Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top


Thread Tools Display Modes
Unread 04-29-2022, 05:05 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA; Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 10,964

Oh God, Sarah, we're on different sides of the fence. I love Rothko's work - those massive blocks of color - but you picked the two Rothko paintings that I don't like, and are totally different than most of his work. Here's my Rothko poem (fittingly, the last one in my most recent book) and a Rothko I would have picked to go with it.


black black black black black black
in tones of black and black on black
the canvases are tagged abstract
on every plaque
although the artist will attack
abstract and shun the word the lack
of it will not distract the claque
in black black black black black

brown brown brown brown brown
a message floats above the ground
serene reflective, and profound
a man who wound his own life down
red red red red red red red red
dead dead dead dead dead dead

Last edited by Michael Cantor; 04-30-2022 at 11:28 AM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 04-29-2022, 06:15 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA; Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 10,964

This is cheating, in a sense, because I am pairing arguably the most famous painting of the last 100 years with a poem which I still have not workshopped because it's a bitch and I'm not happy with it. But the two work together, and the painting lifts the poem.. Now all I have to do is get that Pablo guy to use his talent to work on S5. And, oh yeah, to let me publish the painting. (The one I'm showing is an Etsy copy - yours for $199.99.)

Marching Orders

Thrust and thrust and thrust and thrust and thrust
until you cannot think to close your eyes,
until your throat is choked with blood and lust,

and everything you’ve touched has turned to dust.
Regather then, and let your passion rise,
and thrust and thrust again, and thrust and thrust,

because the one emotion you can trust
is fear, and you must never compromise
until your ears are choked with blood and lust.

So bomb and burn and leave the ruins to rust;
ignore the truth and radiate your lies,
and thrust each day and night, and thrust and thrust.

Each people has its heritage: you must
be true to ours, respect the ancient ties
until our throats are choked with blood and lust.

Bomb and bomb and bomb and bomb and just
ignore them all, their weeping and their cries;
but thrust and thrust and thrust and thrust and thrust
until the world explodes in blood and lust.

Last edited by Michael Cantor; 04-30-2022 at 09:40 AM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 04-29-2022, 06:17 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 6,630

Hi Michael,

I'm enjoying your poems here - they are as always well-executed. The Rothko is rather a leap, to me, from your usual fare, but I think Rothko may do that. Here's my Rothko, with the painting that inspired it, though I'm afraid mine is a straight ekphrastic:


This is a scarlet canvas. There’s a flat

rectangle or two on it – in the center
and at each side. It is the color, not
of blood, but of a cardinal’s hat. Do

not be alarmed, it’s quite serene. I think
the two long framing rectangles the man
has dubbed maroon might well extend beyond

the painting’s frame and into space. It looks
a bit like a fence someone painted – you
can see each brush stroke, and the rectangles

are rather sloppy. Red bleeds in across
that framing lattice. You might think it worth
my while to step outside the color and

the line that shape this canvas. But I won’t.

And here's the Tate: 

The Cormon is my favorite Cain painting, but you could be right - it's not uncontrolled, I think, but it is rather loud. Not an ekphrastic.

Reply With Quote
Unread 04-29-2022, 06:23 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 6,630

This is a little fun! Here's my Guernica, a world away, I think, from yours, Michael, though I'm not sure what my takeaway from that is. I like your poem and title.


Real Hope of Respite

The upstairs light blew out about the time
I went to view Guernica. I’ve arranged
books on my shelves by centuries; Picasso
lives upstairs, although Kafka and Thomas Mann
are near the sofa where I sit as Liszt
plays on the stereo. It’s 2 a.m.

Guernica. Now I see that tortured bull,
those hands uplifted – suppliant hands with no
real hope of respite. Is it bleached of color?
It is in memory – a wall of lines,
of blocks, angles, and shading. Nor did Goya
put red in his Desastres de la Guerra,

for what it’s worth. The horror does just fine.
Bombs drop from Heaven and cause collateral damage,
it would appear – though here the target was
hit on the bull’s eye. As the bull confirms.
Reply With Quote
Unread 04-30-2022, 11:56 AM
RCL's Avatar
RCL RCL is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,309

connection failure

Last edited by RCL; 04-30-2022 at 12:46 PM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 04-30-2022, 02:39 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 1,480

Hi all (and thank you so much for such an interesting discussion - I’m learning a good deal from this exchange - and it’s also a lovely excuse to riffle through the books I have on Modigliani.

John, why I like about your poem ‘Cain’s Song’ is that it tells a good story - I particularly like/enjoy the first five lines - there’s a weariness that’s palpable and a sing-song quality. The picture is powerful - a powerful and dramatic rendition of a narrative, so if you wanted to bring that to your poem, then it’s a good choice…but I’m not entirely convinced.

When I read your recent work I do think about Blake, and I wonder if that is the sort of illustration - maybe a bit more contemporary that I visualise accompanying it. Something cohesive, that brings the work together rather than something which presents a linear history - I guess I see the image as being quite a linear storytelling, whilst your stories/strands in the book you’re writing are more complex (whilst being a narrative, still) ?

