Tag Archives: heart

je suis



the invisible
is present, bidden or
not bidden, so

i admit to feeling

(you prefer
lower case i’m guessing?

i do)

your nearness,

much more

than God – is that your father:
enormous, cliff-
like, unknowable shore line
everywhere and nowhere
or did i make him up? – and

you remain unseen yet noticeable
and quiet, as a young
girl, painfully shy


and here:

are you the swing? are you the hush?
are you the dusk

light, and why is your name such
a problem? i admit to feeling un-
comfortable with it
in public,


i don’t mind thinking it

je suis is as close as i get

why do you keep
showing up discernibly concealed?

what did you learn as a human? and
what do you continue to learn as a

you are
the missing
person who
i look for
in a stadium
crowd, far off,
other side of field
eye contact
we locate each
other, impossible
to talk, we wave,
sort of, our
gaze in a
held in that
small holiness

just seeing you is
seeing me

you are the being in
a person without a
body, right? though in a
body, is that it?
that certain near-thing
we know is distinct
and unique
in me

like being in your own car, your own pew,
your own bed

how am i
doing so

stop me if
i’m going


poem by chris woodhull / photograph by kumiko ishigaki

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sometimes in the day,
sometimes at night
I walk outside and in,

all around the wooded property
not looking for anything
in particular, nothing really

but this and that, hoping,
no, not hoping: wondering
if the incessant searching

or hunting or waiting
for something to happen,
to move, from beneath
the thing I call my life,
will give it buoyancy.


chris woodhull

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The Red Poppy


The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.


Louise Glück, 1943

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Does the Thought Really Count?

Does the thought really count?

Every year, around the time when eggnog slides its way into the refrigerator section at Kroger there hangs this huge black cloud. We have to detail a list of every gift we must purchase. We have to go dust off our puffy coats and slip on comfortable shoes and head out to wait in long lines, push and shove to get the best deals and in the end to get all our Christmas shopping completed. And then once we finish our list with just a few people left…you know those people that you don’t have a clue what to get them and so we hastily snag a few gift cards…”I saw them listen to music once…I’ll get them an iTunes gift card.” That is the extent of our thought. Slowly big box merchandisers and us, begging like little slobbery puppy dogs, have created a gift giving process that is about as enjoyable as eating your crazy aunts fruitcake.

There is no longer any thoughtfulness or delight in our process of gift-giving.

Gift giving should be loving and romantic. It should be a mere taste test of the generosity and care we extend in the rest of the year. The act of giving is rich, real and robust. Providing delightful things to another human being is a way of considering and noticing what delights them. It teaches us how to be human.

But instead, we give out of obligation, even guilt at times. And with our ever-widening need to attain more “friends”, the quality of our gifts become cheap and tawdry. Our culture stains expectations on us about the code of giving. “If someone gives to you, you must give something back to them.” Giving has morphed into a speedy transaction. It’s like telling someone you love them just because you want to hear it back. Even if we say we don’t, we create lists in our heads of who gave us the best presents and who gave you some dinky little potholder that they made.


Growing up I always heard my mom say that the best gifts are the handmade ones. “No they aren’t mom!” I would chant, “the best gifts are the ones that spin, twirl, turn on and off, can make you fly…” Now that I’ve grown a bit I’ve noticed the truth in what she was saying. Handmade gifts really are the best gifts. And you know why? Because the giver had to think of what to make you, go buy the supplies and think about you as they made that dinky little potholder. What’s the main ingredient? Heart!

Gifts do not surprise anymore. All presents have become the same junk just in different colors.

When gift-giving becomes mandatory it loses all its beauty.

So with all this being said we would like to encourage you to keep these three points circling in your head as you complete your shopping.

A real gift…

  1. Notices the person
  2. Tickles their fancy
  3. Delights their heart

Bonus thought: fresh flowers are better than plastic ones.   Merry merry!

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

― Amy Wilson-Carmichael

paris & christopher

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Home is Where You Get Your Paint Brushes

Opening the door I’m immediately immersed in an air conditioned calm that is my home away from home. As I walked along an aisle, I ran my fingers across the surface of of pads of paper stacked haphazardly in the middle of the concrete aisle. Wherever my eyes rest, I see potential. I see beautiful pieces of art waiting to be seen and created. This store has always been my candy store. While other little girls were whining to their mothers trying to urge them to buy the newest Bratz doll for them, I was whining for art supplies. Though I never had to whine for long. My mother smothered me in supplies, not in a spoiled way, but in a way that showed she supported my creative endeavors. Heaps of sketchbooks lie beneath my bed with just the first page used. There is something magical about the first page in a sketchbook. That sketchbook could be created into the next piece of art that could be held up next to Gustav Klimt or Henri Matisse. But, in my case, I would be so excited that I would start to draw anything and then once I used the first page, the magic vanished so I lost interest and tore the plastic off of a fresh sketchbook and began again.  Jerry’s Artarama still promotes my creativity and the quality of my art. The very smell of this haven of materials makes my fingertips itch to begin creating.
Ever since I was tiny, I have always been that child that yearns to touch and hold not just to see. I remember quite clearly that when I was seven I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I was so taken by a painting that I lightly brushed it with my chubby finger. Well one would have thought I would just murdered the Pope. After the guard warned my grandmother quite sternly to make sure I kept my hands to myself, I walked out feeling flushed and embarrassed. I hadn’t meant to do anything bad, I just wanted to feel what that artist was feeling when their brush hit the canvas. This policy was never so at Jerry’s Artarama. I was always told, actually encouraged, to feel the quality of the papers and feel the different textures of the bristles on the brushes. Literally smelling, seeing, touching, and even hearing can determine the quality of art materials. I’ve always loved the entire process of making art and this first step of picking out materials is close to my heart because I can still feel the textures that I first felt when I was just a child.
According to the Paris Woodhull dictionary, “Art” is a verb: It means “to feel;” not only to feel emotionally, but tactually. For that reason, Jerry’s Artarama is my temple. I can feel the potential and the textures around me. As I continue down the concrete aisle which leads into carpeted rows I can smell the pungent odor of acrylic paint and acidic paper. I can hear the soft shuffle of feet and the tapping fingers of impatient customers waiting to check out their ambitiously large canvases. Wide rows of brushes poise upwards like little choirs so customers can feel the harshness or softness of their bristles. These hallowed walls have housed the beginning to almost every art project I’ve created; everything from my project for governors school to window installations. Every corner is free of dust and dirt  because each corner is inevitably interesting and draws artists to come over and keep the dust circulating in the air.
As I continue down the aisle that houses all sorts of odds and ends for potters, I begin to think about what purchasing art supplies could be compared to. “Purchasing art supplies is like…Going over to grandmas…it’s like when you buy your first car…” After much deliberation, I decide that,”Buying art supplies is like deciding your religious affiliation.” My pace slows down as I jot these quick thoughts down in a wonky sixth grade boy handwriting. Purchasing art materials is, in fact, somewhat of a religious experience. I have to first decide what materials my hands require and then I have to decide which brand is most suitable. Do I like rough surfaces of smooth ones? Do I need a pen or a paintbrush? Do I like the wateriness of gouache or the thickness of acrylic? These thoughts enter my brain as I continue down the pottery aisle making a sharp turn into the portfolio section. Giant portfolios with a shiny outer shell pleading to be filled with art. No matter what material, like religion, art strives for the same goal: to find hope. Some people take drugs to calm their nerves, but I go to Jerry’s.
paris woodhull
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