https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2016/09/e4c7dcea115231f825b90906aeb8638c-1.jpg

The Hudson Looks Different (on Joan Mitchell’s The Hudson River)

from a woman’s peep-show hole
peered from behind a square cotton tableau blanc
when a woman paints like a man and a woman
she is dangerous
defiling the most spiritual of shapes
a brush is a cock and a cunt dipping
into the river that flows fitfully from all angles grunting fuck
Kandinsky for gendering color
is blue really the most spiritual hue?
and does yellow glow out of control?
and is red so masculine it flows from whose wound?
so Joan with her Ida and Pingala unleashed her
circumscribed spectrum
in squirts and spurts
usurped the river flow
and the river became
its own godded object
a serpentine mesh of ineffable golds and blues
swirling above the lead white that sprawled in anticipation
of its own extinction with red and Kandinsky
nowhere in site

https://www.artnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/02_Mitchell_City_Landscape_1955.jpg

The Tourists (on Joan Mitchell’s, City Landscape, 1955)

in the city that isn’t a city
paleolithic facets in stained titanium
cling to each other like stuck gum
on a melamine desk bottom compressing
defeated rainbows beneath impastoed heaves
drips defy logic while betraying what lies
waffle between layers
we all get to train through this metropolis wreckage
at least once some of us with sticky brushes
some of us with eyes plunged deep in lint pockets
there was no mistaking the awkward pitch of skyline
seen through the mind’s eye for lack of distance
or the clumps of toy cars in their box elder bug wads
while spreadeagled over the bus rail on avenue d

https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2016/09/Deborah-Remington_Apropos-or-Untitled_1953-950×723.jpg

Apropos or No (on Deborah Remington’s Apropos or Untitled, 1953)

there was no Christmas in the red and green
an amazing feat by itself
and the pink-haired punk cowboy with the yellow-smoking
hard-on did not pet the speckled donkey’s head
nor flicker yellow sun rays into a bloody sky
and the blue-skyed windows aren’t menstruating on the whole
damned show
what’s apropos is what the painting is
wet and thick and resistant in its own skin

14 Comments

  1. Sarah Freligh

    I’m really knocked out by the first poem and the perspective we’re given on the art — and the artist — by the speaker, especially with those questions. And I love the word play and subsequent line break at “grunting fuck/Kandinsky.”

    I’m thinking you could maybe begin the poem with the third line and not lose a beat. The title would still move us right into the poem — and seamlessly – but by starting there, you also get a twinned reading of the “When” line: It completes the sentence/thought that starts with the title but it also opens up another sentence/thought between that and the line that follows it. A very Plathian strategy!

  2. Robert Vaughan

    Koss! Oh, how I adore this triptych of ekphrastic “art” in poetic form. There is such sensuality and brilliance in these gems. I also enjoy when focusing on a particular artist, like Joan Mitchell, for instance, to work “place” (she painted a ton in Chicago) and the terms of her art (how she viewed it herself, or how it might have been described) as verbs, or in the language/ fabric itself. Still, you have a fantastic start on these and any journal would love to gobble this sort of work up! Also, on a side note, I just spent 7 weeks in upstate NY, on both the Mohawk and in very close proximity to the mighty Hudson. RIVERS ARE MAGICAL!!! Keep at these artist collabs (especially women artists!). You are onto something very magical here.

    • Koss Just Koss

      Thank you, Robert. Lucky you to spend so much time on the Hudson River. I have never been there but it sure was an inspiration to the Hudson Valley painters at the turn of the last century. Can experience it vicariously through their work. I like a lot of Joan Mitchell’s paintings but her river painting really was interiorized by the white and a bit of a nested wad. I wonder if she had a sense of humor or irony . . . I wanted to study with her when I was young . . . I think, in the 80s, she seemed like one of few women to break the gender barrier for expressionist painting. Even though her work was expressionistic, I felt it was more cerebral than many of her peers . . . Have a good night.

  3. Koss Just Koss

    I made a couple edits on the second two:

    https://www.artnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/02_Mitchell_City_Landscape_1955.jpg

    The Tourists (on Joan Mitchell’s, City Landscape, 1955)

    in the city that isn’t a city
    titanium paleolithic facets
    cling to each other like stuck gum
    smashing defeated rainbows beneath
    impastoed heaves (there are no heavens in this city)
    colored drips defy logic while betraying what lies
    waffle between layers
    we all get to train through this metropolis wreckage
    some of us with sticky brushes
    some of us with eyes plunged deep in lint pockets
    there was no mistaking the awkward pitch of skyline
    slivered through the mind’s eye for lack of distance
    or the clumps of toy cars in their box eldered bug wads
    snapshot while spreadeagled over the bus rail on avenue d

    https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2016/09/Deborah-Remington_Apropos-or-Untitled_1953-950×723.jpg

    Apropos or No (on Deborah Remington’s Apropos or Untitled, 1953)

    there was no Christmas in the red and green
    an amazing feat by itself as any painter would know
    and the pink-haired punk cowboy with the yellow-smoking
    hard-on did not pet the speckled donkey’s head
    nor flicker yellow sun rays into a bloody sky
    you only saw that through your blinking strobe
    while sipping the rum and coke of your teens
    and the clear blue patches aren’t menstruating on the whole
    damned show or even the crops as they might
    have in Karen’s anthropology dream
    because this painting was just a pitstop
    before you moved onto black and red and geo clean
    this was your beautiful dirty moment
    there was no Christmas in your red and green
    what’s apropos is what the painting is
    wet and raw and thick and skinned resisting a certain destiny
    while submitting to the urge of its moment

  4. John Steines

    Hello. These are great. To see so much in abstraction and let your mind go is wonderful. The poetic form is great to use, as Robt said. Nice work. j

  5. Meg Tuite

    Hi Koss,
    OMG! The killer lines that rake that gender eclipse over the planet! LOVE! So much in these! “a brush is a cock and a cunt dipping
    into the river that flows fitfully from all angles grunting fuck
    Kandinsky for gendering color
    is blue really the most spiritual hue?
    and does yellow glow out of control?” “so Joan with her Ida and Pingala unleashed her
    circumscribed spectrum
    in squirts and spurts
    usurped the river flow”
    All of it, brilliant! “drips defy logic while betraying what lies
    waffle between layers
    we all get to train through this metropolis wreckage
    at least once some of us with sticky brushes
    some of us with eyes plunged deep in lint pockets
    there was no mistaking the awkward pitch of skyline
    seen through the mind’s eye for lack of distance
    or the clumps of toy cars in their box elder bug wads
    while spreadeagled over the bus rail on avenue d”
    OMG, send that one out!
    And HOLY SHIT the last one is one powerhouse of music and brilliance to read aloud!
    These are all spectacular! I’m a FAN! LOVE!

  6. David O'Connor

    Koss, so many good lines, love the violence and beauty. Your language does the images justice. Powerful and stunning work, well done!

  7. Chelsea Stickle

    Wow I just love this: “what’s apropos is what the painting is
    wet and thick and resistant in its own skin”
    What a powerful ending!

  8. Adrian Frandle

    dropping in late here, apologies. thank you for sharing these, koss! it was fascinating to read and then go back and view the works after. i felt driven along on the shoulders of the percussion and flow. particularly rolled along with:

    “because this painting was just a pitstop
    before you moved onto black and red and geo clean
    this was your beautiful dirty moment
    there was no Christmas in your red and green”

    -ADF

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