Displacement: MONTY LITTLE

Date: 
Friday, January 6, 2017 (All day) to Thursday, January 26, 2017 (All day)

Living Arts of Tulsa is pleased to present Displacement by Monty Little. We invite you to the opening reception during the The Tulsa Arts District's First Friday on Friday, Jan 6, 2016 from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Artist Statement:

There is a certain architecture we lung for, and during those deep breaths, I encompass an inaudible feel. I visualize my written work of anomalistic images of war, past/current memories, and employ a disarray of images that interstice uncertainty. Placement is indirect, yet strict, but not predictable—I find clarity to be marginal. Series of instinctual impressions are blanketed upon themselves to hide or unfold emotion and frailness. I use multiple mediums to intertwine shifts in dialects, but still try to capture an openness that reflects past and current landscape.

 

Artist Bio:

After five semesters of studying Architecture at Arizona State University, Monty Little enlisted in the Marine Corps as a Rifleman in 2004. Within his enlistment, Little was stationed with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines and served as a fireteam leader, overseeing three Marines in a squad, while deployed in Iraq for a little over seven months. In 2008, Little was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps.

Following his service, Little graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Creative Writing and Studio Arts. It was here; he began to feel the urge to translate his thoughts on his experience of war and post-war. Little wrote extensively on his encounters of conflict and commenced an unfolding of his deployments. Much of his writing initiated surreal images; thus, wanting to visually relay those images, Little began to paint and print what he wrote, using each medium as erasure, where unsettling truths reveal personal components and texture is integral, yet disruptive to find his past chaotic

 

Myers Gallery Spoken Word Performance
New Dance New Music & Drumming PechaKucha

 

