Archives for posts with tag: Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia_Okeeffe
Like a Veil Over the Country You Come Across
a Cross in Almost Any Unexpected Place
by Sarah Rogers

I always called it
the black place.
Though a lot of it
is gray, I wouldn’t
think of calling it
the gray place.

If you could see it,
if it wasn’t white
you’d see it. I mean
if it wasn’t half white
with snow—

It’s an especially
fine place
to climb around in.
Wouldn’t you?
Wouldn’t you climb
if you were here?

I’ve walked
along the top
in all kinds of weather
so that if I got off my chair
it would blow away.

From the other side
there’s a strip of color.
You don’t see it
because it’s in shadow,
a strip of pink, red, and yellow—

The Indians would be
under the trees.
There wasn’t any place
for me in the shade
but under the car.

The cliffs over there
they’re almost painted
for you, you think
until you try.

I thought someone
could tell me how
to paint a landscape
but I never found
that person, had to

just settle down
and try. I thought
someone could

tell me how
but I found
nobody could.

They could tell you how
they painted their landscape
but they couldn’t tell me
to paint mine.

PHOTO: Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) with her painting “Red with Yellow” near her home in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Photo by Tom Vaccaro, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SOURCE: Georgia O’Keeffe, documentary produced by Homevision (1977).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Heavenly influenced by art, I chose to appropriate the language of landscape painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Rogers is a poet and researcher living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Originally from Indiana, Sarah writes about nature and place.

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VEHICLE
by Tamara Madison

This body is the vehicle
by which I navigate the world.
Here is a photograph
of its younger self
crouched on a rock.
Those feet are the feet
by which I have always
trod the earth, but the photo
was taken before living
had given them
bunions and fungus.
The hair that falls
in a hazy fan
down the shoulder
is this hair before it took on
shades of silver and gray.
The face in the photo
is turned away, watching
the winter sun drift down
behind the mountains
while the future
crouches behind the rock,
waiting to climb up
the young back,
this same back with the turn
in its spine which forms
the little hump where
for six decades I have stored
my slights and sorrows.
My body’s scaffold of bones
is the same, but all the cells
are brand spanking new.

IMAGE: “Red Hills, Lake George” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1927).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent fifteen months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, “All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle. I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem.”

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MOVING TO THE DESERT
by Ronald Baatz

I cannot live here when I am old.
It is too cold for many months out of the year.
As it is, I am having a rough time dealing with

the cold now. When I am old I want to live
in the desert. I suppose this is a common goal
for people who live in the cold. Although, thankfully,

this past winter was a blessing, so unbelievably mild was it.
The morning newspaper explains why
there is such an abundance of yellow jackets.

I was stung recently. I was sitting on the green lawn chair
at the back of the house, minding my own business, reading,
when suddenly I felt an itch on my leg. As I scratched this itch,

one of these yellow jackets let me have it. It had managed to crawl
up my leg, underneath my pants. After stinging me
it fell to the ground and walked away; for some reason not flying,

perhaps too exhausted from having stung me.
My first instinct was to kill it; instead I just moved away from it.
I will leave these heavenly purple mountains to the bugs and the bears

and whatever else wants to claim them as their own.
I do not want to be exposed to such cold when I am old.
I want to bake in the sun. I want to be like a dried fig.

If I had money, then living here would not be such a hardship.
I’d be able to defend myself from the cold with money.
But there is none, and there appears to be nothing I can do

to rectify this problem. I live where the winters are harsh and
I have no way of keeping myself warm. I am profoundly disappointed
in myself. I will not even have the money necessary to move

to the desert when the time comes. So why do I even talk about it,
dream about it. I have been pathetic at creating a decent income.
I will die in this lousy cold. I can see it all now: when I die

others will come to take my body away, my belongings.
They will make a thorough search of my room for money
that I might have hidden away, and they will find not a dime.

Then they will unearth thousands
of poems, and they will know why.

Woodstock, 1985

IMAGE: “Desert Abstraction (Bear Lake)” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1931).

Ronald Baatz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ronald Baatz lives in Troy, New York, with his wife Andra and their cat Mooche. His last book, Bird Standing, was published by Blind Dog Press in Australia.

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SELF-PORTRAIT
by Kimberly Smith

My love is shaped like a star
that you can grab and put in your heart
and it will never stop growing.

My soul jumps straight out of my body
just to jump into yours to make you feel
like a king in a golden palace.

My heart is an icebox that can never melt.
My hair is a wave in the deep blue sea.
My eyes are stars that sparkle in the night sky.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly Smith is a student at Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit, Michigan. Her poem was written as part of the InsideOut Literary Arts Project of Detroit.

