Paint as a Badge

Things have been busy here, mostly because our family will be moving from Fort Myers to Tallahassee next week.


Along with clients’ projects, I have several projects of my own I need to finish. But first, we need to get moved and settled! This has involved repainting some objects in our current rental home. Even though they’re just household objects, nothing special, I enjoyed it. I’d forgotten how much I loved having paint on my hands.


I wear the paint on my hands like a badge.

Is it a childlike “I made something”? Giving imagination a body of my choosing, with skin and substance. It stands, glossy, gazing back at me.

Humans desire immortality, something that will continue after we’re gone, proclaiming, “I lived. I had substance. I made something.”

I stand at the sink and wash my hands of dust, the stuff that makes me mortal. The paint, which beckons to immortality, remains.

We Remain

I was ghostwriting a nonfiction book for most of February, so I didn’t have much time to work on my own stuff. Here is something I wrote a while back and just dusted off. It’s a dialogue inspired by Europe After the Rain II by Max Ernst. I hope the formatting holds up here!


“We Remain” – by Lori Laleh Goshert


You’re real!

Are you? I didn’t think…

I haven’t seen anyone in three days! I mean, you know, not alive…

Me neither. I thought I was the only one.

Me too.

Everyone is gone…

I know.

How did you survive?

My brother pushed me into the basement when they came. Then I heard him… I heard him… he didn’t even sound human when they were… when they… killed him. I passed out. When I woke up, the house was torn apart and everyone was dead. I had fallen behind a pile of boxes. They missed me.

I was fixing the crawl space. Somehow they overlooked it. I wish…I wish…

That they killed you too?


I know. I should have gone to help my brother.

You couldn’t have saved him.

I know. But…

Um… can you… ?


I’m sorry. But can you hold me? Just for a second.

Of course, come here.

Thank you.

Seems I needed it too. I can’t believe they’re gone…


So many bodies! Bodies without…

I think they took all the heads with them.

But why?

I don’t know.

Do they eat them?

Maybe. Or experiments. On our brains?

Ugh! I don’t want to think about it. Did you see them?

Not up close, only from the window before my brother…

I saw them. One came close to the opening but didn’t see me.

Those devil horns! That’s all I remember.

Yes, they had to be at least two feet long. Their skin looked thick and rough like an elephant’s, only slate blue. And they had red eyes, sharp claws, and teeth like crocodiles, and…

And what?

They were intelligent. I don’t understand how monsters that disgusting could plan such a thing. They exterminated us like rats. Like rats!

What do you think they were looking for? What did they want here?

I don’t know. They took the… the heads. The human heads, I mean.

I didn’t see many dead animals, did you? They just wanted us.

You saw what they did to those mountains, right?

They tore them up. As if they were cardboard.


Were they looking for something? Metals?

That could be. Maybe they’re in short supply where they come from.

Where’s that though; Mars? Hell?

Well, not Earth. Their ships… so advanced! So strange-looking! But…are they coming back?

It doesn’t seem like it. They didn’t leave anything behind. Not a trace. I think they got what they wanted, whatever it was.

I hope you’re right. Not that it matters much, really.

Do you think there’s anyone else left?

I don’t know. There’s no phone signal, no Wi-Fi, no radio, nothing is working.

We were watching the news, just an hour before… before they came. There was a broadcast from Japan. They talked about UFO sightings, and said there were reports of some strange creatures on Hokkaido, but then there was a huge crash and the program cut off. The reporters must be dead. Our TV stopped working about ten minutes later.

So it’s not just here then.

No. But can it really have happened everywhere? The whole world, like this?

Maybe. How can we know?

We have to get away from here. We can’t bury all of them and there will be diseases.

Yes, and I bet the dogs will go mad. They will be dangerous.

Did they destroy all the mountains?

Not all of them. I passed a few that were untouched. You were probably right about the metals.

I suppose we have to go there then.

Yes. Hopefully the water will be clean, at least.

We can take a truck, fill it with food… should we look for anyone else?

We’ll look on the way, but I don’t think we can wait any longer to get out of here.

We need guns. Because of the dogs. And the wolves. Whatever the hell else.

We’ll take some. Do you know how to shoot one?


I do. I’ll show you.

And then what?

What do you mean?

Should we try to rebuild?

For what? For us?

Maybe we’ll be able to find more people. In a few months, or years.

It’s possible, but do you think it’s worth the effort after this?

