February 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
I knew when I got on the road to head west to Marfa, Texas that I would end up on the far edge of nowhere. I expected a wide open artist-settled space with hip kids and artisans harkening the Judd-mania of days past, and I imagined the typical small town, one main road with a gas station topography. But I couldn’t understand how these two realities could merge and not crush some kind of authenticity on one end or the other. What I envisioned though, was such a small piece of the Marfa reality. People that live here aren’t doing it to enhance their aura of cool or build some obscure street cred or to land onto the pages of a lifestyle magazine’s style section — the people who live here, as far as I could tell, are an indelible part of Marfa’s fabric, weaving it just as they are being woven. In short, they are the most true kind of residents: they bring to the small town as much as they hope to get from it.
Everyone in Marfa, it seems, has two jobs: your craft and your paycheck. Bootmaker by day, server by night. Or if you’re lucky, you can be a bootmaker all day and all night like the two craftsmen behind Cobra Rock, a fantastic leather bootmaking shop that produces 1940s-inspired ranch boots for a whopping $500 a pair. A couple of years ago, the magazine I work on, Cite, published an issue claiming that Houston is one of the last few cities that still really makes things. Marfa, too, and although it’s on a much smaller scale, I really liked being able to literally feel the things being made around me. You can almost feel the city running on the hands on its inhabitants. People make things– they build houses with their own hands, they run their own coffeehouses, and yes, they make art. The guy who checked you into your hotel earlier in the day will be the same guy serving you a delicious roast beef grilled cheese at 3a, and will probably be the same guy having a poetry reading at Marfa Book Company the next evening.
And that’s the thing about Marfa: it’s a hyper-close-knit place connected by the people and the work those people do. But it’s different than the way we tend to think of close-knit when we think of small towns, especially small towns in Texas. Marfa is actually not close knit because of an everybody-knows-everybody- else mentality (though this is mostly true), or because of its politics or its unified ethnicity. In fact, it’s just the opposite, which is why I think Marfa is a genuinely incredible place. It’s true that a big part of Marfa’s allure is that people make things there. But for me, the most authentic thing being made was not something to be held or sold, but a sense of community with the seemingly disparate pieces of kinship that most people mangle with messy laws or misguided hearts, or shy away from– either intentionally or because most American towns and city’s social and class-based pods are so neatly boundaried that we don’t find ourselves in organic, spontaneous moments of mingling across class, race, occupation, and age lines very often.
On my last night in Marfa, we found ourselves in a bar listening to live Tejano music with people who probably just crossed the border for the evening, cattle-ranchers young and old, hipsters, artists, aged white men and women who had probably lived in Marfa for generations, out-of-towners, Latina lesbians and machismo men from all backgrounds. Together we two-stepped in large circles, drank beer out of cans, and really, for that night, felt like a group of individuals pulsating together with a single soul for this very unsuspecting little place. I’ve never felt or witnessed a more beautiful, spontaneous, imperfect, rugged show of community. Even if this display could have been the result of hearing the song Wooly Bully in Spanish (try singing along to that version), I’d like to think that the people in Marfa have figured out some dark secret that I don’t mind them not sharing as long as I can keep going there. At a time when our cities tend to be more segregated than ever and gentrification processes push long-time residents to the dilapidated fringes, there’s a small town at the far edge of Texas who is getting it right.
My only regret is that I had taken more pictures.
November 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
(this was written for a class assignment in 9th grade)
I’m not from here.
My hair is a mesh of magnetic fields,
a makeshift cosmology of loose-fitting, sync-shifting veneers
That are gentle in demeanor, but can penetrate steel.
May 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
it wasn’t him that i was mourning; it was finally meeting the sinewy hollows and untouched walls inside that cavernous space of myself that could contain such capacity for love. and that, i haven’t lost.
March 29, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I first read this poem when I was 16, finding a book of her poetry among the 20 or so in the scant collection of Crosby High School’s staid library. I stood in the poorly-lit, dingy dark green carpeted row, flipping through the pages haphazardly and rushed, trying to find inspiration for a last-minute class assignment when I came across “November 1968.” I remember sitting down in the row to read it- it hooked me, reached deep inside of me even then. From that day on Adrienne Rich was my poet laureate. In graduate school, she became much more- not only was she an amazingly prolific writer, she was an activist for women, with a social conscious sharper than even her most poignant words. I think it’s appropriate now on her passing to return to that first poem. Rest in peace, Adrienne Rich, you’re beginning to float free.
you’re beginning to float free
up through the smoke of brushfires
the unleafed branches won’t hold you
nor the radar aerials
You’re what the autumn knew would happen
after the last collapse
of primary color
once the last absolutes were torn to pieces
you could begin
How you broke open, what sheathed you
until this moment
I know nothing about it
my ignorance of you amazes me
now that I watch you
starting to give yourself away
to the wind
February 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment