Saturday, June 21, 2014

Poet Robert Gibbons on Caravaggio, Diego Riviera and Crowded Museums

Robert Gibbons moved to New York City in 2007 in search of his muse—Langston Hughes. He has since been featured in many NYC venues as well as in Florida, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. He has performed most recently at the Cornelia Street Café, Church of the Village, Saturn Series, Perch Café, Barnes and Noble, Stark Performances, Otto’s Shrunken Head, Poets on White, Nomad’s Choir, and Taza de Café among other venues. Gibbons has been published in Uphook Press, Three Rooms Press, Brownstone Poets Anthology, Dinner with the Muse, Cartier Street Review, Nomad’s Choir and the Palm Beach Post. He has studied with master poets Cornelius Eady, Marilyn Nelson, Kimiko Hahn, Nathalie Handal, Linda Susan Jackson, Kevin Young, and Kwame Dawes. Three Rooms Press published Close to theTree in 2012.

for Caravaggio
imagine, the suffering servant standing seaside;
his nasal Lombard accent grumbling; his scruffy
frame; his work unearthing the master’s peace;
St. John the Baptist I

creating with his hands; only producing bread
crumbs as he paints; as his angst piracy

imagine, hoping the ship carting pieces of him;
leaving traces in the bowels, snip snatches;
waves of his legacy on canvas, of time; of
history, the bitter taste hungry; tongue- twisting,
turning to see the past, the heart sickness;

imagine, him sinking, taking a lifetime to recover;
to regain, maybe four hundred years, or a century;
knowing the ascension; the martyrdom; the birth;
the death; the bereft; the disruption to his craft;

so he did not inherit gold, but his gold leaf icons;
scions of color, rather mutating browns; fusing
pinks inking in glitter; better time come forth;
this natural beauty ebbing of the ocean’s darkness;
fighting  light; struggling to believe, to see;
unforgiving; enliven this mastery; speaking
inner sanctum;

reaching beyond the grave; beyond silent congregations;
his constitution rescuing from the archaeologist;
the historian; the boring dictates of the academics;
resurrect his spirit, layering time; it is only me
it is only mine.

if I had a mirror and paint myself; exposing myself
then this direction; the wind moves this confidence
my reflection better myself, must I carry a sword
it is not my existence this feeling pittance will not survive.

the testimony against Gertrude Stein

if Schiaparelli and Prada had an impossible conversation,
then it was our wait in the Neue Galerie, so we trump
back to Demarchelier for avocado and crab on the plate;
this memorial day the heat of an overwhelming  crowd,
people pushing for place in compartments and gawking
at the multitudinous, but I rather see Rodin’s Eve
Rodin's Eve
as she shuns the camera, but continues to be slammed
by arms and big backpacks as all my energy focuses
on maintaining  space; keeping a pace with the merry-
go-round of my own interpretation; trying to appreciate,
but the docent’s eyes depreciate me in value, in places
like this, I am here with the nude women in the mirror;
there is so much to see, but there is no clearance; if only
I could travel to Paris and take a camera, maybe an
introduction to Picasso or Toulouse-Lautrec; had my limit-
check with all these vacationers, all this impatience;
left saying had visited, as I sat among the Islamic;
pitying myself felt freer with the name Durer;
the man hidden behind the bed sheets as she admires
herself; as she conspires her vanity; rather acquaint with Urs
Graf and Schongauer, the man with a hat gazing upwards,
so I finished the visitation with an Aachen and departed 
with Raphael just like Tobias.
the liberation of the peon
(for Diego Riviera)

Frida and Diego Riviera
by Frida Kahlo
it has been eighty years since the arrival
of Diego, the crowd is immense with politics;
still intense I smell the burning of the sienna,
like the sugarcane in winter;  it is brown
on canvas; we were all frozen assets;
there are frescoes covered in tarp-concealed
chips;  a way to feel the revolution
approaching, as dark as the ochre;
it was not just the pozzuoli or the almape-
Movado; its vine black-and-cobalt blue,
paints the rhythms of the American worker;
sounds of a pneumatic drill growls;
the agrarian voice of Zapata forms;
behind the mural panels the depression;
pencils in his sketchbook peasant laborers;
with babies on their hips, it is the peon
and the peonage; the scion color mirages;
my vantage points flame the inflames;
the blame blasphemy; look around for the dead, 
see Frida in her poster bed.

See Robert Gibbons read at the Brecht Forum, 2009

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