Modern Painters

Modern Painters

He trowels whites and pewters, builds a base,
Carves his oils, smears, brushes, pastes.
Black strokes for bones incise a skinless face
On an ochre field. Canvas erased,
Heaped with paint again, again effaced,
Bequeaths a palimpsest of skin and grace,
Until at last the human mask's replaced
frank auerbach, head of gerda boehm With slabs of flesh like a filleted fish.

We look like this after things fall apart;
The painting is the autopsy report
From an inquest where war took the part
Of coroner. The scalpel lifts to start:
Invade, split ribcage, scour thought and art,
Slit pericardium, inspect the heart;
Grab forceps, rip the viscera apart,
That heap of faiths and old philosophies

Covering the mean midden of descent,
And expose in the entrails of events
A rail-head, barbed wire ligaments,
Wounds savage beyond both Testaments'
Prophecies. With this dismemberment
The curtain fell on the Enlightenment,
Like Luftmenschen ash blacking Red regiments
On their slow slog west from Stalingrad.

 

© All poems remain the copyright of Dan Burt and are reproduced with his permission