The Master Smith of Lyme Regis
He’s hidden your hands. Your hands!
One tucks into the crook of an elbow,
the other you’ve slid into a sleeve;
the bent wrist bulges with strength.
Your glance zings past my left cheek.
The corners of your mouth are
hidden by a bristly moustache.
Your smoky jacket barely
emerges from darkness, but you
are not hiding. You are present,
wry, patient and, I like to think,
thirsty for a pint or two in the pub
down a hilly street in your seaside town.
With hammer, tongs, skill and muscle,
you create horseshoes, harness fastenings,
ships’ tackle, fences, and tools.
Honest work for an honest man.
Bonnie Bishop's chapbook, O Crocodile, came out through Finishing Line Press in 2009. Her book Local Habitation was published by Every Other Thursday Poets, a long-running poetry workshop of which she has been a member for several decades. She has been interested in ekphrastic poetry for many years, using visual prompts in her own teaching and leading a workshop at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts for teachers on writing ekphrastic poems. This poem is from a series called "American Wing," based on 19th century paintings in the MFA.
Dylan Thomas Holding Forth at His Regular Table*
a found poem
“Reuben Mednikoff? For a poet
he is a bloody good painter.
I know David Gascoyne is only
a kid. But what are the boys coming to?
He's raving mad. There are more
maggots in his brain
than there are in mine.
There’s just no hope.
Without wishing to provide a pornographic interlude
over the pub-table, here are some
of his actual lines:
White curtains of tortured destinies
Encourage the waistlines of women to expand
And the eyes of men to enlarge like pocket cameras
Teach children to sin at the age of five
To cut out the eyes of their sisters with nail-scissors.
Ugliness and eccentricity
must have a purpose.
Our Sunday referee literary whippets
indulge in a horrid compromise between
the romanticist and the galumphing
of the dogmatic theorist.
In my mind the compromise is between
beer and no beer: a muse is never drunk enough
to be really emotional and never sober enough
to be truly intellectual.”
* from his letters, 1933
Rose Mary Boehm
I confess. We entered the museum to see hand-carved duck decoys.
How easily I imagined rumpy carthorses pulling the Webb caleche
in the roundbarn down slushy New York streets. One wicker casket
to haul a body in the horse-drawn hearse on a hot day.
Then the Wyeth painting in the room of its own –
curators mounted it as a lone window into winter.
The mind’s eye hangs over simple snowy pastures
as vultures twirl, wide-reached acrobats,
haunting splendors far above the bleached farmyard.
Its own gray room, the painting has, with rows of pews,
churchy so I hover over feathered scavengers,
all-seeing of snow and gray hills unto the horizon.
Perhaps the wingeds’ nonchalance is part braggadocio,
how drawn clouds ignore the bland workings
of man for the magnificence of a wake of vultures.
Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who owns a small peninsula on a pond in Vermont. The Shelburne Museum is a nearby treasure. Knoll's chapbook Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press) features the interactions of humans and wildlife in urban habitat. Ocean's Laughter (Aldrich Press) features lyric and eco-poetry of place about a small town on Oregon's north coast. Website: triciaknoll.com
Click here to read The Fountain of Bakhchisarai by Alexander Pushkin, 1824.
He’s refused a drink from flight attendants,
not because the absence of absinthe
or, hollow as pipes, he is made from the lint
of rust. His iron was formed to stand
in gardens with others of his sort who
tip their hats to rain and hail from the straws
poking out from the undignified maws
of paper drink cups filled with slushy hues
never seen in nature, though likely viewed
through the fae eyes of life on an easel.
Simply, he is more taken with the field
of clouds ungluing next to his windowed
seat, and complains about my decisions:
Lack of canvas will cost him his visions.
Lack of canvas will cost him his visions,
though his arm is forever raised with brush
at the ready, poised to jab as if to box,
and he whines to anyone who listens –
a toddler kicking his seat from behind,
the elderly woman on the way
down the aisle who calls me Dorothy,
businessman, soldier, selfie-taking student
with her finger in the metallic wound
of his mutilated ear. “Wet Willie/Dry
Vinnie,” she captions on social media,
going viral as soon as we land.
No “thank you” for purchasing him a seat
instead of sending him wrapped in a crate.
Instead of sending him wrapped in a crate
in the frozen digestion of the plane
like a dog or stowaway immigrant,
bundled in plastic so bubble-bright
it’s more luminescence than protection,
I piggy-backed him as in my youth
I did my own son, surprised by such depth
for someone so incomplete. “Woman,”
Vinnie said from behind my ear, “You hold
me too close to the bristles. Ease up the grip.
Try for a sensitive, painterly tip.”
I didn’t tell him only one painting sold
before his suicide, that his weight is
now of a coffin, his mien of a terrorist.
Now a coffin, his mien a terrorist –
he hurts us not at all at security.
Though a sculpture, he’s still a celebrity,
an apparent, un-humbled anachronist.
It was the easel that caused the problem.
Welded to his right foot, rising upright,
it didn’t fit with him in the flight’s
limited, overhead compartment.
In the end, I was forced to amputate
his vocation, mark it with my address
and send it to wait with the confused mess
of last on and first off: strollers, car seats
and walkers. Then I bought him an extra
ticket in the exit row for the room,
tried not to think about bank account gloom.
Trying not to think about bank account gloom,
I ask Vinnie, “Why all the sunflowers?”
He snorts. “I’ve heard people say they were
painted by me for Paul Gauguin’s room.
That pisvlek! He was the worst houseguest.
I regret inviting him to Arles.
He didn’t even come to the hospital.”
This wasn’t the incident with his chest
when he put a bullet into it instead
of painting landscapes of the Auver fields
but the one with a razor where he yielded
a lobe rather than whiskers from his head.
He says something about “la tristesse.”
He says, “I wish I could pass away like this.”
He says, “I wish I could pass away like this.”
“You did,” I tell him. “You died in the arms
of your brother, leaking your scarlet charms.
Fading to yellow, you were dismissed.”
He says, “Speak to me not like a poet
for the good of all; no one reveres such
garbled intent. Express yourself as much
as you can your kernels of content.”
Will a snack soothe him? Probably not.
Nervous as he is, were he born this era,
he’d be lactose intolerant, gluten-free,
deathly allergic to all kinds of nuts.
Not responsible for his temperament,
still, I am sorry for this circling current.
I am sorry for this circling current,
but growing so tired of his sadness,
his melancholy for Yellow House,
lectures on Japanese woodblock prints,
his memories of the brothel woman
to whom he gifted his ear – what a choice
that proved to be, his act spreading like a rash
over a town crying for his commitment.
Perhaps I should have overlooked his bulk
at the gallery among the daintier,
bent-steel figures of Toussaint and Renoir.
Now against the glares of others, I block
Vinnie’s access with Jet Blue blankets
and request a drink from the flight attendants.
Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length books of poetry, including American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, 2016) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, 2016), as well as four poetry chapbooks. She is the winner of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize. Her work has been published widely in journals including Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, december, North American Review, Poet's Market 2013, Seneca Review, SLAB, Spillway, Spoon River Poetry Review and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She works as the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School and as a freelance dining critic, lifestyle journalist and cookbook author. Her work can be found at https://kavetcnik.contently.com.
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