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Jean Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Crown), 1982

Let it be known: no man is entirely alone
No man is a man all through.
I’ve seen you. Shivering. Fleeting weakness.
Cold rain scuffing its feet on the beaches.
Young human. You. All feeling, flesh.
Brine eyes. Man, but human first.
Stand up. Tall and strong and curved.
Your body makes my body hurt.
A godkid. Perfect. Gloss and dirt.

None of it’s real, we are made manifest
By the hearts that bang hard on the bars of our chests –
Let them out.
But we can’t though. Too much to lose.
You’ve got to keep face, keep pace. Keep cool.
And what do I know? You’re the man here.
I’ve got to stop telling you things.
You’ll give when you’re ready.
I’ve got to stop wanting.
Your mind’s made up.
I’ve got to stop pushing. …


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Photo by Nacho Lópeza of a rehearsal of the ballet “The flight of the soul’’, Mexico , 1950

Now you are strong
And we are but grapes aching with ripeness.
Crush us!
Squeeze from us all the brave life
Contained in these full skins.
But ours is a subtle strength
Potent with centuries of yearning,
Of being kegged and shut away
In dark forgotten places.

We shall endure
To steal your senses
In that lonely twilight
Of your winter’s grief.


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Caravaggio, Judith Beheading Holofernes, ca. 1598–99. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun -
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified -
And carried Me away -

And now We roam in Sovreign Woods -
And now We hunt the Doe -
And every time I speak for Him
The Mountains straight reply -

And do I smile, such cordial light
Opon the Valley glow -
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let it’s pleasure through -

And when at Night — Our good Day done -
I guard My Master’s Head -
’Tis better than the Eider Duck’s
Deep Pillow — to have shared…


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Photo by Kyle Ryan on Unsplash

Obviously, 2020 has been a year unlike one I’ve ever lived through before. Society as we know it, whose fabric was frayed and torn by a global pandemic, has in some places reknitted itself with thicker needles and stronger wool. Other areas of the patchwork of civilisation remain separate, marginalized by the event that genuinely changed the world within months.

As someone who was very excited to start fresh at a new school in 2020, lockdown seemed to have come at the worst time possible. After only a month or two of settling into a new environment and trying to grow roots in the Melbourne High School community, I felt as though my opportunities had been ripped from me and I had been doomed right from the beginning. …


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Katsushika Hokusai. The Mansion of the Plates from the series One Hundred Ghost Tales

The word of Love is nothing but allusion.
Love is not bound by poetic metaphors.

The heart recognises the jewel of Love.
Reason has no inkling of this insight.

Love doesn’t reside in interpretation.
Love isn’t of the world of explanations.

Whoever has had a heart ruined by Love
afterwards will never know reconstruction.

Take a loan of Love and sell yourself
for there is no trade fairer that this.

If one moment passes by without Love
that moment will never find redemption.

Retrieve your heart from the grave of your desire.
Your heart won’t receive any other visits.

Wash your body with the blood of your eyes.
Your body shall have no other cleansing. …


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Paul Klee , Fish Magic, 1925

I think my heart has never been
like this
so warm and red.

I feel
even in the worst moments of this fatal night
several thousand sun-springs
in my heart
surge up from deep certainty.

I feel
in every nook and cranny of these salt flats of despair
several thousand wonderfully wet forests
suddenly
spring from the earth.

*

Oh certainty gone astray, oh runaway fish
in the ponds of slippery mirror within mirror!
I am a clear lagoon; now through the enchantment of love,
find a path from the mirror-ponds to me!

Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand


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‘Siegfried’s Difficult Way to Brunhilde’ by Anselm Kiefer (1977)

In this forgotten place I have no lover’s touch
Each night brings darker dreams, I have no amulet
My life is all I ask, I have no other thirst
These silent thoughts torment, I have no way to hope

Who I once was, what I’ve become, I cannot know
Who could I tell my heart’s desires, I cannot say
My love, the temper of the fates I cannot guess
I long to go to you, I have no strength to move

Through cracks and crevices I’ve watched the seasons change
For news of you I’ve looked in vain to buds and flowers
To the marrow of my bones I’ve ached to be with you
What road led here, why do I have no road back home


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Barbara Hepworth Barbara Hepworth Surgery, circa 1949

I like to see doctors cough.
What kind of human being
would grab all your money
just when you’re down?
I’m not saying they enjoy this:
“Sorry, Mr. Rodriguez, that’s it,
no hope! You might as well
hand over your wallet.” Hell no,
they’d rather be playing golf
and swapping jokes about our feet.

Some of them smoke marijuana
and are alcoholics, and their moral
turpitude is famous: who gets to see
most sex organs in the world? Not
poets. With the hours they keep
they need drugs more than anyone.
Germ city, there’s no hope
looking down those fire-engine throats.
They’re bound to get sick themselves
sometime; and I happen to be there
myself in a high fever
taking my plastic medicine seriously
with the doctors, who are dying.


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Photo by Maarten-van-den-Heuvel on Wunderstock (license)

The doctor on the television tells me the cure is coming
But it’s a game that only works
If everybody plays
But I know that they won’t
Will they, my love, will they?

I take uppers and downers simultaneously
So they can fight out my fate
Or lead me to the promised middle ground
If the good lord’s willing
And the meek don’t rise
I’ve been furiously paging my angels all week
But they are nowhere to be found

There’s a real discomfort to be found
When your values are a means of elevation
Classist judgemental elitism
Is exactly how we arrived upon this…


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Charles Dellschau , Dreams of Flying

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

About

Tania Sheko

Put me in a box and I'll crawl out. Teaching person who ended up in a library. https://about.me/tsheko

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