Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gustav Klimt: Time and Magical Illusions

Gustav Klimt: Time and Magical Illusions
by Armando Ortiz
Gustav Klimt made magical paintings. The bright color combinations are executed in such a manner that they are symbolic of the ever present. The master pieces remind the onlooker of life’s dissipating moment that escapes our hands like water. Klimt’s creations nonetheless flow in a timeless river where rocks are suspended by the currents of nature. To see them, is to be transported into a world that continues to exist, the works being a wormhole into the anxieties and dreams of the living artist, that stands observing his patient models, and evergreen landscapes, making representations of that instance, where flickering hearts mirror the flames inside through the eyes of living goddesses.
Pleasure and sensuality are brushed onto a canvas that makes up a woman’s profile. Her eyes, closed, remembering that instance of past time where a warm embrace seemed to last longer than seconds with eyes, closed, covering that sunshine as her tears become gold smears.  Time and life, so invaluable, amazingly unchained, as tiny bean shoots that unroll after breaking through the earth, depicting youth in peach colored tones, and age in a darkening pale beige. Forever drifting in an ocean of imaginations, all eyes changing its point of view, an ever changing perspective of bodies that continue to live standing through the ages. Refinement being found in a delicate smile and a nod of ecstasy discovered through interior light. Even in a perfectly sealed beaker, we are swept by the tick-tocking clock of the universe, with rich and poor succumbing to the same fate, mass and matter, disintegrating, returning to where it all starts the stars, becoming magic illusions.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sacred Time: Short Piece

Sacred Time
Armando Ortiz

Life is not the holy moment; at best this mundane time becomes a break into the extraordinary, where eureka is hollered after years of mistakes. Nirvana is only the waking of eyes, where for a life time your pupils are pried wide, and blindly live every second that passes, thinking that life is forever.

This dream is only here for a moment, just as a rose bush drops petalls, and sakuras that are released from branches. Our Mother’s hand slowly opens, letting tiny birds take flight, while Father’s arm swings, to sow seed into the air that becomes a cloud of butterflies floating on bye.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love and Hate: Five Pieces

Love and Hate: Five Pieces
I love you like party time,
as the sun goes down, and
bed sheets cover us to hide
what we imbibe.

I hate you like the emotional isolation
that is felt when beside me you cry,
shedding those tears
through the night.

I love you like party time
that’s when its Friday at midnight,
and though tired I fight the urge to sleep
keeping on the mild cool light.

I love you like dark chocolate chili
that is sold in the old markets
of towns found in between green valleys
where on deserted imaginary lands
abuelitas wearing aprons
carry those delicious goblets
on dry baskets, and covered
in golden maize husks.

I hate you like clammy handshakes
that leave that water residue on the skin
as a sign that time has come to say goodbye
like eyes that splash you with darkness
with abysmal irises of black unknowns.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life and Death: Short Piece

Life and Death: Short Piece
by Armando Ortiz

Yes, we all die
but that doesn’t answer the question
as to why.

Into this confusion we are born,
and just when we thought that this fusion,
of love and nature could endure,
your neighbor dies and
souls begin to knock on our door.

We end up visiting the hills where people,
still cold and stiff, are laid to rest
and every time we return, it seems that life’s
duress reveals its empty self in the shape of death,
where memory can no longer regress to that time when
lawns were used to play ball, and trees blanketed
us with that cool shade.

No one knows the suffering of others.
we walk kilometers forgetting that there are those,
who’ve trampled through the heat of humanity,
walked through valleys of glowing embers and silently
swallowed the bitter drink of life.

Broken remain those who hang from trees and tattered are
the happy times that we barely reclaim, yet
there is no prejudice with life and death.

It’s the stuff in between that stirs waters,
that creates hurricanes and tsunamis
of labels and names, and
painful experience.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Peasants: Short Piece

by Armando Ortiz

Sun weathered,
weather beaten.

Feeling mother’s warmth
inside the furnace of creation.

Where the wheat
is sheared and beaten.

