Thursday, November 17, 2011

POEM with artwork - after Jay Defeo's The Rose

Cosmic Super Nova, Mountain, Flower, Nirvana
on Jay Defeo's the Rose 

On top: The Rose, Bottom:
my response to it
At the start was a vague idea
 about climbing mountains, the forms,
 the form   of mountains
It became   a mountain of paint
a canvas 11 feet high,
8 feet wide, 11 inches deep
A mountain eight years long.

There were brushes for painting it up, 
slathering on the peaks
Knives for carving down the crevasses
making symmetric straits and canyons of implosion
hacking away material
to get down into the mythical center
of this inverse starburst..

Cleaning the brushes
sharpening the knives
day after day, month after month
year on year, the daily wrestling
the readiness to cascade to the center 
of toil her commitment leading deep, 
and growing deeper though glistening white

Like the expansion and contraction 
of a universe And those opposing planetary forces
the building up and the wearing away, 
 the building up the carving down into 
 the building up despite the erosion of sharpened steel 
 in her own two hands she shaped it with 2300 pounds of oil paint.

And when it was done it lurked behind a wall
like a dormant volcano 
or a lover you no longer want as a roommate
and she refused to paint for years
Later she painted smaller-sized botanicals, 
little but weighty abstracts as if the literal enormity 
had gone out of her.

Eventually the mountain went down the fire escape 
They took out the window took out the wall 
to get it out of the Filmore Street studio
to let it unfold in public view 
let it flower, this endless road
this journey of making
the name came late,

The Rose, 
a concentric flower
petals, arrayed around a center
of daily sweat followed by stillness
its silvery shimmering a monument 
of whites of lights and highs accented 
by shadowed abyss, this human reaching 
for meaning reaching and collapsing
 into the event horizon of art

c MM Walker  2011
written for a Free Poets Collective reading  celebrating the Women Beat-ear poets, writers and artists, held at Broad Street Books in Middletown

Update: It's on display at the Whitney currently