Center for Creative Inquiry

Reality Feinting


the canvas

is a perfect sphere

about four feet in diameter

floating over the floor of my studio


that i don’t have a studio

or have ever seen a canvas sphere

let alone

one floating

three feet over

the paint-spattered marble floor

doesn’t matter



this is

a dream


the painter

i think it’s me

long brush in hand

is dabbing the surface of the sphere

with iridescent blue paint

that turns green

the moment it touches

the shimmering canvas


in the corner

on the counter

a tea kettle

is boiling away

on a single electric burner

and an old-fashioned radio

at the far end

of the counter

is playing bach

interpreted by joni mitchell

radio big and wooden like the ones

my grandparents had

when i was a kid


a kid

the image of one

begins to slowly appear

on the sphere


i think i know him

i think i know

who I’m painting


it’s uncle henry

my deaf great uncle

who designed wallpaper

for a living

and painted landscapes and portraits

none of which i have anymore

but i have his tools

both in the dream and in waking

and yes it is uncle henry who i’m painting

a little boy back in Russia

way back

in the early nineteen hundreds


in my studio

i dance around the sphere

thinking of uncle henry’s rectangular paintings

framed in ornate wooden frames

he carved himself

and i think of how

it was on uncle henry’s lap

when i was eight days old

that i was carved away

of a foreskin

and how

dying of cancer

he spent the last afternoon

of his life

cradled in my scrawny arms


there is no fore or after

in this poem


there is a boy become a man

appearing in a forest

after he dies

a forest that begins to grow

up and out from the sphere

and i pause

and i ask myself


what’s going on here?

as the sphere

grows larger

and i grow


and uncle henry

beneath the towering trees


a tall elegant woman

i know is named


and it’s she

Ree-Ann Ality

it is she

who is holding the brush now

and it is she


who is turning

to face me

in my bed


as i wake

to the dawn

of another day

hidden behind

dark curtains


as i wake

to the sphere



to the hard cold

marble floor

of my un-studio

gone oval now

that’s painting

the depths of me

and then








Description of Work:

Reality Feinting

inspired by the prompt, over the course of several weeks, i found words and drawings flowing out from me about the dance that an artist does with dreams and reality. multilayered, like a canvas, the poem explores the unfolding of a dream that weaves in and out of my life, a long-dead uncle and reality herself, and ends with one of the drawings.

Description of Process:

i let words and images flow out of me, very like the way that dreams rise up in us. they shift and change over time, and i tinker with and add to them.

What Reality Is Painting

Reality sits in front of her easel

palette in hand

colors ranging from white to gold

from opalescent to ultraviolet and black


her smock is a galaxy

I am her upstairs maid

standing silently in the doorway

not wanting to disturb her

pot of steaming tea and her favorite mug

on a small silver tray in my hands


her bush is a palm tree

the bristles are


darting above a

virgin rainforest


brush paused

in her left hand


I can make out


the jungle




in the distance


I’ve seen her paint this scene before


the man

in the background

Reality told me his name


is slowly walking



who I see

from behind

in his long


shining robe


I watch the way


reaches out a hand

and places it


on Ananda’s smiling


and I know

that this

left out of history

is why

he really

left his wife

and why

inspired by Kolita and Sariputra’s

devotion to each other

he is


brave enough


to court

his handsome


About the Author:

Eli Ramer, who writes under the name Andrew Ramer, is an author and meditation teacher who has long been interested in the blending of text, movement, and chanting. Ramer is a co-author of the international bestseller "Ask Your Angels", and of "The Spiritual Dimensions of Healing Addictions" and "Further Dimensions of Healing Addictions." His own books include "Angel Answers", "Revelations for a New Millennium", "Queering the Text", "Deathless", "Torah Told Different", "Fragments of the Brooklyn Talmud", the Lambda Literary Award finalist "Two Flutes Playing", and its newly published companion "Two Hearts Dancing." His next book, "Texting with Angels" will be out later this year.

Description of Work:

What Reality Is Painting

i have been meditating since 1969 and writing poems since around 1959 and this invitation touched me deeply and allowed words to flow. from the query i knew i wanted to write about something buddhist, but i didn't expect to be taken to where i was taken.