You embody the perfect mirror
un-fragmented by life’s tears.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Shadow Beyond Midnight: Short Story

A Shadow Beyond Midnight
By Armando Ortiz
There are times when things get jumbled up and one loses track of chronological time. We reach a point where time becomes a vast plane of unwinding events that seem to flow through us at a speed that is undecipherable to the human mind. At other times mundane tasks take on a life of their own, washing the dishes that have accumulated in the sink, brushing your teeth before and after sleep. Time seems to fly right past us, and the daily grind of repetition seems to become a necessary evil. We all become that boxer that after being knocked down gets up and goes back to that same fighting position. Training most of his life for these battles has made his skills become second nature. Sometimes the fighter ends up prevailing but sometimes he goes down again. For Will, it was supposed to be like any other night, but things transpired so fast that now it is hard to tell what is and isn’t real.
He was down to his last pair of jeans, and needed to get ready for the coming week. Most of the dirty clothes were piled up making a smelly mountain. With arms crossed, he stood beside it and stared at the small mound. Putting the dirty clothes in a sack brought back memories of things he had done the week before, wine that he’d drank, tomato stains from the pasta he’d had with his date, and numerous chili bean stains from the countless lunch breaks that were enjoyed at Tommy Burgers. Bright reds and dirt browns seemed to be the variants of the soiled laundry.
He had decided to do his laundry at the usual time-past midnight. The 24 hour Laundromat down the street would be somewhat empty at night, and he wouldn’t have to worry about the crowds or the eye contacts. Being in a place where many strangers gathered, especially in a public facility, where different characters always came in and out made him a bit uncomfortable. You never knew what would happen in a place like that.
He packed his stuff in the car and returned to his apartment to get some loose change and a bottle of detergent. The golden yellow detergent was hidden in between his plastic file cabinet and his drawer. He got back to his little four door sedan, turned it on, and pulled out of the parking garage. As he drove out of the building and attempted to turn on the radio, someone yelled, “Hey Will!” He stopped the car and rolled down the window to see who was hollering. At a distance he saw the dark silhouette of a heavy set woman walking her dog. He resumed his driving, and the steady metallic riding of the hi-hat beat came from the speakers, “Foot Steps in the Dark,” began to play. As the car slowly accelerated, he noticed a rusty substance smeared on the ground a few feet in front of the vehicle.
After making a left at the corner, he noticed that while changing lanes the streaks were still there. The headlights lit a path that was only several feet ahead which added to the confusion as to what was beyond the lights. This particular evening was extraordinarily dark. He turned on the high beams, but the streaks seemed to move further up ahead to where the light merged with the darkness resembling the long shadows that late September sunsets make. The funky slide base the chords coming from the radio created a soothing box of safety within. Once again a voice pierced through his thoughts, “Hey Will, look!”
Stopping at an intersection, he a saw crowd of people on the opposite side of the street. For Will, the voices sounded familiar, but he couldn’t make a visual connection with the faces. Then out of nowhere, he heard a voice say, “Looks alive.”
Inhaling deeply into his lungs, he heard himself say, “Keep calm. Relax. Stay focused, and don’t slow down or swerve around the thing.” He tried focusing on the steady base drum that seemed to beat a bit faster than his heart.
He’d never noticed the neon signs that decorated the streets Los Angeles by night, but today the lights were magically iridescent purples, shimmering in crimson reds, incandescent yellows, and metallic steel blues. The night air felt cool and crisp. A voice once again spoke and calmly said, “Breathe in, breathe out. Relax. Get some air.”
He drove a bit further passing some old shops and a couple of residential areas. Reaching an intersection, Will swerved to the left hoping to outwit the thing that was ahead, but it was useless. He once again heard the unknown voice say, “Turn slowly with your arms at an angle. Imagine yourself carrying a heavy log.” Will’s conceptual reality was melting into a dream, and he couldn’t quite tell if the thing that he was following was talking to him or if it was the voice of some other being.
At a stop light, another car pulled up to his left. His vision was becoming a blur and his mind unfocused. The passenger looked at him, and covered their mouth in horror. Their look made him feel dizzy and nauseous, transforming everything around into a dizzying haze. He closed his eyes for a moment, and took a deep breath. He wanted to take another look at the face inside the other car, but thought twice about it. Making eye contact with the wrong person in Los Angeles was always a tricky thing and most of the time opened the gates to a river of curses and threats. “Ah fuck it, take a look again,” he thought. As his eyes opened and turned to see, the traffic light simultaneously lit its green light and the car sped off.
Adjusting the rear view mirror he only saw his own pair of dark obsidian eyes staring back at him. A cold breeze began crawling up his leg, like an ant that’d just come into a cozy home from the outside. A cold invisible fog kept creeping up his body gathering at his torso. He felt he had cotton balls inside his throat, and the pounding of his heart radiated in all directions. Breathing was becoming abnormal, and the car kept moving to an unknown destination, lights began flashing all around him. For a moment he thought he was lying in the middle of a carnival. He heard childish chatter, and the yells of unseen women, light bulbs seemed to circle all around. Then, out of nowhere, the profile of a deer appeared that made eye contact with Will. Its hazel eyes connected with Will’s volcanic eyes, and for a moment it seemed that both vehicle and wild mammal were on the same lane about to slam onto each other. Yet, all that was happening was too overwhelming. The body was now trembling, and a sudden sound of black rubber and asphalt was heard.
The car rolled into the parking lot of the Laundromat, and suddenly a crowd of people emerged. The car wildly came to a screeching stop. There was a bundle of flesh and hair on top of a puddle of red liquid. A frightened human circle absorbed the car. Someone in the crowd yelled, “I think he’s alive!” “Someone clean him up!” There were countless eyes surrounding him, so he closed his. He hated going to the Laundromat. A stranger ran up, and while checking for a heartbeat searched his pockets for a wallet. The hazel eyes now had a sweaty human face that seemed to look at Will with determined emptiness, and as soon his leather pouch was found, took off running like a wild deer, disappearing into the midnight.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Beijing Winters

