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POIESIS

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By KURT COLE EIDSVIG

PoIesis 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.

This column presents the poetry of Kurt Eidsvig, in juxtaposition to the dialogue around art and culture also featured at Big RED & Shiny.


THIS GUERNICA

If I could leave Guernica there
down on the ground, somehow,
the sky would open up. I’d withdraw
all my exhales from your tangled-hair
landscape and forget the twisted figures
we became last night
against the dim light of the window.

Yesterday, I tried to take a nap
mid-afternoon, and saw airplanes
taking off in a shocking angle above—
a straight line into blue. It’s why
I’m so humbled by Picasso’s
history lesson again. For just a moment
yesterday, I understood how awful it must be
when you can no longer trust the sky.

When I sifted myself from the dampened soil—
our bed sheets— your arm
bent against my chest, your form
face down, I knew we could no longer
trust the sky to stay where it’s supposed to.

Picasso’s anger. Picasso’s sorrow. Pollock
with a glass in hand, turned the ground
to sky. Pollock with a bourbon in his hand, ground
the glass against his feet. The sky
was on the ground by then. Everyone
was flying. Everyone was becoming pieces,
our bodies were debris.

If I could leave this bed alone,
I might stop visiting the museum with coffee
on my shirt. There’s breathing through your mouth
in those merciless silent rooms. If I could leave
this Guernica alone, there’d be more rest;
more naps in afternoon. There’d be so much less

crane-necked staring at the sky. Staring at the sky,
the sky resting on a wall. All painting
should be like this. All painting should terrify your mind
and remind your eyes of beauty. And even carnage
can remind you of your favorite nights.

In all of us is the danger of watching something
become too beautiful from miles and miles away,
until our distrust is with the wrinkles and the sky—
a tangled set of lines, a recasting of a shadow,
your memories of arguments, a bunch of broken glass—

in all of this our eyes are shards, our eyes become
irreparable, our eyes are surely broken.


Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía/Queen Sofia Museum, which houses Guernica.


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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