unsettle: poems for the transitioning heart

words and art by harrison clarke
instagram: @harrybyharry

This series of digital collages and poems reflect the different dimensions to growing out of those grief-stricken periods in one’s life. Through the two mediums, multimedia artist Harrison Clarke abstractly reflects on the despair and exhilaration experienced throughout maturation, and just how disorienting it is to really understand growth when you’re in the middle of its unpredictable wake.


NOPARTY

The chandelier had fallen to the ground hours ago but the haystack of shattered stars remained in the room’s center.

The confetti and streamers couldn’t express their colors past the tatters and stains the activity had crushed into them. Rows upon rows of trampled, dirt-choked flowerbeds glitter dimly on the linoleum.

The tall dining room doors had been swung wide open, forming a clean straight line past the many halls into the gaping night. Where were the attendees? Where were the staff? No one to collect the lipstick smeared wine glasses or the greasy cutlery. Yellowed and reddened napkins slumped against the corner of the plate, like it had just gotten the shit pummeled out of it.

Is this what the host desired? Ruin? The scent of stale candy perfuming the air?

Who does the camera pan to now, when there’s no party left? It will simply continue to record until someone returns to clean up the mess.


YEARNER

We crawl beyond the dampened arms of the tulips’ petals

We walk into the sun, eyes trying to catch it all

I almost went blind. I’ve sat in wallpapered corners, letting my romance eat me. Stared at static images of the past through a glass dizzying. I’ve let flowers dry between the pages of a journal, saccharin nothing forever stained on another dead piece of earth.

Watched Marguerite Duras, watched Marie Antoinette, watched Wanda, watched Paris, Texas, read Kerouac, been to Texas, Georgia, New York, in the 40s, 50s, 60s, fallen asleep in the halls of the factory. I’ve rushed through the french dictionary, always mashing the words together in ways they just don’t grammatically belong. I’ve been in France, not just when I was 15 but in many more conceptual visits, ones where my wrinkles begin to show and I suckle on a IV-Drip called ‘money’ that tastes like cherry vodka and longing. I’ve mapped out all these deathly romantic pit stops on a trip to nowhere in my head, in a car with no passengers and no gas. A sweet winding circle of star spangled yarn wrapped around my mind, a brain doused in perfume. But my heart beats, my heart beats, my brain wants. The thrill of danger, the love of fear. The blessing of pain; for the yearn to dry. For the honey to clot. For the flower to flee.


UN-ROAD

The wind is a being that manipulates time. A runner constantly zooming by, knocking a wall of air past recycling bins. Cruising with her are the people shooting like plunging eagles across the plain in their bright white motorcycles. The wind favors those who dare to charge towards oblivion with it. Try to mirror the wind’s impossible flight and you will see how oblivion pierces through any guise, no matter how thickly painted or heavily costumed. You and your bag of tricks will come crashing down from the sky. A phantom chorus cries out in disbelief, an invisible gallery chuckles. Now that you rest on the dirt road you hear things you’d never noticed before; the wind shaking laughter and sick murmurs from the trees. Conjured images of distant valleys and menacingly happy homes cloud the skies, you’ve become boxed in by your own desperate pareidolia. Down here there are acquaintances and bar hops and waitresses and receptionists and unfulfilled dentists and the rich and the restless and the cold and the homeless. And the black surrounds all of you, the wind weaves through all of you. You play with babies and kittens and drugs and cocktails and suntan lotion and tv channels and radio shows but its only a way to play with each other. Trading, selling, borrowing from each other. Get a little boost, a little step towards the sky.

Find a religion, find a cult, find a project, find a compass or a relic or a totem, find a family, and for fucks sake find a friend. And mend the hole while you walk with the wind. Walk with the wind, hand in hand, weaving yourself new wings.


ACTION

There’s something about love that makes you want to get in a fist fight. It makes blood flush into my lips and cheeks. It makes me feel like the final character in a horror film; my desperate love for life almost comically overpowering my fear of death. I’m still fearful of being jumped by whatever shadow-lurking thug the Devil may send for collection; but with love, this scenario shows me instead with an afro that stands 5 feet tall and the ass-kicking moves of Richard Roundtree as Shaft. In the universe where I let love expand, I feel the future surge through my fingertips. I’m able to hold the reins of time in my hands. My flying kicks meet with the jaws of my demons, sending them skidding down the pavement. With love I am a cyberpunk defender of the universe, leaving a lime green chemtrail behind me as I ride my battery powered motorcycle through the air.


FIRSTDISCO

This is the first disco, the one where you get to cry a little. But you have to arrive as yourself, it’s a stage and we’re all practicing for tomorrow’s performance. The one where we go to work and school and cough back the tears. It is such a gripping show that most days it breaks my heart when the light shines on me. But this is the first disco, the first disco we’ve had in a long time. This is the one where the music says “lose control”, and you faithfully follow the command for once. When you fall into the trance you get reacquainted with the people and the passion you forgot you had. Overwhelmed with emotion, you dance for them. Those shoes never stop dancing, pushing the ground until you bounce off; and you’re levitating. This is the disco that heals your sad muscles, wakes the smile on your face, resuscitates a part of you that you thought was dead. When you exit the stage, usually around 4 or 5 am (6am if the crowd really can’t get enough), you know that it will make waking up for tomorrow’s performance at work or school a little bit less unbearable. This morning will be different, I can assure you. You will swing your legs over the side of the bed to find your dance shoes already on.