January 2016
"free" - 1/11/16
It's 3am
I turned on my ipad to set my alarm
Instead I automatically check my instagram feed
1st one friend then another posting photos
Of the artist whose music, imagery and innovation
Became my college obsession 
I haven't cried in a long time. Not since freedom 
Was attacked in Paris have so many tears streamed down
My face my face is a canvas every day I express my
Sadness by covering myself with color in an effort
To cheer myself up, paint pretty pictures and on a good day
Make a friend 
I wonder what drives art the most is it loneliness
Talent genetics a sense of purpose a little voice
The multiple personalities of one's soul
When I think of freedom of expression there is no 
One I think of more completely from eyelid to bright lip
Thin limbs to fingertips chameleon-like in spite of
His signature approach to everything
A voice in every sense of the word
A painting in every fibre of his being
Extension of everything imagination can be
Spawning countless lookalike soundalikes who
Nonetheless held their own proudly influenced
Influential is the understatement of two centuries
RIP beloved thin man of mystery beauty
Empathy androgyny melody reluctant
Heavenly agnostic husband father
Artistic genius genie unbottled free
#RIP Riki Chen
"#RIP Riki Chen" - 1/4/16
Riki Chen was the most unique human being I've ever met
And I've met a hell of a lot of snowflakes
I met him on Facebook and it was his intensity that grabbed me
After I'd already admired his colorful paintings
I had no idea we'd become such good friends
He'd battled drugs, been homeless, hot-tempered
I'm a nice Jewish girl from CT whose only addiction
Has ever been to art
Somehow we got each other. He told it like it is
But with a knowing smile and a sense of "right??
Don't you agree?!" never presumptuous because somehow,
Miraculously I always did. I followed even his most disturbing
Logic and he respected even my most polished facets with an
Unexpected insight even when it was folk to his punk or whispering
To his shouting. He gave me advice told me I was one of the smartest
People he'd ever met and that that
I was "refreshing"
The first day I met him he was in a pretty bad way. Crashing with
A friend from whom he'd later become estranged but as we
Pulled up the car for our visit in the desert he smiled so widely
When I emerged he gave me one of the most pure hugs I've ever gotten
"Rachael, you saved my life. You really did - I mean it!" and all I'd done
Was purchased one of his watercolors because I wanted it, and
Because he deserved me buying it more than anyone else I could imagine
Deserving anything because I was his target audience because we felt
The same about color and mysticism and
Justice and beauty
#RIP Riki Chen you who next week I was coming to visit all the way from
New York you who told me only two days ago were so sick but finally feeling
Better you were the most angry euphoric person I've ever met most loving
Bitter artist I've ever known the most optimistic in a bad situation the most
Grateful and resentful you were the quintessential artist in every sense
Of the concept: painter, musician, poet, critic, mystic, philosopher, protester,
Humorist and satirist
I loved you enough to write a song for you to want to come deliver it
In person I never had the chance but you read the lyrics and heard it live
At a funky little cafe in San Francisco where you told me knowingly
"Even Jimi Hendrix started out playing to 30 people..." 
No idea if that was true you presented it preemptively attempting in
Your way to say "you're ok kiddo, keep up"
The good work
I miss you already I miss knowing there is someone out there as unable
To get his act together as profoundly gifted as apt to push people away
As to suck them in with pure talent as ill-equipped to navigate reality as any 
Real artist is apt to be given your circumstances which undoubtedly also 
Made you the genius you were as much as robbed your of stability which it 
Often seemed you chose to reject even when it became feasible
However fleetingly
Most of all I will miss your sharp wit which like salt on a pretzel made all
Of your talent that much more impactful it made me trust you you were at 
Once so truthful had no filter but still managed to come off to me anyway 
As incredibly polite. You dressed up to come to my gig apologized when 
You had to leave because the shelter where you were crashing was closing 
You handed me your painting and said you were sure it would be 
Safer with me without seeming dramatic you were
Just being practical
You told it like it is like it isn't you were hyper-real surreal powerful fragile
Funny, angry but never narcissistic you appreciated kindness simply
Longed to be acknowledged even when you went about it in a way that 
Sometimes backfired or maybe it didn't maybe your work was about testing 
How deeply one can become immersed in one's true voice at whatever 
Expense however loudly the noise in your mind might be screaming give 
Up you never did you painted on the street you painted in a hospital even
The very sound of your voice was musical "Heaven Is A Grocery Clerk" 
Was the name of the painting you gave me that hangs on my wall now 
I hope that beautiful muse you told me you painted was there to greet you 
That you're both laughing at the absurdity of everything that caused
You pain in your time on earth #RIP Riki you knew I you knew
What you were worth