Friday, July 12, 2013

Poem: We Will Never Die

That summer I lived in a house with five Australians.
We were twenty, all of us unmiserable.
This one guy, Lovejoy,
roamed about, exclaiming our motto,
“We will never die.”
Dawns we’d wade out on our boards
As enameled beasts swam like chariots below
Afternoons we’d doze on the sand,
the beach our cathedral,
the religion we practiced,
without ever having read Whitman,
clearly ourselves.
Evenings we’d party.
Natty Ice for the crew—
six dollars a case, no kidding.
All else was luxury.
Why spoil ourselves—
why waste our talent for low-cost joy?
If called upon, I could sleep
on the juice-splattered linoleum for hours.
Far better, though,
to swig myself loopy,
charge into Hoy’s 5 & 10,
and demand a hermit crab.
“I demand hermit a crab!”
Can you imagine?
That hermit crab,
not necessarily edible, we learned,
didn’t stand a chance,
but its ghostly shell on the windowsill
certainly proved a point.
What is the sacred? we wondered
I wore my JAWS t-shirt every day.
There was that girl, swimming carelessly along.
And there was JAWS, emerging from the depths,
sixteen times her size.
We predicted terror.
We asked questions.
Could we eat it?
How much should we take?
Do they deliver?
One day an octopus washed ashore—
could we, we wondered, thrash it against the jetty?
Imagine the thwack, heard for miles!
We didn’t know about any of this,
but we just might try.
Days passed swiftly.
September neared and we developed
a hermit crab view of life.
Each minute a day, each day a year.
Decade of pancakes.
Epoch of grilled cheese sandwich.
On the beach we pilfered seashells
for the long winter.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ed Ruscha: Pure Joy

Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas, 1963, Ed Ruscha. Oil on canvas. 64 1/2 x 121 3/4 in
From Calvin Tomkins' recent New Yorker profile of Ed Ruscha:

That same year, Ruscha finished "Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas," the first of his many paintings, drawings, and prints of gas stations, whose dramatic, raked perspective came from an effect he had observed in old black and white films.

"You know those movies where a train starts out in the lower-right corner and gradually fills the screen?" he asked. "The gas station is on a diagonal like that, from lower right to upper left. It also had something to do with teachings I picked up in art school, about dividing the picture plane. I didn't really know what I was up to then, or what direction to take. I was just following these little urges. It was pure joy, to be able to do something like that."