Between the Lines

Between the lines 
is white space.
That’s all.
The lines tell the story.
The gaps give you space to figure it out.

From high school and university “explications,” I got the idea that literature was obscure and confusing.  That writers deliberately wrote in layers to be picked apart.

The perception had a lot to do with why I started to write it.
And the crushes on top of crushes on random and plenty neighborhood boys.  I rated each Kangol’ed, boom box toting, b-boy wannabe in my diary.  Shawn was a 10; the others fell in line behind him. 
My sisters, whom I shared a room and, at the time, a bed with found it in the most obvious of places—under the mattress; I was that kind of Are You There God It’s Me Margaret obvious-dramatic.  They found it and in true sisterly form joked me in earnest. 

Then Mrs. Shugart introduced me to allegory.  I learned about layers and metaphors reading Mask of the Red Death and somewhere in there my reworked song lyrics (what I called poems then) and cleverly (to me anyway) named fictive characters (one of my favorites was Raisin; another was Chevrolae) became secrets to be revealed after removing layers of imagery and innuendo.  Them sisters would never again know of my penchant for shelltoe Adidas with fat laces; the damage those “hey little girl’s” from said desirables did to pre-pubescent ego.

Peeling those layers away, leaving something tangible, literal and not a really cool image was providing what one of my poetry professors called, a foundation for the house of the poem and eventually revealed what Dr. Gayles had told me about the gaps.  Everything is (and has to be) there–if you want a reader.  Nobody is trying to buy a book of poetry to do work with it; entertainment is not that. 

So trust me, I am not hiding anything in my art, my writing most specifically, any more than when it was layered in imagery.  It is all there.  Pause in the white space and you’ll see that you get it after all. 

Okay so maybe I would rather people not pause because that art is my heart and soul on Front Street, y’all!  Yeeks! 

But alas, that is what artists do.  And why we tend to be moody, sensitive, especially about mah shit, as Erykah Badu explains when trying out her then-new song “Tyrone” on a concert audience.
But then, James Baldwin reminds about keeping secrets in, I think it was This Morning, This Evening So SoonThe best way to do it is to tell everything.   Too many times people just aren’t listening and that is why they never get the secret.


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