Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Black And White Of It

Gulls and crows cawing and squawking outside our front door. I’m struck by their opposing colors; the forces of damn good against the God-damned. Reminds me of my mother washing the kitchen floor and laying newspapers down. Why didn’t she let it dry by itself? I never asked. What I remember is the way she cursed the evildoers of the world; the super who held back on the heat, the butcher who didn’t give good weight with her lamb chops, even an imagined sneer from a neighbor. The newspaper said it all in black and white.

No dark white or light blacks those growing up years. Mashed potatoes and over-cooked liver. Winter was black galoshes silhouetted against snow. Coal for eyes in snowmen.

Movies left no doubt. Van Johnson at 10,000 feet spots the sneaky Japanese pilot, coming out of nowhere. Bullets rip holes in the Zero and blood, black as his moustache trickles from the actors mouth. Always the same actor, wearing a white cravat.

Cigarette smoke curling around the noir night. Black sedans, Good Humor trucks, white shirts, bow ties. Which side are you on? Picket lines and placards. Rich or poor? Picket fence, tenements.

Black Crow licorice, marshmallow inside the Rocky Road. Baseballs, the cliffs of Dover. Piano keys. Dice. White tails, top hat, Fred Astaire.

Chalk on a blackboard, ink on paper. Below the headline, black arrow points to Allied advance, liberating Axis held land, islands, a continent going from black to white. The future was white sails escaping heart of darkness. Read all about it. Extra paper!

Eye chart. First you said this and now that. Which is it? Certitude of scales, finitude of clocks, rectitude of prophets' commandments on parchment. The sky is papered with crows and gulls cursing and blessing like pages of testament.

It ain’t necessarily so.


  1. I'm afraid we're back to Black and White again. Well, maybe Black and Pale Grey. The political poles that is. Jack