Beijing Winters 
by Armando Ortiz
Winter evenings in Beijing are frigid, and nights bring freezing winds.

Though at noon the skies are clear and sunny, you don’t want to be outside for too long.

Peddlers abound during this time, selling crab apple sticks that are sealed fresh inside, and hardened with caramel sugar or offer piping hot yams warmed inside coal heated barrels.

Seasonal preparations for the New Year begin, bringing red pasted banners and signs on the sides of doors welcoming another prosperous year, because to live is to see a magic of life unfold.

Though the eye is blind during these months the flavors that season the soul are many, and are an excuse to engage in endless conversations over hot black tea.

Handmade noodles made to order are at hand and served on steaming white bowls that are topped with thin slices of beef and for an extra five cents topped with a fried egg.

Who knows if it’s still there, but when I was there you could feast on street huoguo on random corners, where you sat on tiny chairs and miniature tables.

It’s also the time when one takes liberal servings of dumplings of all kinds; cabbage and pork,
pork and chives, mutton and onions or the veggie and egg kind.

Artificial lakes become frozen, and children along with students rent ice skates, and glide over these ancient bodies of waters that were once meant for the Emperor’s pleasure.

It’s during the night that the dry steppe air of the North passes through the city, which is further depleted of its humidity by the centralized heating.

Miles of hot tubes connect to a network of pipes that pump hot oil and water from a coal furnace that keeps blocks and blocks of people warm and with severely dry throats.

When those nights of lonesomeness get intertwined with nightmares it’s as if one were being choked by the devil’s hand and one awakens desperately reaching for water.

Yet in the mornings you stand huddled beside the radiator, thinking twice of walking to the bathroom and showering your sleep away.

Winters in Beijing also bring into focus the celebration of the Winter Solstice, which I did once, outside a pub, while eating grilled chicken wings and drinking Yanjing.

This is the celebration of the longest night and the conception of spring, when the worst has already passed, and preparations for Chunjie begin to appear.

People bundled up in layers and layers of thick cotton and synthetic wool slowly start to go back to their hometowns, and the looooooong lines at train stations become the norm.

It’s the sign of optimism that we all have survived the terrible winter and begin to celebrate, buying rolls and rolls of firecrackers and rockets, and stocking up on food.

For a week, fireworks will light up the midnight sky, and all the ghosts that crept into our lives and are fast asleep, will awaken and scared go back to where they belong.

For days on end, streets are closed and food stalls appear, with caramel artisans making ancient Chinese mythical characters,

And tamed birds fly high in the sky at a whistle or with the waving of a dollar bill come to you and with their tiny beaks take hold of your money and fly back to their master.

We triumphantly declare to spring to open up and begin forth the colors of life and the blossoms of spring.

The first snowfall that blanketed benches, and topped the pine trees melt from the memory as the changing jet stream shifts from Northwesterly to Southeasterly direction

Winters in Beijing are long, but now they seem short and distant, like an old recurring dream that disappears with every waking moment.