At the Museum After a Difficult Week

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Not the Picasso I had in mind, when writing, but they are all great and this one comes with elephant–

At the Museum After a Difficult Week

Part of what I like
about Picasso
is the way his people
fill up space.
Even the planed face–the blank make-up of the harlequin–
carries weight,
though nothing like those places where the grease paint
does not reach–the unpainted (painted)
hands, the knuckles sculpted
with hardly a smudge–

Just so, I tell a flattened self,
I need to read people’s volumes–

especially those whose voices even sport
arched brows, tongues stenciled
with sneer, whose intonations alone
could decimate me–

a demotion of what would stand
in me
to step-stool–

When you’re a step-stool
it’s hard to feel much
but feet–

Still, I tell myself–
(for the heelers are so often
as unhealed)
to look for people’s spaces–
not on the drawn face
but at the wrist–
the puckered grist
of knuckle, the twists between
the creases on
the palm–

For life shakes hands
with us all,
leaves its fingerprints
with every brush;
oh life, you, grand master.

*********************
Okay, this one I’m definitely calling a draft.  It is written for Grace’s prompt on With Real Toads to write a poem influenced by Jane Hirschfeld.  The Picasso above was not exactly the one that I was thinking of in writing the poem, as it doesn’t show any hands well, but at least this one has an elephant.  (Rare in Picasso’s oeuvre.)

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28 Comments on “At the Museum After a Difficult Week”

  1. hedgewitch Says:

    So many lines in this to savor, k. I used to hate Picasso, and ‘modern’ art in general for years and years, and it’s only now as I age that I see bits of the vision behind it, of the idea of refining, fragmenting, distorting, to get to a cleaner, though not necessarily prettier truth. But pretty is kind of feeble anyway after awhile, especially when it is an exercise in self-indulgence. Here we have the pain and pressure of life, which instead of hardening seems to draw out a seeking, an effort to compass the elements that compress and live beyond them, seeing more, not less. Or so –at great length–I see it. ;_) Quite a feel of Hirshfield, too. Thanks for the morning pleasure.

  2. Grace Says:

    I like where life leaves its fingerprints on us – step-stool, heelers, wrist, palms and hands ~ It now shows on my hair & skin, smiles ~

    Thanks for participating K and wishing you happy week ~ What a coincidence that our children are getting married this month ~ Guess who is the wedding coordinator for the day itself, me, ha ~

    Cheers ~


  3. I admire this piece and esp love the last stanza.


  4. I like seeing art through your eyes, hearing your voice as the docent.

  5. Sanaa Says:

    This is quite an intriguing piece..!
    xoxo


  6. The ending is great. There is a nice build-up. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.


  7. I really love this especially the second last stanza.. you are really going deep into the physical here.. This has to be painting with words.

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I guess there are as many ways to read a painting as there are to read people. I like the way you took your observations to the next level as the poem developed.

  9. lynn__ Says:

    I really enjoy your “drafts” (and elephants). Yes, life shakes hands with us all and sometimes we just white-knuckle it!

  10. coalblack Says:

    Keep an eye on the other hand during that handshake. Some kind of legerdemain is happening here.


  11. You have captured the voice very well, Karin……I LOVE the closing stanza!

  12. M Says:

    wait, so you have a marrying kid, too? congratulations!

    as to the pen, unlike Hedge I’ve always admired (if not understood) Cubism, until (as she notes) age provides more angles. (And gotta love elephants). the metaphor you’ve employed, the flatness, then the volume, works so well with Picasso in general and this piece in particular; you play on the generally well-known angularity and art-as-flat but art-as-volume representation that he worked so assiduously, proclaiming, as it were, the flatness of the canvas as yet a sometimes-better portrayer of depth, than those of us residing in 4 dimensions. the detail of the stool, the wrist, the fingerprints, really make this pen come alive for me ~

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. Yes! I haven’t been focusing on it as much as I probably should, but my daughter is getting married. She and her partner have done the planning of the wedding, but we are hosting it upstate, so that part is a fair amount of work! (Ha.) Though I’ve had excuses to stay out of some of that, but probably those (the excuses) will run out soon, as it is all coming up rather quickly. I don’t know whether I’ll take a break from blogging–I will have many people around and may need to write to keep my personal thread from getting too frayed. k.

  13. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Stunning stuff! If this is a mere draft, I can hardly wait to see the completion.

    Please wait a while and then come back to these things. I think you may find that many of your poems are working very much better than you think when you have just written them..

    (PS Please may I have your imagination when you’re finished with it?)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I appreciate your kind words, Rosemary, and laugh about the imagination. I always feel that my work is much more dominated by memory than imagination, so that remark is especially kind–thanks. k .


  14. especially those whose voices even sport
    arched brows, tongues stenciled
    with sneer, whose intonations alone
    could decimate me–

    This, for me, was a real focal point…I love this about visual art that their voices are revealed through details as these. Nicely written, K!

  15. Jim Says:

    Hi K ~~ Then please could I have your memory when you are finished with that? I like Picasso though the older masters are more my favorites. I don’t know why for sure, more soothing and calming perhaps.
    I like your telling of details that involved artistic techniques. Especially the hands and faces. You have told plenty to get us thinking.
    I thought I might like to delve into printmaking. The printing mechanics I could do but my art hasn’t progressed since second grade stick people.
    BTW, does this one have a title? And where did you find it? NYC MoMA? I loved seeing all the Picassos there. Of course I didn’t “see” every one.
    ..

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Jim,

      I think this painting is probably from the Met–it is not the one I thought of for the poem–but I didn’t take or have a picture for that one. This one I took a picture of a couple of years ago when walking around the Met (Metropolitan Museum in NYC) with a bunch of others that I later painted little elephants into. I am not sure of the title, but can try to find it. MOMA also has very beautiful Picassos. I tend to like a broad spectrum of painting.

      I think print making sounds terrific. There are lots of different styles–some seem much harder to me than others. A very simple one that I tried once at a local gallery was making prints on glass, where you simply painted the glass and then put a thin piece of painting against it that you rolled with a little roller. This was not great for making lots of prints, but made a very pretty image. Wood blocks and etching/lithograph types of things look quite hard to me, but I think that they would be fun. Good luck! If you can paint like you did in second grade, there would be a terrific freshness! Thanks for your kind words. k.

  16. Mama Zen Says:

    “When you’re a step-stool
    it’s hard to feel much
    but feet–”

    Love.


  17. Still, I tell myself–
    (for the heelers are so often
    as unhealed)
    to look for people’s spaces–
    not on the drawn face
    but at the wrist–
    the puckered grist
    of knuckle, the twists between
    the creases on
    the palm– Love this

    I too like to look beyond the obvious in a person.

  18. C.C. Says:

    I love the tidbits of insight and wisdom interspersed throughout this….and then the way that you tied it all together in that last stanza. Really well-done.

  19. whimsygizmo Says:

    “When you’re a step-stool
    it’s hard to feel much
    but feet–”

    Love this, especially.


  20. Absolutely wonderful write Manic – draft or no I sincerely love this piece. Is it the art of Picasso? Or the incredibly real and human way you depict your own love of art? I think the latter… Oh how wonderfully your fingerprint portrays itself here, with your constant little companion atop Picasso’s self-portraited shoulder! Unmistakably, most incredibly, and quite irresistibly and sensationally – you, dear Manic….


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