Thursday, January 27, 2011

Atlantic Avenue Treasure

by Jaye Shore-Freyer

There were buttons on the basin carved
With griffins’ golden wings spread high
Woven round with thorn bush bleeding
Black against the night.
Your pale hands rubbed up the gleam.
We picked our way across the basement rooms
Of the antique shops on Atlantic Avenue
Dark and messy, dust-filtered lights
Endless boxes tumbling from the crumbling
Shipwrecked shelves at the bottom of this ocean.
So little there’d been dated, marked or cared about,
And those tins of buttons were as cheap as beach glass.
But for you and I these tins and boxes stashed in the backwash
Of the merchant’s habitats were treasure chests and have borne
For us the steadfast finds ~ true pearls, single china cups,
Hand-carved and stamped trinkets, and burnished frames
Coins from countries long forgotten, bits of wonder
tumbled from their source, fantastic flotsam
For the museum that was our Brooklyn home

This was written when Atlantic Avenue was lined with run-down Antique stores.  Probably isn't like that any longer.  My friend and I would spend occasional Saturday's poking around looking for treasure.  I still have some of the treasures we found.  

The Blue Japanese Lantern Fades

Blue Japanese Lantern  
by Jaye Shore-Freyer

The broken blue Japanese lantern fades.
(Keep yourself out of it!)
(Keep yourself out!!!) 
There are books on the shelves
& the cigarette burns
& the broken blue Japanese lantern
Fades & the cigarette burns & the smoke fills the room
(There’s no air in here) (There’s no air!)
((There’s no air in here)) (((There’s no air)))
The smoke rises & curls
Then is blown by the furls
From the lungs then
The long ash falls down on the carpet.
A car scurries under a street light
& Stops.
The electric light
On a long brass pole
With a parchment shade
Sheds the potted geranium with light.
The green plaid Mayan spread
On the couch embraces the sight.
Along the cream-colored wall, through the door
Bittersweet hangs like a Chinese noise
But this side of the room is dark
& The broken blue Japanese lantern fades.
The blue Japanese lantern fades.       


Roger and Angelica

Odilon Redon's Roger and Angelica 

by Jaye Shore-Freyer

Who was Roger and who was Angelica?
And how was it Odilon Redon
Came across them in his 70th Year?
Here are flowers visible at night
Within the phosphorescent light,
The passion of his aging sight,
The horse with wings that Roger rides
Though waves of flames and plumes engulf
Is larger than the light he and the horse must cross
To find his sweet Angelica beneath
The purple precipice.
Her pale flesh glows in the night.
And what has brought Angelica to dance
Beneath this starry sight?
What of the spear that Roger bears -
Is it borne in fear or something else?
Here Odilon has turned the darkness and the light
Into something else - something
wild ~ both captured and released.

This is one of several poems I've written of a painting.  This wonderful work hangs in the Museum of Modern Art.  It was included in the Armory Show of 1913.  We are a month shy of the 98th anniversary.    Click this link to visit a virtual recreation of the Armory Show, an installation created by Shelly Staples for the American Studies program at the University of Virginia.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Picnic with M'Emile

by Jaye Shore-Freyer

Your stout staid stance breaks
Into a comic elastic dance
For the kids shouting M’Emile! M’Emile!

With a dash & a growl & a spring you stand
Rumbling God of the Stream, rising
With fire & root & wind bound in
To a glorious ravenous shout to scare
The kids into volcanous laughs & screams

Then you leap to the rock-stuttered bank
& climb aground like a normal man. You stride
Here, stride there, and stare at the kids, concerned
Adult at their frantic fits. Then you flip them a private
Wink & walk with a wide warm laugh to us.

Portrait of a wonderful fellow who I met at the Auberge des Quatre Saisons in the Catskills.  He loved to tease my friends' children and his spirit delightful.

Railway at Murnau

Wassily Kandinsky's Railway at Murnau

by Jaye Shore-Freyer

Before you we’re at once reminded of our breath,
Asked to be still and let our eyes
Explore the movement of the brush,
Let you work your task with us,
Lay the busy thoughts aside, 
linger at an easy rest,
Eyes, hips, hands, breast ~ 
be still and present

Wonder comes when blood and breath
Mix within the breast to flow
Into the roots of an unwritten thought
Wrought like yours upon another continent
For eyes like ours to draw their drink.
Like the earth beneath a shallow slow canal
Let the vision seep until we’re drenched
With the colors of the paint
And rest beneath this wide reflection
Rich and silently aware
Of all the life that happens here.

I saw this painting at the Guggenheim during the first Kandinsky retrospective and couldn't walk away from it.   Something mysterious happens when you connect with a painting, it somehow skips the intellectual  part of the process and goes right to the heart.  I fumbled around here trying to describe it and fell back on an environmental image I found in the beautiful Princeton area canals that spoke of peace and saturation.