Entries Tagged as 'living poetry'

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingliving poetry

Top ten favorite lines for a Valentine’s Day poem

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10. I pray your Valentine’s Day is the best.

9. I know mine will be, if I am with you.

8. Since first we met, I know that I’ve been blessed!
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living poetry

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (Seurat)

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Jatte

#91

Look long enough and Seurat’s pointillism
Seems letters and punctuation, not dots,
Becomes a narrative, a verbal prism,
Written in a language that can’t be taught.
The hook of cane, umbrella, monkey’s tail,
A stone with a white and orange bonnet,
The pinch of waists and a billowing sail,
All forestall the waning of the day.
Only a running girl, a blown trumpet,
A leaping pup, having anything to say.
The rest is stillness, and while the shadows
Avoid the giantess, elsewhere they grow.
Emotion is atoms frozen and bound,
Letters to paper, and can’t make a sound.

Note: This is one of more than 125 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Hyde Mill (Sandy Ellarson)

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hyde

#111

They moved the river to build the water wheel,
Then built a wooden race to divert the current.
Sluice opened, stones ground raw grain into meal
For a hundred years, until the old mill was spent.
River turning wheel turning gears turning stone,
A devolution of mechanics all to crush a seed.
The sun burns for years to dry an animal’s bones,
And countless gallons of water won’t break a reed.
I’m reluctant to approach the mill too closely
(Its ancient timbers are desiccated, ghostly),
Hear its stoppage rasped by the river’s relentless
Passage over the shattered race’s detritus.
Away from the wreck, a little waterfall churns
Spray, wrack, and spume, and, like time, it burns.

Note: This is one of more than 125 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Hands and Feet (Alice Bea Guerin)

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hands and feet

#40

I am not the amalgam of my parts.
Not the knuckles, the joints, the palms.
These are merely the hands of my heart.
I am always hot. I’ve never been calm.
Sometimes I am nothing but an eye.
Seen through the circle of sight,
The darkness is all I need to know why.
My grinning makes my knuckles white.
My thoughts are like wiggling fingers
And my emotions are clenched fists.
I am my own twisted harbinger.
Look at me. You can’t resist.
But we’re all skin, sinew and bone,
Running from each other, alone.

Note: This is one of more than 125 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Cafe Terrace at Night (Van Gogh)

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cafe

#48

For Ruth

Is there just one universe?
There the stars and here the cafe.
Hidden lights illuminate the tables.
The various darknesses immerse
Men and stars in dissolving clay.
Are both god and science fables?
The universes are infinite,
They say, and time does not exist.
But here we are and there the stars.
The air is full of perfume and wit,
And a wine too ancient to resist.
All else is beyond, late and far.
Let’s nibble galaxies and swallow suns.
I’ll count my hours with you by ones.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

 

 

living poetry

Winter Landscape (Sesshu)

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sesshu

#9
Black and white, foreground,

Background, horizon and sky—
There is nothing to describe.
No word for it has been found.
Fingers pinch bits of glass,
Mouths blow rings of gas.
Stone spires, numberless grass,
Poise like celebrants at mass.
This is but approximation,
Sounds approaching shape,
Silhouetted imagination,
Not a poem, but its ape.
Inked paper, here, in your hand—
This is what you understand.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.
living poetry

The Sea Monster (Durer)

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sea monster

#113

Each moon the damned gray sea monster abducts our wives,
Then releases them to us as speechless as fish.
Not one has revealed what happens beneath the waves;
So we wonder, do they endure terrors or bliss?
He has antlers and a merman’s scales, and a shield
Of tortuga shell, and eyes that say, “Ye shall yield.”
Only Annalee, my perfect wife, fought the beast,
Calling to me as I stood helpless on the beach.
After she slapped his bearded face and yanked his mane,
He ripped off her dress and drowned her in shame.
Of all the women taken, only she has not returned,
Those taken since scoff at the possibility
(Each petulant and stiff, like a woman scorned)
That Annalee’s alive, with him, beneath the sea.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Magic Mirror (Escher)

