Pollock was down to his last two Lucky Strikes
and no one was going out for more wine
and the last of Coleman Hawkins was fading
into a silence like static, like too much
coffee and trying to sleep.
It was day three and the artist
had the shakes. Maybe it was time for lunch.
The work was there at his toes, spread out
like a map of sublime feeling. He let it lie,
the tangle of dendrites and long, white cancers
that danced on the pumpkin platform of the canvas. Something
converged in the overlaps; the amorphous whirls sparking
from the center, arcing towards the periphery.
Would it seem chaos and order were at odds, or part of a larger order
that couldn’t be seen from the vantage of a squinting yokel?
Would anyone notice the “fuck” hidden in scrawl underneath?
He wanted, briefly, to strip and roll over the top of it while
it was still mostly wet. Hang me on the wall, Peggy. It almost
made him smile.
In the bathroom he washed up with Lava soap and dish cleanser.
The sink was white and shined like cold milk,
but a thumbnail-size blot of dried cobalt blue remained.
The water activated it and formed tiny incursions of the color
that ran into the edges of the foam and turned the bubbles
a shade of cerulean. It worked its way deeper into the mass,
and made clouds of Brandeis, azure and cornflower
before swirling into a periwinkle cataract at the drain.
No stain of the original color remained on the surface
as though it had actually capitulated to something infinite
and if anything had happened at all, only the human
his hands hanging at his waist, dripping on the floor. The last
of Coleman Hawkins skipping on the record player.
“I am 37, was born in Redondo Beach, California and currently live in the San Fernando Valley. I am a college English instructor. I graduated from CSU Northridge with an MA in 2005, and from CSU Long Beach with an MFA in creative writing, in 2007. I have been writing poetry for twenty years and feel that I am starting to do some of the best work of my career.” E-mail: jackbox1971[at]gmail.com