A Visit to the (Portland Art) Museum
by Greg Baysans
This is the chaos of which poems are made, an inner violence,
Keats' Negative Capability, a whole cloud of it around
me the past week, writhing, whipping.
A favorite piece was called "The Gift" -- a sculpture disguised
as a painting, a painting disguised as collage, earthenware,
blocks the size of a baby's building blocks. Instead of the
alphabet, numbers and colors were dice faces, crouching
gremlins, cross-sections of brain and veins and capillaries,
brick walls showing through crumbled plaster. Blocks. Hundreds
and hundreds, rows, columns, one deep, formed into a perfect
rectangle then painted black and grey and white without pattern
or much distinct separation. Last night as I tried to sleep
I realized what the pattern was, the light seen by closed eyes
in a dark room!
I've never felt this alone before. I've felt this alone before often.
The Museum had an open house to show off its new wing and previously
unshown pieces, mostly mid-20th century abstract and subsequent
art styles. Tickets were free and could be picked up at a local
"Love is as good as soma."
Pulling from the chaos the required dice, a one. A six. A one.
A four. A six. A one. Intersperced with a gremlin, a piece
of brain, a wall showing lots of brick behind concrete, a
wall mostly concrete, a one. A gremlin. I think the gremlins
were all alike. I'm not sure.
The halls of the new wing are too narrow.
Arguments in my head all lead to sexual frustration. Too long
conscious has led to atrophy for which coma is the only cure.
Break a window! Anything to bring on tears.
A mobile by Calder, "The Moon is a Gong" (but in French), soothed
me. I pointed out to a docent that a bench was needed to
appreciate the Calder. He pointed out a viewing window one
floor up, but it wasn't the same looking at the mobile at
Grey, white, black, grey that's white, black that's grey, white
that's black. The color was startling by not being startling.
I went alone.
Months of downs have been interrupted by a week of ups and downs
in rapid succession, now stopped. Arrested. Blocked.
I know Rimbaud had a similar but more violent version of Negative
Capability. He can't have known of Keats.
Admission is usually $10 for adults.
"Mala Noche", Gus Van Zant's first film, based on a novel by
Portland poet Walt Curtis, is receiving a 20th anniversary
screening tonight, $15. I found a copy of the book at
Goodwill for a dollar or two a few years ago.
The image of Donald Sutherland holding a boy's ankles and
spinning him around.
The gremlins looked uncomfortable but not unamused.
A man, a boy, a man in a red shirt and black pants, black
My part-time job, which for six weeks had provided me almost
enough to live on after nine months of providing a mere
fraction of that, has returned to being a mere fraction of that.
The thought of sex is immediately deflected to an angry place of
resentment, control, dysfunction, doom, squalor and hopelessness.
Law firm of the day.
The only piece that moved me was a painting by Marsden Hartley,
long in storage, "After the Hurricane." The tears I felt
but kept at bay were of self-pity.
A job I have yet to be asked to fill has been yanked. Violently.
An older gay couple. A gay couple about my age. I wasn't the only
one wearing an old and plain coat. One man had a bad odor.
A brick wall almost completely hidden by plaster. A three.
"Love me till I'm in a coma." Too much alcohol in my growing solution.
Violence is to disdained, avoided but not sublimated. I sublimate away,
I'd seen the Segal before and the lifelike nude male casually
sitting on the floor. An Oldenburg, tube of paste or shampoo,
empty. A Lichtenstein. Frank Stella. A piece by the Keinholzes,
a chair and window from a 60s hotel lobby: more from the place
seen and heard in Minneapolis (Walker Art Museum)?
Look but don't touch - 30
Reply to: email@example.com
Date: 2005-10-13, 7:58PM PDT
I did this a bit ago and it was totally HOT. I am a married,
bi dude who wants to come over, strip, and stroke live
for you. I will get close, you will be able to smell me,
feel the heat from me, but absolutely NO TOUCHING!
I am 6'3, 195, HWP, dark hair, dark eyes, 30 years old with
a big dick.
"The Moon is a Gong"
I'd write an ad myself but there aren't enough words. I'd answer
an ad myself but that wouldn't satisfy.
Strange that I, who am most often drawn to paintings and walk right
past statues, was most drawn to the mobile.
Richard Notkin created "The Gift", 1999.
"A drink" was never singular. Liver tissue?
Incompetence is the only job qualifier in town (the Portland Vortex).
I can't afford the sandwich I just ate. How will I justify the soda
I'm about to buy?
It was nice to see others in old coats and clothes. I didn't feel
Soma/ From Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Later "Coma" line, ibid.
Donald Sutherland/ In Bertolluci's film "1900" Donald Sutherland's brutally
murders a boy in the scene described.
H/ "H" is a poem by Arthur Rimbaud.
Keinholzes, Walker Art Center/ An installation at the Walker Art Center by
Edward and Nancy Keinholz consists of an apartment hallway, originally located
in Spokane, WA. Viewers can go to any of the six or eight doorways and
listen to activities in the rooms.
Craigslist/ The ad was posted as I wrote this poem, is not something I invented.
Serendipity is a strange and powerful God.
© 2005 by Greg Baysans, 10-13-05