you stared at it for a split second, you contemplated signing just under it: “Jackson Pollock was here” and the date but instead go out to buy a gallon of ceiling white.

Imagine all the fuck ups in your life, if you could have signed your name under them and the date and proudly displayed them to the eccentric upper crust for them to snort into their wine glasses at.


The time you had misspoken while reading aloud in your seventh grade science class. When you had said, “ORGASM” instead of “ORGANISM”.

If you had taped that moment and played it in slow motion, the way it played in your nightmares for weeks afterward. Patrons lining up in droves pay good money to witness humiliation in slow motion. You will stand there and press the rewind button for each fresh gathering. Some laugh, some cringe, some actually look to you standing there with your finger on the rewind button. You don’t see them though, they don’t register. “That’s the young lady in the film… all grown up now…” They whisper loud enough for you to hear, so that it’s not really a whisper at all.

The funniest things that happen to a friend of a friend are actually near tragic things that have happened to us. The mastectomy jokes your aunt is always reciting at the family gatherings have become an obsession for her. The reason is, her breasts were removed and no one really knows it, except of course, uncle Phil and you, as of July 2005 when she had one too many white Russians and mentioned it as casually as having a brake job done on her faithful Buick.

Now find a profitable way of exploiting all the near tragic things that happen to friends of a friend. Choose a medium. A nice Acrylic of your mom’s mangled Oldsmobile, the image burned into your retinas. Like that time when she reluctantly handed you the keys to go out, if that pickup truck hadn’t stopped for the red light, you wouldn’t have stopped into the back of the pickup truck.

Choose a medium. A short silent film of your father discovering the “reefer” in your backpack and then you retaliating with the, “Why were you going through my things?! I can’t wait until I’m on my own…” of course this being a silent film. Father: Wrinkled forehead shaking finger at you. You: Pinched eyebrows and a mouth slightly ajar. Create or recreate a feeling in a strange face, watch it contort with horror then finish with a sympathetic smile.

Take photos for your next exposition; a montage of strange sympathy. The truth is that we can all relate, no matter what language or dialect of a dying language we speak. Humanity understands humanity best through feeling. You close your eyes remembering a watercolor rendition of your first piano recital, the languid fumbling of your fingers, the liquid mumbling of your mother’s apologies to the empathetic audience.

has most recently migrated to NY with her burgeoning clan. Her poetry, short stories, photography, and artwork have been published in Burningword Literary Journal, Gravel Magazine, and the forthcoming Portland Review. Currently, she is collating her work into her debut chapbook.

You can follow her on Twitter at @TinaMGarv.