Sketches – 58

Sister trips. And coats.

We’ll be back in four days.
My sister is driving, so
Lord knows when we’ll get there.

I hope you have fun

We should.
Her driving is always
An adventure in itself.

You look fantastic
In that coat, by the way

Thank you.
However, no one notices
How I good I may or may not look
When I am with my sister

No one notices
How I look, ever

That’s not true

It’s pretty true.
I’m a guy.
In almost any group of 100 men,
There will be six to eight that
All the women think are hot.
The rest of us are just…

Just what?

Or, not.

Serviceable, huh?
So I “settled” when I married you?

No, but you didn’t marry me
For my looks

How do you know?
I’m an artist.
I’m very visual.

So are you saying
You married me for my looks?

Right now, I’d say,

Well, okay.
I like that.
Anyway, you look fantastic in
That coat.

And you look fantastic
In those sweatpants and
That jersey.

This is turning into
My favorite conversation, ever.
Do you two have any kind of agenda?

So far, it consists of
(1) get there,
(2) figure out what we want to do,
(3) come home, eventually.

Whew. That’s a pretty tight agenda.
Think you can fit it all in?

With her driving,
I’m only concerned about
Item 1.

Are you going to work any
While you’re there?

All my paints are here.
I am bringing a sketchbook, but
That’s not really work

Well, it’s a beautiful place.
And it’s about to be more beautiful
With you there.

And… that would be her.
Goodbye, love.

Bye, sweetheart.
See you in four days.
I’ll try to get all the pizza boxes up
Before you get back.

If you’re getting Old Chicago,
Save me some


Sketches – 57

A heavy burden.

You look like the pitiful kitten from “Shrek”

I am bearing a heavy burden.
I saw the trailer, and
I don’t think the rest of the Avengers
Are going to make it, either

Oh, come on, everyone knows the ending
Of the original

I don’t.
Besides, movies and their source material
Often vary

I think the Avengers will end up winning

You think.
I think.
We all think stuff, but
What about Thanos?
That first movie like to have killed me

It has to follow a dramatic arc

You know what?
Screw drama.
I want good people winning and
Bad pople losing

Oy. Never watch sports, then.
Why is this just coming up now?
You barely said a word after “Infinity Wars”

I was traumatized!
You, you heartless thing,
Munching on malted milk balls like
Nothing had just happened

I did cry during like five different parts

Yeah, well.
Tears 5,
Malted Milk Balls 100.
You lost the
“Has a heart” contest

Well on April 26th, or thereabouts,
You can test it again

I don’t think I’m up for opening night.
But the first week I should be able to avoid spoilers.
But you better be fully engaged.
I can’t carry this load by myself

I’ll bring my wheelbarrow.

Just don’t fill it with
Malted milk balls

To mildly change the subject,
Who is your favorite Avenger?

Black Widow, obviously.
Russians with ballet training.
These are my people.
What about you?

Oh, Captain America.
Chemically altered anachronism.
These are my people.
Do you ever miss ballet?

Not really.
Like modeling, I recognize it as
Having been part of my life.
But I’m happier now.
Does that make sense?

It does

Do you ever miss talking to
Sane women?

You are sane.
Just — singular

Sanity is overrated.
Many of the true greats of history
Were truly mad

Like Thanos

Bad example

Sketches – 56

All about Klieg lights.

I can do a lot with this place.
Can’t you just picture it?

You know I am incapable of picturing anything.
That’s why I married an artist, so
She could do that for me.

At least try.

How about… some Klieg lights?

Did you know that Klieg lights were invented by
People whose last names were Kliegl?


They should be Kliegl lights.
That’s all I’m saying.
It would be like if all historically accurate
Murals in the future were called
“Servan” paintings.
Just leaving off the last letter.
That’s just wrong.

Very wrong, I would say.
Should we get back to talking about
The gallery?

Oh, of course, sorry.
I want to put some of the smaller sketches here…

Maybe you could have one of those kind of rope things.
You know, Leibniz never got enough credit, either.

