Friday, July 29, 2016

Poet Robert DiLallo on "The Death of Marc Chagall"

Le Cirque Bleu, 1950, oil on canvas
Trenton Local
(The Death of Marc Chagall)

Tonight Chagall is dead
and a raised train races
through the Jersey ruins,
through ghostly mill rows,
Eastern Orthodox churches
with their squat bowl tops
and hawk-nosed pastors
who soup on beef, onions
and well-brined cabbage.
Rough through Newark
the 6:10 lurches.

Your couples in love and
winging fiddlers are left
in the broken world,
brief replies, perfect colors
falling like stars from heaven,
like snow, transparent upon
Le soleil de Paris, 1977, color lithograph
the shake roofs, striking
against the finite and foolish.
Warm mules rise from labor,
lift high their whispering heads.
confront the snarling pit.
How your home here
will miss you.

Goodnight the youth you had.
Goodnight the cobbled terror
and goodnight Europe
of the antique roving bands.
Goodnight, highest Jew
of higher view, brown-bag man
with angel hands.
How much will you miss
your home here?

Sunset, a raging purple wound
in the toxic Jersey sky:
Newark, hoof and nail town,
a weeping place where
a country has gone and bled.
Tonight, Chagall is dead.
Romeo et Juliette, 1964, color lithograph
Robert DiLallo has published poetry primarily in the US and Italy, although some of his poems have been translated into Japanese. A native New Yorker, DiLallo once lived in Edgar A. Poe's house in The Bronx for five years as writer-in-residence. He is the founder of the magazine “Italian Food, Wine and Travel” and worked as a journalist and as a copywriter and creative director in advertising before moving to central Texas. Now he lives on a large cattle ranch and lists his occupation as “cowboy."

Marc Z. Chagall was born Moishe Shagal in 1887 in Liozna, near Vitebsk, Russia. When he moved to Paris to study art, he experienced modernism's "golden age," synthesizing Cubism, Symbolism, Fauvism, and later Surrealism. Yet throughout these phases of his style he remained, as art historian Michael J. Lewis insists, “most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk." "When Matisse dies," Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, "Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is." Chagall died in France in 1985.