Sunday, November 30, 2014

Artist Francis Nguyen and Poet Robert Gibbons on Feathered Brains

Francis Nguyen studies and creates art in New York City. “My interests primarily lie in drawing, which I believe is the foundation to many other forms of visual art. I like to imagine drawing as if I were threading a spider web; a natural pattern that is reminiscent of the essence. Ever since I was a kid, the beauty of man-made images compelled me to draw, paint and sculpt the characters in my mind. As in the tradition of the old masters, my style appropriates its meaning through the depiction of the human body and reveals its archetypes. For more of Nguyen’s work see

New York poet Robert Gibbons has been featured on paintersand several times. His poetry appears 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.

elegy to an airhead

I thought this was the city, but it could be the country
being so conceited and self-involved, minding my
business, looking the other way, I am afraid
being a man, keeping to myself, caught up
in my own brine of thought, my hair as explosive

as it is hypnagogic with all the material available
for my use, some may think I am enlightened
but in my distance I am benighted because
it is difficult to read outside my canon, to involve
another genre so I become as thematic as a cliche
always out to compete, to climb the mountain's
tightrope, the high wire or plower into earth
and frack never an estimation, always exacerbation
I will end in my head before I am dead.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Poet David Wright Dines with Caravaggio

David Wright’s first poetry collection A Liturgy of Stones was pub-lished by Cascadia in 2003. His latest collection is The Small Books of Bach by Wipf & Stock. Poems have appeared in Ecotone, Image, Bluestem, and Poetry East, among others. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, and has taught in the English Department at the University of Illinois since 2006. Link to Wright’s essay “A Few Worries about Being a Poet” here. 

The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 
(above) and 1606 (below) 
by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Two Suppers at Emmaus by Caravaggio

The worm in the apple gnaws the fruit away,

and the dressed fowl the men have devoured

by the time Caravaggio remembers the inn-keeper
and his creased wife, the finer linens

and the pitcher as detailed as the Gospel of Luke,

and the ridiculously large ears of Cleopas.

What fierce blaze gets fired and glazed

within the tender-hearted as a stranger paints
the air with his midrash of pigment and time? 

What light layers enough shadow over years?

I am inventing this last part; the rest you could have 

read or been shown on your own:

Caravaggio once punched a drunk in the head
and saw Jesus as the man's flesh dented

beneath his fist like a warm loaf. For five years,

the stranger rose again and again in Caravaggio's eye.
In the Vernacular Gallery
Art Institute of Chicago
Country Preacher, 1860/90, 
white pine. Artist Unknown.

Hanging quilt and the gazes of the carved half-dozen

prows of ships and this preacher, upright and upholding

the opened and planed smooth Word of God in his lap,

he fixes his hollowed eyes past the book, on a particular

point of sight, devotional turn for the wooden minds

in his care. Or recollects a work song from before the war

and feels its hum in his brow and high cheeks that betray

the grain of southern white pine, deep gouges of chisel

and time. I am praying to him now, that the split in his spine

will hold. That like his arms blessed tight to his trunk, he will

keep his own counsel until the Spirit fires him alive as the free

hand and eye of the vernacular maker whose sermon he is.

Plague of ladybugs, plague of the suburbs 

Gathered in my beard, on your skin,
       in the mouths of bottles.

                               Drink down
their speckled bodies--Mexican beetle,
Asian beetle, domestic bodies--no one
       will say.
                               On my sweater,
       this one, a jewel in a vestment,
       rises away.

The several on my hands
                               I'm flinging

like orange paint from a brush--
                               these winged
               red oils, striated, enameled.

The ends of my fingers a brush--

                       Pollock with ladybugs,
                       Pollock with a canvas of sky.