"A mustard-coloured car drags itself along the street
of a neighbourhood where spaces are oblong or square
then tails off into a blue garage where the engine
becomes asthmatic, kicks up, then peters out abruptly

and the man on the boiling leather waits to see if
his thoughts compose themselves after the kind of day
where thoughts are a group of white balloons
released loose and uncomprehending into the sky

and perhaps they do, because he steps out of the car
carefully with his yellow salesman's suit clean-pressed
 and leaves the engine that carries him around
 to head towards the bulge of white plum and magnolia

then down the little drive, to the bay window's edge
where inside, the television plays a slow Mexican wave
of businessmen and contrabandists and vendors
of Argentina who'll return later to circuits in the dust."

— Matthew Gregory, "Maradona in the Azteca" from Transmissions

"The way a lost

will come back

You're not interested
in it now,

in knowing
where it's been."

— Rae Armantrout, from "Unbidden"

"Divided, how can one pray? How can one pray when another oneself would be listening to the prayer?—That is why one should only pray in unknown words. Render enigma to enigma, enigma for enigma. Lift what is mystery in yourself to what is mystery in itself. There is something in you that is equal to what surpasses you."

— Paul Valéry, from "How Calm the Hour Is" in Selected Writings, trans. Louise Varèse

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944


"Painting has to extract the Figure from the figurative. But Bacon invokes two developments which seem to indicate that modern painting has a different relation to figuration or illustration than the painting of the past has. First, photography has taken over the illustrative and documentary role, so that modern painting no longer needs to fulfill this function, which still burdened earlier painters. Second, painting used to be conditioned by certain 'religious possibilities' that still gave a pictorial meaning to figuration, whereas modern painting is an atheistic game.

Yet it is by no means certain that these two ideas, taken from Malraux, are adequate. On the one hand, such activities are in competition with each other, and one art would never be content to assume a role abandoned by another. It is hard to imagine an activity that would take over a function relinquished by a superior art. The photograph, though instantaneous, has a completely different ambition than representing, illustrating, or narrating. And when Bacon speaks of his own use of photographs, and of the relationships between photography and painting, he has much more profound things to say. On the other hand, the link between the pictorial element and religious sentiment, in past painting, in turn seems poorly defined by the hypothesis of a figurative function that was simply sanctified by faith."

— Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, trans. Daniel W. Smith

"The gods batten on the vats, and drink up
Lovecries and memorized Chaucer, lines from movies
And songs hoarded in mortmain: exiles' charms,
The basal or desperate distillates of breath
Steeped, brewed and spent
As though we were their aphids, or their bees,
That monstered up sweetness for them while they dozed."

— Robert Pinsky, from "The Refinery"

"The pond is sheathed in ice, a duck troubles the reeds, the air around us still enough to hear the baby stir, but we don’t know where it is yet. By the force of our longing it is getting made for us, as thrilled people, palms full of seed, long for the chickadees to light, and they do. Light."

— Melanie Braverman (via)

"You press a scar on my back
with your finger

releasing memory into my body
like blood in water,

curled tea in hot water
uncurling. You ask about the small circles.

I tell you years ago the sky broke
and some pieces fell on me

as I slept shirtless in the sun,
my belly against the grass.

Each opens a small door in my body
if you touch with your tongue.

I don’t say any of this. I kiss your neck,
you turn away, hand me my shirt.

From your stoop I watch the sun
seep into the sky, a spill

that can never be cleaned.
My mouth opens and closes in the cold."

— Matthew Siegel, "What I Fail to Mention"

"To make beauty out of pain, it damns the eyes—
No, dams the eyes. See how they overflow?
No damns them, damns them, and so they cry.
What shape can I swallow to make me whole?
Baby’s bird-shaped block, blue-painted wood
That fits in the bird-hole of the painted wood box?
The skeleton leaf? The skeleton key? Loud
Knock when the shape won’t unlock any locks.
I hear it through the static in the baby’s room
When the monitor clicks on and off, sound
Of sea-ice cracking against the jagged sea-rocks,
Laughing gull in the gale. What is it dives down
Past sight, down there dark with the other blocks?
It can’t be seen, only heard. A kind of curse,
This kind curse. Forgive me. Blessing that hurts."

— Dan Beachy-Quick, "Poem (Internal Scene)"