Notes on Poetry and Art, 1987-1988

Published in Pequod, 28/29/30, 1989


Want to write a poem called “Imaginary Madonna of the Pomegranate” (plague-ridden Arno, the promise of alchemy, basilisk of dawn), but I haven't seen her face yet.
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Ideas for an installation- giant, handwritten lyrical analysis of Paul Thek's Pyramid for a Hippie.
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Why I am not a painter: no room at the Inn!
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The art world today reminds me of the Tulip Mania of the 17th century; even the search for the lavish black ones.
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Influences:

  • Eugene Marais
  • Photos of Maidenek
  • turtle doves- catfish humor

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I love Handke's rejection of history (are Kiefer's paintings moral equivalents of the 'realist' novels of Böll and Gunter Grass?). Unthinkable though in America, before we've studied a single word!
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A notion of the geography of the imagination: inscapes on the hood of an open skull.
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Three moments when the moon stopped waning- for the brutal deaths of Lorca, Frank O'hara, Pasolini.
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When I draw, faces (of cows, dogs, Moon-ladies, mammals) look funny; in poems they always seem sad. Am I half-Karl Valentin, half Trakl? Or is it a question of cerebral hemispheres?
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A social sculpture: the Berlin Wall (German architects, called Coop Himmelblau: “ the dissipation of our bodies into the city”).
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Series of images of car graveyards (147). Each photo is a darker shade of green.
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In my dream I was shopping for mothballs. Round ones, shavings, even huge blocks like soap or salt licks.
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Landscapes (coasts) of death.
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I saw a pterodactyl, wild, flying outside the Cloisters. Is it this impossible juxtaposition that makes me want to keep on living?
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Barbara's ivory towers haunt me. Now she wants to build a UFO in Times Square. And houses for rock stars (Hotel California, In the Year 2525). And me- I want to carpenter an Ark in Flushing Meadow Park (make a list: who to invite).
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On Ashbery (on Ash): playing the piano backwards (bagatelles).
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Ideas to avoid literally: Social Darwinism, the Scottsboro Boys, the Shroud of Turin, birth of Dionysus, love of war, etc.
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When I tired to photograph Mount Palomar, a plumber chased me with a giant monkey wrench.
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For a poem (not a still life):

  • man in a doorway- Ireland
  • putting socks on, a portal to hell
  • or other underworld

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When I saw my print in the Museum of Modern Art, I had to go ask who the artist was.
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Montauk, NY. Frozen birds fall at my feet from the fireplace (excuse for an elegy).
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I am still only one point of any triangle.
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Whenever I start writing in the afternoon I feel like I am loafing on a glass-bottom boat.
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I remember reading that Dubuffet never drew a cow in its presence. It's the absence that I'm interested in, the moment after.
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A cherrystone's foot, a metrical foot, a child's bruised foot.
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Project for a billboard in the Bronx (or Omaha- just so long as it's by a freeway): small black letters on white: TOTALITARIANISM.
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All of the women in my family are painters. None of the men are writers.
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Art after Auschwitz: a wary ocelot.
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The only sculpture I ever sold (for twenty dollars) - three blackbirds leaning into the wind on tiny pedestals, each with a designation: rain, fire, ice.
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Trying to get at what lies between those cheery Haitian folk paintings you see in New York and the reality of living in Prot-au-Prince.
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In my dream there were hairy coffee cups and then a lecture on the word “sieve.”
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Favorite museums-

  • Dog Museum (Park Avenue South)
  • Cheval's Palais Ideal (a postman's dream)
  • The Deer Tick Museum

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I find myself by learning what I am not, by what is hewn away. Empty my pockets; you'll find those gummy erasers.
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Siegfried understood the language of the birds the moment he drank the blood of the slain dragon.
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In the bathtub it suddenly occurred to me that Bobby's painting Tides was a poem by Elizabeth Bishop. No, they had crossed time and space and medium to embody- in Plato's world- one essence! But how do I explain this to anyone?
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Remember Mom preparing for a watercolor (a single wash):

  • fishermen on a beach
  • hairs of ink for fish poles
  • the wrath the sea contains

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Beautiful Monika is driving us along the Autobahn. She is waking from the oblivion of being. I am writinga poem about Ronald Reagan.
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The Symbolists were right: every brushstroke eats away at consciousness.
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Epistemology is dead! The narrative is lost! Geometry is out! The Age of the World Picture is over!
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In my dream, was I Lowell? We were underwater without being underwater. The city burned, I took down words to make a poem, and when I woke up, it was finished.
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My love for B. is deeper than whole oceans of gold, or any poem, or any dream of endless questioning of everything I've ever done.
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Inside the deep image: Jung was a Fascist collaborator.
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  • I want to write poems the curl up as in flames.
  • I want to draw a circle around the earth.
  • I want a rock garden and a singing dog.

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Sunrise. Kassel. Planting trees in the shadow of the Tower of Hercules. From a prison window on a hillside a poet of the RAF looks out, as I look up to him, both of us trying to capture the moment.
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How to say what the mind is, or what is making art? Two boys, two and four years old, squatting on the sand flats of La Coruña. One plants a stick in the mud from a broken lobster pot and says, “this is us.”