EMBLEM BEASTS 

To start, adopt the childish one,

  the Snow Lion, much like a frisky dog,

    a leaper, a perky trickster, but then

 

comes trickier work: to match the pace

  of Tiger, whose strength and fearlessness

    grant him the gift of humility,

  

and next to rise like the great Garuda,

  vast bird who crosses the universe

    on a single flap of wings, and last

 

to enter the silence

  where Dragon dwells:

    invisible Master of Secrets.

 

 A SMALL, ABSTRACT PAINTING

 

This  painting seems to represent the dither, the joy in patterning

 of a much-conflicted small animal

who wonders what life might be like for Woody Allen

  if he were reborn as an lemming.

 

A thing-in-itself,  an almost grip-able poesie pur,

  the painting transcends all blah-blah

through insouciance,; it avoids self-vaunting effects

  as if  at pre-dawn it felt fearlessly invulnerable.

 

Billions dream in their pacified bodies.

  O loved ones, creatures, O weighty self,

may it not be brutal, our exit,  but like

  the ashing of a stick of incense.

 

                           SOMEWHAT PARATACTIC 

                           Can these many lives of ours, 

                               these many selves, be eased into one,

                           as when two lovers become

                               one column of light? 

 

                           The big bruisers hulk toward us

                              down the football field,

                           no hope for survival

                              short of our famous open-field run.

 

                           Imagine we'll each be a finished star,

                              another black hole in the universe

                           whose former light speeds on toward those

                              who receive us in memorium. 

 

   Think of the stars as somewhat slowed-down

      bits of God. Or, if you'd prefer,

    consider kaleidoscopic explosions,

      spewing God-shrapnel, need I say more?

 

    Well, only to add that here where we wonder

       whether to buy the black Fiat Coupe,

     We're scared to death to encounter the headlines

       yet bravely approach the morning's news.

 

 

 WHO PUT A LADDER IN YOUR BACK?

 after the title of an imagined poem by Robert Krut

 

and where would we get to if we climbed it?

hard to resist that first step -- hold still! --

that non-reversible commitment. Can anyone

use the ladder? Ah, now I see

why they call them shoulder blades (I'm high

already, honey, shortly the view 

will extend for miles toward the future). It says

don't use the top rung, but why have a top rung 

if it's not to be used? Okay,

we'll play it safe...wait, wait, what's this?

Another guy's suddenly right in my face

from climbing the ladder up your front --

will we get along? Not to mention the Valley

Girls inching up your sides: there's a whole lot

of climbing-you going on, we'll need 

extra oxygen toward the top, but of course 

that's whimsy, you're literally not a mountain, 

in fact I don't think it works at all

to compare a woman to a mountain,

like saying she walks in the dainty way

of an elephant. But still, we'll continue.

Your delicate walk's like an elephant's

and you are a mountain, and we are your climbers,

and that's how immense you are, so now, 

what's next? Uh-oh, there goes that poet

Krut, he's a-teeter, he's risking the top rung

(just like a poet!) watch out there, Robert!

Dear Reader, when we started this poem 

did you give a thought to the fact it might end 

so tragically? But there you go,

rushing in to read stuff  the way that you do!

 

 

RECENT ARTWORKS 

I've been painting a lot of pictures.

Nothing takes place in my mind while I paint.

I could even lease out my headspace as a movie house

for classic silent films.

 

These paintings, some they're called "Kit"

There's "Kit #12 and so on, and of course the original "Kit."

Also I paint pictures of beautiful women.

One is called "Orange Girl."

 

She's orange, mostly.

Make of that what you will.

Oh, and my best, my very best and most favorite recent painting

is called "Little Karma & Big Karma."

 

You see there an image of Big Karma up at the top  

and you can maybe just make out Little Karma off to the far right.

There's also a painting called "Work Without Hope Is Water In a Sieve."

Look as hard you'd like, you'll find no water in it,

 

and no sieve either (it doesn't want to have a depressing effect).

Then I should mention my painting "Pretty Girl,"

a companion piece to "Orange Girl."

God, but those girls are pretty!

__________________________________________________________________________


Barry Spacks has taught writing and literature for many years at M.I.T. and UCSB. He’s published individual poems widely, plus stories, two novels, eleven poetry collections, and three CDs of selected work. His first novel The Sophomore has just been brought back into print in the Faber & Faber Finds series. His most recent poetry collection (Cherry Grove, 2012) presents a selection from ten years of e-mail exchanges with his friend Lawrence E, Leone. It's called A BOUNTY OF 84s (the 84 being a stanza limited exactly to 84 characters, echoing the traditional notion that the Buddha left us 84,000 different teachings because humans have so many different needs, are all of them so differently the same).