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eschermirror

this moment this moment this moment this moment

Dragons on graph paper and images of beasts
March to assembly, an army at war within.
A propped mirror is the instant when time is rent,
What’s done from what’s about to be released,
That instant we neither recall nor contemplate a sin,
(The mirror internally, eternally lit),
Since we’re in the act of committing it.
We are those silver, faceless, and unmoving orbs,
Who, before and after, our reflection absorbs,
While the dragons, a danger, but oblivious,
Circle us endlessly, meshing, silent terrors,
The jailers of the placid, dim, and unconscious.

the mirror mirrors the moment this moment mirrors

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

In The Magic Mirror (Klee)

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mirror

#65

The wan shock, not that rare, when the face
Is strange to us, the look of a mirror race,
Lasts only a moment and then dissolves;
Not memory, but confusion soon resolves.
We know the mask of lips and framing hair,
The skin stretched tight from ear to ear.
What startles is that persistent stare
We cannot blink away, but do not fear.
We feel foolish and fooled when it’s over,
Both slightly empty and totally alone,
As though the soul has flown its cover,
Uncertain it will ever find another one.
Even that passes. We’re ourselves again.
A mirror is mere glass with silver stain.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

The Poor Fisherman (Pierre Puvis De Chavannes)

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poorfisherman

#57

The man’s greatest weapon is patience.
He can stand and wait, perfectly still,
As long as the elements don’t interfere.
He doesn’t believe in anything but chance.
Though he cannot eat what he cannot kill,
An empty net is not his deepest fear.
The boy is still healthy, but he worries Aimee
Has become pale and her milk is gone.
She gathers useless flowers and sings,
“They are not for me, but for my family.”
He thinks the same of the sea and sun.
At times, when the bay is full of nothing,
Exhausted by his empty regrets,
He dreams himself diving into the net.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Dark Light (Matta)

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dark

#69

This desert’s a blanket of earth’s exhaustion,
Where all that remains of life is on the surface.
Each creature, like the sun, is a dying furnace,
Slowly fusing bone, sinew, muscle, intestine.
The old structures melt away into essence,
Bypassing decay, desiccation, and putrescence,
Stopping short of the irreducibility of sand.
New life emerges, sparked by a decaying sun,
Ectoplasmic shapes a god wouldn’t understand,
Creatures without breath or senses or reason.
If all worlds are possible, billions like this exist,
Simply because you or I can always imagine it.
We think, therefore, perhaps, we should resist
Creating a world we would never wish to visit.

Note: This is one of more than 115 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

American Vultures (Karen Thompson)

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3americanvultures

#108

The circus train cars abandoned decades ago,
The circuit of America now belongs to vultures,
Who once followed the elephants and clowns
Like starved, yearning runaways, an exiled sideshow.
Now, as then, they only eat the unclean, if pure,
Scraps of disease or murder on the edge of town.
It exasperates them, winging round and round,
With only frowning little girls and unplanted
Trees, shrubs, and ancient sawdust on the ground.
We know that of all fowl we’re the most unwanted,
But those tiny birdbaths are simply insulting.
Tattered flesh, the strength of decay, our putrid breath –
From a vulture’s field of view nothing can be revolting.
We soar, bubbles of gold, spiraling death.

Note: This is one of more than 115 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Relativity (Escher)

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Escher-Big

#78

I once stood staring down a long staircase,
Then stood up having fallen all the way down.
The time between appeared to have erased
Both itself and the memory of what I’d done.
Unhurt, staring up at the staircase, terrified
Of forms and forces I now understood, I cried.
There are many steps, floors, and bannisters
In this ant people world, but only one sun.
Yet all depends on the attitude of the stairs,
Which share the simultaneity of the boson.
Every direction ends in a shift of perspective,
Hinting that the fifth dimension may be us,
Each riser a mere extension of consciousness,
Until, falling down the stairs, we no longer live.