IMAGE: “Sun Water Maine” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1922).

radiator-building
HIGHRISE
by Victoria McGrath

I’m standing on the fifth floor balcony of my life and
you’d think that, from here, the view would knock your socks
off. I thought I’d see spectaculars: the Thames, Times Square,
the Sydney Opera House. At least the Eiffel Tower’s frilly

underpants. But the canopy hangs at just about my elevation,
dubious and loose, and not that easy to see through. I thought
there’d be some sense of accomplishment living at this height,
a particular felicity. But it pains me to say that all I really feel

is a little dizzy. Below, in the shadows, I can almost recognise
fragments of the sweepings that I’ve lost from the ramparts
over the years. Phone numbers, passwords, keys. Everything
to do with calculus, and some critical bits of the 12 times table.

Names. So many forgotten names. And purpose. Not-quite-born
babies. My father’s face. It’s terrible to hover over history
like this. It threatens to remove me. I find it hard to focus on
people anymore and I’m surprised when I realise this comes as

a relief. I once liked them better, liked their privacies, their
collective contradictions. These days I admit I can’t work them
out. They imitate each other. Their user-names congregate on
the lower storeys, where they fumble through their judgements

like a bum rummaging in a bin for crumbs, before desperately
trying to beat the Joneses up the back stairs. To be honest,
it’s all getting to be a bit of a slog now. The stairs are steep,
and perilous with slippery memories. I’d really like to settle in

to some comfortable armchair for a while, high-backed and
made of leather, indulgently polished by other backsides
that like to read and ruminate. But the joints get restless
and I can’t help wondering what might await me when

I emerge onto the roof at last. With my luck, I’ll stumble up
that final step only to be confronted with a cold metal slammer,
firmly bolted and embellished with the declaration:

          FIRE DOOR – PLEASE KEEP CLOSED
 
Right now my framework feels ramshackle and remote, almost
empty, except for the faint drone of lonely poets, the gamy glow
of boasts and blundering, and the simple hum of an accountant
down the hall, who’s hard at work depreciating the high life,

busy totting up the cost of pots and black kettles.

IMAGE: “The Radiator Building” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1927).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Victoria McGrath is an emerging poet who lives in country New South Wales, Australia, and is a graduate of the Australian National University. She has won a number of poetry awards and was shortlisted in 2013 for the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Prize. She has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia and the U.S. and has performed in a range of events, including twice as featured poet at the Bundanoon Winterfest. A publisher has expressed interest in her first, not quite finished, manuscript.

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AH! SUN-FLOWER
by William Blake

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

IMAGE: “Sunflower” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1935).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. For the most part unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered one of the greatest poets of all time in any language. As a visual artist, he has been lauded by one art critic as “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced.” (Source: Wikipedia)

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IN THE MONTH OF MAY
by Robert Bly

In the month of May when all leaves open,
I see when I walk how well all things
lean on each other, how the bees work,
the fish make their living the first day.
Monarchs fly high; then I understand
I love you with what in me is unfinished.

I love you with what in me is still
changing, what has no head or arms
or legs, what has not found its body.
And why shouldn’t the miraculous,
caught on this earth, visit
the old man alone in his hut?

And why shouldn’t Gabriel, who loves honey,
be fed with our own radishes and walnuts?
And lovers, tough ones, how many there are
whose holy bodies are not yet born.
Along the roads, I see so many places
I would like us to spend the night.

PAINTING: “Apple Blossoms I” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1930)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Bly is the author of Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a key text of the mythopoetic men’s movement, which spent 62 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller list. He won the 1968 National Book Award for Poetry for his book The Light Around the Body. Recent books of poetry include What Have I Ever Lost by Dying? Collected Prose Poems and Meditations on the Insatiable Soul, both published by Harper Collins.

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HOW TO NOT NEED RESURRECTION
by Michalle Gould

Children like to play at death —
they hold their breath,
and cross their ams and shut their eyes
unti they forget to be dead — then rise
from their nest of pillows and play instead
at being lost or married,
as if their state was mutable, as if, like water
they could flow or freeze or climb without a ladder
into the heavens then drop back down —
they are the first resurrectionists, they alone
understand the trick is not to try,
that once you believe in death, you will surely die.

SOURCE: Poetry (December 2003)

Painting: “Ladder to the Moon” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1958)

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FOR PURITY
   in memory of Georgia O’Keeffe
by Larry D. Thomas

she dons jet-black
and takes her stance
before the canvas,
 
draping her heart
with the shadow
of a black cross.
 
She scours her mind
with cloudless
desert sky
 
and she waits
for the moon-like rising
of the flower,
 
the pelvis,
the cleansed,
sun-bleached skull.

“For Purity” appears in the collection Amazing Grace by Larry D. Thomas, Texas Review Press, 2001

PHOTO: Georgia O’Keeffe with painting, 1930, by Alfred Stieglitz, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Alfred Stieglitz Collection

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Happy is so momentary — you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.”  

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE, American Artist (1887-1986)