Egon

Schiele’s quickened passing
at twenty-eight years of age –
just days after his wife’s death
and his pillow-propped sketch
of her looking back into him –

was more shocking to you
than his egregious
unfurling of women –
than his use of cadaver colours –
than his fists of cherry red knuckles
and brush-heightened nipples
in rude ochre brightness

His death scene was art –
like his eroticised life
where his place in it
was at the centre of sex
which he kept in twists of love –

of girls in their pulled-up stockings –
lifted tight – but not as high as
their dog-dark fleeces
on their ridged pubis regions –
which they pointed at – and into –
with their gnarled finger touches –

There above the not-quite contrite
cock-spaced curves – which he sculpted
in paint over yet another stretched canvas –
there in the air between their swayed thighs –

there lay those air-kissing sex-salted lips –
all his undressings pre-dating porn’s
artless forms –
there to feed others’ sexual pleasures –
those of the greedy male collectors

The Street Artist

Across the radiator-hot pavement
is his greatest work – ever
under the gawp of holiday kids
and the blind-sided motorists

They will not know how much
the snapping sticks of chalk
weighed in his eye-in-hand –
even on such days of sunlight

The pain in the painting is his
to hold – briefly – in his quick grip –
to get the artwork down and out
before it is worn away by use

Pablo

I wasn’t looking for Picasso
but I found him – seated –
whilst my Spanish was poor
his English was gilded

Please – Monsieur Picasso
Call me Pablo – he gestured
at the world and her wife –
Could I ask you one question?

He looked me up and down –
sized for a suit – or a kiss?
Maybe eyeing my fixed shape
for his oiled redress?

Was it – ‘Inspiration will come,
but it must find you working?’
Or – ‘Inspiration exists,
but it has to find us working?’

His eyes were hard marbles –
set polished and buffed –
I was stroked by his gaze –
those eyes were his touch

which re-set the truth
which now took me down –
Realmente importa?
A smile then a frown

He loosed a curled dove –
his brush was speaking –
‘Inspiration exists –
but it has to find you working’

A Place to Sit

His round carver’s mallet
rung out vibrations
and workbench chimes
as he forced his chisel
into the oak

Other redundant tools
hung
shelved
and sung with the whack and saw

We talked about art and ecology
and how they could combine
as he formed his perfect edges
against nature’s aged grain

He was crafting a bench
one commissioned to sit
in Alfriston’s book store

No plans or dimensions to hand
because this was true art

We compared the unwritten notes
of our marriage dissertations
and found that such study
provides no long term rewards

The Fighting Temeraire

Apart from the obvious creases,
and immediate grey effects,
a flabby jowl from rich indulgences,
comes the breaking of our extents:

Once loose, no plot, our lives,
now rotting in unsure depths,
so we face a towed-to future,
to be beached in shallow dread:

The Fighting Temeraire repeated
on the walls of sheltered flats,
reprints from London visits,
an obsolescence, reduced to scrap.

Do not put me in a care home,
those stinking broken berths,
let me ease off, with the pull,
let me drift without tow ropes.

Fail Better

“All of old. Nothing else ever. 
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. 

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Samuel Beckett

K.P.

Under this tilted roof,
as designed by me,
here briefly sheltered,
but no deft-certificate,
no kite mark of designer,
unlike your good self –
certification as artist,
qualified by eye and time;
but I am not wood-worked,
not equally level-pegged:
I am highly uninstructed,
except by constant practice,
in this low art of commerce,
deft in invoiced bullshit:
Here we sit, under my tilt,
and I advise you, with my art,
to fail, but only better.


Moving a Sculpture

farley1
UNITY, by Allan Mackenzie

For AM

Farley Farm
was close to drugged,
slow with November’s
perpetual damp;

my view was short-taken,
by dozens of time-kicked
bricks in the long-revived
fat hip barn:

Having spent the morning
stacking dusty blocks
I was all for piling-up
everything more artfully.

A gardener appeared,
arm-locked in the steering
of a wheelbarrow of plants,
now lifted, redundant.

We required his own way
of up-rooting things,
and the piece was loaded
under his soft advice.

There, laid in two parts,
the sculpture divided,
over scatter cushions,
to soften the journey.

A grave length remained
of worm-turned turf,
where the statue had stood
we left a patch of earth.