September-November 2013

Come summertime in the United States, I often visited my parents who lived in a small, artistically minded town on Long Island. Showing at a local art was an exhibit, The World of Lighthouses, with each piece a miniturized, ceramic replica of its progenitor. “By Design and On Purpose” was inspired by the feat.

Though the locus of  “The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry” is oriental, I have never travelled that far east. Only my imagination did.

On one of my  business trips to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I was introduced to an artist by friends. She and I began a relationship which lasted as long as it could. “Museum Pieces” attempts to say in words what I/She/We might have seen in each other.

By Design and On Purpose

                 For Leslie Kingston  

Lighthouses are put there to stay.
In no way should they
at any time, go off fishing,
out for lunch, look forward
to holidays—none on the horizon.
If they did, who’d warn boats
about local currents,
which ones spit shoals
which  braid channels?

Likewise, lighthouses are put there to last.
Above all, they’re trussworthy spines
of steel rolled in concrete—
tons of each—raised to face
sunstroke one day, wind bites another,
no turning away
from whatever the weather wants.
How long should they soar?
As big and bright as possible
without much upkeep:
between seasons
a change of lenses,
lamps nightly,
after blackouts, new fuses.

On paper—technically blueprints—
lighthouses are rendered
with reliability in mind.
From top down, they’re designed
to hold their ground,
stand fast on a cliff
or bluff, be seen
for miles, over and over.

The Likes Of Master Shimu’s Artistry

A stream springs up.
Ribbons of currents sparkle
as they curl around rocks;
turning, by late afternoon,
into the deep water
of a long, dark pool.

There and then, its slowly
moving surface features
the likes of Master Shimu
searching for shade
along the bambooed bank.
Are those his eyes
floating among the green leaves
whisked off by the wind?

An eddy enters the picture
Soon the leaves are drawn
towards it, branching
away on separate waves.
Also, within drifting
distance, the bottom
appears again.

He’s seen enough, though,
for a full day;
between reflections
and the mirror between them…

It’s time
to let the watercolor dry.

First published in The Montserrat Review

Museum Pieces

           for Nora


The art in this room
should share a single statement.
It’s supposed to say something
about belonging together,
though every painting
hangs on its own merits.

Now picture the place without them:
Nothing would stand out.
Not even art lovers
with high standards.


Where do we figure?
Your eyes are searching.
Are they clear about us?
Look at it this way—
as a whole, we’re already
a work in progress.
The problem’s with perspective—
you don’t see us
coming any closer
than walls apart
within the same gallery.
You’re on the side of still lives
while I’m aligned
with moving portraits.
What’s missing is a meeting
space for both genres—
a middle ground
between back and fore.

First published in 2River View

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