An excerpt from Venus Rising

Here’s another excerpt from the novel I”m still editing. This passage describes the  morning after Nick and Minna become lovers.

The next day stumbled out bright and clear, pushing back the ragged edges of another of February’s long nights. Discreet shafts of sunlight pierced the curtain, revealing two small cracks staggering along the far wall. Minna got up around seven and went over to her dresser.  She thoughtlessly fashioned a ponytail with two twists of a rubber band, her every movement displaying an erotic charm unmarred by self-awareness. Watching her, I struggled to comprehend the mysteries of her body. It possessed a fiery, inscrutable logic. Hers was a smoldering sensuality lying beneath a bouquet of spring flowers. A beautiful, delicate line described her body from head to toe, a body so intensely perfect that it almost hurt to look at it; a dangerous, delicate torment, like staring at the sun. A glimpse should have been enough, but I kept burning the image into my brain, afraid that it might not last, might suddenly vanish. She inhabited a body that encouraged this young artist to wonder and dream, or wonder if it was a dream. That high, firm ass alone was sorcery. Nature’s finest artistry on display!

Caught in the last, bittersweet months of nineteen, Minna drifted seamlessly between modesty and audacity, between diffidence and confidence, between girl and woman. She appeared flawless (all the more remarkable in the unforgiving morning light) and, not for a moment, did I attribute my judgement to inexperience. Minna’s body was a revelation, a honeyed nectar that had, until now, lay hidden in some rare Amazonian orchid, and I was getting drunk on its juices.

I congratulated myself on sleeping with such a beautiful woman…and my first time! Minna turned to find me lying propped up in bed and lost in appreciation.


“Nothing, I’m just looking.” I lay back against the pillow, hands locked behind my head and smiling like a dope. She jumped on the bed and threw herself on top of me. I instinctively brought my hands from behind my head and embraced her. She gave my cheek a quick peck while gently shifting her weight.

“And do you like what you see?”

“Yeah, it was OK.”

Minna laughed, then pushed out her lower lip, feigning disappointment.

“You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”

“You’re just saying that because you’ve never seen a girl naked before.”

Fair enough, but in a few years I would see every type in life classes at the art academy: tall, short, fat, thin, and many that were beautiful, but none whose beauty eclipsed Minna’s.

“Would you do something for me?”

Minna smiled. “What?”

“Would you pose for a drawing?”

Right now?”

No, not now…sometime though.”

“What kind of drawing?”

“A figure drawing.”

She hesitated. “Does that mean I have to be naked?”

“I’d like you to. Why…would you feel funny?”

Minna paused again, teasing me with her indecision.

“No, I don’t care…I’d be curious to see it.”

“Posing can be kind of boring, you know.”

She considered for a moment. “No, we’ll make it fun.” She kissed me again. “Do you wanna get breakfast before the dining hall gets crowded?”

“Or we could just stay in bed?”

“We can come back for that,” she laughed. “I’m hungry!”


It’s been awhile

Some people have asked me why the subtitle: Greetings from the Cultural Wasteland. I’ m an artist living in North Carolina-“Nuff said,” Right? But let me cite a few examples that might clarify, shine a light on things.

A few years back, I entered a juried exhibition sponsored by the Raleigh Fine Arts Society. The juror, a painter from Virginia, accepted the work for the show. It was a figure painting, a nude, front and center, but no more provocative than what you might see in any art museum in the world. I went to drop the painting off and two ladies from the society exclaimed in restrained horror: “We can’t show that!” After a big go-round, they agreed to display it at the opening, but only at the opening. I had to then come and take it down. I arrived at the tail end of the opening to find the painting hung behind a staircase in the dark. Needless to say, I asked to be removed from their mailing list. The two upsides to the episode: I got my 35$ entry fee refunded, and I started to think that I must be doing something right. After all, without trying to offend or shock anyone, I still did; though admittedly, it’s not hard to offend some of these bible thumpers down here.

This second example is a bit more painful, a real dagger. If you’ve seen this blog, you know that I’ve written and published a book of short stories. I asked the owner of the gallery where I exhibit if she would send an e-blast out to her list of clients announcing that one of her gallery artists has a book out. At first, she was excited that I had written a book and said she would be happy to send the e-blast. Then a friend told her that she had to be careful, that if any of her clients read the book and found any part of it offensive they might object. So she refused without so much as a word to me-nothing to discuss. She was too afraid she might offend the delicate sensibilities of some of the country club ladies that patronize the gallery. I admit a couple of the stories in the book contain some passages of mature subject matter, but that could have been easily remedied with a simple disclaimer: The book contains some material that may not be appropriate etc. etc. And let me be clear, the book is in no way overtly salacious or sexual, but there are those few passages.

So you see what I’m up against. Perhaps cultural wasteland is too kind.