Saturday, January 15, 2022
PORTRAIT PORTRAITURE : A Twenty Page Essay by Ed Roberson Page One: Introductory Note Page Two: how we got and what tagging her face over Page Tree: Shopping the Musee Des Beaux Artes Page Four: cake not catwalk Page Five: Night Coming Page Six: the night nurse Page Seven: Three. I. et al. Page Eight: II. A Recanting Chant Page Nine: III. et null Page Ten: Just Dessert Page Eleven: Page Twelve: F- It Up Page Thirteen: these are not the notes you were supposed to take Page Fourteen: The Business of Tall Ships Page Fifteen: it is ships that walk on water not us Page Sixteen: doesn’t make sense Page Seventeen: Sunday Morning Sounds of Search Page Eighteen: This Time This Life Page Nineteen: Portrait of A Ship-faced Woman Not Surrealism Page Twenty: The Louvre of Where It Hangs ________________________________________________________________________ in which is discoursed serial sonnetially jazzing up of the discussion present of what you lookin’ at muthafukka that choric voice of seeing and looking back ever veiled from even before sewn that bespoke a head of itself to be agency which is when dressing up took on drag crown and worship of the stuff observation could bank solidly on until — not the product — but its shaky living conditions changed everything into a whole new thang baby like who gonna pay forgiveness of support issues Page One: Introductory Note ( after Jacqueline Allen Trimble ) the thoughts before art before being made into art the thoughts just being then. would you know them and know them as art to answer is thinking art or just thought? or is there only the making that is art –– and the artifact an afterthought a slough. a throw away within which worth is cast from escaped ejected from the crash earth is material it is. worth never in it anyway maybe just visiting always investing. something like lucille and jackie’s deep kitchen kneading dissertation into that soulful white boy leo’s bake and shake black-less though it is raises an art in them sketchy or no that is the thing. it’s the mona lisa everyone going crazy over but not the same recognizing her who like that woman puts on her clothes whenever she gets up in the morning not especially for the Louvre more to cover her black rather than the famous dress her black famously drawn as sex and also for public viewing but open all hours of the public manipulation whereas the other has rules roped in front of it. drawing the line. the crossing which recognizes art fought bought and won time as original while the thoughts always out there before the incriminating selfie mug paint sprayed hand outlined is just a shot. how we got and what tagging her face over art sentenced to this does what put us behind these ropes rounded up to so many customers allowed at once. no one is making a break for another department store floor or the door unlatched of perception left open and oceans of information spilling in able to sink worlds all the girls of some middle passage of ignored dress coming up from their sea bed with their own press through the hatches getting around the ad dresses that sold them out — bitch beach that (!) life eez. Page Three: Shopping the Musee des Beaux Artes remember the Mona Lisa wasn’t spending time selecting a dress to wear to the Louvre she was just putting on something to sit in for a painter just as you are now in the crowd of famous painting viewers who might wonder what he sees of them now and then deciding it all doesn’t seem to be worth all it’s famously racked up to be move on to a different department its store of observation for argument looking back and forth. for Jackie this jackie isn’t the president’s lady booking out of gunfire on all fours this is a professor of black literature at alabama who was looking between at what she was told to see and what she saw. the distance as a kind of glamour of its own. capitalism created like its needed negro as free labor for its goods what that sidewinder glamour does to stay alive — she saw the ground redefine its grip on that foot upon a neck the swizzled hip cake not catwalk though the cats do it she saw how it went down the paint dried by which force what was hung around whose wall of necks it was meant to be impossible to see around she went around behind the blacks whited out to peek she leaked the strokes roped behind the lines waiting for art she’d swallowed she’d been holding it too long closed her eyes and let it go see she pee-PhD’ed all over herself — ok. the self made home made the yes — this is what I’ll wear to the dance. and met the formerly called Prince. Page Five: Night Coming when no one is high boom boxing the basketball court a block away but capable of banging the walls off my sleep and no one is dropping off that piece that has their nut still shaking out the trees the whole block of the car the metal detail loose buzzing me up awake — the quiet the night coming home pulling behind it the rolling weight of work finished collected the steps the wheels over the cracks in the sidewalk deep in the night the clip clop of an ancient draft horse faithfully brought in. — picturing three sounds to understand a larger fourth pattern that the dark hours allow drawn by the withdrawal of the loud competition the dissembling fruition self satisfied celebration music rapping what can’t be up the not paying attention to any other up listening maybe for something