necessary whispers

observe. connect. make new.

Desert Silence

The desert is a solitary place

Solitary in the horizontal sense.

Silent, but for the lifting of needles

From branches and the lifting of

California Raven’s wings.


I am not sure I had ever known

Silence before.

In the desert, the vibrations that


Even in the “quiet” moments in the city,

Do not exist.

There are no electric connections

Beating a constant and dissonant



Instead, the desert

Sings silence

Between a symphony of breeze,

Flying insects and the

Strands of my hair playing

Major keys as they lift from

And are tossed back against the sides

Of my face.


The desert is a solitary place—but only



Vertically, it is a place of deep connection.

Connection between nature and God.

Between man and God.

Between me and God.

He gifted me at birth with an

Eye for beauty.


Beauty in nature, especially.

The colors, textures, compositions and

Shapes in nature will

Pierce my eyes

And sink into my soul

More quickly than any other beauty

That exists.


Art, music, poetry, language—they all

Resonate from nature—

Nature: God’s hand in the glove of science,

Painting His creation

And speaking to us through it.


The God of science and creativity

Connects us with both

Red desert dust that we can hold

And the wind that swirls


Through the green and yellow inhabitants

That color the land on which we stand—


That which we can hold and

That which we cannot

Are His.


The God of science formed us from this dust

And the same God breathed His creative life into us.


And so, the desert is a place of solitude

With God.

A place where the work of our human hands is revealed

As mere reflection of what He

Has already wrought.

Here, we are small—

Not inconsequential because we are His—

But small, because

Here, in the desert,

We can see that we are but an infinitesimal

Shape on the canvas of both space and time:

A grand and vibrant

Composition that has been,

Is and will continue to tell His story.


-copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Written at the Wukoki Pueblo in the Painted Desert, Arizona.  10/31/18)


Moonlight We


The sun grows hours

Then burns them dry



Blow by the days

And we

The cattle drivers

Saddle the minutes

And ride them,

Guide them from atop

Their prickly backs.

The Sunlight We

Strap on our shoes

Tattered at the soles

To tread

A line

Publicly defined by

The rules of


And who the other

We’s expect us all

To be.

Astride atop

Rolling ticks and tocks

And traveling

Through noon time

Crowds of We

Is She—

An explorer whose eyes

Are lifted

Toward the sky

Inside a sea of eyes

Seeing same.

The busy pavement

Vibrates with progress

As defined

By hand held devices

That shine

In daytime rays

And ricochet


The gaze

Of the masked We

Stumbling at a gallop’s pace.

But she—

She sees.

She sees what is real

In the moment defined

Not confined by

What she should

Why she ought or


Why she would

She rides the time

And feels the warmth

Of the sun instead of

Using it for light.

Reflection of the sun can be seen everywhere.

Embracing now

A give and take

Of new and ideas

And what does it mean

She offers herself

To the questions

That rise

Dwells in the


Of wandering


And he—

He sees.

Along the trail

Sprawling on every side

Is one—

A He—

Who rides his own

Tumbleweed time

Carrying boredom

Wrapped in


Searching for what

Is relevant.

His eyes wide open

Heart behind a shield

He journeys

With a purpose

Gone cold

Like a campfire


He rubs his hands together

Above reasons

That fail

To keep him warm.

Until the moment

Just one moment


Amidst a thousand eyes



The only she

In a sea of


Whose awareness

Pierces the shield of his own.

No words exchanged—

Not yet—

But the moment is frozen still

The sun holds its place

And reveals

Details of her face

As though

The opulent

Fiery star above

Is painting

Something new.


Says she and


Says he and the sea of

We begins to roar

Once again.

He asks,

“Can you travel

This way?

If only


He smiles—

Not only his lips

But eyes brightly

Joining as

His hands begin to warm.

She accepts

His invitation,

“I will come

Your way

Let’s not delay

The sun will set into night.”

Two journeys become

One moonlight We

As the day stumbles

Behind the moon—

The moon that stops

The growth of time

Replacing stars

For minutes

And silence for sound

When all around


Into a single


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: Heiko Müller‘s painting, Antares.

The Trial and the Verdict

He bellowed
In a voice too hot to hold.
She put her fingers
In her ears,
Held them there
‘Til her story was told.


“He came to me,”
She said,
“A traveler from the storm
wet with reflections
in the form of raindrops
and recollections
but tied to his arm.


Like an army
of one he slipped
through my door
then tripped a wire
holding tight to desire
unraveled me and
turned to go.”


Go, you say?”


