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Poem for Vladimir Umanets


"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 the first in 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.


Forgiveness is a Plexiglas prison on Yupon Street in Houston,
just as action without contemplation—or haphazard doodling—
is sky scars, shards of flicker and light, the stretch and distance
of tomorrow and tonight pushed flat by televised missiles firing
errant into shadowed hulks. Figure burned-out buildings, the sacred
telephone poles carry messages, silenced to ash and lead. Rusted-out
wheelbarrows moan, creak, their tires, flat and barren with labored
flecks, watermarked remnants from loads emptied and forgotten
elsewhere. I ask the center of other selves: Show us everything
missing; show us everything is gone.

Without horizon, do you seep against the sheets? See illusion
as one thing ending before another starts, stops, and gasps,
with the crush felt against linen canvas lacking the bleed
and seed of discontented, valueless, red? Black, as the backs
of eyelids suffer through insomnia, and intentions are rushing
light rising from the ground. The sound of glory, as memories
of better lives, pigment pounded out to dust, remixed and exhaled
upon surfaces we suppose are skin, encases you.

Or, begin with something else this time, as tomorrow is a remedy
for the injustice of lingering dusk; as tomorrow is a set of solaces
for the misgivings of value and execution, the efforts of contorted
eyesight as severed arteries stain stone floors when you sign your name
on headstone rubbings, regard autographs as premonitions, or cut
yourself into bloodless moans. None but spirits shelter here. For ghosts,
eternal and desperate, find nothing left to see.


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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