more dangerous — yet reassuring any return home back safely fully limbed accomplished kuh-thumping familiarly but bringing new as if babies home from the swarm from the harm that those times flies against her coming home her own soft hummed song. the night nurse the reassuring pattern uniformed that comes as if to check and set occurrences thumping hand on the flow on the horn that is the band covering the tuning help is to the inexplicable the helper is the care mother of her own kids at home is attacked and raped in the hospital parking lot — there are times we find ourselves waiting for the nurse listening for no more than what is quieted done. right. and it is our each quietly maybe silently asleep in the night our own soft hummed pattern of the song. Page Seven: Three I. et.al. a strophe beyond anything I would ever think of that is just beyond me any of us that any of us would kill me we don’t understand this these are my friends my people people we don’t understand ourselves as just beyond anything anyone would ever think of killing but we do drive by nine times this weekend nine lovers girlfriends mothers brothers someone at the wheel beyond anything they would ever think their friend neighbor fellow passenger would do look over and see the gun pulled out of nowhere and fired. at the wheel. just beyond. for that dead singer, et.al. II. A Recanting Chant an antistrophe I no rookie I play ball professionally I expect he too on the same team depends on this world I play along I fake my job to allow his play to make up with her break up when he not me in the car pulls up beyond anything anyone expect I thought if he lose he quit the field professionally pull back to play the next beyond anything anyone imagine he killed her beyond anything anyone imagine possible is all up in my face beyond anything I could imagine I see professionally now is toe to toe I am beyond facing any one of all of these positions beyond anything anyone could imagine leaves the earth natural beyond anything anyone could imagine unmoved as to what It hands down III. et null an epode its soluble person is not solvable does not dissolve into drinking water from nothing it takes something we say we like to say we have to say. we have to say in steps because we are in time. not the coffee after the cream stirred or even fully we are being brewed as if thinking adding it all up should have us stirred to decision but the final cup is cold before it is empty. nothing more. to say Just Dessert there is no un-creaming of the coffee only whether it is curdled or whether what has been created goes down and what do we have to go and through with it. Page Eleven If you like Manhattans, you will usually get Makers Mark bourbon, and Dolin Sweet Vermouth, in a 2 to 1 proportion, a dash of Angostura bitters, and a maraschino cherry. But that is the classed up, hotel cocktail version of the original merchant seamen drink of the Lower Manhattan docks, which was rye, vermouth, and bitters. Stock for profit of the trade. The golden triangle. There is an updated Manhattan, which is called “Manhattan at Brooklyn West Indian Day Parade”, or for short, “Brooklyn West Indian Manhattan.” It is 2 oz. of rye, preferably aged in rum casts 1 oz. of vermouth, preferably a classico, ½ oz. (or to taste) King’s Ginger Brandy, or Koval Ginger Liqueur 2 dashes of Angostora bitters cherry, if desired If more than one of these is desired, add Stoli Ginger Beer, each time, drink like a cooler, and dance all night. Despite the sophistication suggested by its popular name, this has never been a genteel drink in any of its provenances. Even at its high Madison Avenue level, it retains the sweet bitter taste of the grifter, the predator, out to get richer. She knew immediately who he was. Should she have served or saved her trust fund friend with him? Page Twelve: F- It Up I can’t take it any more deeply ashamed to give out so shallow to the the hee haw off key embellishment thinking it self the rooster throwing off the sun rise that has to be taken — basis for syncopation — to get over the white out disrupt of rhythm this job is I slip out of the office for coffee to the neighborhood store in the surrounding redlined zone around the university occupied temporarily by a Lebanese guy set up what shop he can the soap aspirin paste they all have on the jaw of the road in the aisle the opening any of us disgusted to the last see as a way oh god show me out of this the white escapist tv unwittingly plays back with Phillip Glass talk show guest at the piano the Metamorphosis into the Houston skyline thin blue line where a lawyer dedicated like me would later say this is it meaningless begins here the simple lie that convicts the innocent tells us where all our papers back on our desk are sent back down the aisle I know how to write backwards — I gave back the whole take edited right for its innards. these are not the notes you were supposed to take he said I said these are the notes I took of what you said. if it is always their despair that we are discussing and you say nothing no extra notes make nothing music to anyone’s ears it’s as simple as I’ve made it as you said make it simple in the meeting for everyone to hear as they have always had to hear you here is the back door I have to come around to the service entrance of your words am to you faithfully true sir of course not what was said but meant