The Woman turned away,
A word tightening in her throat
Stuck between the moat
Where teeth and tongue
Her courage threatening to


“Go,” she answered,
“He left as he came
with a swiftness of foot
eyes warm like flames
fingers rough
but touching me
melting me
inside and out
but then leaving
quickly retreating
an endless repeating
echoed on the smoke trails
wafting in his wake,
‘Go? Already?
Okay then, go,”
I said in a tenuous state.”


The Lawyer huffed
Like an old man
Running a race
At a pace unfit
For old men
Who huff instead of


“Let the record show,”
He wheezed,
“She saw him come in–
he was no thief–
she felt him approach
and watched him retreat
she should have known
he would not stay–”


“But he said–”
she attempted–


What he said
is merely heresay!
Haven’t you gotten
in your pretty little mind
the message that some men
and then un-say?”


Said the Judge
As he straightened his tie,
“I don’t know
what you want me to say.”


The woman looked down,
“Must I write both sides–
your lines and mine?
Or can I tell the truth
And let you decide?”


The Judge pondered the woman
Reclined in his chair
Pulled his glasses low
Down from his hair
One lens white and
One lens black
No grey in between
As he leaned carefully, close
Into the scene:
“You are condemned
because I see you thus,
the space between right and
is the space you filled
of your own accord.
Let the man go
and say your goodbye
to the back of his head.
Now listen more to what
is still unsaid–
if you cry
I will hold you in contempt
for being weak
for opening up
for allowing him to seek–”


“To seek what?”
The woman’s face
Grew pale and hot–


“The place in your heart–
you know the spot–
where softness billows,
where dreams are wrought.
Get out of my courtroom!,”
He said with a swat.
She did.
The Lawyer buckled his briefcase
The Judge exited right
The Woman sat stunned
As the spotlight on her witness stand
Faded into night.


Copyright: Jill Szoo Wilson

Photo credit: p e t e r k e r t i s

Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault

Why Women Don’t Report, by Jill Szoo Wilson
Now that the Kavanaugh vote is over, I would like to share my thoughts on why women may not report a sexual assault. Keep in mind, I am no psychologist or doctor or lawyer. Just a regular lady.  
First of all, being assaulted can feel embarrassing for many reasons. It can feel embarrassing because if a woman thinks herself strong of mind, body and emotions, she may assume that in the moment when an assault occurs she will react out of her strength. That isn’t necessarily what happens though. Instead, she may react out of fear, thus all of the plans she thought she so carefully made to stop or withstand the assault may be tied up in the lassos of fright or freeze when the time actually comes. She may later think to herself, “Why didn’t I DO something?” And that thought could lead to a feeling of embarrassment. 
Second, some men have a way of asserting their power through manipulation. Women do this, too, but in this post about why women don’t report, let’s stick to the man being the “bad guy.” Men who are willing to manipulate a woman into trusting him will also later manipulate her into not reporting his violent or aggressive behavior. A man does not suddenly become a different man. Instead, he remains the same and shifts the focus of his manipulation from opening a woman up to shutting her up. This is especially evident when the man has some form of power, whether that be political, social, economic, etc.  
Third, she doesn’t want to say anything to the wrong person, thus creating a situation in which her private story might become public. That may sound like a political statement on this particular day but is NOT meant to be. Let me say it another way, too . . . if a woman chooses to face a sexual assault, rather than attempting to bury it in the annals of her heart and soul, she most often goes to someone she trusts. And, hopefully, she will end up in a therapists office where some very intense, excruciating but freeing work can be done within her own psyche. Eventually, she can come to a place of light and freedom, thus returning her heart to a place where it can run with joy and clarity. This process is painstaking. Difficult. Life altering. If someone gets a hold of her story before she has a chance to get all the way through to the end of it, it can stir up a lot of damaging emotions, such as intense fear, depression, anxiety and PTSD. Gossips, in these scenarios, or anyone who would try to force her into speaking up could damage a woman’s confidence and sense of well being.
Fourth, sometimes the perpetrator will try to head the woman off at the pass. He will say things like, “Oh, she’s just a liar,” Or, “She’s crazy.” Or, “What a bitch.” These derogatory phrases are meant to be signals to other men that the victim is not to be believed. So, by the time she comes to a place of being ready to report, her reputation is already soiled so she knows no one will believe her.  
Fifth, when the man is someone who is known by the woman, there is a disconcerting and confusing moment when friend becomes foe. Somewhere between trust and the stabs of instinct she has a choice as to how she is going to relate to the man in the moment. “Do I suddenly start fighting this man who has been my friend? Or, “What did I just say or do that made him think this is okay?” Or, “Just don’t make him angry.” Known perpetrators tend to leave the most psychologically damaging wounds because they can leave a scar of general distrust.
I do believe women, by the way. Until there is a reason not to. I also believe men. Until there is a reason not to. Neither of those things changes the fact that women DO have reason to fear reporting sexual assault. I hope that won’t get lost in all this political quagmire.


