Jackson Pollock and Other Poems by Abigail George

Still Shining

Artists on artists! Read and flow with the words that Abigail George has created on historical artists. Sure to entrance and entertain!


Jackson Pollock

I stand in front of the door, with a kind of awe in my heart
and knock. But there is no answer. I borrow other mother’s
children like other people borrow the sun. I stare too
much at this swirl of tuna fish on a cracker. I don’t know
what to do with my hands. I live in an autumn house during
the summer, and during the winter I live in a summer
house filled with scattered leaves, and waking, and thoughts.
And I say, I know you, I know who you are to my reflection
as I pass it by in the street, in the window as it greets me.
The art talks back to me in a woman’s high-pitched voice.
It moans at me to get back to work, or, that her back is
killing her. Come with me to the day when I was a boy, when
I was a fish, when I was a ghost, when I was a kimono. I dance
with wolves. I kill like a ruffian. I swim like a glimmer. My
eyes are as black and void as a black hole. I dream of the
universe, and it dreams of me. There is always going to be
departure and memory, desire and the painstaking fall of gravity
for every mute grain of sand lost in the fractured wind,
The woman flows in the wind, and her hair tumbles down
her back. I have dreamed of this sad woman for a long time.
I have this image of her as a poet. I see her inhale the stars,
with a kind of awe, gathering them to her soul with a kind of
awe, and she twists and turns in the wind like she’s a magic
dart on fire. Her face is pale and interesting-looking, and her
limbs are long and there’s something delicate about her entire
being. In another life, perhaps she was a painter like me. I
bleed for her. I bleed for her in my country. I bleed all across
my canvas for her. I spell the divine in symbols, trying to
read her mind. All female poets are sad in their own way. It is
a hot day. I eat chicken in a stew with carrots and green peas
swimming in a kind of meat tea. And when I go to work, this
women is always at the back of my mind. I think of how her
inner beauty frames her face as she sits at the kitchen table and
writes her verses much in the same way Dickinson did. She has
a star in her mouth. A star is born in her mouth, and it kisses
everything that her blue wrist touches. I know that all she’s known
is grief and loss, and I want to tell her to come to me. To come
to me. For I have known grief and loss in this world too.
One day they’ll invent onions that don’t make you cry, in
the same way that they invented the television. Nobody can
tell me anything about pain and suffering. I know them well.
Those strange bedfellows. The dart is in the air. Even the arrows
in her hand are on fire. The flame that she carries in her heart, I
carry in mine. The flame that kisses her hand, kisses my own.
And sometimes I call her Emily, and sometimes I call her Virginia.
And sometimes I dream of hell, and the four horsemen of the
apocalypse. And I reach out in the dark for her, but no one is
there to return this thin needle of desire. Only the sky, only this
key to nightfall. And I wonder if she realises it is summer outside
my door, and springtime in my step as the light hits the curtain
in my bedroom. I get up. There’s a day’s work to be done. I think
of taking a lover, but there’s a day’s work to be done. The sun is
out and high in the sky. Clouds manifest like chapters and parts.
Her sun is a carpenter. Mine is king. King of the wakeful Atlantic.


John Updike

He writes. He writes. He writes. He writes. And it feels
as if he is writing to me. There’s the letting go of sadness,
the letting go of emptiness, of the swamp ape in the land.
Lines written after communion, and as I write this, I am
aware of growing older, men growing colder. And this
afternoon, the dust of it, the milky warmth of it loose like
flowers upon me fastening their hold on me, removes the
oppression that I know from all of life. Youth is no longer
on my side. The bloom of youth. Wasteland has become a
part of my identity. I am a bird. A rejected starling. To age
sometimes feels as if you are moving epic mountains. Valleys
that sing with the force of winds, human beings, the sun.
And he is beautiful. And he is kind. And he is the man facing
loneliness, and the emptiness of the day. And I am the woman
facing loneliness, and the emptiness of the day. But how
can you be lonely if you are surrounded by so many people.
I want to be those people, if only to be in your presence a
little while longer. Death is gorgeous, but life is even more so.
I have become weary of fighting wars. Of the threshold of
waiting. And so, I let go of solitude at the beach. I see my mother’s
face in every horizon. She is my sun. And the man makes
a path where there is no path before. The minority of the day
longs for power. The light reckons it has more sway over
the clouds. And there’s ecstasy in the shark, in his heart with
a head full of winter. Freedom is his mother tongue lost in
translation of the being of the trinity. Tender is the night.
The clock strains itself. Its forward motion. Its song. Its lull
during the figuring of the daylight. He’s my knight but he
doesn’t know it. He makes me forget about my grief, loss, my loss,
the measure of my grief. Driftwood comes to the beach and
lays there like a beached whale. Not stirring, but like some
autumn life, something about life is resurrected again, and the
powerful hands of the sea become my own. Between the grass
and the men, there is an innocent logic. I don’t talk to anyone,
and no one talks to me. It is Tuesday. Late. I think you can
see the despair in my eyes. The kiss of hardship in my hands.
It always comes back to that, doesn’t it somehow. The hands
The hands. The hands. Symbolic of something, or other it seems.
Wednesday morning. It is early. After twelve in the morning,
and I can’t sleep. For the life of me I can’t sleep. Between the
two of us, he’s the teacher. There is a singing sound in his voice.
I don’t know why I can’t read his mind anymore. There’s
confusion in forgetting that becomes a secret. Almost a contract
between two people. And when I think of him, I think of love
and Brazil, love and couples. And there’s a silent call from a
remote kind of land, and ignorance is a cold shroud. Some
things are born helpless in a world of assembled images, and
how quickly some people go mad with grief (like me), dream
of grief (like me), sleep with grief on their heart (like me). Speak
to me before all speech is gone. This image, or perhaps another.
His face is made up of invisible threads. Each more handsome
than the last. And my face becomes, turns into the face of love.


Georgia O’Keeffe

There’s going to be an invasion in June. Some kind of
prehistoric flash bathing in tension’s balancing hours.
Depth is not a bad place. Rain and air. The brides of society.
See the swarm’s exposure. The fabulous ochre. The wife’s
permanent body. The smile’s agony in the playing fields.
The poet is a shell. Tasting like clean straw that blooms
and blooms and blooms. This is the work of grownups. To
nurse the dancing shrouds, and to live in suburbia is both
interesting and vague, and words are like a river to a
visual artist. There is a bonfire in my fingers, in my journal,
in missionary work, in the firm roar of the waves. And
the face of fear is like silk. There’s lethargy growing near
the water found in wild places. A scream has fallen into a
cage and cannot get out for some reason. The bones are
lovely there for they have found paradise. My mother, she
licks the chicken bone expertly biting into the white flesh,
the dark meat. In the little hospital they have cancelled
the intimacy of thanksgiving. And in my throat, there is a
fire-breathing dragon that uses its lungs as a weapon. And
days turn into afterthoughts, when all I am thinking of is
the man, or, the work, or, the writing of this poem that
pushes away the pulse of broken heavy water’s darkened
progress. And the bonfire is now the curator of dreams. Visions
turn into the cold, and the cold is a veil over my head. It is
night air, the burning bush, Moses in the lonely wilderness.
I am frozen in the decay of the wild, and the dragon is numb
now. It says nothing. I say nothing. I seem to fear nothing
after all. I am not that young anymore. Not that fashionable
young thing. The older I get, the more responsible I become.
The less of love I have in my life. The more people I lose to
death, to death. You are too cold and accomplished, you have
the body and tongue of a vampire, and there’s a hidden sadness
in your existence. The grocer is barren, barren. The butcher a
brute. It is this love, your love of flowers that saves me.
Trees are free, but I don’t feel free. I feel overwhelmed and
captured by the bonfire. It protects me. Veil, and hats are raised.
The magician is touched and old, but I love him still. There
is a quiet respect there. Any daughter would love her father if
there was a code involved. Every thing looks different in the
light. I took my notebook outside and watched the child at
play. His observations became my own. I could feel the despair
of the day in the white sacrifice of the sun. trees stained ancient
and green and part of the rain’s domain. And I turned my body
over to God. Found the solitude in childhood again. The wonder
of growing, the power in gaining knowledge, the vigour of birth
and ghostly stain, how vital the marriage of creative minds is.
And the weedy grass obscures my vision of the addict in me.
The dead have forgotten my flesh and blood, my hair and roots
and the lines on my face have become like empty fields. There
are the hours like the sea, the sigh in the loneliness of the complex.
Dogged hands, dejected and narrow sky seen from my bedroom
even the courage here seems to be a church that has a kind of
primitive stiffness in the joints. There’s a miserable failure for you.


Artist:

Abigail George

Abigail George – Online Open Mic

The sweetness of the day

    I know of the sorrows of this
world. The sorrows of a mother who in
    old age has become deaf. She
    lost a brother in a car accident
    when she was a girl but she never
    speaks about it. I try too hard
to reach out to her (even now). I see God in her face
    of love. I know she has her reasons
    for the ways in which she has
    loved me. She was a difficult
woman to learn to love but now I can honestly
    say that I love her. I turn sketches of
    her mysticism into poems that
    I don’t show her. That’s my truth. All the habits
of hate-feeling faded out in me over the years.
    On the surface of the dark secret
    of my childhood was my mother.
    One day, summer heat in the bathroom
    she pulled me out of the bathwater
    and hit me like a madman. It was turned into a
story by my siblings that they recited

Over the years. In the middle of
    The night as a child I could not sleep.
    The onset of insomnia that would
    Continue into adulthood. That river
    Was wide. Too hard to cross. I still
    Hear her voice inside my head. When
    Will you find your prince? When will you find a job? You’re a
disgrace to me.
Even now in my dreams I walk up streets and down streets. Running down, running
    down to Jean Rhys’ purple sea. There
    was always magic and loneliness in sleep.
    I dreamed at right angles. In metaphor.
It was home and impenetrable sanctuary. Wing and windows to my soul.
    Yes, now I am no stranger to
the mad dance of insomnia and depression.
    When I was young, I thought my mother never loved me. My father
    did but my mother never loved me.
    I think back to that day when she hit
me blue and black on my body, screaming at
    me to stop crying and I ran with my
    bare-naked little body into my father’s
arms. He picked me up, looking at my mother.
Looking at me. Saying you shouldn’t be doing this. I always thought he
would leave her but he never did.


Insomnia

    At 3-years-old he’s like magic.
Every fragment in his life has a spark. We
    said to each other, that ‘the child’
is already an old-soul. Already we could see he was gifted.
    That he was going to be like
    his father. We built a sandpit for the kid.
    Fed him ice cream and bananas when he came home from school.
    He played in the dirt making
    mud soup. Grief too has bones.
    In his hands paper becomes an ocean.
    The bees have no wrinkles.
    Even the dogs hidden by mist
    are on edge. Here, when the
sun shines we sit at the river’s edge, fish on the coals.
    With the desires of our intellect, our goals in our heart.
    And, for me, a pure dream of a husband appears in evening
shadows.
    At the end of the day I know

    what loneliness is, (that bright
    burnt sparse river in the valley
    of a dream husband appearing
    in shadow). I think of other men
    (like my father and brother). Men
    of great intellect who live for
    books, education and museums.
    Their robust work ethic. The women that they admire, love, yearn
for and respect.
Think to myself how I fail at being that kind of woman.
    My own mother (with age)
    has become a frail frightened monster. It
frightens me to say the word ‘elderly’. Her pretty mouth a
    startled frightened bird. In water,
    in my far-off youth she was a
    mermaid. Now she has dirty fingernails.
    In morning light, you will find
    her in her garden of succulents as beautiful and
    elegant as she was as a young
    bride (I was never going to be a bride at 25-years-of-age). I
    think of when the decay of
my own life began. When my mother took me to a psychiatrist. When I received
    my first diagnosis. My very first pamphlet on mental health.
    I wore too much makeup. I
    wore my kitten heels. I’m not as
    precious to my mother as her other daughter. Lovely daughters
    are always precious. Always
cherished. Clothed in beautiful statements.