What? What are… what?

Calculus. Newton gets all the credit, and his
System isn’t even used.

I thought calculus was like a dental condition.
That’s why I married a mathematician, so he could
Do all of thinking about calculus for both of us.

So, Klieg lights, rope, and sketches. Got it.
What else can you envision?

I wish we could do more with natural light.
I mean, during daytime, obviously.
Can you picture skylights, or…

… high windows?

Yes, exactly.
See — you can picture stuff.
Not just talk about how the impressionist composers
Hated being compared to the impressionist painters,
Or whatever.

That’s right, they did. I forgot.
They preferred symbolist literature.

I am thinking about doing a painting
About the history of this gallery itself.

How old is this building?

Built in 1929

No way

The men who actually built this
Were almost all South American immigrants.
There was a community here of people
Who had come from Peru.
They had been displaced by European immigrants
After the war, who had moved down
There and taken all the jobs.
There are elements of the construction
That are unique because of it.

How do you know all this stuff?

I’ve been reading these things called
“Books” for years.
I used to read
Leibniz under Klieg lights, in fact.

Skylights and high windows are good for that, too

Now, you’re beginning to think like an artist

Sketches – 55

The business of business

Okay, I’ve done all the figures.
You can contribute a few dollars to my new business,
And have your money back in no time, plus interest.

Um. We’re married. My money is your money.

I am never going to get a business started right
With that kind of talk. We are going to do this properly.

How much do you need?

I’ve written the figure down right… here.

Alright, I’ll transfer the money over.
What name have you settled on?

Nothing terribly imaginative.
Janey Servant Galleries.

I love it, go with the strongest part of your business model.
Where will you be taking premises?

I decided to use the old Heinmann Gallery.

Not the Uptown place?

That place is too big and too expensive.
Heinman’s place still holds up well, with a little work.
I also have another investor interested in buying in.

You do?! Who?

My Uncle Lenny.

How would that work?

He also contributes some to our initial capital.
He only wants a 5% stake.

I mean, that’s great. Love Lenny. But why?

You never knew Aunt Patsy did you?

No. Hardly ever heard anyone talk about her.

She wanted to start a catering business.
He wouldn’t help her, because the dealership was
Having hard times. After she died, it was one
Of his biggest regrets.

So he’s paying it… forward? Sideways?

He’s making amends, after his fashion.
Alright, I go to see the lawyer Thursday.

I’m really proud of you. This is amazing.

And I’m mortally terrified this will be a failure.
But thank you.

Has it ever occurred to you
That maybe you are a really good artist?
That people are already lining up to buy paintings?

Yeah, well. Artists are subject to the whims of fashion.

Speaking of fashion, can I change the subject
To how fantastic you look in your business suit?

You may. But flattery will not get you a better interest rate.

I’d settle for just getting some interest

Sketches – 54

An east / west conversation

Good morning, sweetheart! What time is it there?

Ummm… it’s… 4:15 am.

I’m shocked you weren’t up.

I am up… now

It’s a beautiful day here.
I’m supposed to tell you that
Everyone misses you


Even people we’ve never met.
You going west has got us all geshvivled.

You are not geshvivled.
You are probably looking absolutely perfect,
As always

No, I’m a mess.
Okay, maybe I’m dressed a little

So what’s up?
Usually we talk at night when
One of us travels

I had some good news.
I got an offer on the 1940’s painting.

That’s good!
I mean… it’s good, right?

It wasn’t from a collector.
It’s from A MUSEUM

Really? Where?

Only a little place called
It’s the Hirshhorn


Frankly, I’m too accomplished to talk to you anymore.

Will you still sleep with me?

Only when you get back.
I’m drawing a line before then.

Fair enough.
Seriously, though,
I feel bad I’m not there so
We can celebrate

I’m going to take my mom to lunch
To celebrate.
I can guarantee you,
I won’t feel all-that-accomplished
By the time the bill arrives

Surely she is proud of you

Maybe. I suspect we’ll spend lunch
Talking about my perfect sister.

Oh, well.
Artists are supposed to suffer


The fictional couple in the series “Sketches” started out as being vaguely similar to my wife and I, but wandered off to take on a life of their own. The Sketches are only nominally poetry, being in fact a series of dialogues. This is the only long-range continuing series I’ve ever done, being now up to more than 50 installments.

Since I write under a pseudonym, I decided “Owen Servant” could be the guy in these dialogues; “Janey [Servant]” became her name using the “that model looks like a Janey” method. I made her a painter because I wanted to use this same woman for all my photos and she did a photoshoot as a painter I’ve used. The Owen character is also an actuary, like the real me, and has a blog, like the fictional me.

Now I’m even confusing myself.

The Servants don’t have any children, let alone grandchildren, and they appear to be about the ages of our daughters (30 something).

I liked the idea of her being the more interesting character of the two; that’s not exactly fictional, as my real wife is far more interesting than I am. I’ve given her a couple items from my real-life wife’s biography, notably, having been a model at one time.

There is something magical about really good conversation. It’s improvisational, which is a high risk / high reward kind of thing. The risk is, when you improvise, stuff may just be boring. But everyone once in a while, the magic happens. We’ve all been in conversations like that, where laughter, and insight, and closeness, and even life-changing realizations take place.

But, hey, conversation. That’s what National Blog Post Month is all about, right?

Sketches – 53

NPR – it can be intimidating

How do I look?
Do you think this will work
For my interview?

I think it looks great,
And you look great, so, yes.

The buttoned-up collar doesn’t look
To pilgrimy?

Is that a word?

You know what I mean.
Do I look too Mayflowery?

No, you don’t.
You look very elegant.
Are you nervous about it?

It’s public radio.
They are liable to ask me about
The political situation in the Asteroid belt, or something.

That would throw me, I admit.
Don’t they mostly want to talk about the exhibit?

But, it could all be a trap.

Well, since it’s radio,
I think your outfit choice has fewer risks
Than you might be thinking.
I think they are more likely to ask you questions
About the historical events your paintings
Refer to than about events elsewhere in
The solar system. Just my two cents.

Oh, well those I can answer.

I know you can.
You’ll be great.

Will you be listening?

No, I thought I’d see if
Amazon Prime has old episodes of
“Dusty’s Trail”.

Okay, okay, don’t get worked up.
I’m just nervous.

Okay, then, try this.
When you get to the studio,
Take a few deep breaths,
And remember how hard you had it
On the Mayflower.

I hate you right now.
Actually, I love you right now.

And I love you.
Good luck!

We pilgrims never shrink from a challenge

Sketches – 52

Sexy math, and other topics

I worry sometimes

About what?

I worry that you’ll leave me


Because you’re beautiful,
And I am not.
I mean, look at you,
There by the window

How long have we been together?

Eighteen years, as of

If I had wanted to wander off,
I could have found the door by now,
Even from over here,
“By the window”

I’m not the world’s greatest husband

And I’m not the world’s greatest wife.
I mean, I’m probably top 5%, but
Not necessarily the greatest.
Anyway, what’s got you worried
At this point in our relationship?

I don’t know.
I might be a little depressed,
I guess.
Or feeling old
And fat

We women are never told
That men have self-image issues, too.

No, they are derisively called
“Midlife crises”,
And dismissed as pathetic

There may be something to what you say.
Though I also think a lot of guys don’t
Have the same level of self-awareness
That you have.
Maybe it’s writing
All that poetry

Not sure about
Cause-and-effect order, there, but yes

I am not going to leave you.
I’m going on a four-day vacation with you
Starting tomorrow.

And you won’t be secretly wishing
You were there with Milo Ventimiglia, instead?

Jack Pearson sets
An unattainable standard for all men, I realize.
But no, he only has eyes for Rebecca, anyway.
I more like the Randall-type,
Which you are, by the way

Minus the abs.
I do have the anxiety, though

And you can do all that
Sexy math.
Chicks dig math

I never knew that