Micrograffiti is a project edited by Stacey Swann for The Owls site. The writers were asked to respond with fiction to Ben Walters’ photographs of the South London graffiti tunnel. Editor's Note: These two writers responded to the same image but interpreted the text of the tag differently, one reading it as “we live to learn now to love” and the other reading it as “we live to learn how to love.” -S.S.
we live to learn now to love
By Stefany Anne Golberg
He had been staring at that wall for like, he didn’t know, a half hour? It was a stupid phrase. The stupidest phrase he had ever seen, just like that, spray painted on a wall. It was the kind of phrase that aimed to sell you something, but he couldn’t think what. Ice cream maybe, or lady products. Anyway, he had to get going.
What can you say to such a stupid phrase? How can you just write that, out there for everyone to look at? Someone must be really embarrassed. Anyone who writes something like that only wants one thing. And then they had to go and paint a heart in the middle.
He took off his hat and sat down on the ground. He really had to get going too.
we live to Learn ♥ how to Love
By Sean Hill
An ocean and half the country away from Bemidji, Minnesota, this bit of graffiti. It takes me back to that Sunday night in the Hard Times Saloon. You’re out of town on business. I’m beginning to feel lonely and hungry. The saloon is open late and in walking distance, and I want a beer to go with the wings I will order. The guy on the barstool to my left props his forearm against the bar, and holds his right hand in the air—swollen, oozing blood—clearly busted. After a couple wings and sips, “What happened?”
“Got into a fight with my girlfriend; she made me mad. You know, it’s not right to hit a woman.”
“I took a walk instead, but when I got to the corner I punched the Stop sign. So I came down here for some beers.”
“She made me mad, but I didn’t hurt something that’s alive.”
“Right.” We talk some more while I finish the wings and another beer. He seems like a nice guy; I worry about his hand. I walk home stopping at every Stop sign, in no hurry because you’re not there.
Stefany Anne Golberg (“we live to learn now to love”) is a founder of the nascent Huckleberry Explorer's Club and writes for The Smart Set.
Sean Hill (“we live to Learn ♥ how to Love”), author of the poetry collection Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, lives in Bemidji, Minnesota, the first city on the Mississippi River and home to Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox.