Friday, October 11, 2013

More Ekphrastic Poems by Lytton Bell

Transient Poet Leaving Home
William Allen, 1986
Transient Poet Decides to Stay
Despite the Burning

This poet will need inspiration
One match and an addiction will not
suffice in the face of the storm
the house where he grew up ablaze
(arson eminently suspected)
the continuing lectures of his parents

This poet needs to eat
He needs to feel the first fat drops of rain
plunk down onto his upturned smile
He needs to see the lightning split
the telephone pole in two
the charred halves falling a-
way from one another
into the poplar trees

This poet needs clothes
a stick of deodorant
a roadmap and an invitation
to your house for tea

He needs these
if he is going to stay
if he is going to feel at home
in his own shoes
if he is going to write it all down
inhale it like that first sweet fog of nicotine
pulsing hard behind the eyes
until the ordinary evening
with a flicker, a sizzle and a rising plume
of smoke

casting the poet into stark silhouette

the lone, shadowy figure bridging
the darkness behind him and the
suit of words and light he buttons
snug around the mantra of his bones

Posing for Rodin

A flutter, a flicker

Naiad, Auguste Rodin, 1893
Meaning flows
from fingers of falling light
He does not tell me to stand still
He does not carve stasis
Even the marble slabs breathe here
Inflating with gasps of air
We both feel them pulling at our flesh
My pulse throbs in stone

Is this the thing we call life?
This vain attempt to fill
what can never be filled or full?
This grasp
so desperate to keep
all that it touches?

Let the lines and curves of my back
reveal my story to the world
My numb defeat, my face down in the water
Time would digest me whole
The cruel current whispers:
Life is flowing away from us!
Do we let ourselves be filled?
Our own
defenseless departure?
Or are we always left behind
while all that we love slips past
like driftwood?

This moisture clings hot, intimate
Lithe frailty of history, pliant celestial grace
Life and death are corporeal, insatiable
The sculptor exhales his vision
restless vapor of gratitude
confusing motion with progress

Garden of the Asylum at Saint-Remy 
Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

Tree in the Garden of the Insane Asylum at St. Remy

In his painting, it leans into the foreground
dark, foreboding
lush on the side facing an insurmountable wall
and distant low hills
on the side nearest the hospital windows

The amputated limb leers out
ghastly and more alive than anything else in the painting
including the shadowy, faceless figures
strolling innocently along the path beneath
a yellowish, trembling sky, thick with shifting clouds

Life is an exquisite anguish, the tree seems to say
I endure because I have no choice
I am rooted, transfixed by the beauty of even
my unendurable pain
because I feel it so vividly

And because I am a part of something here that is
bigger than just me -
some tableau
that requires me in its ever-
changing choreography

I push out the greenest leaves
where I still have branches
while a dark sap bleeds from my amputated stump
welling up from the injury again and again before
spilling down my trunk

painters and poets

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