Monday, May 25, 2009

787. Possible Answers to Prayer - Scott Cairns

Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant,

relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value—nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.

Your repentance—all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.

Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.

Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you—

these must burn away before you’ll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.

Friday, May 15, 2009

786. Eavan Boland - From the Painting ‘Back from Market’ by Chardin

Dressed in the colours of a country day -
Grey-blue, blue-grey, the white of seagulls’ bodies -
Chardin’s peasant woman
Is to be found at all times in her short delay
Of dreams, her eyes mixed
Between love and market, empty flagons of wine
At her feet, bread under her arm. He has fixed
Her limbs in colour, and her heart in line.

In her right hand, the hindlegs of a hare
Peep from a cloth sack; through the door
Another woman moves
In painted daylight; nothing in this bare
Closet has been lost
Or changed. I think of what great art removes:
Hazard and death, the future and the past,
This woman’s secret history and her loves -

And even the dawn market, from whose bargaining
She has just come back, where men and women
Congregate and go
Among the produce, learning to live from morning
To next day, linked
By common impulse to survive, although
In surging light they are single and distinct,
Like birds in the accumulating snow.

Monday, May 04, 2009

785. Later - L. E. Sissman

Two last exhibits must be introduced
In evidence, if it please your honor. One,
Called "Two Comedians," painted at the end
Of Hopper's life, shows Pierrot, stage front,
Grim-lipped, in whiteface, presenting Pierrette
To an unseen audience; the figures are,
His wife said – following his death and soon
Before her own – intended to represent
The painter and his wife, Such comedy –
So high as to be cosmic – is perhaps
Played out in the second exhibit, "Sun
In an Empty Room," where the interiors
Of all his early years are fused in one
Apartment room movers have visited
With their pantechnicon of mise-en-scéne,
Taking away the givens of the past –
Bed, rugs, lamps, people, papers, chiffoniers –
And leaving a sizable memorial
To his life and to the state he lived it in:
A green tree blowing outside; streaming in
Through the two-light window, forming cream oblongs
On window wall and alcove wall and on
The bare wood floor, a shaft of morning sun
Peoples the vacuum with American light.

Friday, May 01, 2009

784. Brueghel In Naples - Diane Abse

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: W. H Auden

Ovid would never have guessed how far
and father's notion about wax melting, bah!
It's ice up there. Freezing.
Soaring and swooping over solitary altitudes
I was breezing along (a record I should think)
when my wings began to moult not melt.
These days, workmanship, I ask you.

There's a mountain down there on fire
and I'm falling, falling away from it.
Phew, the sun's on the horizon
or am I upside down?

Great Bacchus, the sea is rearing
up. Will I drown? My white legs
the last to disappear? (I have no trousers on)
A little to the left the ploughman,
a little to the right a galleon,
a sailor climbing the rigging,
a fisherman casting his line,
and now I hear a shepherd's dog barking.
I'm that near.

Lest I have no trace
but a few scattered feathers on the water
show me your face, sailor,
look up fisherman,
look this way, shepherd,
turn around, ploughman.
Raise the alarm! Launch a boat!!

My luck. I'm seen
only by a jackass of an artist
interested in composition, in the green
tinge of the sea, in the aesthetics
of disaster––not in me.

I drown, bubble by bubble,
(Help, Save me!)
while he stands ruthlessly
before the canvas, busy busy,
intent on becoming an Old Master.