The Conqueror Worm
(from portfolio series - E.A. Poe Tales and Poems)
Still Life Ingredients
Self Portrait as a Drowning Man
acrylic paint, watercolor and glue on cardboard
from MOUNT BLANK
And it if had been cut out of cardboard,
Cardboard would serve. It always had: inside
Contours partly jagged, part caressingly
Smooth – for even children were trained to trace
Its silhouette that they might come to know
It – there was only the unmarked flatness
Of surface fused to its depth. What he saw
Was not a picture of his seeing, nor
An image of his dimmest sleep. And, say,
That there was no cardboard (or, if there were,
A little azure hat for the mountain,
Doing no harm), say that the crookedness
Of its high tower was a beckoning,
And that it was a place to get to – still,
Cardboard is as cardboard does: biting out
Its part of the available blue and
Masking some gummier construction taped
Behind it, emptiness and passe-partout.
– John Hollander (1974)
oil on canvas
Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy
acrylic on canvas
from THE DAY THE HOUSES SANK
Next day the houses sank beneath the waves.
First the foundations, lapped by the oily tide;
Then lintel, windowframe, brick, eaves, tile, slate.
Now in the watery light wave after wave
Rolls overhead, crests, passes, and subsides.
– Constance Urdang (1971)
Near Newcastle Emlyn, Cardigan
acrylic paint on plastic
Figure in a Doorway
oil on canvas
Lipsticks in Piccadilly Circus, London
collage on postcard
The pictures were really pictures
Of loving and small things. There was a winter scene
and half-hidden sketches of the other three seasons.
Autumn was a giant with a gray woollen cap.
Near him was spring, a girl in green draperies
Half sitting, half standing near the trunk of an old tree.
Summer was a band of nondescript children
Bordering the picture of winter, which was indistinct
And gray like the sky of a winter afternoon.
The other pictures told in an infinity of tiny ways
Stories of the past: separate incidents
Recounted in touching detail, or vast histories
Murmured confusingly, as though the speaker
Were choked by sighs and tears, and had forgotten
The reason why he was telling the story.
– John Ashbery (1966)
Portrait of a young man standing
life-size bronze with gold leaf
Black-and-white Flower Piece
oil on panel
alkyd paint on canvas
White, Sand and Ochre
oil on canvas
On the hilltop, close to the house of the empress, Your temple
Is dark, sunken: a pit. The thick crowded pillars
Stumps only. The dread of Your presence
Lopped, like them, cold in mutilation.
Throning it here, in the stillness: vacancy.
In times beyond this time, were you robed in darkness?
You were known, then, as the Great Goddess. You are
Great even yet, more terrible, Mother Cybele, now you are nothing.
– Babette Deutsch (1961)
Poems from the archives of Poetry (Chicago)