Photography by Jennifer Brown

Photography by Jennifer Brown

“Why don’t you paint me a sunset?”

-Lee Gardner 1949-2008


You never know what words of wisdom are going to carry with you over the years. I was about 14, and was just starting to show my efforts at writing and drawing/painting. It was terrible stuff really. I really didn’t know anything about poetry at the time. I was reading a lot of Lovecraft, Blake, and a little bit of Whitman and Poe. Pretty much I was just trying to write rock songs and my big idea of clever was to filter it through generic macabre imagery. You know… Jim Morrison. Except I can’t sing; so I started calling it poetry. You know…Jim Morrison.

Anyways, I was showing all this “art” to my old man, when he tells me, “Why don’t you paint me a sunset? Write to me about a dog finally coming up on some good luck? Give me something I can find identity in, something I can understand. Tell me about living a real life.”

At first I was all about my teenager hurt feelings; but the seed was planted, the ember smoldering, if you will. I was 16 when me and the pen got together again. This time I was trying to write about what I knew. Turns out, at 16 I didn’t know much at all.

Now, here I am, 40 years old and I’m repeating my father’s words; trying to tell you what this is all about. I write about what I know. I write about the last 24 years of life I’ve seen.

See, the thing is, it don’t matter what I meant when I was writing it. All that matters comes down to just one question. What does it mean to you?

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