Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Sunday, February 21, 2016
In the Eye of the Beholder
The Wild Swan, oil on canvas painting by Alexander Pope, 1900, De Young Museum
On the museum wall
a swan, head down, hangs
against a dark green door,
its wings a white fan of entreaty,
head dangling on the long slender neck.
Before the image stands a child,
there as part of a generous school gift.
Her eyes reflect a darkness
that should be unknown,
her mouth a circle of horror.
The small girl tries to melt
into the big girl solid behind her,
clutches her stomach,
struggles not to cry.
The sponsor turns away,
never pictured what might happen
when he gave the inner-city children
their first experience in fine art.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
from the painting, It’s You, by Caitlin Schwerin
Greyed, two figures
walk out of the frame,
across the frayed writing,
their history fading behind.
They stroll through a meadow
into a gold haze.
The large figure tilts his head
as if listening.
It’s not the companion’s
voice he hears.
His ears catch
the sound of the sun.
Feet skimming lush green grass
they wander into their new world,
sun behind their shoulders
warming their gaunt forms,
their long bones.
The writing, the writing,
the story of lives
out of the jumble of their broken lives
propelled by the sun.
Published in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2008
Friday, February 19, 2016
Mongolian Art Exhibit
“whatever holds value may be divine…”
My eye pulls my feet
through artifacts gathered
from thousands of years ago.
I gaze at the human skull—
brown thin-ness. I ponder core stones
flaked for hunting and tools.
Hear the primordial sound
of the cosmos hum in my ear.
resonates in the crevices of my brain.
In vain I look for pictures of a people
who still traverse wind-laden steppes,
live out their nomad lives
in gray wool-felt shelters, take pride
in fleet and sturdy horses.
I turn a corner, stunned now by faces
on the wall—masks of deities, shamans,
in papier-mâché, carved wood, stuffed skin.
Black brows pull down over glaring eyes,
red mouths stretch in snarls or gentle smiles.
I draw near the image of the Heart Shaman,
likened to great poets of all the ages,
born only once each one hundred years.
The face I dream about
is a very old woman, the essence of sorrow.
Forehead furrowed, eyes close to weeping,
her ear-lobes hang past her shoulders,
corners of the full mouth droop
to her chin—the Brain Shaman. She can see
into the next thousand years.
Published in Ink & Ashes, 2005
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995, by Lucien Freud
BIG SUE TILLEY
Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund
(the historically recognized great psychiatrist, the Grandfather of psychoanalysis)
I only saw his portrait of a fleshy woman because
I was checking the auction price of Michel Compte’s
Nude portrait of a lithesome Carla Bruni
Holding her heart down low
Sold on the same day
At the same auction
Lucian got the biggest price
For his immense fleshy lady
More than any live painter had ever received.
What was the purchaser thinking?
Was it Oedipal complex,
Or was there beauty here?
Maybe his mother was fat.
My mother was not fat.
What is the appeal?
I wanted, had to have
A copy of that painting
To accompany my Carla picture.
Was it the amazing contrast
Grandpa Freud’s theory that all men want to seduce their mothers,
Or just the reality of this lady
Big Sue Tilley
A British civil servant
Of first lady, Carla Sarkozy…
Big Sue Tilley
Richard Westland, a native Londoner, immigrated to America when he was 25 years old. He began writing poetry as a way to put his life story into print. He has published a chapbook "I'm Glad I'm Here", and his memoir, "Breaking the Code of Silence". Richard lives in Southern California.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Edward Hopper: People in the Sun, 1960
Two middle-aged people, in business attire,
Relaxing in their perfectly aligned
Folding wooden deck chairs,
Ponder whether or not to be alarmed
By the horizon of either foothills or azure waves,
That seem to be advancing towards them
Like a scene out of Macbeth
Across the meadow floor of level hay.
Behind them a more casually clothed young man
Finds more interesting than daylight
The only written text on view among
These people in the sun. The artist obviously loves
The opportunity to estimate the comparative lengths
Of the elongated shadows, which never let the people
Of the sun forget the injunction to memento mori.
The sun giveth life and taketh it away.
So far I’ve only had one melanoma—superficial, diagnosed
Early, and quickly removed. I’m convinced that my years
Of swimming without sunblock were less to blame
Than the radiation treatments the best dermatologists
In my home town fired into my facial glands to mitigate
A near-Bukowskian onslaught of acne that dampened
The social pleasures of my teenaged years.
For now, though, the geometrically ordered “X-es”
Of the legs of the deck chairs and their shadows
Bear false witness to the order we think we are
Capable of imposing on the universe.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Edward Hopper: Bass Rocks. 1924
A distinguishing feature of this work
Is that there are no rocks in it.
I suppose there must be some in the water,
And maybe some bass to be caught near them,
But there is only an inkling of the shore in it,
And a whipped-cream topping of some waves.
Most of the space is occupied by the sky-pastel-blue
Overhead, and the sun-whitened sand underneath,
And the cloudy white of the horizon.
There are a few bathers, heavily armored against
The sun’s harmful rays. And the air was probably
Seasonally chilled as well. There are three umbrellas,
Two deck chairs, and a surprisingly diverse smattering
Of human beings, in a variety of hats and caps.
What I learn is that wearing a hat myself,
Or a Yankees’ cap, might have spared me the plague of
Basal Cell Carcinomas with which I am now afflicted.
Some fresh sea air might not have hurt my damaged lungs
Either. Oh, yeah, and we also learn that the exposure
Of an American artist to European Impressionism—
Some study in France, for instance--
Did not automatically foster the production of
A Major Period in even a Major Artist’s career.