The New Higher, by John Ashbery

You meant more than life to me. I lived through
you not knowing, not knowing I was living.
I learned that you called for me. I came to where
you were living, up a stair. There was no one there.
No one to appreciate me. The legality of it
upset a chair. Many times to celebrate
we were called together and where
we had been there was nothing there,
nothing that is anywhere. We passed obliquely,
leaving no stare. When the sun was done muttering,
in an optimistic way, it was time to leave that there.

Blithely passing in and out of where, blushing shyly
at the tag on the overcoat near the window where
the outside crept away, I put aside the there and now.
Now it was time to stumble anew,
blacking out when time came in the window.
There was not much of it left.
I laughed and put my hands shyly
across your eyes. Can you see now?
Yes I can see I am only in the where
where the blossoming stream takes off, under your window.
Go presently you said. Go from my window.
I am in love with your window I cannot undermine
it, I said.

(Soma)tic 21: Touch Yourself for Art, by CAConrad

—For Penny Arcade

There must be a piece of art near where you live that you enjoy, even LOVE! A piece of art that IF THERE WAS WAR you would steal it and hide it in your little apartment. I’m going to PACK my apartment TO THE ROOF when war comes! This exercise needs 7 days, but not 7 consecutive days as most museums and galleries are not open 7 days a week. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art hands the Mark Rothko “Orange, Red and Yellow, 1961” a painting I would marry and cherish in sickness and in health, have its little Rothko babies, and hang them on the wall with their father. But I’m not allowed to even touch it! The security guards will think you’re as weird as they think I am when you come for 7 days to sit and meditate. Never mind that, bribe them with candy, cigarettes or soda, whatever it take to be left in peace. For 7 days I sat with my dearest Rothko.

Bring binoculars because you will get closer to the painting than anyone else in the room! Feel free to fall in love with what you see, you’re a poet, you’re writing a poem, go ahead and fall in love! Feel free to go to the museum restroom and touch yourself in the stall, and be sure to write on the wall that you were there and what you were doing as everyone enjoys a dedication in the museum. And be certain to leave your number, you never know what other art lover will be reading. Return with your binoculars. There is no museum in the world with rules against the use of binoculars, information you may need for the guards if you run out of cigarettes and candy.

Map your 7 days with physical treats to enhance your experience: mint leaves to suck, chocolate liqueurs, cotton balls between your toes, firm-fitting satin underwear, thing you can rock-out with in secret for the art you love. Take notes, there must be a concentration on notes in your pleasure making. Never mind how horrifying your notes may become, horror and pleasure have an illogical mix when you touch yourself for art. When you gather your 7 days of notes you will see the poem waiting in there. Pull it out like pulling yourself out of a long and energizing dream.


ROTHKO 7

Whether things wither or whether your ability to see them does.
-from “The Coinciding,” by Carrie Hunter

DAY 1

   it’s
October
I pressed
this buttercup in April
I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK
call me it!
call me sentimental!
HAVE YOU SEEN THE HEADLINES?
spring is a
luxury

I hope
for another to
garden with my
bare hands


DAY 2

awkwardness of being insane
arrives
after
diagnosis
not before
remove description
from the splendor
do not hesitate


DAY 3

      more of a ghost
than my ghosts
here I am


DAY 4

   tablet on tongue
stray voltage catching
my ankles

ready to marry
the chopped
off head

while elaborate in curse
it contributes evidence
of life


DAY 5

he kissed me while
I sang
refrain shoved
against epiglottis

  centuries of a vowel for
endless refutable corrections
puts mouth
to want


DAY 6

songs dying bodies sing at
involuntary
junctures of
living

   EXIT sign
leads us to empty
launch pad
walking
maybe
walking
maybe or riding
the collapsing tower

big hands of
big clock missing
this is not symbolism
they were gone


DAY 7

I’m not tearing back
curtains looking

I know Love is
on the other
side of
town

burying the leash
with the dog was
nothing but
cruel don’t ever
speak to me again

help me stop
dreaming your
destruction