As if canvas had been caressed,



in a kind of charisma,

cloaked in a garb that Joseph would have pleasured,

this he had conceived

and brought

through all stages of execution



we were aware

of the accomplishment.


Held altogether

by a force

whose lightness

suggested a kind of antigravity,

his touch was casual, moreover,

as one’s grasp of a friend’s shoulder,

neither poured, like a gallon of heartbeats,

into some wild, wet splatter,

nor a Pollack-like panache: free formed, psychedelic;

but rather, in runs,

all swept like a river,

those mellow, yellow, and rampant red juxtapositions,

a touch so definitive: so right-here-and-now,

yet ready to stretch

beyond its limitations, its dissatisfaction of boundaries,

until even you and I could tell

it was completed.


Thus it was Francis Bacon

about whom it was declared, “he’s the one that paints

those nice men and women.”

But now

he was old, and senile, his mind

had wandered as far as Ulysses’; he would forget to eat,

but painted continuously. Sometimes,

at night, he was found, dysphasically

conversing, as if with a glowing image he had created.

He did not appear to be disturbed

by our presence,

not even aware, I think, of our existence. He would smile,

wave familiarly at the canvas.

His arm, his brush, and the paints,

were one organ, all articulated. Everything

we had known he was had been stripped

exclusive of that bare essential.

Common, banal humanity had been extinguished;

but the artist

lingered. If led to his bed

he would lie, stare at the ceiling,

at the walls, with an inarticulate anxiety,

as if they were a canvas,

as if they were a ready-to-paint Sistine Chapel.

He would sleep. The paint would dry.

Another picture. Pure line and color. How did he do it?

Sometimes thought plays second fiddle.

But nothing lasts forever not even sunlight.