PETER PAUL RUBENS
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
[M]any experts are questioning whether old master artwork
—once the most coveted—can stay relevant at auction houses,
galleries, and museums.
—Robin Pogrebin, New York Times
This morning’s paper cries new doom to art;
art doomed, that is, if old. Take Rubens nudes.
It seems the master’s zaftig beauties, broods
of angels rippling sensual dimples, part
from displays where Jeff Koons sculptures fornicate
in muscular glass. For Rubens, curators
once trained with rigor much like orators
who’d blurt through strenuous pebbles their debate.
Old Masters once meant dulcet elegance;
sped through the lackadaisicalities
of instant seminars—trained to preempt tears
in art-starved eyes—not docent innocence,
but docent kindness, shirks true difficulties.
Can art’s breathtaking come without shadow fears?
Finally, the compromised ankles reach their angle of maximum stress. They begin to slide along the old microfracture faults—an earthquake within the earthquake—and the David’s legs and ankles are crushed by the weight of the body above. He begins to truly fall.
—Sam Anderson, in "David's Ankles: How Imperfections Could Bring Down the World’s Most Perfect Statue,” New York Times Magazine
The fame that afflicts our most creative souls
can reach the ears of their creations too;
I hear and believe my maker could control,
no, dominate four arts as have so few.
Saint Peter’s dome sways not at all, its load
gracefully eased on piers, much like my weight.
You see, to insinuate me node by node
from my rock matrix into fame and fate,
he had to have the architectural gift:
his engineering issues in poetry.
Spoiled by a bad sculptor, baked alive till drifts
of indecision seemingly doomed me,
I thought not to emerge. But measuring,
sounding, tapping at my inert unlife,
my master came to find stone yet might sing
in crystal under the hammer that is midwife.
Oh, he brought me out newborn glistening
as is the slick new babe in safe soft hands.
Yet where to put me? Almost on the ring
around the Florentine dome I’d have to stand,
this being the reason my knit brows should frown
so hugely—not from the paltry Philistine threat,
but signal to all who’d dare against this town:
no solo shepherd on a parapet,
but the Lord God Himself is glowering down.
Thank God that I never balanced in midair,
that now I hold my safely grounded place.
For now I know the block that gave me birth,
flawed at the atomic level, lace by lace
threatens to unravel as does earth
under the shock of quakes that is the shock
of weight itself. My base, my ankles weak,
as surely as can tick the clicks of clock,
I wait out this long vigil. Twinge or tweak
or tipping point, call it as you may call,
but one day soon I’ll crack within and fall.
My feet of clay however marble hard
will atomize, each lone memory locked in a shard.
—J.D. DeHart, Chattanooga, TN
The boxers lean heavily on one
another like two sagging towers.
My father’s face is red with frustration
and also leans forward, hand poised
on his knee, a glass of buttermilk close
by (how does he drink it?).
From the kitchen, my mother complains
about fighting. She wants him to let me
watch cartoons. But there are not cartoons
on anymore. Sometimes
the fighters jump like those hopping beans
in the check-out line, which I never see
anymore. They dodge and parry and thrust
like living swords. But this fight is slow
and bloated, the gloves seem heavier, eyes
seem thicker, but the crowd seems unfazed.
This used to be the place
you would take me when
life seemed small
Life always seemed better
with you in it, you were an
angel who filled the earth
I was no angel; there were plenty
of sullen moments, but your memory
slides them aside, replaces them
with golden orb images of me
When I dream of you, I always
dream of you as an infant,
you are never a grown man
Yet here I am an adult figure
stretching his legs, a splash of gray
here and there, yet you do not see me.
I see you, but that is the miracle
and virtue of my memory;
it floods with forgiveness, looks
past reason, and is resolute.
Pardon me for attempting to be
some kind of hero or otherwise
savior figure. My mistake.
Pardon the garish appearance
of the costume I crafted (it was
a last minute low-budget choice)
and pardon my lack of sophisticated
intelligence, weaponry, or astounding
martial arts skills. I am just a guy
who used to read comics, wanted to be
somebody’s emblem, and now find
the feeling of this cape rather awkward.
MY FAVORITE CHARACTER
My favorite character died today
and it happened on the very last page.
The entire novel had been leading up
to a contented crescendo, every scrap
of plot a smiling, polite face,
and now I see the fallen form, lying
wounded from the quill. Well,
the keyboard, at least.
The tombstone will read:
He died to the sound of tapping keys.
Now I must either give up reading
(which seems unlikely) or go about
the business of finding another fictitious
person to spend some time with.
Another faceless face to observe,
another mouth that sounds like my own.
HOLD YOU DEAR
I collect in my mind
the country concert
where we shouted
and chicken lunches
travel to the larger
waters of the coast
hosting and holding
and living together.
Our thanks to today’s fine contributors! These photos were taken of Poets' Park on Riverside Blvd. in Land Park, Sacramento, several years ago, by Katy Brown, Annie Menebroker and myself on one of our "photo safaris". The one where I caught myself in a reflection and Annie in the foreground is surprising and unintentional (see below). (Poets' Park is not to be confused with the newer Poet Laureate Park by the S. Natomas Library.)
Note a late addition to the calendar: Dr. Andy Jones will be reading at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento tomorrow night, 8pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming readings in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
and the pictures that sometimes catch us by surprise!
Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back