Pencil Dust


Indomitable as a sovereign species

progress draws its discordant lines

straight through the rhythms of my days


A bucolic bovine sound?

Or a swarm of ooooooo’s

persistent and indicative of shove?

five toothbrushes

pail of sponges

caustic powders

poisonous sprays

My disciples of progress

grooming the delicate interstices of

refrigerator seal

baseboard cracks

faucet edge

I wash the wood and plaster body

My thoughts anointing and releasing

each surface that held the poems, the remnants, the family,

the guests, the conversations, the discipline that twisted time

into sailor’s knots and tied dreams into a body of words

able to float in this deluge of constant progress

This particular move (one of too many to count)

This wood and plaster body

that held me disciplined within panes of glass

where I grew words into lines, into paragraphs, into pages, into life

enclosed in winter and summer solitude behind the glass

Erasing all outward signs of a life

We have nothing in common

this place and I

We have nothing now in common

except the fine pile of pencil dust

intentionally left behind

scrumbled raw into the grains of wood

in the floor of my kitchen

Finished, I set the keys on the counter

leaving progress



The past few weeks have been a scramble. In mid March my landlady informed me that she is downsizing, selling her house, which she has run as a Bed and Breakfast, and will be moving into my apartment! In a city with a 1% vacancy rate, after 3 years tenancy, she asked that I be out in 34 days. She also holds my last month’s rent and a considerable security deposit. She apparently needs to legalize the fact that she has three units behind the house that she successfully rents by the day, week, or month through Air B&B. This is illegal in this city unless the owner lives on the premises. If caught this may incur a $500 a day fine. I think she still may not be in full compliance because two of the units are unattached, but she’s getting closer to her cash flow.

I beat the deadline she set by ten days. Sanctuary! I am now back in the garden….


Noh mask: Acrylic and graphite on black paper….  j.h.white


34 responses

  1. Progress. As illusory as time, as real as change, and as futile as our continued attempts to impose order with it.
    Nothing in common, nothing now in common
    Sad determination.
    Hope all in your garden gets rosy. This piece feels like the blues.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Progress. As illusory as time, as real as change, and as futile as our continued attempts to impose order with it”…..exactly Brian. May as well run with it. Wasn’t the blues exactly…just a little calculated steam. If I had left anything of myself behind, this woman would have charged me for it! She’s a piece of work. I’m best off out of her way… and she out of mine. Thanks for the rosy thoughts!


  2. Oh my goodness; well, I shalln’t embarrass myself and insult you, Jana, by attempting to philosophise away the natural distress caused by such an alarming situation being imposed upon you quite out of the blue. Save to say, I know you to be a strong and quite exceptional woman, and so worry less than I might otherwise do for your welfare. H ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s to you Hariod and thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m just bloody tired now but otherwise enjoying this change despite how it came about. Blink! and my landscape changes. Perhaps I am a magicians assistant!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My thoughts are with you Jana. Moving is such a stressful experience but when forced upon one like this well I can only imagine. But your words are a wonderful parting gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mark. I tend to make the best of situations but it was becoming difficult dealing with this landlord anyways. It’s good to know I can spring into action! No moss on this rolling stone…


  4. I loved your play on the sound of ‘move’ great poem. I’m sorry the inspiration was actually quite a stressful situation. I like that you channeled the experience into such beautiful words. I would probably have had a rant ending with something about karma and hoping the cash flow dries up (in the tame version).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hah! Yes, and thank you. I was “intoning” the word move in some dystopian moment, wondering which emotion to hurl, when its bucolic sound gave me pause. Everything went so smoothly, though, I couldn’t have planned the move any better. I just want my days to settle down now…!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Little things can distract us from wanting to hurl. You just reminded me of my son’s tantrum the other day (he’s 22 months old). Nothing could fix it, but then I started throwing pebbles and that became his world, and he forgot he was in the middle of a tanty haha. Best of luck settling in.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. After reading the poem my thoughts are drawn to the visual art. The mask reflects the mood and the vast interconnectivity of your personal wellspring is the background to the situation. Warm and ancient colours. I hope the new place works out well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aha! Steven ..there is no silver bullet! Life remains both chaotically difficult but colorfully connected. I like your interpretation … I just had at the blank page intuitively…feeling my way as I fell gratefully into the forehead grooves and the meandering circles. I’m looking out now at a beautiful garden as I write this. Respite….and thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. righteous anger can be productive as seen in your drawing and poem. in the latter the contrast between the tools of progress including “caustic powders/ poisonous sprays” and “the discipline that twisted time/ into sailor’s knots and tied dreams into a body of words” makes the point beautifully. moving in the best of circumstances is damnably difficult. from the drawing and poem, though, i can tell that you have not only survived but prevailed. looking forward to seeing more of your work.–michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Michael for your incisive and thoughtful comment. There was time for “righteous anger” to mature as I watched my landlord work her dark magic on other tenants over the years. So like a fairy tale… so I was aware there would be an epic battle of some sort. She holding a goodly sum of two months rent to be returned upon her arbitrary discretion. (despite laws etc. which she was dexterous at manipulating around) The question remained…. to come out of this whole, the battlefield would be both interior as well as in relationship. Her own needs gave me the leverage I needed!
      A pleasure as always Michael!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you…over the years of tenancy I’d had the opportunity to witness her antics with other tenants. I often wondered how I’d meet the situation since she is skilled at manipulating everything in her favor. I don’t play these kinds of games but I was also preparing myself to meet the challenge. I was simply fortunate that her own needs offered a more equal “playing field”.


  7. How did I miss this one? Yet I did, as if I had myself moved… through time and not noticed. This is huge Jana and I don’t know if I can capture all. The mask and yet not a mask, the human features too strong to be covered by anonymity. And yet it floats beyond body, disconnected within interconnected systems of symbols. Moving, changing environments as disconnection, which it always is, and and it always also is, the two sides of change giving such gifts of wonder. This is not an architecture without soul, this place you need to leave. It should not be confused with it’s soulless owner whom we may easily abandon. “We have nothing in common this place and I…” you say, and yet, you have shared yourself in so many ways with so many souls within those walls…there must be some commonality? And so it goes, and life continues in kaleidoscopic patterns, around and around.
    “the fine pile of pencil dust intentionally left behind” like an erect middle finger…brilliant!
    Art and writing so very you, multi-faceted and spirit filled as crystal, as ancient architecture, as farming. We travel lightly as butterflys from blossom to blossom…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah… but I take my memories with me…along with the furniture. It always surprises anyone when they come to one of my MANY new environments that it all seems like nothing has changed. All that is familiar and loved remains.

      “We travel lightly as butterflys from blossom to blossom…” Thanks my dear for the homecoming gift!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There’s a whole lot of work on yourself and environment. You are ripped up and asked to leave behind the kitchen conversations, memories with visitors, on and on. And why? Because to someone else it’s just dust, it’s nothing to say be out in 34 days. She asks you to pack your progress, experiences and dreams in a box and leave. It is cold. I see can all but see you look back at an empty room and see nothing but the dust.

    Some of that dust had to go with you.
    Magic dust?
    The type that sparks the light into fire and breathes oxygen
    so that your pen burns in paper every paragraph, every word picture that must be released.
    Not all dust lays about.
    Some clings because there’s more to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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