Michael - Ahhh, but these aren’t my favourite Rothko’s either - like you, I love the massive blocks of colour and have spent a longer time than I’d like to admit in the Tate’s Rothko room (although partly, tbh, it was pretension - I liked to think of myself in the Rothko room, too - in my defence, I was in my late teens/early twenties at the time). I was thinking about your poem when I chose those specific images - your poem, in my reading, is an artefact which begins beautiful and ends up ugly. I was thinking about the image might bring out the elements that I’d missed, too - the Rothko’s I thought about were the powerful/ugly/cluttered ones, rather than the pure solar plexus hit of the colour-blocks? So it was less about an image I liked, more about how to bring that reading across through an image.

I like your Rothko poem, despite my sense of Rothko being untouchable. I like that the poem is brutal in its architecture, and the repetition works beautifully - I think claque/black particularly works well. The sounds of that, with the meaning and the repetition - the sense of isolation - chosen isolation, and a kind of beauty.

Marching Orders - well, that’s an image to take on. Have you tried the age-old thing of culling the poem back to the very bare bones and reworking it, much as the image (for me) worked with the tradition which inspired it and which I can still read in the painting, the reworking of that tradition being, in a sense, part of the image? If you did that to the poem too, what would happen, I wonder?

John, I like the storytelling in your Rothko poem, and the very specific way you’ve described it - and the end. For me, it’s more an intellect-driven commentary on Rothko than a dialogue with Rothko and it’s so interesting the different ways two poets have responded to it. It makes me wonder what I’d come up with if I thought of writing an ekphrastic inspired by Rothko’s work.

Again, your Guernica is so different to Michael's poem - yours, in my reading is again a commentary, in a sense, on the painting, with a clear narrator. I think I’d have to take that approach with Rothko, in a way, too - have myself in there, shadowly, as a frame, with all the cultural gaucheness I had at 20! (Your poem does not show cultural gaucheness, by the way - it’s far more suavely aware of the placing of narratives, and, in a sense, that’s one of the ways the poem works, I think - a kind of meta-reflection on context - the narrator and Guernica placed within a collection of other images and artists).

Ralph! Lovely to see you!

Reply With Quote
Unread 04-30-2022, 05:59 PM
Jason Ringler Jason Ringler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: United States of America
Posts: 193

Hi Sarah, and everyone,

Here's a poem I worked on for a while. The thought of what it's like being turned to stone came to me one day but I turned it into a stove instead. So i found an image close to the type of stove I pictured. Hopefully one of the links works.

Turned to stove

Turned to stove instead of stone,
older model made of bone,
shelf and pipe over throne,
peach and tan into golden tone.

Burning lit the molten shop,
the piney spices measure pot.
Wreath of fire crowning top,
scorching iron town it's got.

Conscious kettle gleaming round,
stirring strikes its bony sound.
Softest handles mittens found,
steam uplifted, aroma drowned.

Steep uncovered the fitting dome,
boiling contents whistling own,
eyes and ears of the grown
bringing together people home.
Reply With Quote
Unread 04-30-2022, 10:48 PM
Jason Ringler Jason Ringler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: United States of America
Posts: 193

Hi Sarah,

Here's my quick take on the Rothko pictures. i found the first one pretty scary, a crime-scene of nightmares, mutilations; the second one, a serial killer looking through blood with half his skull exposed, so not that pleasant haha. I know nothing of Rothko or these paintings, so I'll probably have to read up on him.

the pink elf

silly putty leads to bean art
fish swims up to body parts,
draped over blood vessels noodle
their guts by the gory doodles

sick in portrait, eyes that jumble
brickhead saves his flame in bundles
laughing back through the gaps themselves
is the world of the pink elf

Last edited by Jason Ringler; 05-02-2022 at 06:12 PM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 05-01-2022, 08:23 AM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 6,008

Michael, your post 22 would go very well in your The Horrors of War thread.
Reply With Quote
Unread 05-01-2022, 01:38 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 1,480

Hi Jason,

Thank you so much for joining in and sharing your work and ideas! I think the move from stone to stove is beautifully surreal and also really interesting - the stove as the place of production, of warmth - a kind of statue, but one which people cluster around for very different reasons. I love ‘steam uplifted’ and the ‘piney spices’ and I hope you workshop it if you feel the urge.

The image is gorgeous. It’d make a fantastic surrealist collage to combine the two ideas, I think. I’m not sure how confident/eager you are to play with arts practice but I could imagine a similar type stove image being used to amazing effect cut up (physically) and the pieces placed in a silhouette of a face. Or use eyes from magazines and position them over the stove image. It’d be brilliant, I think.

I love how your Rothko poem is so different to both John’s and Michael’s. I enjoy the playfulness in it, the way you’ve taken a surreal leap, and the kind of horrible but also really effective noodle/gory doodles. A combination of child-like and visceral, which has a real effect on the reader (not that pleasant an effect, but I don’t think that this was the point of your poem).

Allen - nice to see you here.

Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,272
Total Threads: 21,434
Total Posts: 270,900
There are 160 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online