Thursday, January 26, 2012

Portrait Through Paintings

Radishes and green peppers and goldenrod
rendered precisely, so each petal is edible
and the image is sort of a salad on a wheelbarrow
in which the artist, having nothing to comment on,
indulges herself or is suggesting that
nature arranged geometrically in a garden
is worth contemplation by the sheer abundance of 
detail,
            or a self-portrait with rectilinear cheeks
and a glass jaw that has never been broken but hangs
not defiantly but with a see-through
assurance that here is its proper wall and though
the fixtures circulate in numerous directions
and he is not unwilling to cooperate to the point
of effacement, for the moment everything
is aboveboard and fathomable, and for that 
he is thankful.
                           Or the elongated etching
with brown water and unemotional stones
that neither denies nor asserts nor devotes itself
to an expenditure of necessity
but hangs flatly like a cocktail dress
that was displayed, admired, and forgotten.
The landscape is immaculate, as are the
people who were pasted up in a priori positions—
as if to investigate their employment were a kind
of heathen activity that preordained
them to dysfunction. Not inaccurate,
for their limbs are set at correct angles and each
is identifiable in his function, yet
lacking in organs that make even the simplest
of outlines a human commitment.
                                                           Or the office interior
with classical corners and starched woodwork where
the blue-suited executive ponders his budget,
his hands raw with exclusion, his eyes rampant,
as he scuffles internally to stand still.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Who'll Stop the Rain

Vessels, containers, pots, shapes, everything

is liquid or gas molded ephemerally into glass

shapes easily shattered and content advancing

expansively

across a carpet until it is absorbed,

the carpet itself a membrane containing the floor—

we dwell in the estate of formlessness, even our skin

a receptacle lending curvature, and occasionally beauty,

to chemicals lacking coherence.

Like African and Arabian

nations concocted by colonialists, like a blotch of color

on a painting positioned by a filbert, possessing no

inherent inclination of its own. Like this poem.

Not an anarchical state but a state in which

there is no state,

just liquids and gasses compressed

into shards by liquids and gasses and named by men.


(This poem appeared in Stand in the U.K)