1
I.
Everything’s falling back into place. I was worried for a while—
will I make it home? It’s taken all my strength to believe the
tunnel’s light is at arms reach. Lift me to a succulent place…after
all; these words have become nothing but black lines.
—Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 04.27.07
It is difficult now to speak of reflections of myself.
It is not precisely the question of clarity,
until now.
Each second weakens the minute,
and I find myself tracing
tracer fire over
rooftop motifs.
A blind boy is left turning pages backwards
while people sleep with their heads facing north.
2
Outside is a season of absence
It’s unquestionable—the city’s warm breath,
heat that whistles the tea kettle’s trajectory
of mortar fire on grandma’s stove.
While, oiled hair nestles in a cylindrical throat of a rifle and
singes to whispers in a darkened treeline.
A clock’s muted ticking is the length of a prayer,
adjacent to the argument of gunfire
in a person’s peripheral.
One would have to tell what happens of an immediate morning,
the vibrating floor, dust building and escaping, while the neighbor’s house crumbles
towards my feet,
a whole city glistening of brass, war, infertile of winters.
3
Shadows of homes move through me, and I feel the slight change in degrees.
I’ve been thinking of the notches on
a family’s doorway that measure the years of their father missing.
Consider this as memory…
A round embedded in one of our rocket launchers today, close to
the warhead. I was behind the Marine. Millimeters from dying.
Two hours of rest. I wonder about a lot of things. Sniper shot at us
during night. Saw a 500 lb. bomb drop last night while on post.
What a site.
—Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 02.19.07
Twenty hours awake for ten minutes of sleep.
There are such things as irregular empathy.
4
Bullet shells drop on splintered
floors to mother’s
cadence in her jingle dress.
Holes left in the mud wall tunnel
light to an eye socket, the smoke
still suspended, braiding the scrim
of dust.
Continue to sort evening as discretional.
I yearn to scumble calluses to the complexion of sleep, its opacity is mute, not silent. Or
rather is it the word of someone hiding found?
Gunfire sleeps during the dimmest day,
while the dial tone repeats on a nightly bases.
Questionable silence between night
and morning, an inherited darkness submerges hair buoying to a fisted knot.
Preliminary sunrise is a cloudless sky.
5
Here—a child’s umbilical cord is a nest on shattered glass.
Here—to find the symptom of a clotted lung is use a hooked finger.
Here—the days spent prove the weeks gone,
and the horizon’s vertebrae slightly bends to the curve of your mouth.
I’m tired. Tired of everything here. Can’t seem to think. Constantly
mad. Can’t sleep. Can’t write without being called out for another
mission…
—Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 06.28.07
The sound of a river silking is hair singed
laminating the darkened landscape.
The radiance of light penetrating skin
as frozen ground in morning strands
a newborn’s laughter.
6
Is the shadow of you sleeping on floors?
Contingency combs memory.
Take my hand. Locate you.
7
II.
A quiet room knows how many steps I’ve taken in a dream,
considering I’ve been
turning to the resemblance of an unknown person.
Often, I awaken to the rush of his body.
At times silence worries me. I lie awake listening to it. Try not to
interrupt its accent. I imagine myself surrounded with mundane
things. Caught. I separate ammo from the ones I’ve fired, to the
ones that have missed me. The silence calmly watches. Sometimes
my trigger finger locks in curved position. Warm water loosens the
tension.
—Santa Fe, New Mexico. 04.05.15
Lie to unaccompanied voices in an
empty room reiterate stanzas of
gunfire, the breathing between the
reload of a rifle.
All my possessions used to fit in a box. Dated. Organized.
8
Overhead,
cumuli erase evening prisms, and continue their journey over plateaus in the distance.
I would want to talk of recognizable images before sunset, Motherwell’s stark black and
white paintings, or seemingly dreaming into sentences left unsaid…
Please excuse me I’ve mistaken everything
surrounding while in REM sleep.
The history of anything else is codicil in vertebrae.
Sometimes, October smells like April, and Ramadi’s mornings look like home’s evening.
It’s been decided—
one must not step in a stranger’s footprints, wear another’s shirt, or cover
themselves with blankets of stripes that cross their body.
The crumple of paper
seemingly tingles my bone. Numbs the tips of my fingers.
Every photograph owned has been borrowed. Lost. Outdated.
9
In such case it’s been unthinkable to not
think of the photographs left by your hand,
the drawings unfinished,
seemingly washing to the memory of predawn air,
the framework of your slender jawline uncovered.
I want to tell you to wait one more month. I’m uncertain if this is
true. Looking at pictures of you before sleep, I’ve flattened furls at
the edges, the flashlight re-examining your jawline once more. I
left you alone. You remind me of nights where you patiently wait
by the phone, insisting of my voice, wanting to know…
—Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 09.01.07
I recall our body language in whispers of geometry,
the outside lines of our contorted bodies weave so silently.
A time under sky
and cotton sheets, over exposure of melanin
washout to coffee stained teeth.
We are but of a sketch. A scribble on white paper.
10
Feeling so heavy, the stinging in my eyes. The aroma of my own
nightmares. A glance of no promise. Tell me something I can’t live
without, something I want to hear. I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep. A
vehicle’s engine reminds me of the suicide bomber arriving. He’s
around the corner now.
—Santa Fe, New Mexico. 06.15.11
After conversations over the phone, you begin to understand the city’s structure, its
bulleted walls in streets like eroded rocks.
I remember watching you scratch frosted windows with your thumbnail, and you let the
frost beneath your nail melt and flood the space.
Each memory of war used to only be seen in dreams. Burnished. Discarded.
11
A complete circle is an extension of a year
and its commonality of elliptical light is
the swinging bulb from near wind.
To stare at one eye while in conversation,
observe the wall behind coat itself with sun.
Meanwhile a building’s shadow amputates a torso,
and tendered skin aches of a scratch.
When I was six, my mother tried to leave
in the middle of the night.
I stood in the hallway speechless.
Watched night blanket her from head to heel
through dusty windows.
At ten, my mother’s arms held me tight, trying to shield me from the wind’s sting. We
had no place to hide.
Often I migrate between sleep before the first lightning wakes.
12
Hours surpass noon, you
stand naked alone—ample of confession.
Route Michigan, littered with trash and IEDs, catches me off guard
when I drive today. Loose dirt on highways reminds me of buried
artillery rounds. Each morning I expect prayers from the minaret
over gunfire.
—Santa Fe, New Mexico. 09.01.15
Evening dissolves concealing your wanting lips
You stand unclothed before me—the projection of your
body on mine, misregistered ever so slightly. Though
your legs wrap around me to correct my placement.
Your thighs in the texture of Braille.
Trace us for permanence. Let us return.
My fingers comb sweat through your hair.
Your silhouetted body now glistening constellations.
13
I lie in silence until morning listening to the light breathing of you asleep. Your breaths
suddenly are breaths before a sniper pulling the trigger missing me by inches.
You let morning heat warm your palms so you can hold my aching fingers.
14
I close my eyes to dream. A June dream. Where branches are weighed by leaves,
sounding like the ocean tide washing ashore, breathing.
The distance between war and day countermeasures night and love.
15
III.
Surrounding clouds shade an
abandoned room, a house with no roof,
where I mistake a boy standing in crumbles of memory.
People crowd on the surface of land, at the edge
of it begins a sweet smell.
A folded city map is damp from sweat marks gesturing contour lines from home.
We got ambushed today. I never knew the sound of bullets snap
when they fly by before the actual fire of the weapon. Saw a little
boy standing by his front gate. Couldn’t help but think of him
during our exchange of gunfire. His innocence reminds me of my
family. I saw myself think twice about this place. This war torn
city. I see them wear it on their faces…
—Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 06.14.07
Morning shadows bleach to noon
and the yearn with contact—anything at all
map in the perimeter of the child’s eyes.
But he stands unmoved
with his index finger between his lips.
16
At hand, furls of dampened mud mend,
while the stare of a doorway
muffles water tapping on porcelain.
Something nearing in the distant frightens
the boy as it disguises his dreams with moth chitin during an eclipse.
He lays in the caesura of arthritic buildings,
near the hairline fracture where the
concrete is frost bitten.
17
The impression of his body sweat
is a ghost print on a town’s skin.
His warm breath is sealed from
cupped hands. His breathing is at
the cadence of an ocean’s low tide.
Notice the chameleon of his shadow.
It will be morning soon
thus distance in speech
equals a recognizable space.
18
8 casualties in the battalion this week. Whiskey company took the
extent of damage. We responded to the firefight. Mortars landed
around us. Fire by small arms. A suicide bomber almost took a
friend’s life. The insurgent’s body everywhere. Where does the
blood go when that happens?
—Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 07.11.07
The clouds’ shadow now engorges, slowly seeping to the edge of the boy’s feet. He tugs
at my jacket, handing me empty bullet shells.
In the distance, the clouds thin to the avalanche of their skin.
19
I’ve missed him
though I have no account of him.
—his black pupils.
—the tan skin we share.
—his black hair falling near his brow.
But, I see him in monochromatics of grey.
Eight years of ocean between us.
20
Yet, I imagine books tucked between his body
and arm walking to school under fig trees.
I hope my projection of him to be true.
It helps my eyes close before sleep.
I imagine him as the little boy,
both of us listening to the ocean turn.
21
IV.
The sound of machinery jumps me back to gunfire. Someone
dropping a dictionary squeezes my heart.
—Santa Fe, New Mexico. 10.19.11
I turn the front door’s lock clockwise before ten,
inspect every room for dark corners
turn on lamps to rid of the shadows.
A familiar haunting, yet anonymous, in the ghost shade
smells of pine needles.
Lung the architecture of clouds
because I can’t keep them with me.
22
I check the floor
confound in a deep blur
until a cut of light crosses
the deadened horse of wooden boards
its mystery spines
its complexion suns the considerable storm
A bridge between twined hairs
pinches the forehead constructed in chicken wire.
Repeat the colors fermented around matrilineal maps
woven in rugs, witnessed by Nazlini.
If a person throws a rock, the next owner must return it.
23
Here, lines when seen at a perspective focal, lay flat.
They lie. When seen from above, they dance to ripples in watermarks,
to clotted arteries, to the texture of bread, to an arthritic mother’s bone sounds.
Lightning-crooked spines on abstracted sky,
The sun closes its eye faster than the moon can open his
Place the photograph’s center flip the sky to stand on it.
Rethread the wandering to unclog horizontal line.
Nest them in the sketch of breath.
Place it in a dying mouth.
Wait for the sun to appear.
24
Figures disfigure a calm memory
and instead leave you twined
to the foliage of gunfire.
Someone rearranges a
minute
to sound like an hour.
The exploration of silence is in a dog’s growl
over a child ashed in nightmares
Lightning ticks the beveled limestone. Gunfire skys the muted light.
—Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 07.09.07
Knowing this, I grasp the color of your hands.
Measure a prayer to sniper-fire.
Return the blackened pine to forgotten sketches of you.