Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.

Poetry by Joseph Stanton from Things Seen

Joseph Stanton Bio

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The Artist Enters the Scene and Keeps Right on Walking

 

 

It might have been his masterpiece,

but he could not leave it at that.

Striding into a foreground of scattered,

refrozen snow and a bitter cold

that made the background sky above

the horizon crackle blue-white

with grief, he wondered why he had

never realized how easy a journey

it could be,

                    but, after years of walking,

he could come no closer to the pale,

distant mountains, where God

and his office staffmight be waiting.

 

Clodion’s Dancing Bacchante with Amour

 

 

It is well to dance with abandon

and with Love says this terra cotta

by Claude Michelle, aka Clodion.

 

It matters not that Amour is not a

man of his word,

but just one of those putti,

 

a silly cupidity

drunk on what he

thinks must be operatic song.

 

The dance of this lovely Bacchante

seems to want to play along,

inebriate and voluptuary.

 

This lover of Love’s too blind to see

that either of her cymbals could be

a gong.

 

Paul Gauguin’s Vision After the Sermon

 

 

I have ordained myself a cleric

in the right-hand corner of this scene

            to picture what these women

of Brittany, through their ecstasy,

could see.  All must bow their heads to pray,

            so I have bowed my head,

but cannot pray, nor know what prayer can

know, though I come here to make my art

            discover that God is God

and that angels are winged and dangerous.

That I have had to shape the women’s vision

            for myself makes it no less theirs.

An artist’s faith must be an inspiration,

and his inspiration must be a vision

            that goes, faithfully, beyond him.

Thus have I spun into my scheme the dream,   

the dreamers, and me—who must try to know

            but has not seen the dream.

What the vision sees are two tiny figures—     

a blond, gold-winged angel in royal-blue robes

            and a dark-bearded, dark-robed

Jacob.  They are grappling on a field

of absolute carmine.  This dream’s audience

            curves round two sides of the scene,

starting with me and ending with apple leaves.

Jacob, his angel, and the intimate

            wrestling they make together

are cut off from the nodding worshipers

by the apple tree’s diagonal thrust,

            which echoes the angle

of my head’s lean; thereby, the priest who wears

my face enforces the boundary between

            the seeing and the seen.

Eliminating the middle ground,

I let the story hover in the glare

            of scarlet earth or scarlet air

and make the image mine to make it theirs.

To make the scene profound enough to dream

            I have learned to believe  

in a floating world: my wrestlers are

by Hokusai; my tree, by Hiroshige.  

            The truth, as always, must be

re-imagined to be real.  There’s a moral

here beyond this Sunday’s sermon and its

            Biblical theatrics.

This picture is a stained glass full of light,

of hope—my mind’s enraptured window,

            passionately colored,

carnal scarlet and ethereal blue,

a roseate window in which my story

            gleams for all to see;

my struggle to know, my difficult wrestling

with that indefatigable god—

            my deft, ungraspable self.

 

Robert Delaunay’s Rainbow

 

 

This Orpheus plays a tune parisien.

A cathedral of sacred heart rises

from a high hill that collects artistes

at near dead center of this landscaped view.

 

“Orphic Cubism” was what Apollinaire called

Delaunay’s scenery—a form of art

whose song is almost pure abstraction,

aimed to get a rise from the almost dead,

 

but well-heeled, stiffs of black and brown salons,

not to mention saloons where Delaunay

and his coterie would hoist a few—

orphic insights arriving glass by glass.

 

Drunk he was on color and its rainbow

arc, a cage of tones to catch a city in,

bending the bow enough to fit his squared

canvas, hiding in pure delight the point

 

of Eiffel, the turning wheel of Ferris,

and a lovely Montgolfier balloon

ripening to orange and rising to a sky

abstracted to purely green above the clouds.

 

Thomas Eakins’ William Rush and His Model

 

. . . The best art, they say, is that which conceals art.

                                —Ovid, Metamorphosis (“Pygmalion”)

 

 

William Rush helped his naked model down

from the pedestal he had placed her on.

She had been for him the Schuylkill River—

all in the interest of allegory

that undergoes here a sea change,

so that Rush and his unclothed employee

must stand hand in hand in paint, paired emblems

of Eakins’s honest gaze and honest art

that wants the image more in the eye

than in the heart with everywhere the mind,

the mind, calibrating a kind of soul

as deeply felt absence of sentiment.

 

For Eakins, Rush was a forefather,

a role model, an exemplar of mild scandal;

Rush at the start of the age, Eakins at the end,

shocked Philadelphians with the terrible news

that clothes can be taken off to reveal bodies.

The joke here is mythic and photographic—

the sculptor handing down a homely woman

as if she were a polished-marble goddess,

a metamorphosis of Ovid’s sexy text,

a demonstration that, for Tom Eakins,

received wisdom could be received

by photograph

and must be, Eakins would say, or be lost.

 

This was the last of Eakins’ many tries

to capture Rush and his naked truth.

In all the rest, the sculptor faced us,

while his nude faced him, giving us her back,

revealing the pose that became the statue:

delicate mythic bittern resting on

delicate mythic shoulder.  In those

poses, frontal nudity was denied us.

We had to contend—and be content with—

the frumpy irony of Rush’s wife

seated, knitting, on a stiff-backed chair

(as if in any Calvinist pallid parlor)

inches away from the luminous flesh

of the slender, lovely poser for pay.

 

In our version, both the sweet, young ideal

and its needling counterpart are gone.

The woman here is no nymph in the making.

She is just as coarse and common and real

as you or me; likewise the man here

is a bear with no forebear.

 

The heavy-set Philadelphian

who shows his audience his back and rear,

as he leans to help his statue down

resembles not at all the slim, nervous

woodcarver of all the other scenes.

The artist here is only Eakins,

within the frame as well as without,

self-portrait as portly Pygmalion,

turning away from us and toward his art,

whose truth is its only beauty—which is,

as it turns out, all he needed to know.

 

Variations on a Theme by Winslow Homer

 

 

1. The Fox Hunt

 

A fox—

harried in snow by a gathered hunger

of crows—

 

echoes Homer’s name, cornered on canvas.

Both fox and name

 

appear as ruddy diagonals

determined to keep on going,

lunging desperately

 

through the white fear’s

spectral brushwork

that the artist’s name

 

and his animal

cannot rise

above.

 

 

2. The Fog Warning

 

The fisherman’s home

races across

in the distance,

searching,

anxiously,

for him.

 

It is about to be lost to view

in the horizon’s rumor of fog

that may soon be

the only thing 

he can see.

3. The Gulf Stream

 

The waiting is

all he has

to hold onto

 

besides the stalks of sugar cane,

sweet last straws to grasp

in hopes that help might come.

 

Even now a phantom ship

teases the horizon—

one of the dreams

 

he’d have to be

unframed to see.

 

 

4. Right and Left

 

Two ducks suspended in mid-air

above angry green waves.

 

One, bullet-struck, dives to its demise;

the other, about to fly away,

will have to live without its mate.

 

Neither life nor death,

neither right nor left,

the artist tells us,

is entirely without fear.

 

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