Well… probably not. No, I don’t think so.

Me neither.

Humanity can just end with us.

Good idea.  

*Image courtesy of WikiArt

The Eternal Problem of Colors

This was written from the POV of Vincent Van Gogh, with the help of his letters to get an idea of how he spoke (at least in translation). The title comes directly from one of his letters and the last line was his last words.


The Eternal Problem of Colors

En plein air
Let’s plant our easels
Together against the wind!
Migrated to the south to find
My Japanese dream in Provence
Raving mad oleanders shadowed by
A funereal cypress under a yellow sky
We mad wretches delight in our eyesight
Play Wagner in Louis XV green and malachite
Wheat fields, golden to red and smelling of thyme
Olive trees shift from silver-grey to blue, now black.
The power to create is greater than my life,
To make my jealous pictures speak!
The night you left is a blank in my mind
All painters are mad but the doctor
Is more ill than the artist.
Say I feel it deeply, tenderly
The sadness will last forever.

Image is Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, found at:

Your Melancholy Masterpiece

This piece was inspired by Picasso’s painting “The Weeping Woman” (shown below), and his relationship with its model, Dora Maar, who was a painter, activist, poet, and amazing surrealist photographer. This is an inner monologue from the perspective of any woman (or maybe some men too) who have ever been told they were too sensitive, and/or who have been in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Weeping Woman 1937 by Pablo Picasso 1881-1973

Your Melancholy Masterpiece

You called me the Weeping Woman. An irrational, overemotional basket case. You love it because it makes me weak; you hate it because it makes me dangerous. You took the liberty of giving me a name. What about the name I gave myself?

An inferior specimen of an inferior sex. You would cherish me if I were only a better person, more in control of my emotions and more dutiful. If I would give up those foolish and improper pastimes. If I were someone else. Docile, impeccable, and pliant as a doll.

You call me a crazy bitch after pushing all my buttons in quick succession, lighting a fire and spewing gasoline. Then you stand back and wait for the opportunity to say, “You’re too defensive. Why are you crying? Oh right, mental illness runs in your family. No wonder you flew off the handle at me!”

I wasn’t always this way:

There were sunny days
I sprouted, I blossomed, I reigned
Reveling in my power
Dappled with paint and accolades
I could do anything
I could be anything
You plucked and fixed me on your wall
Where you could examine me
Your flawed private muse
Take me down when you wanted me
You never saw me as I am
You don’t love me as I am

I wanted to die in that closet. I locked myself in the bedroom while you pummeled the door. My head was pounding until I thought it would burst. We had fought again, and I died a little inside. You will never feel it. You always laugh when I insist I hate crowds because everyone else’s energy flows into me. Discord makes me physically ill. Are you blind that you don’t see you’re poisoning me?

You say my family is low and my friends are low. My tastes are low, and I am low. “I’m only trying to help you. Don’t you know what you could be if you did your proper duty, if you spent time with the right people?” Am I really such a villain in your mind? I know I’m no prize angel, and that’s why I need to change. I’ve already given up so much of myself for you and it’s never enough. You tear off pieces of me with your teeth until there’s nothing left, and ask me again why I’m crying.

You scorn my intensity and dark moods. They’re disturbing. A woman shouldn’t be crying about the genocide in a distant country. “What can you do about it anyways? Are you going to fly over there and help them? Where’s my shirt? Where is my lunch?” I know it makes you angry when I don’t cut the onions small enough and when there’s a crease in your collar. Fighting fascism means neglecting your needs.

You wanted me to do something with my appearance so I’d be fit for decent society but when I did, you asked me who I was trying to impress. I don’t fit in with your social circle. “Say something. Why do you sit in the corner like that?” But when the little woman shows her claws and expresses an opinion, it’s “Why did you say that? Don’t you know that what you say reflects on me?” They’re all waiting for me to break. I really did fall down the stairs, I swear.

Llorona, you’re barred from grace
Your past will haunt you always
I will press it against your throat
No one wants you lurking near
With your silence and somber face
Your wailing sets my hair on end.

“What’s wrong? Aren’t you taken care of? You have no grounds to be offended.” You tell me no one else can ever love me, and you’re right. No one would want me, pitiful, used, and broken as I am. I’d be cast out with the trash, forgotten, relegated to a houseful of cats.

I know that I’m only valuable because I’m yours. What would I do without you? How would I survive out there? You’ve stripped me and clipped my wings, and I’ve forgotten how to hunt. Is it too late? Can I soar free again?