to do what they are told to do which is always meant to get him what he deserves. god knows what clued them in out to get him. Page Fourteen: The Business of Tall Ships the tour boat. nowhere to escape. we were a cargo of the entertained being shipped out of their money. we sat and looked at each other. the sky. what we were passing. the water — a technological marvel once of making huge distances back into money into silk purses of people into labor for no money except to make money back effortless distance still working enslaved for money in an entertainment industry business down to the shortest move’s last cent — out on the water far enough we see even within sight of the evident enjoyment we are having what is out of sight — we are in sight of a skyline achievement we are part of and why yet on certain navigations of returns helicopters have to be dispatched and why the only ships sent out for the run out were their dreams the cost they carry that has carried this country of landings which we have our eyes on standing again — we see how we see each other’s use of each other’s path crossing these waters is the fuel is currency — and that we could sink short of fuel just short of land. it is ships that walk on water. not us. we walk them and where those thrown over board from those boards still beneath us — as long as we are afloat the railing uplift below is the water of which our course is writ above and below that line the surface buoy covers. any ship we set foot on holds us up on the holds emptied and those voices filling the wind not just the waves’ buoyancy crystalline ringing apex of spray up off the ocean floor deep river sung between continents in the air. in the sails beating the drum heart of the hurricane of how it went down. how’s this for the irony I work aboard a Portuguese whale bottom sailed to station Bermuda Marine Research all the way from Africa — all the way from Pittsburgh to travel to the job I took my first jet ride BOAC at the time of cloth napkins, steaks on plates, with silver and stemware for drinking wine — aboard nearly everyone seasick but me from drawing samples up 12 miles off the reef but me too silly and excited to be — I lean overboard and try to stab a man-o-war with a dinner fork boy, you crazy — what are those birds — those are flying fish that doesn’t make sense — neither do you do you know where you are? 12 miles off the coral — one good wave away and you years to come around to the awareness where the bottom I am on is rich with life in Chicago Page Seventeen: Sunday Morning Sounds of Search the lake current along the face of the city beaches produces an eddy off the tip of Northerly Island the old landing strip off the entrance to Burnham Harbor when we hear a helicopter circling as if caught in the eddy a search for a body drowned in the water has washed up this operation of waiting for the findings this reading of the signs for sign of the body of the pieces of news expected along the wash of things out the weather the currents to our knowledge can be overwhelmed by any waiting uncertainty clouding then clearing if only momentarily. weekend beach parties Sunday morning search for bodies off boats offshore bells sounding like old probes coming up empty against the gunwale of the rolling sky the light reflections of the water off the underside of the low flying helicopter trying to raise some view of all our losses returned of going on with the current brought around to perfection its message an assurance like reflection of our faces off the sky echoing as if out of the air circling overhead like rain radio back the resolution like sun like light. Page Eighteen: This Time This Life only enough sound to hear a few drops of water the rest of time is empty Page Nineteen: Portrait of A Ship-faced Woman not Surrealism image [ TBD ] to be determined Page Twenty: The Louvre of Where It Hangs What Spring Says to Forgiveness the quality of our forgiveness as of everything else between goes both ways. the hills forgive for us the unseasonable floods with a rain of color — rushing bloom of flowing wildflower desert where usually rusty dust whets our asses crossing. or the raw hurt of the killing burns our cities. we stay but the ashes against our rampaging return to kill back. again and again the civil war dandelion of any black ground cleared. in this country Rosewood the village disappeared for decades of silence before it was compared to Tulsa to Atlanta’s Decatur Street in Peachtree the money always what they head for first to burn down every time they tear the Booker T prophecy fulfilled down we put it back up — up that is come of our tradition something always new indifferent to difference and different. defiance. growth. not forgiveness — we don’t linger in forgiveness’s puddle waiting for the trouble of wind — but transfer that energy into move’s blossom change how we pray our bitterness there is always sweet Auburn on our corner limb hanging out in the wind turning somewhere into where we need it to run — always the come up with at our feet the cross road by nature against us our feet come arch to recognize and not trip over the Atlantic mirror to the white south the black fielded-like cotton north against us the elysian weald wheeled America driven to run us over on the road anywhere — even Over ourselves we hear the music everywhere. Is it possible to forgive by this living move on?