in the absolutely dark sea i have birds that
land on me and go inside me
let me go near you to touch you
let me put my birds
exactly in your mouth
what can i do with your moon lighted and
what is there now
every thing on you i want
you are somthing softer than star filled night
open up my
cranes in you
open up my cranes
steve roggenbuck from i am like october when i am dead, 2013 reprint
I went to a Millennial poetry reading last night literally sitting on the train tracks. I peed in a bathroom lit only by a black light and watched the torn pieces of toilet paper scattered-squat on the floor, glowing bits of paper eyes. I heard poetry like this.
imagine trees growing out of your arm
people walking all over you
cars and trains polluting the air you breathe
octopuses spraying bad tasting ink in your mouth
nuclear bombs going off around your neck
oil rigs digging under your skin
kimono dragons fighting each other in your hand
polar bears swimming in your eyes
a dad dropping a plate of hotdogs on your knee
meteors from space hitting you in the head
the inside of your body molten hot
and you cant escape any of it
this is what is feels like to be mother earth
daniel alexander from slime dog you are my friend
And I remembered again that I am not young anymore. I am old as dirt.
Robert Creeley, “I Know a Man” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991
Watch the structure of this poem – how the words veer and weave. The poem itself feels like a car on the edge of control. Speeding between desperation and the need for some kind of personal efficacy against the unknown (or whatever you interpret as the “darkness”).
Clemente paints Creeley with one eye open, a wink and a nod perhaps to both his clear insight as a major modern poet and his characteristic humor in confronting life’s big hairy questions.
Enjoy both friends!
Why I Am Not a Painter
I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,
for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.
But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.
Oh you Monday. With your redrush urgent,
your orange streak, next-in-line, get-it-done-before-lunch.
I’m yellow drifting in a little late, weekend hung over
deskchair heaped, haven’t checked emails yet.
your high hot list, citadel efficiency
Staff mtg doesn’t start for another 5 min.
This is a stroke
This is a stroke of good luck
A wrinkle in time
the angel of death
melted marshmallows indigo night
This is a stroke
of muteness syllables whole swallowed
foam on a wave
This is Tom Cruise on a wire
If I could find myself here today, it would be a talisman. To protect me from evil. From my greed to be something more than what I am.
If I could walk this path of yellow it would surround me with its bright shield. A place of refuge to look upon the water and see the reflection of the sky. Of me. Of the things that were and the things that were not.
To divine between solid and spirit and find somewhere a sign. A chill breeze brushes my skin. The haunting loveliness of life. Gold leaves fall around my fingers and summer’s memory washes away.
Come Fall with your earth-bound wand and sweep away the summer. Fold me into your apron crisp and cool. Bury me in leaves.
“When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.”
I don’t believe Pollock on this one. He has no fear about making changes to his work? That would be extraordinary indeed. I tend to shy away from Pollock because of the unnerving visual chaos. I understand this explosive change (dripping paint on canvas) skyrocketed Abstract Expressionism to sparkling mid-century glory. Today many artists drip in Ab-Exstasy.
I appreciate his process a bit more after reading John Yau’s poem inspired by Pollock’s work. Am I layering esoteric upon esoteric by mixing in a contemporary poem with a Pollock to bake a giant heady souffle? Yes. But hell, here it is.
Notice how the words mimic the energy of the paint. How the repetition and redirection, indirection and circumnavigation of words whirls you around like you are a streak of yellow or red inside the painting. How Yau ravels and unravels the mystery of being in the flow.
830 Fireplace Road
(Variations on a sentence by Jackson Pollack)
“When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing”
When aware of what I am in my painting, I’m not aware
When I am my painting, I’m not aware of what I am
When what, what when, what of, when in, I’m not painting my I
When painting, I am in what I’m doing, not doing what I am
When doing what I am, I’m not in my painting
When I am of my painting, I’m not aware of when, of what
Of what I’m doing, I am not aware, I’m painting
Of what, when, my, I, painting, in painting
When of, of what, in when, in what painting
Not aware, not in, not of, not doing, I’m in my I
In my am, not am in my, not of when I am, of what
Painting “what” when I am, of when I am, doing, painting.
When painting, I’m not doing. I am in my doing. I am painting.
She nibbles at your stoop,
studies the open door, its yellow shadows play.
Steps in, steps out.
Vanishes into indigo wild night.