Friday, June 28, 2013

Sarah Brown Weitzman on O'Keeffe, Tanguy, and Homer

More ekphrastic poems from the Delray Beach, FL, poet Sarah Brown Weitzman, a Pushcart nominee in 2012. She has published in Art Times, Rattle, The North American Review, American Writing, Potomac Review, The Bellingham Review, The Mid-American Review, and other journals and anthologies. Her 2004 chapbook, The Forbidden and Other Poems, was published by Pudding House. A full-length volume of her poems, Never Far From Flesh, came out in 2005. Sarah’s children's novel, Herman and the Ice Witch, was published in 2011 by Main Street Rag.

Yves Tanquy, 1954

A graveyard, as though the sea drained away
exposing this surreal ruin, a jumble
of saucers, coils, pots, spheres, whirligigs
discs, eye balls and toppled columns.

After my father died, my mother fell
into the chaos of living with the debris
of unwashed dishes, piles of molding clothes
and trash, dog feces in every room

shredded curtains, overturned furniture
both refrigerator and stove out of order
for years. She kept everything hidden
from me except her need for money.

Above Tanguy’s infinity of loss storm clouds
stain the sky with sadness. In the open grave
of my mind the rubble of memories
of my mother and the awful stink of omissions.


Winslow Homer, 1894

Moonlight drops through a gap
in the immense wall of night
its amber sheen a wavering path
over the water from the rim
of the horizon to the rocky shore
in the foreground and brightens fully
the left half of this painting.

A few white specks and a red dot
of beacon on a narrow black bar
of island in the dark distance
far to the right completes
this study Winslow Homer entitled
“Moonlight, Wood Island Light,”
though he painted the contrast.


“There’s nothing out there but light.”
                                     Charles Wright
Georgia O'Keeffe
My Front Yard, Summer, 1941

Here light wavers like heat rising
in radiant waves of turquoise over

rows of adobe houses and a rainbow
of bare hills in the copper haze of distance.
Sun scalds and polishes everything
to this luster of colors, O the colors, shiny

as silver bracelets in the market.  Midday,
an immaculate moment without mystery

or spills of shadows as the heat repeats itself
over the bleached doorsills.  Noon bakes

and sizzles, while stunned by the dazzle,
the opaque blue overhead aches for clouds.

painters and poets ekphrastic poems 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sleeping Gypsies and Melancholy Trains

Sarah Brown Weitzman, a Pushcart nominee in 2012, has had work in Art Times, Rattle, The North American Review, American Writing, Potomac Review, The Bellingham Review, The Mid-American Review, and other journals and anthologies. Her second chapbook, The Forbidden and Other Poems, was published by Pudding House in 2004.  She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.  A full-length volume of her poems, Never Far From Flesh, came out in 2005. Sarah’s latest book, Herman and the Ice Witch, a children’s novel, was published in 2011 by Main Street Rag. 
The Sleeping Gypsy

“THE SLEEPING GYPSY,” 1897          

The moon's a witness,
with a scattering of stars

like beads from an abacus,
to this desert scene

fantastic and yet familiar
as a recurring dream

of vague menace where a beast
like angst stands over us.

And like this sleeper,
though we wear cheery colors,

carry a jug and our art about
and trust in the guarantees

of ancient sands and mountains,
will we, too, wake

to find the fierce, fixed eye
of our own lion?
“Gare Montparnasse,” Giorgio de Chirico, 1914
The Melancholy of Departure

Before this painting’s moment
that train wailed its departure

but now a deep hush      
over the mustard yellow street

a hush over the drab olive walls
of the massive terminal

where no passenger stepped out
where no cargo was unloaded,

a scene as gleamless as death,
not the worst of desertions.

“Don’t leave without me.  Take
my hand.  I’ll leave when you do,”

cried my mother, tied to a chair
in the nursing home.  What can

we ever keep but regrets?
A train steams off into the radiance

of distance while in the foreground
green fruit rots under a gangrene sun.

painters and poets

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thom Gunn's "Positives" Poems, 1966

All of Thom Gunn's poems to accompany Ander Gunn's photos of a woman's life - from toddler to crone - are stunning but this is probably the best known. They appear in Positives (1966).
Photo by Ander Gunn

Something approaches, about
which she has heard a good deal.
Her deaf ears have caught it, like a
silence in the wainscot
by her head. Her flesh has felt
a chill in her feet, a draught
in her groin. She has watched it
like moonlight on the frayed wood
stealing toward her
floorboard by floorboard. Will it hurt?

Let it come, it is
the terror of full repose,
and so no terror. 

More about Thom Gunn (1929-2004):

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dan Marsh's Poem About Still Lifes That Move

Poems by DC poet Dan Marsh, who grew up on Long Island in the artist community of Springs.

Sunlit Table by Archie Forrest

Still Life

One day the still lifes

for reasons of their own
the pears turned blue

the fig dropped its leaf

the vase fell, saying
I'm empty
there's nothing in me
don't add a stroke to save 
what isn't there

I'm clear, I'm glass
you can see through me
if you want to, now,
painted on canvas 
with opaque paints,

all the way through.

A Small Death in Spring

The Red-bellied woodpecker was dead
To begin with.
He didn't need to be Holmes to know it,
There in front of his home in azalea-Spring.
He had seen through the picture window
A lump on the path, perhaps the neighbor's
St. Bernard had left another offering. But no.
And to think, as on many days:
That morning he had filled the feeder
And put suet cakes in the holders nailed to two limbs
Of the salix nigra Marsh.
The stunning bird mistook unwashed glass for air.
Mysterious gods work in mysterious ways.

(In this poem Jesus in the title is pronounced 
like Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus in the text like Jesus Alou)

Jesus, the Pinch Hitter

Jesus shuffles to the plate as if
he's wearing sandals not spikes.
He's spent time in the desert, working 
strictly minor league,
For the Dodgers, I think, or Cardinals.
At thirty-two (or -three, there was confusion
about his birth document in '00), 
this may be his only shot. 
The pitcher's a crafty lefty. 
(Righties of that devil's ilk are called junk-ballers.)
On this rain-threatened Friday, it must be Jesus' day; 
he clips one off the end of the bat to the 301 in right. 
Dominican Sister Juan Andrew reaches down 
and cradles it. Home run the umpire signs, 
though everyone else in this heaven knows
it might have been, but wasn't one.

Loving Tierney Finn's Daughter

The old man said the extra money went to relief
For families in the north, gut-poor and haunted
By British soldiers. It was a MacNamara's Band
That played in a Woodside bar in Queens.
Tierney said of the twenty apiece
I shelled for Cathleen and me and the twenty for him:
"It's pennies only to the widdas. The fiddlin' costs."
I bought bullets. I bought guns.
I bought a part of the machine
That blew up in a Belfast square.
I knew not what I did.
Here I stand;
Here I stand and lie.
Catholic then I loved Cathleen.

painters and poets