Thursday, February 06, 2014

A Man of Blue Regret

Improvisation 19 
—Painting by Wassily Kandinsky

(after the painting by Wassily Kandinsky)
—Neil Ellman, Livingston, NJ

They are not what they seem
not even if held in the palm of a hand—
the mind creates its own designs
from words unsaid electric leaps
across synaptic space it sees
a universe in a petri dish
measures eternity with a spinning wheel
how earth, wind, water and fire
are improvised upon a table top
it knows that knowing is not enough
to know what is real and not
but nevertheless it shapes infinities
from a drop of blood.


(after the lithograph by Pierre Alechinsky)
—Neil Ellman

And so it came
and then it came
again again
so many times
it came alive
with fiery eyes
it came again
on cloven waves
with white-capped
dragon’s teeth
it came
so many times
the same
again and again
the same old
predating man
the same
as it had always
and then again
at the ebb
of my mortality.


(after the ink drawing by Matthew Ritchie)
 —Neil Ellman

Never alone
never an “A”
in an alphabet
of “A" to "Z"
neither in the isolation
of separation
nor in its solitude         
no man’s seclusion
in a sea of doubt
we are
connected by the gravity
of our lives
quantum leaps of faith
magnetic fields
that bind our minds
dark matter flowing
in our blood—
every one of us
from “A” to “Z”
belongs to everyone else
like petals
in an infinite rose.

—Andre Masson

(after the drypoint/aquatint by Andre Masson)
—Neil Ellman

Suppose for a moment
in the intricate web
of conjecture
rumor and surmise
that I were the me
you supposed me to be
that you believe in legends
and gossip spread
on the back of a bee
that you know
or seem to know
in the convoluted furrows
of your mind 
that I can never be
the who I was
or came to be—
better to believe in miracles
the soul transformed
a caterpillar
turned butterfly.


(after the painting by Katherine S. Dreir)
—Neil Ellman
Nothing belongs
that Is real
or who or what
It pretends to be
the craw of a face transformed
Into a geometry
of cones and circles
shapes without a formula or name
where the nose and mouth
should be uneasy squares
and tenuous space—
reality offends the sense
of a man
who has lost his face.


(after the painting by Pablo Picasso)
—Neil Ellman

All I have known forgotten now
all I have learned dismissed
as the heresy of age 
a fire turned glowing stone
to crumbling ash
my mind is emptied of its past
like a hollow gourd of might-have-been
I am the leavings of excess
and fading years
I am a man of blue regret
who plays an old guitar—
better to have known me then
better to have heard me play
before the darkness came.

Today's LittleNip:

A poem's conviction begins in his first life sentence.

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA



The Old Guitarist
—Painting by Pablo Picasso