The good and the bad of acquiring a new work of art is that you have to listen carefully when it tells you just where in your home it has to be. You may have other ideas, but it is best to set them aside, for ultimately the art knows far better than you. All you must do is listen carefully, and mindfully but devoid of preconceptions. And new works of art come with a knowledge of how those domino mazes are constructed, for once they find where they need and must be, the art that occupied that place is duty bound to tell you where it wants next to be, and so on. So gather up your tools, ladder, picture hooks and nails for this is going to be a much longer day than you envisioned.
Gertrude Stein said
poetry is vocabulary,
or so Simic reported it,
but in that case
what do we make
of Haiku, where
a poem at maximum
can use only
Perhaps, if we
haiku is not poetry
but art, for all art
and there is little
you can do
a haiku further.
There is an art
to creating a mix tape,
more so to day, when
tape is usually only
found in museums
and antique stores.
Then you chose carefully
aware of the sonics,
aware of the limits on time,
weaving a musical tapestry.
You can do a mix CD
but everyone knows
that with tape you listened
all the way through,
for fast forward was only
for getting to the end
of the cassette to play
the B-side, and CD’s
have no B sides to play.
Walking through the art gallery,
she frequently pauses to look
at paintings of couples in a bar
or a cafe, engaged in conversation.
I tell her they seem sad, as though
whatever romance they had
has waned, they having grown
apart, this a parting of sorts.
She laughs and says that I mistake
wistfulness for sadness, men
so often do, and adds they are
lovers falling ever deeper in.
She takes my hand gently, with
a look I might have deemed sad,
but knowing better. I realize
that I, too, am continuing my fall.
It is always, the artist told me,
a question of angles and elevations,
but I am sure that was just his perspective.
Dali threw all of that out, made
a pretty good living at taking perspective
out of his work, replaced by fluidity.
For Dali that fluidity resulted
in a fair bit of liquidity, which was
an irony not the least bit lost on him.
But even Dali ran out of time
before he ran out of ideas, it flowed
away from him and he did not care.
I choose to work with words,
for they are easily aligned with
what I imagine, from my perspective.
I have visited countless galleries,
stared at or shielded my eyes
from all manner of art, but
I always read the plaques
affixed to the walls, name
of artist, of work price,
the relative amount speaking
to the financial state of the gallery.
I actually care very little about
the name of the artist other
than as a historical reference,
for the piece has already spoken
or remained in total silence.
I do glance at the title
and wonder why so many
artists, of infinite creativity,
when it comes to words
are struck mute, and tell me
their work is simply “Untitled,”
which for me is but another
way of saying, unpurchasable.
He is, he claims, a practitioner
of feng shui, and will, for
a nominal fee, arrange our home
in the harmony it requires.
His fee, of course, is nominal
to him only, and hardly one
we would incur with the expenses
of a new home, with two
of too many things, and none
of some necessities, which
our local merchants will provide
for their own nominal fees.
And I don’t know that I want
to pay to watch him move
two small pieces of pottery
and rehang our art so that
whatever Chinese gods
he channels will be pleased,
all while taking our home
away from us and leaving
a place of his we merely inhabit.
Of course, she’s sitting there,
calmly, staring off onto space.
She has to know something
is amiss, no one has come
to visit her in days, but she
knows that whenever, if ever,
whatever it is that is happening
is finally over, that they
will once again return, stare
at her, wonder aloud and silently
why she is smiling, and she
will as always say nothing, for
she was once told that it is better
always to leave them wanting more.
Tomorrow Paris will count
its newest dead, and the hospitals
will pray the tide of bodies
has been stemmed, or diminished
and none of those in the battle
will pause and consider DaVinci’s
lady imprisoned forever in her
sterile room, an eternal prisoner.
First published in Dreich, Issue 20, Autumn 2020 (Scotland)
He would be the first to admit
that he hated most things avant-garde
particularly when it applied
to either art or music.
It was simply a matter of being
in the moment, and he knew
you could not be ahead of time
for there was only the moment
in which you were in.
They brought him myrrh
on a flaming salver and all
he could do was say
“This is something I would expect
from a butcher or a carpenter,
and the camera angles
would never work, so bring
me napalm or punji stakes
that we have proven to work.”
They brought him ripe oranges
and the sweet meat of the pineapple,
its juice dripping from his chin,
and all he could do was tighten
his grip on the AK-47 and dream
of night on the edge of the jungle.
They brought him Rodin, Matisse,
Rembrant van Rijn, and Blake,
but all he would see was
Bosch and Goya, and then
only by the light of fading candles.
They brought him the String Quartet
in A Major played on Strads
and Guarnaris, but he
wanted the retort of the howitzer
the crump of the mortar,
the screams of the child.
They brought him his child
wrapped in bandages
missing fingers and toes,
and all he wanted was
the nursery, a newborn
in swaddling, suckling her breast
as he stroked her head
and remembered the moment
of her creation.