Valentine Laid to Rest


Found by accident

Carried in your pocket for luck

Kept for convenience

Duplicated for posterity

Installed on your hearth

Where you revered me like an icon

There we remained in safety

Until the bitter day

When you realized your mistake

And cast me in pieces on the shore

To fade and be forgotten

Buried by time and thoughts.

*The painting is Remorse or Sphinx Embedded in the Sand by Salvador Dali

A Dryad’s Lament

I wrote this piece for our local writing group; the exercise was to come up with the last line, and then write the rest. The speaker is the figure in Max Ernst’s painting, The Eye of Silence.


A Dryad’s Lament

I came from the dense, verdant shelter of the wood. To taste the open air, and to wait for you. We were to meet on the big rock by the lake, the one that was flat and the perfect size for two people to bask on. All around was green. Not the rich, majestic green of the wood, but a happy, hopeful, light-hearted hue. It was early spring, and the tulips were just blooming, waving their heavy heads in the breeze. Blue and orange butterflies fluttered lazily as if they had more than a mere half a heartbeat to do so. The sun kissed and warmed my skin. I could see my reflection in the water and was pleased at what I saw: lithe limbs, fresh, smooth face, generous lips, dreaming eyes. Such a romantic day; pity you were late. No matter; I had all the time and beauty in the world. A light breeze made the grass whisper words of love, life, and eternity. The sun and sweet air made my eyes grow heavy…

I’m not sure how long I slept. My first thoughts on waking were of your face, and then my dear trees. Do they miss my touch, my presence alongside them? Do you long for me beside you? But I soon realized I was not alone – there was activity near the water’s edge, across the lake. The clang of fine hammers onto luminescent stone. The scrape of chisels as supple, delicate forms were carved into it. I recognized the artists: tall, willowy men and women with long hair, worn flowing or braided. Their clothes were brown, green, or golden and their features angular and symmetrical. They often sojourn in the woods with us. They are kind to me and this place is interesting. I will wait a bit longer.

The days have grown longer and suffocating. Spring has been eclipsed by an unusually arid summer. The sun beats upon me without mercy and I long for the cooling embrace of the trees. The butterflies are gone and the flowers have shriveled up, and so has the grass. The elves have long since finished their temple and returned to the fuller refuge of the wood. I should follow them, but surely you will come to me now.

One day I found that our beloved lake had dried up and become a cave. That’s when the others came. They came with their dampness and their scaliness and their eerie, stoic near-muteness. They came out from the steaming foulness of the cave, out from the layers of decomposing, unfortunate beings who could not make the transition. They came out stinking of algae and decay. They came out to survive, to build a new life next to their old one. They are awful and grotesque. Some have the heads and hooves of horses, and I was alarmed to see them shift their forms at will, walking on four hooves and then two, having the upper bodies of terrible men. While in this form, they are strangely handsome, but in an evil and villainous way. Others look like great, poison-green serpents with four scaly legs. Others are humanoid, web-footed, blue-grey beings with long, grim faces. I was terrified at first, but they seem to think I am part of the terrain, and they take no notice of me. I dare not move.

They are also builders, but what a difference! The elves’ building is radiant, graceful, green-gold, living, and airy. These creatures have brought rotten-looking materials from the stinking cave. Even the bones of dead water-creatures were not left to rest in peace. Everything is covered with mud and algae. They hammer furiously, splattering filth onto the neighboring temple walls and defacing them. Algae is growing and spreading on the beautiful, glowing stone.

The landscape was transformed before my eyes. As the walls of the water-creatures went up, the shapes of the first temple shifted like quicksand.

Then the eyes appeared. Eyes, eyes on all sides! Watching. Watching me. Watching the creatures. Watching each other. Glowing green-gold eyes watching algae-covered ones and algae-covered eyes watching glowing, green-gold ones. Faces emerged beneath them. Noble faces on one side; twisted ones on the other. Ominous, threatening. I dread what will come. I want to escape, but I cannot.

Most terrifying of all is the snake. The snake is inspecting me with its calculating, icy gaze. Staring, waiting, hungering, silently menacing. I cannot move. The blood is chilled to ice in my veins; my body becoming one with the faithless rock.

My love, why didn’t you come? Why don’t you come?

I cannot escape. I cannot run. I cannot move.

I will wait here for you until the end of time.