Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Jackson

Hey, Jackson Pollock.
Why did you break the rules
Making painters’ tarpaulins
The ideal of modern fine art?

Now it was impossible
To draw a good foot
For Mrs. Darvin
And be taken seriously.

Ah well, thanks too, you know.
For showing that the raw energy
Of creative expression
Is what people value most.

Like atomic explosions
Genetic recombination of photons
Even before Watson & Crick
Spoke the laws of biochemistry.

Somewhere in the recesses
Of my Colliers apartment
Is my own Art Students League medal
As meaningful to me as the Nobel prize.

During Odysseus’ voyage, the WPA
Gave you each day your daily bread
While each night you drank it away
Into the oblivion of Depression

Rising up on the engines of Jung
Borne aloft by an angel camouflaged
With nose art of mad dribbling paint
Guernica cried out, and then the world

That was when you threw book at the floor
“God damn it, that guy missed nothing!”
Yet life was not escaping you either
Except through methyl and methylene fumes

Probably sufficient to make first dance forgettable
But a knock on the door
Re-introduced you to romance of the sort
That only from death do-you-finally-part

Blitzkriegs shattered Europe and Asia
Yet all the while you two remained a neutral power
Until the fateful explosion of Oppenheimer
Ended the war, even on Long Island.

There in October, the Bessarabian and you
Began a resistance and revolution of your own
Three years after the wartime exhibit
Had made you and Lee Bohemian comrades-in-arts

Get rid of the labels
Get rid of the titles
Get rid of the intentions
Just look and let the image emerge

Get rid of the demons
Get rid of the bottles
Get rid of the cigarettes
That’s where we aesthetically diverge

Hey, Jackson Pollack
You had it all before you
At the age of forty-four
When you got into the Olds

Ruth’s Zowie and Metzger
Didn’t know what hit them
Neither did you
When your own painting stopped

Spattering yourself on time’s tragic canvas
Discovering incidental causality of a tree by the road
Departed at forty four by eight-eleven fifty six
Leaving shocked Lee in the proverbial lurch

Now I’m forty four and reflecting on you
Raising an ice tea in a toast of your life
Hoping there’s peace in the place where you’ve gone
Pondering abstractions of form on this Earth.

The light is remarkable outside the clear glass
Sitting amongst beauty and café conversation
A tree black and brown in the corner of view
Reminds me of organic chaos with a pattern implicit.

Horus’ eye gazes blinding eternal
From the hat off my head on my bag on the table
You broke the priest’s hieroglyphs
And paid the price of heresy.

Hey, Jackson Pollock
Thanks for the alchemical madness
That shattered expectations
And made people finally think

For themselves.


  1. It's a lovely poem Peter. I love your style of free verse. Good work.

  2. When I first came across Pollock, his work didn't do anything for me visually. Philosophically I could empathise & identify but aesthetically NO. However my husband was a hard core fan and bought us the Blue Poles jigsaw puzzle.
    It was impossible to do the usual way with approximate placing in broad colours etc.
    the only way to do it was literally with a magnifying glass to find the exact placing.
    It took 4 mths of doing a little bit everyday.
    I came to love that piece. I discovered that there is not one squiggle the same as another. I came to appreciate the rhythms and gestures.
    So now I love him completely not just philosophically.