Sharing, Like It’s Going Out of Style

One year, when we were still a family living in the white frame house on Morrell Street in Dallas, Texas, we ate beans and rice or collard greens nearly every day. Later that year, while out for Christmas break, we got used to inviting some new kids in with us for dinner. Of course, we were used to the food by then, but it was the first time that I had heard and got a different understanding of the phrase, “Like they going out of style“.

There were five kids in our family and we dared not flinch when those words came across the sparse dinner table from my brother’s invited friend, a boy called “Meatball”. He was squat, dark-hued, round with a bushel of uncombed hair and gave off the suggested shape of a big, well, meat ball. His rather large family was new to a duplex further down the hill that was Morrell Street. Even in the colder months most of them spilled out onto the porch and yard during non-sleeping hours. Up and down that block all of our families were just making due, but even our construction-job injured Stepfather had encouraged us to invite and share with the kids whenever possible.

Meatball didn’t bother looking up from his fast moving spoon through a bowl of crumbled cornbread and black-eyed peas. Even though he had used the bathroom sink to clean up it was not hard to find patches of differing colored dirt streaking his scrawny, short sleeved arm and pointy elbow as he ate. We had already prayed, passed the cornbread and Kool-Aid. Now, we waited on a spoon of steaming collard greens from a big, worn pot that sat at one end of the table when he blurted up, “Ya’ll eat beans like they going out of style!”.

We just kept passing our plates from one person to the next and waited for them to return with a layered serving of meatless collard greens. Secretly, we all hoped for one of the bacon or salt jowl halves that seasoned the greens, but that succulent meat often landed on our Stepfather’s plate. Meatball did not pass his plate. He continued to feast on the certainty of his beans and dodged the long arms that reached, grabbed and ignored his sloppy chewing. With all the plates in place our Stepfather called to the little complainer, “Gimme yo’ plate, son“. A moment passed before my brother grabbed and handed off the boy’s crumb-littered plate. Meatball started chewing faster.

For the second time that day neither of us five flinched as Meatball’s plate of hot collards was passed back to him. Mixed into the feathery stack of greens were the two curling halves of thick sliced, red meat and water pearled bacon fat. Again, the pain mellowed bass of our Stepfather’s words wafted toward Meatball, “You reckon dat fatback might be in style, Meatboy?” His mispronunciation kicked a big laugh into the room and nearly everybody corrected him, “It’s MEAT BALL, Mr. Howard“. It was the first time since being injured and returning home from two months of traction in a hospital bed that he smiled big and laughed a full throated guffaw. The bacon slipped in and out of Meatball’s greasy lipped mouth and the room grew brighter with his  addictive and toothy grin.

It would be a few more months of beans and greens and visits from Meatball and others hoping for the fatback on their plates, but never from us five.  Big laughs came slowly back into the white house at 1423 Morrell after the “meat boy” meal. There was new job with less pain and risk of injury for our slow moving Mr. Howard. Around the same time there was Christmas and five thunderous, overflowing, cellophane covered fruit baskets with hard, awkward nuts and candy canes with a single wrapped present. It all got shared on our screened-in porch, along with other toys from up and down Morrell Street…and the echoing, baritone laughter from just inside the door.

Jas. C. Mardis is a Poet, Quilter and Storyteller. He is a 2014 Inductee into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.

Photo credit:   Rosskam, Edwin, 1903-,  Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection 1938

Jas Mardis: Hand and Laser Exhibition

May 2021 I return to the display case of the Main Lewisville Library. I’m displaying laser enhanced designs and hand pyrography items with small quilts and the new wood hangers and candleholders. The laser engraving machine is part of the Library’s HIVE MAKERS SPACE. I was introduced to the progressive creative space during my 2019 Library case exhibition and enjoy the knowledge and skills of the HIVE staffers.

Jas Mardis: Hand & Laser Pyrography and Portraits runs May 1-29, 2021. Mask up and see the work, then tour THE HIVE. #LPLthehive Tell them I sent you!

Prints

11″ x 17″ color prints on acid-free Fine Art Paper are $200 per item, s/h included in the price within the United States using Ground Postal rates. Expedited FedEx shipping will be quoted.

If the PayPal button does not appear on this page please email me your request at MardisArt940@gmail.com and you will receive an invoice via email.