Artists and Depression

I recently read an article in which the author linked depression and the artistic temperament. At first glance, I was a little annoyed. The whole “depressed writer,” “melancholy comedian,” “chaotic performer” thing seems to me a dangerous sort of stereotype to propagate and to buy into. Plus, I know plenty of artistic types who do not struggle with depression. I think.


I think it’s a dangerous stereotype because sometimes artists believe that if they seek treatment for their mental health issues, they will lose the edge they otherwise have to create. And I understand the fear. Antidepressants—especially when they are first taken—can cause foggy thinking, fatigue, a dulling of the emotions and/or other physical side effects that can simply be emotionally exhausting. But I don’t think any of the things I just mentioned are the reason artists sometimes choose not to take their meds. I think the bigger reason is that antidepressants lift the mood from the darker places of the mind. Those dark nights of the soul through which many artists create do provide a certain kind of raw availability that allow him/her to grab onto the minds of the viewers (or readers) and to pull them into the heights of the imagination, as well as into the depths and corners and sink holes of life.


Also, artists search. I will speak for myself: I am on a constant quest to do exactly what Walter Mitty urges us to do in his film, “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel.” That is, after all, the purpose of life, right? Searches, journeys, quests . . . these are the reasons I create. When I am acting, directing, drawing or writing I am striving to understand. Understand what? That depends on the day. The what changes but the why remains consistent: connection. I create in an effort to connect.


Depression makes it hard to connect. Not only with other people but, sometimes, with one’s self. In the moments—or seasons—of isolation that occur within the darker nights of depression, an artist can turn to her art. She can reach inside her thoughts with one hand, grab onto some truth worth exploring with the other, and then pull herself into the exploration: through words, paint, music, a character . . . she can connect with the world through her own creative sensibility. I think maybe she gets used to connecting to her world in that way because connecting one’s self to ideas is a lot easier than connecting to other people. Connecting the deeper parts of one’s self to a concept or a universal truth is easier than connecting one’s self to another person’s individual truth. An artist can work on her art in isolation, thus connecting to thought, but she cannot build relationships in isolation because relationships require a mutual agreement to engage. Thus, the artist can explore ideas, including her own depression, without fear of being discovered. In fact, quite often, it is the artist who appears in her own work . . . some version or angle of herself can be found in one piece, while a completely different side or struggle can be found in another.


Something I have come to learn as an observer of art is that if you spend time with one artist’s work—if you take time to study her progression over time—you will come to know the artist herself. Not in totality, but in her parts. If you watch, look, listen or read any artist, you will certainly be filled with connective topics to discuss at once upon meeting her in real life. All of her parts are there in some measure.


I don’t often talk about my battle with depression. I almost called it a “struggle,” but that would be sugar coating it. It is a battle and I fight to win the war more often than I would ever let on to anyone else. I don’t keep my battle quiet out of fear of rejection or pride (I think) but, instead, I keep it quiet because I don’t like to complain. I don’t like to feel helpless or to appear helpless. I don’t like to be complicated or make others’ lives more difficult by adding my own burden into the baskets of their minds. I prefer not to need help (okay, that’s prideful) and I do prefer to be the one people come to for strength. Whatever “strength” means.


Lately, I have been realizing that my “strength” may never have been what I thought it was. I don’t mean I never had any or that I don’t have any now. What I mean is that the anatomy of my strength is not toughness or an ability to “power up” against people or things. My strength is not loud or boisterous. It does not run or flex or (something). My strength is simple: it is showing up. My strength is in listening, taking steps toward sharing my own life and in making connections between me and others, as well as making connections between people and ideas.


That’s kind of it. My strength is a journey from my heart to the heart’s of others. Whether it be students, friends, family, colleagues or even strangers, my strength is in seeing others.


So, as an artist who is depressed more than she will ever give into or let on, I would like to show myself. I would like to raise my hand and say, “I will allow you to see my hand here as one who is on a journey wearing a backpack filled with depression. There are other things in there, too. There is also laughter, questions, memories, dreams, curiosities and a whole lot of love. And . . . I see you, too.”


Copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

Photo Credit: The featured painting was created by Antoine Josse.  Please feel free to visit his Facebook page: Antoine Josse’s Facebook

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