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DOOR TO THE RIVER – After Willem De Kooning, 1960

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"Poïesis is etymologically derived from the ancient Greek term ποιέω, which means "to make". This word, the root of our modern "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world. Neither technical production nor creation in the romantic sense, poietic work reconciles thought with matter and time, and man with the world." (Wikipedia)

This is a regular series of poems on the topic of art. Kurt Eidsvig's column, Poïesis, which appeared in Volume 1 of Big Red & Shiny, brings a poetic twist to our conversation on art and culture. More of Kurt's poems can be found in our archives.

DOOR TO THE RIVER
-After Willem de Kooning, 1960

A woman says something sweetly in the center
of the gallery, looks up to find her companions
gone. Later, in a newspaper ad for binoculars
there is no way to discern the streaks of paint
pressed down from every shoe fall, as all of us
are stuck here, the urge to surge is pushed
and smeared, and the conversation silences
are located at the backs of veins and hands.
The stream we find unbending until the next
group of paintings hangs.

After all the drinking and the women, the line
of lithe acquaintances outside pressing buzzer
beats in time to the breath of breathless hearts,
he had to invent American abstraction just to clean
his brushes and his eyeglasses from the specks
of all that gasping. All of us learned to paint
from the lies of Arshile Gorky, sure; all of us saw
the world in ice cubes and melting, just as all of us
wait for Guernica to descend.

In the meantime there is a land untouched by eyes,
sewn together by paint applied and charcoal stick
erased. Grasp on to memories while they will us to,
until they merge with headlines and repeated innuendo,
until the green you borrowed is gone, and the violent
bursts of orange are frozen at the bottom of a jar
with the paintbrush bristles bunched and bruised
in the excess of close proximity. I say one more line,
and follow it; and the river is higher every year.

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About Author

Kurt Cole Eidsvig is an artist, poet, and writer. He has taught courses in Art History and Writing for UMASS/Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the University of Montana. His work has earned awards from organizations like the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital.

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