“Yal Royalty” is available on 11″x17″ acid-free coated German Etching Fine Art Paper.

Preview(opens in a new tab)

Title: ‘Yal Royalty” 11″ x 17″
yal_royalty

Yal Royalty 11″x17″

“Yal Royalty” is available on 11″x17″ acid-free coated German Etching Fine Art Paper.

$200.00

“Amazing Grace” _Light is available on 11″x17″ acid-free coated German Etching Fine Art Paper.

Title: ‘Amazing Grace_Light” 11″ x 17″
grace-light-watermarked

Amazing Grace (Light)

“Amazing Grace” (Light) is available on 11″x17″ acid-free coated German Etching Fine Art Paper.

$200.00

“Amazing Grace” _Color is available on 11″x17″ acid-free coated German Etching Fine Art Paper.

Title: ‘Amazing Grace_Color” 11″ x 17″
amazing-grace-watermarked

“Amazing Grace” (Color)

“Amazing Grace” (Color) is available on 11″x17″ acid-free coated German Etching Fine Art Paper.

$200.00

“Love Me or Leave Me”
Continue reading “Prints”

HOME Exhibition Opens

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Love Field Airport has featured me for the second 2020 exhibition: Jas MARDIS:HOME for the month of June. The highlight of this exhibition is a fabric and leather piece from the series, Mothers & Sons: “Sons of Her Thunder” subtitle: “Not Another Boy Harmed!”. Select pieces from my “Just A Crown” series on pedestals and two leather burned portraits on new stands complete the display.

Dallas Love Field Airport featuring Jas Mardis: HOME

“Sons of Her Thunder” uses a leather drawn image and a printed image on cloth with the backdrop of an andinkra symbol for energy. John and James, “The Sons of Thunder” from Luke 9:54 who asked Jesus of their enemies, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” In Matthew 20:20 their Mother famously asks Jesus if her sons could sit in an exalted place in Heaven. In consideration of the current climate I offered a twist on a Mother’s response. “Rain Thunder, Lord, on those who would harm my sons! Bring them home to sit beside me!”

Poem: Did You Know…

AUDIO: Did You Know…

Did you know that

tonight in your face
     between the opening and closing 
    and pressing together again 
           of your lips
        in laughter   and saying what you like
      in smiling   in smirking   and silliness 
    in   being beautiful and funny 
      in spite of your hiding it
     I saw every ounce of your desire
        It was in the way you drank
    your request for the red ménage 
   and the way of your unabashed hand
       delicate and firm and certain 
    your palm 
       against the crown of my hand
     warm      like the fountain of wanting 
   carrying you through the unmanned hours of the new house nights
       the air pressing against your skin
    the towels falling away 
       your hair damp and dreaming of gray
   it was in the way you sat
perched at the head of someone else’s table
    me   to your right hand
   others   watching through the door frame
       seeking out the lifted eye of your invitation to the laughter and chatter
     waiting on the red river of your lips 
   to break into an ocean of white toothed welcoming 
      and me 
wanting more and even more 
         of them   at the gates
                even now
 that table   long emptied and wiped of joy
       even now
     I find myself looking to my left
        hoping for just your laughter 
      or the delicious surrender of cashews
  riding melting salt crystals  onto your tongue 
crossing that red parted pillow of your lips 
    being caught    as any fool would desire 
  in the white pressure of your first teeth 
    surrendering  like prey
        to the succulent science of 
     such a small bite
        
           of such a delightful desire
       to satisfy your late and getting later
    night hungers

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4Tel


Jas. Mardis is an awarded Poet, Writer and Fabric Artist living in Dallas/Ft. Worth Metro area.

        

I Don’t Want It All Back

“What I Miss?”

I don’t want it all back
   just that one morning 
      when I put my phone on the bumper
    and you wore that orange shirt dress
       and shook your head 
     at the idea that everything was going to 
                        work out
          that the angle was right 
     not to cut off our heads
          not to slip off the bumper 
       when the ten second timer hit
     not to have a hundred shots of sky
       on nights like this
         in the middle of the moon
      when the phone has six thousand pics
    and only one 
 of big hair   an ebony hue  an orange blur
       and endless
            endless 
                blue sky
        .

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. (Oh, well…)

Jas. Mardis