"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness."
Khalil Gibran

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Catastrophe Theory

The Empire of Lights
Final painting of Rene Magritte (1967)
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This was the day of the dead, and watermelons.
I thought you had a lot to say and stayed up late
to listen but the roots of trees soon untangled
and you preferred your self-portraits in green.

It could very well be my life’s work, this canvas,
blank but for one corner dripping paint, study
of a bull or bride. This was the twilit hour.
Skeletal frames rode with capitalized death.

I have always believed that history is at fault
for not dealing better with catastrophe;
it is all muddy eye sight or colour seen only

in peripheral vision, blue on horizontal black,
with maybe a naked woman or a man in tall hat
bowing before Raphael’s Transfiguration.


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The Final Twilight, The Sunday Mini-Challenge in the Imaginary Garden showcases the poetry of Jorge Luis Borges. I have been most inspired by his sonnets. This poem references a collection of Last Paintings of Famous Artists.

Catastrophe Theory is a branch of mathematics concerned with systems displaying abrupt discontinuous change.

21 comments:

  1. If there is a math to catastrophe, then all this adds up as only poetry can account. So many disparate of events now dripping from their corners of the canvas, as you write. And perhaps only our twilight eye can truly see it. Great work, Kerry, and thanks for the challenge.

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  2. That third stanza just blew me away!

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  3. Abrupt discontinuous change sounds very apt for these times. Wonderfully done, Kerry.

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  4. That disaster arriving in the smallest of steps, the way a sudden change or a fissure opens up. Was there ever any difference but that subtle change... I would almost say a butterfly that made it all. A wonderful subject and a great poem

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  5. I adore the whole first stanza, but am absolutely over the moon for the first sentence.

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  6. I have always believed that history is at fault
    for not dealing better with catastrophe;
    it is all muddy eye sight or colour seen only

    There is that uncanny feeling of artists who have a premonition of what might transpire that personally affect them. They are sensitive souls who can feel it!

    Hank

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  7. luv the keenness of the periperal view

    much love...

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  8. The "... dripping paint, study / of a bull or bride." has left the brightest of reds in my mind's eye. My heart doesn't know if it should feel happy because the bride is smiling after her first night of carnal fun, or if she upset because she didn't want it. I feel the same about the bull, because there is the sadness for the animal... right next to the excitement of the victorious matador. So many feelings.

    Like I said, that bit created a very vivid image in my head.

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  9. "but the roots of trees soon untangled
    and you preferred your self-portraits in green."

    This line stood out me as being so heart-achingly well composed. That first stanza is its own little story. And your second and third tie nicely back to the theme that composition sometimes is just collateral damage. Well done and viva la!

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  10. I love all the art references, Kerry. My favourite stanza has to be:

    'It could very well be my life’s work, this canvas,
    blank but for one corner dripping paint, study
    of a bull or bride. This was the twilit hour.
    Skeletal frames rode with capitalized death.'

    I especially love the lines:

    'it is all muddy eye sight or colour seen only

    in peripheral vision, blue on horizontal black'.

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  11. Your words are paintings in themselves here, Kerry--and the feeling of twilight both personal, cultural and epochal, is all-pervasive. The complexity of your weave is undeniable, yet it shows only as the patterns which make beauty. I believe we are all caught in the physics of catastrophe right now, but one can hope, I suppose, that a drastic enough change can only lead to improvement.

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  12. Ah lovely. I don't know if this is all you life's work, but surely a wonderful part of it. K.

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  13. makes me wonder what my last poem will be. ~

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  14. Oh my goodness, Kerry... If you are quiet and not writing much but pop up now and then with an incredible poem like THIS, well... worth it, I say. This poem is dripping with beauty and meaning. I love the runaway sentence in the first stanza in particular :) and how does one manage catastrophe? Historically its flames have been fanned rather than doused. Just love this poem... it makes me feel very deeply.

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  15. Out of all the entries for this prompt, yours is like a DaVinci Code of sorts. Now I'm Googling the references and making the visual connections, which just revealed a lot more depth to the piece than I originally perceived. Excellent piece!

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  16. Just a wonderful pairing - poetry and canvas - splendid and I am spellbound. I agree with Marian... :)

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  17. Yes, your third stanza hits me hard. Why can't we deal better with catastrophe, learn from it, and never repeat what cause it? Amazing writing

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  18. Hi Kerry,
    I found this poem to be wonderfully "strange." A good thing...I see the first stanza as being composed of incongruity and discontinuity...'the dead/the watermelons'. Not sure of what you stayed up late to listen for, but perhaps there's a hint in the Gibran quote? Trees are poems, and of course they will not be seen against the late night sky. Untangling roots might mean the loss of opportunity for understanding. Or perhaps it reflects the poet's interest in self portraiture being opposed to the listener's desire for openness and two way communication? Again, I see incongruity, separation and the inherent difficulty in reconciling expectations. The second stanza, too, is so interesting. The dripping paint implies a life evolving, but dangerously so, with the bull and the queen in play, and the skeleton and death. That seems like one of those scary medieval details illuminating a manuscript. It would never bode well.

    The last two stanza are the best for me. The image of the two modern figures standing outside the picture frame, but in the scene, makes me see a natural regression, beginning with the triumphant Christ above, through the confused disciples with the afflicted child in the middle and ending with the naked woman and top-hatted man. A striking and imaginative image of incongruity and discontinuity that can't be beat. It's also a nice reflection on the difference between ideal art and the relative sorry status of we groundlings who are merely observers.

    Sorry to be verbose, but I enjoyed plunging into this. My apologies if I've misconstrued too much here. There is much that elevates this work. I enjoyed reading it, and it was a true pleasure to revisit the painting.

    Steve K.

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    1. I so enjoyed reading your interpretation, Steve. Thank you for taking the time t respond so thoroughly. I'd say your reading goes beyond expectations.

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  19. The image haunts me because it looks like my childhood home that was taken through eminent domain and burned to the ground. The words fit in mysterious ways, our watermelon youth and skeleton frames, catastrophe and fault.

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