Friday, September 26, 2014

Poems and Art from "Heart to Heart": Dove, Russell and Marisol

These poems are from Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art, (2001) edited by Jan Greenberg.

A Word
That Red One, Arthur Dove, 1944
by Gary Gildner

Give me I said to those round
young faces a round word
and they looked at me
fully puzzled until finally
several cried What do you mean?

I mean I said round round
you know about round
and Oh yes they said but
give us examples!

Okay I said let’s have a
square word
square maybe
will lead us to round.

And they groaned
they groaned and they frowned
every one except one
little voice way in the back said
Standing Buffalo, Charles M. Russell, circa 1920

The Bison Returns
by Tony Johnston

Midnight and the world so cold.
The sky is holding snow.
On the stone flank of a buried cave
an old fire-smear awakes
and walks out, down the drifted miles,
down the smothered hills.

It steps into the yard to graze
just as snow begins
falling soundless in a dream
upon the shaggy ghost.
What will I say to keep it here?
What song will I sing?

The Family, Marisol, 1962

Breaking Away from the Family
by Susan Terris

I’m there. See me in yellow? Not the short one

with no visible arms. That’s my sister.

I’m the frowning-smiling girl, eyeing the family.

See us? Sister, Sister, Mother, Baby. Then Brother, 

at his board-like best, standing in too-big overalls

trying to be Papa. We’re caught there, 

nailed and glued to a door with no house,

a door that won’t open. Only my half-laced

boots are real. The rest: flat-tinted,
an odd two dimensional, one-handed girl.

The part of met that’s broken away

has grown tall, drives a car, goes to work, lives

in a house with a real door. She’s warm

and full-fleshed and dances with boys under

a flower moon. But the splintered girl I was

keeps coming back, returns me here

to stare at Mother’s pork sausage fingers,

At her dress with its bear-claw flowers.

Overhead, black scrolls hold her and them

like curved iron bars of a jail insisting.

You may never leave

or charge or be part of any family
except this one staring helplessly outward.

Papa will not return.

Brother will not become Papa.
Baby will always be propped in Mother’s lap.
Sister will never find her arms.

The five of us will always be

the last picture Papa saw before he went,

a stiff wooden portrait left behind.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ken Pobo Re-Imagines Ernst and Carrington

Kenneth Pobo’s poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Mudfish, The Cider Press Review, The Fiddlehead, and Hawaii Review, among literary journals. His most recent collection is Placemats, published by Eastern Point Press. He teaches literature and creative writing at Widener University in Chester, PA, and in 2007 received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. In these poems, Pobo re-imagines the work of two towering figures in Surrealist painting, Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington. The couple, who met in London in 1937, lived together in France until separated by WWII.

                                 Pastoral, Leonora Carrington, 1950


You hover above a thin white blanket.

easily bends the birch nearby
yet it standsyou envy it.  You’re

growing unable to tell human
from animal, your owl eyes,
a hand like a fox paw.  You want
the world to stay still, to stop
that endless turning—

that would mean your death,
everyone’s death.  You say let it spin,
which it does, as if trying to weave
something wonderful.

The Elephant of Celebes
Max Ernst, 1921

An elephant feeds a mirage
to a wooden floor. 
The entire Industrial Revolution

fits into the beast.  Knock
on its black shell.  It feels nothing. 
If you get eaten, you’ll relax

inside the belly.  Headless,
a woman tries to speak the poem
she wrote about loss that she told

to fish swimming overhead,
but they swim away.  An orange
remark, you crave a sunny walk

beyond a blue pergola.  The elephant
remembers a savannah
and a graham-cracker brown river. 

This is how it will beyou looking
for blue, the animal looking
for you looking for blue.