Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poetry Jam: Two Art/Love Poems

I've run across these in the last few days and like them both:

"In the Sistine Chapel"

  • By Scott Brennan
  • Smithsonian magazine, April 2013

The angels, please! It's Michelangelo showing off again,
mixing what's believable with what's not, work at heart
exaggerated, with those Schwarzeneggar biceps
and superhero legs that, because of the fresco's illusion,
seem to drop from the ceiling, more entertaining
than strictly religious, as if the crowd crammed
into the chapel were to be cloaked in an enormous page
not out of Genesis but of Marvel, enfolded in the powers
of red and blue pastel. When one has seen too much,
how can one then accept too little? The stars herald
the tour de force we're supposed to ooh and ahh at—
The Creation of Adam, now so ho-hum and cliché
(I can barely admit it, it's so perfect) after countless
coffee-table book appearances. Check it off, though,
as a birder checks off a pileated woodpecker, say, on his
or her "have seen" list. The person with the most wins,
though we're never sure what, except, one supposes,
bragging rights. Then: museum corridors, rooms, halls,
chambers, nooks, crannies—even more detail, more wonders:
goblets, urns, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, vases,
globes, amulets, divans, thrones, hand-copied Bibles, putti,
Medieval tapestries, time-crazed maps, figurines, portraits
of pontiffs—the detail like too much icing on too much cake.
But, hey, what does a drop of water know of the depths
of the sea? Observe God's hand and Adam's bemused face,
the museum and the gift shop. Chronicle another chapter
of one's life in a notebook (and what a fabulous life it's been,
full of so many amazing experiences they have to be translated
into poetry)—and afterward the moment with Vanessa
in the old-fashioned trattoria when I tasted for the first time
saltimbocca alla Romana, leap into the mouth of Rome,
veal with garlic and wine sauce, and the putty-faced waiter
poured Chianti into my slightly speckled glass. The veal
 . . . The Chapel was so . . . What did you think of . . .
And the thousands around us (they moved me and I did
my best to move them)—all began to drift away,
leaving us with what we had almost forgotten
to appreciate: our two nearly touching fingertips.

Having a Coke with You
by Frank O'Hara
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

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