Sunday, February 7, 2010

Facing the Music (Poem)

I participate periodically in Carry On Tuesday's weekly prompts, which require contributors to use all or some portion of a quotation in original prose or poetry. Prompt No. 39, for February 9, consists of these lines from the song "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera: "Night-time sharpens, / heightens each sensation, / Darkness stirs and / wakes imagination." 

Having read recently about Kienholz: The Hoerengracht, by Americans Nancy and Ed Kienholtz — a 3-D walk-through installation at London's National Gallery that relates thematically Amsterdam's "Red Light" district to the National's close-by Caravaggios, Bronzinos, and other master paintings — I crafted the following, which incorporates both Carry On Tuesday's prompt and my observation about the installation's subject matter and its nearby master paintings. (Go here for links to all Carry On Tuesday contributors' posts. On the page for the National's exhibition you will find images on which I drew and a video of curator Colin Wiggins introducing the Kienholz show, which runs through February 21. Information about Ed and Nancy Kienholz is here.) 

Facing the Music

Night-time sharpens
the sweet-and-sour smell
of a sorry unaired room
where caresses hold
the distance of
perpetual goodbyes.

Instinct heightens each sensation
as dreaming the undoing
wakes your imagination.

Not strange to
carnal callings
Venus and Cupid
a Bronzino recommends

While Boy Bitten by a Lizard
claims not the eye
of Caravaggio
to see into that key-holed window
grimed with breath
and sweat.

Darkness stirs
you who peer, and
old cassettes and
chairs propped so

And she
quiet in her red of riot lights
turns one page more
another story
put away.

Copyright © 2010 Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.


sarah said...

Oh, I like this alot!!

M.L. Gallagher said...

Me too! Alot!

Melo said...

carried away, but oh darn, now you're making me read...

Laura said...

You are such a gem, Maureen. Phantom? And this amazingly thought-provoking art? I need to revisit this exhibit when I'm not so tired...and I will.

Your poem makes me feel the neon lights, the smell of bodies and shadows waving from windows.

Such a way with words you have.

Glynn said...

This is just lovely.

madeline d. murray said...

Your consideration of the Kienholz's work in the context of the Gallery's master works is provocative. These lines are striking:

where caresses hold
the distance of
perpetual goodbyes

and I love how the last lines of the poem focus down to women in the windows. Great poem.