Two Poems of the Day, April 19: "Paint" and "Burn"

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Summary: Missed a day, so posting two. We have our first lost poem for the 17th, which I'll explain. Here are two simple ones about loss and attempts.

BLOT: (19 Apr 2016 - 09:53:39 PM)

Two Poems of the Day, April 19: "Paint" and "Burn"

On the 17th, I attempted to write a poem way too complicated for the 10-minute rule—it featured an old man losing his wedding ring and footnotes that explained the situation and made up the actual poem part—so it never got anywhere near finished in the 10 minutes I worked on it, and then I was too tired to do much on the 18th, so I wrote two tonight in a total of about 16 minutes. With both, I started with a single word and just jammed out some quick thoughts and let them go where they would. The first, "Paint", is broadly in that "is Doug talking about sex?" category, and the answer is, "maybe". The second, "Burn", ended up being about a man watching his life come crashing down in a house fire, though there are a couple of hints that it had already been crashing down. Recommended listening for it is Uncle Tupelo's cover of "Effigy" [which gets a shout out in the poem].


The paint on the floor and the paint in my eyes
Runs the world into watery tears and the canvas tears
Into half sheets and quarter sheets and butterflies fluttering

I scream acrylic coughs and oil upon my mind and fail
To express much more than my lack of talent as my
Still lives are grotesques and my portraits are fruits and flowers
But I paint and I paint and I paint and I mind thoughtfully

Fingers over brush and strokes upon touch and gentle caress
Lines down into the valleys where secret thoughts
Breathe in the whole process with a smile and a quiet
Look away from the strings and thin hairs and the things tangled
In its hair and upon it skin made to look like other wheres

All this paint upon my hands and all these holes in my head
And all this color and vibrancy and imagery upon your breast
Like some old sailor's tattoo fading into a once significance
And it's all another beautiful failure, a trainwreck of bright
And wet and it's all just exactly as it needs to be

Hanging the frame to dry, the studio goes dark, and
All the work inside this small space, outside the everyday
Sleeps peacefully in the cocoon of its dreams,
Only the gentlest of murmurs on its lips


The grass burns and the house burns and the windows burn
And the fire is beautiful in the way it turns hope into living memory
And the fire is beautiful in the way it burns orange and yellow red
Words like black smoke rise and the stench is atrocious, all those
Moments lost to smell and odor and all the neighbors watch
With faces of sympathy and all the towels burn and all the spoons
Melt and all the photos melt and all the little things lost and ash

For the first time we have not spoken in four days and for the first time
We watch disaster not side by side and for the first time I realize
You never made out and for the first time in a long time I am silent
And the fire is beautiful the way it is shadows on children's faces
And the fire is beautiful the way it shapes the skull of night
The stars like teeth bite the cold against the neck despite the heat
And the water from the hoses is nothing but a symbolic nod

To the inevitable blindness that comes from staring into the abyss
While the man says nice words and the woman screams your name
And I light a cigarette in something like irony and let it hang there
In my hand as smoke joins smoke and a tongue of flame flicks
The tree we planted together when this home was new and its
Just another grave that I will have to dig and another name
I will bury alongside all those effigies I've swallowed over time

And the fire is beautiful because it burns down, burns away
And the fire is beautiful because it is no more, just an anecdote
And the pain in my feet is atrocious because I cannot move
Rooted like thorns growing wild in a garden a scream of green
Topped with red roses and blackberries and the dawn is hours
Upon hours and the dawn is ugly and bright and homes down
And the street is just a place marking where this life had been


Written by Doug Bolden

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