Note: This is one of more than 115 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

The Eternal City (Peter Blume)

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city

#68

The jack-in-the-box dictator dominates,
Green scowl squeezing envy into hate.
Sinners pray to Jesus in the store window.
Draped in gold chains, clutching His scepter,
He laughs at their ruler’s show of temper.
Henchmen wait for new orders from below.
Eternal cities outlive their architecture.
Columns collapse, statuary crumbles,
“Return my youth,” a lame crone mumbles.
Speeches, even sermons, become lectures,
Endless repetitions, what everybody knows.
When the militia gathers, the catacombs
Fill with refuges and would-be deserters.
No murderers here, we are only torturers.

Note: This is one of more than 115 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

 

living poetry

Fish Magic (Klee)

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fish

#81

Is the sky to fish what the celestial is to men?
Do their eyes, being lidless, see more clearly
The dimming when moon eclipses the sun?
Do they wish as they die to swim above the sea?
Bonefish, flounder, barracuda, and drum,
Chaunt spells and curses from within a cauldron,
To tauten the cord and raise the draped muslin
Unveiling the face of the ancient clock tower,
While a three-eyed girl grabs at potted flowers,
And in a corner a boy in a dunce cap cowers.
The gods send down chum and baited hooks,
Dangling constellations and spiral galaxies,
Daring us to hope, to aspire, daring us to look
Past transparent and unfathomable seas.

Note: This is one of more than 115 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

The Astronomer (Vermeer)

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JohannesVermeer-TheAstronomer(1668)

#99

We know no more than he knew then.
We see farther and imagine numbers
Larger, but the same old infinities
Confront us, we still count to ten,
See through mirrors dying fire’s penumbra,
Envision alien cities,
And watch for asteroids to come too near.
Like him, we are empty of fear,
Assume the universe is like a globe,
To be dissected and mapped, lobe by lobe.
He touches the heavens and says a prayer,
Not for insight, guidance, or grace
(Though he longs to pierce the layers
Of darkness), but to transcend space.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Four Riffs on “Three Musicians” (Picasso)

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Three Musicians
#87

A tune is the ultimate abstraction,
An emotion expressed as a fraction.
Some notes invariably repeated
Become a cold emotion reheated.

Not all musicians are made of music.
Some are talent, some mere facility.
The best I’ve known live a necessity,
Like physicists slave to mathematics.

Picasso’s clowns can only make us dance,
Twist our senses into a whirling trance.

I’ve wept at the silence a conductor
Held at the end of the Ninth of Mahler,
As if to say, “Behold what’s gone before –
Anguish, redemption, hope — and don’t despair.”

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Container for Stars (Klee)

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#75

We thought, when we were the heart of the universe,
The constellations accumulate the divine.
We chanted as we watched the gods slowly disperse,
Replaced by single stars and Albert Einstein.
A star can fall. There’s too much of velocity,
Distance, and duration in our current science,
Because there’s no such thing as specificity.
Even if we could fly a billion light years hence,
What we want to see would be just as far away.
We might find a planet where men would want to stay.
Life could be altered. The sky would remain the same,
New constellations we’d have to give new names.
The discovered universe is not what we sought.
The only container of the stars is a thought.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Sunset (Paul Klee)

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#61

The day has taken a billion ages to die.
No more than mathematical points, infinite
In any space defined or without compass,
We, our thoughts, motes in a god’s eye,
God’s tearful eye, are not (at least) indefinite.
We are both dark energy and dark mass.
Something beyond the sun points to us.
A light beyond any spectrum we know,
Like a thought, but even more like a reason,
An unimaginable generator of purposes,
Flies at us, at our minds, not like an arrow,
To pierce, but with a kiss’s intent, a frisson.
It takes only a day for all our suns to set.
Sadly, that light is what we’ll least regret.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Melencolia (Durer)

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#93

An artwork is passage of time temporarily arrested.
Melancholy inevitably ensues, new effort wasted.
My world is not impossible, but imaginary,
A natural and a mechanistic menagerie:
The nodding babe and the slumbering hound,
The skull dreaming in the polyhedron,
The ladder to rainbow and splintered sun.
I must unbalance scales, ignore the bell,
And drain the hourglass sand out of its shell.
The nails and the knife both shorn of evil,
The age’s golden sphere now leaden still,
My calipers measure a pointless spell.
Despondently, I await the next alchemy of duration.
I’ll concentrate forever, then begin my final creation.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

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