The Artist

“…if he is an artist, he will be compelled to make sacrifices which worldly people find absurd anunnecessary. In following the inner light he will inevitably choose… poverty. And, if he has in him the makings of a great artist, he may renounce everything, even his art.”

– Henry Miller
Disillusioned but alive, 
he saunters slowly 
through the haze of hysteria 
in an age of a pretentious
outrage.
He’s a man these days who 
communes more with the dead 
than the living, a man who finds more 
beauty in the shadows than the light, a 
man with empty pockets and
a bulging soul - 
an offbeat dreamer,
an artist
a malcontent 
condemned
to the eternal fire of his
poetic defiance.
In the petty hours of the light, 
he holds his cards close to my chest 
and does his best to compromise 
with what’s been given. His hat 
sits low to disguise the eyes 
of an exile, forever roving the forlorn 
streets of a hijacked future
alone 
the tide of his ancient blood 
ebbing
beneath disintegrating flesh.
Most nights, you’ll find him in his old shack 
on the outskirts of the civilized world 
sitting in the mushroom glow 
of a midnight candle 
with a vintage hardpack 
in his hands. When he reads 
he no longer agrees or disagrees
with the sentiments of the dead. 
He’s at ease among words, a curious 
spectator stirred by the lyrical upchuck 
of the collective unconscious.
The priests and pundits and academics 
are no longer served by his attention.
He’d rather meditate on the paintings 
of Van Gogh, Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth 
than to castrate his senses with the 
senseless sermons of the day.
The bloodless lusts of the 
over-civilized eye had always 
sickened him - their idolatry
of appearances, their exaggerations 
of purity, their incessant need for 
glittering illusions to go on living. 
Never re-examining the 
underlying deceptions 
that sustain their lives, they live in the 
clutches of cliches, their voices 
dull and tremulous, their minds 
easily susceptible to the assault
of the most ludicrous 
demagoguery.
He owns very little and holds no delusions 
of duty, status or causes. Out of his 
deliberate austerity he’s bestowed the 
ultimate silence needed to create 
perilously from the deepest crevices of 
his ancient soul, transforming dream to flesh,
triumphing over the manufactured illusions
of a frantic era.
Possessed by some daemonic being 
higher than himself, there he is, 
alone, as the world burns, working
in the dark, in the shadows, 
stretching his sensibilities to 
the brink of madness, divulging 
his whole soul to the destructive force 
of reality, beautifying the lies
that lead to the ultimate
truth.
He’s the awakener,
the emancipator,
a defector of the 
human race.

He’s an artist.

Erik Rittenberry

Blog: https://erikrittenberry.wordpress.com/
Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/erik.rittenberry
Instagram: 
https://www.instagram.com/erik_rittenberry

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