Painting & Sculpture

What Is a Person

capable of feeling
while in contact with another?

I look at the red-tiled roofs outside,
at all the angles

facing the white-blue cloudless sky
like the creases in Bellini’ s angel’ s

silver-blue dress, Tintoretto’ s white one
that’ s practically transparent in his

Annunciazione at the San Rocco
— cloth complex as thought!

Then the bells start, flood the void.

Ode to the Belt Sander & This Cocobolo Sapwood

The belt kicks on with a whir & the whir
licks the end grain of the offcut with a hint

of  hesitation. A small wind of ochre dust
sweeps off the belt before the belt comes back

to where it was. The whole room swells
with the scent of cinnamon & desire.

How imprecise the smell of desire.

The wood takes on a sheen, a gloss
the grain can live behind without worry

of  being forgotten. A single knot blinks
out of the small block and becomes

The Angel with the Broken Wing

I am the Angel with the Broken Wing,
The one large statue in this quiet room.
The staff finds me too fierce, and so they shut
Faith’ s ardor in this air-conditioned tomb.

The docents praise my elegant design
Above the chatter of the gallery.
Perhaps I am a masterpiece of sorts —
The perfect emblem of futility.

Mendoza carved me for a country church.
(His name’ s forgotten now except by me.)
I stood beside a gilded altar where
The hopeless offered God their misery.

Painting A Wave

“Painting a wave requires no system,”
The painter said, painting a wave.
“Systems may get you flotsam and jetsam,
Seaweed and so forth. But never a wave.”

There was a scroll or fine-lined curve
On the canvas first, and then what looked
Like hair flying or grayish nerves,
Which began to move as the painter worked.

“Painting the sea is a lot of trouble;
It never stops still for a moment, so
I try to make it internal, mental,
As though I stopped it, then let it go.”

Self-Portrait at 38

Hair still Titian,
but Botticelli's grip has loosened —

not now Rubenesque,
and probably never;

Ingres approaches,
but Courbet might capture me.

Could I be surreal?
It seems almost likely —

bells in my ears
and fortresses under;

cones have been set on my eyes.
My spring is gone

and summer's upon me,
rude in its ripening.

I'm espaliered, strung wide and tied,
pinioned, and thus can I fly.

II. Homunculus

The political contributions of whatever he creates are coincidental
and, in any event, irrelevant. The musician may not be relying on
mathematical acoustics in his calculations. He may be performing
for auditoriums; thus, his physical realities change as he travels. Music
seems inevitable. Every question entails some notion of what is being asked.
The motley nature is not alien. Certain sounds guide the vulgar mind
to notions not anticipated by those creating the sounds. A bartender

Wedding Portrait

Yesterday afternoon, I hung a framed print in the living room —
a task that took two head-throbbing hours.
It’ s a wedding portrait that we love: Frida and Diego Rivera.
I wonder how two people could consistently hurt each other,
but still feel love so deeply as their bones turned into dust?
Before Frida died, she painted a watermelon still life;
before his death, Diego did too.
I want to believe that those paintings were composed
during parallel moments because of their undying devotion.


It is autumn but early. No crow cries from the dry woods.
The house droops like an eyelid over the leprous hill.
In the bald barnyard one horse, a collection of angles
Cuts at the flies with a spectral tail. A blind man’ s
Sentence, the road goes on. Lifts as the slope lifts it.

Comes now one who has been conquered
By all he sees. And asks what — would have what —
Poor fool, frail, this man, mistake, my hero?

Matisse, Too

Matisse, too, when the fingers ceased to work,
Worked larger and bolder, his primary colors celebrating
The weddings of innocence and glory, innocence and glory

Monet when the cataracts blanketed his eyes
Painted swirls of rage, and when his sight recovered
Painted water lilies, Picasso claimed

I do not seek, I find, and stuck to that story
About himself, and made that story stick.
Damn the fathers. We are talking about defiance.