Looking Around 308v53
You said without the right words this useless thing
death is not to be considered.
Still, for a time anything helps — sunlight on grass, hard stones.
Loveliness has something to do with it, and being scared.
Yesterday down by the tennis courts:
small ball pushed to and fro, till some blunder
make it trickle away, lie still in a corner —
ball that is clear, mathematical, unusually true.
I don't get things straight...
If my mind were a gun its moving target
would look much like a gun, pointing at me.
(We teachers say such things in school.)
This morning found myself watching a blackbird,
busy in our muddy garden after rain.
Jumped down from a wet shiny crooked branch —
springy legs, cocked its eye from side to side.
All The Time 337v22
We no longer see that man that crazed old misfit
wander up our house-proud street.
Camped all winter on the subway's iron grates,
trusts in body-heat, a paper cup for coins.
Stutters to himself some repeated sorrows.
A mutt on a knotted string, always with him, bored.
Filled with his stuff, a borrowed market-cart.
Perhaps he planned to ignore these cold nights
just to get his normal sleep.
I've often passed him there.
The system doesn't work for him.
Seems our all-too-human pity —
arms spread wider than savvy caritas
or bandaged justice will — likewise lets down
a guy in woman's caftan, broken shoes.
I tell you I saw another one, in antique Rome,
under the plane-trees on crowded via Formio,
unlikely squalls of rain in June throwing down
whole bunches of young leaves on darkened stones.
I remember still.
Wouldn't it be the same long ago?
I've read that hard on ninety, Sistine done with,
far from his giant boy-David — infirm, appalled,
sank down on those steps by the tourists' burbling fountains,
in deaf tears for all the friends he used to know.
Utamaro, ink-brush in hand and lost to the world,
eyeballs from zero his thirtyish woman,
enticed onto supple mulberry paper.
(So many years on a kitchen wall,
grazed by smoke and sun each day.)
She's good for politeness and well-kept skin.
18th. century decent, ready-made creature
for customers at the drop of a hat.
Sly dog — my artist takes ochre for the walls,
olive for the clean bare floor-boards,
and parting the silks on lonely thighs,
feints his nicety, suave in violet, black squiggles.
Her well-fed gentleman now, plumply lunging,
in a flurry of robes, (indigo, persimmon) —
his huge pleasure stands beside her, waiting.
Then gripping her he says to me sideways:
"What I'm doing here's just for now,
I'll forget this all in good time"....
Seems we take his part in this, her's too.
What they're up to's more than droll —
persons eluding double entendres in a tidy room.
Nearby a small perfect kettle steams,
ready for their refreshment and the day.
At The Met. 327v21
This painter thrives on his own pressure.
Glares at all and sundry,
avid of what's really here.
Lets us look over his shoulder
where all walk in — a public space
for what's private like sex and fear.
This one: a woman, eyelids curve in sleep.
Young lovely roundnesses, complete.
She's happy to be separate and alone.
He's taken in all sides of her,
spreads them in full view —
can't look enough to sate his will to know.
Paints her onto grass green and crude ―
white blatant daisies, too big,
expletives of earth that will not wait.
She's gone absent from her body
that was born to continue.
Asleep, she dreams strangely to be herself....
Back home, on my work-table:
tulips I bought today cram a jug, living red.
Driven by water, lush tubes spread,
expressed by sexual flood.
Not Still Life 314v19
Drawn out of a stiff hog brush
it gets to you, his invention.
Flat on the ground his gored horse croaks,
great yellow horse-teeth bared.
Stuck in its paint!
Grey paint white paint black —
paint of blood and crud stirred.
A painter put it there.
Wide-eyed Picasso's fixed stare!
Fact and fiction that crash head-on.
He says I must, bystander,
be part of this disaster.
Another: on her brash couch this blonde broad.
Stretched out, she's pink-on-lime-stripes —
starkers, and she out-stares your artful lust.
A bare light-bulb swings like a testicle
over her bare face.
She too, thick pigments.
Even harsh shadows here are garish.
Inextricable! You know this glue,
act and idea, in everyone's wrangle.
What mind's grip on the true will deter
what necessity has stashed?
Still, relief gets in sideways.
You notice how passing amusements
can make the best of things —
that, and a tendency to forget.
- Gerald Solomon 2011
Gerald Solomon was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. After a short spell as sales assistant at a bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road he worked as a producer at the BBC. Subsequently becoming engaged in education, he helped found General Studies courses at Hornsey College of Art, and this led eventually to an enjoyable period teaching poetry courses at Middlesex University. He retired early in order to paint and write. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines in the USA and UK as he prepares his first collection. He is married, with four children, and lives in Manhattan.