Monday, July 4, 2016

A Feast of Van Gogh- Poets Gretchen Primack, Gregory V. St. Thomasino

The Drawbridge, 1888
by Gretchen Primack

Along his path, white geese forage
in deep fields. The bridge ahead
echoes Holland, so he sets up
the easel and mixes pigments;
not his new fire-orange and bleeding
green, but blurred colors of memory.

He paints stones jutting into pale lines
of water, the famous ear quiet by his jaw. 
In his brush sing ochre roofs, bristled reeds
clustered along a wide sponge
of sand, wood and cables ready
to raise the bridge.

And then the loss seeps through his brush tip,
color of straw, in the hollow slant
of a wall, in his eye and ear.
It overwhelms boats and bridges,
widens like a homeland.

Published in Doris' Red Spaces, Mayapple Press 2014

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889

the reed of a loom
the guideways, of a loom, or

when suddenly, when suddenly
this is spring, and this is summer

and this, this is open sky. 
the birds resemble a man. 

dandelion.  giddying. 
budded.  spree. 

roundly, with joy
for nothing and for everything

the day, with my own heart
too soon, arrayed.  this haste

this pasturing.  this coffee companion. 
this cup.  this yellow sky

Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889
At Arles
by Lisa Mullenneaux

Fields of yellow mustard pollinate the air,
powder all his brushes, halo his red hair.

When the harvest’s over, gleaners out of sight,
he paints the purpling haystacks at twilight.

Fireflies wink, his cue to pack
and with his day’s work on his back

enter the tavern’s gossip and drunken jests,
then finally to sleep if not to rest

for he is yellow-mad Vincent always in arrears.
His lice do somersaults into your beers.

Look, mes amis, his teeth are black.
Fields of yellow mustard, take him back.

And we'll end with Anne Sexton’s “The Starry Night,” 1889

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.

Gretchen Primack is the author of two poetry collections, Doris’ Red Spaces (Mayapple Press 2014) and Kind (Post-Traumatic Press 2013). Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Field, Poet Lore, Ploughshares, and other journals. Also an animal advocate, she co-wrote the memoir The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (PenguinAvery 2012).  Read more about her work here.

Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino’s most recent volume of poetry is The Valise (Dead Academics Press, 2012).  He is founding editor of the online poetry journal, Eratio.  He lives in Brooklyn Heights, NY, where he works as a private docent. Read more about his work here.

Statement by St. Thomasino:
“After van Gogh I am moved to feel there is a certain solitude in extreme emotion, a certain solitude in the sensibilities that cannot but know in such manner and that cannot but find expression in like passion and color (and as in Irises, where the I rises, and in Wheat Fields, where I am beside him).  I tried to capture a fragment of that in my poem.” 

Lisa Mullenneaux is a journalist and poet based in Manhattan. She maintains this blog. More at

Anne Sexton (1928 – 1974) was an American poet known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die.

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