Avalanche in my soul

    (It happened 15-years ago. You didn’t
speak about it then, but you’re speaking about it now.
    Maybe that’s the difference.)
    You must forget, my father said. Forget
    about the past. The man in the workplace
    who grabbed you, fondled you and stuck
his tongue down your throat. You must forget for
    your own sanity. You must forget
    the man whose name you can’t remember. The man who
changed his son’s diaper in front of you. The man you went
    for coffee with. Had breakfast with.
    It was Natasha who said he only wanted
    your body. Lebogang said she had
    the same experience. That he tried to
    kiss her too. All these things you will remember for
the rest of your life. This is why you left Johannesburg.
    Never pursued filmmaking. You were a
    girl then. Now you’re more mature. A confident woman. Now you
think to yourself, you survived. You survived.
    You survived it all to write about it.
    You didn’t speak about it then but you’re speaking about it now. That’s the
difference. But my father is telling me to forget about it.
    (It happened 15-years ago. You didn’t
speak about it then, but you’re speaking about it now. Maybe that’s
the difference.)
    I must forget, my father said. Forget
    about the past. The man who made
    an inappropriate comment about ‘whipping
    me into submission’. The man in the
    workplace who grabbed me, fondled
    me and stuck his tongue down my throat. I must forget for
    my own sanity. I must forget the man whose name I can’t remember.
The man who changed his son’s diaper in front

    of me. The man I went for coffee
with. Had breakfast with. It was Natasha who said
    he only wanted my body. What
    he could do to it. Lebogang said
she had the same experience. That he tried to kiss her too.
    All these things I will remember for
the rest of my life. It is why I left Johannesburg.
    Never pursued filmmaking. I was a
    girl then. Now I’m more mature. A confident woman. Now I
think to myself, I survived all of that shit. I survived.
    I survived it all to write about it.


Even when my soul sleeps or studies and observations of clouds

    It is a hot, dry summer with water
restrictions.
    Our parents and you thought rehab was
necessary.
    Let go of the world (I want to tell
you. All is a majority. Even this pigment. This
    gold feast of peace). Once we were
    made of water but who made up these
rules.
    We followed them like fools growing
up.
    The kingdom of God is within. I have
    finally left childhood radiance behind.
    Spiritual maturity is when we become
    like the Christ-figure. I hope they are
    teaching you that where you are. It’s
    summer. Days of thunder. The unseen
    is eternal. I am listening to your music.
    Lying on your bed. Barefoot. My feet
    are dirty. You’re not here. You’re here
    but you’re also not here. You’re in rehab
    and we’re all made of water and rain.
    Tears a waterfall. I think of the dirty
    dishes I must wash. The stories I must
    read to your son. The garden I must
water for your sake. That has been your ‘sanctuary’
    after all these months. How before you
    left you could never sleep at night.

    Are you growing spiritually, I wonder?
    I think of you in your sadness. Silence
    closing in on your loneliness. Daylight.
    The cold in the morning hitting your face.
Summer touching you as you work outside. Your limbs gaining vigour
    and perspective. I guess there’s order in
    that kind of routine. I am in need of
    crayons to colour you in. Your passion.
    Your history. Your progress. Your borders.
    Your trembling voice as you talk to your
son.

    I miss your shortbread. You riding around
    in your car with young goddesses who
    wear too much makeup. Drinking single
    malt whiskies and vodka and pineapple
    juice but you’ll have to stop doing that.
    You’ll really have to stop doing that. And I wonder,
if you’ll make it after all when you come home.


Journey into the centre of summer

    My father, the artist, sleeps
the sleep of the dead in the hot afternoon.
    In this house, we do nothing but
    sleep and eat. Live to survive
    another day like the winter leaf finding
refuge in the blue light. We find our way through
    instinct. I kiss his old, tired-looking

    face. Tell him to take the cup by
    the handle. Everything goes electric
    when he cannot walk. Make it to the
    bathroom. I see it in his eyes. He can’t
    believe he’s old. I repair him with
    food. I’m not a good cook but I try.
    Making mostly pastas. Making mostly
spaghetti. I count out his pills. Iron his handkerchiefs
    for church. He has one good suit.
Wonder if (the pills) they’re really doing any
    good for him. His limbs play up.
    Sometimes they’re invincible. Sometimes
    not. My father, the poet, is a gentle-

    man. The wet stain of trees against his
    fingertips. He knits flesh in his hands.
 I think of my father as a young man. Doing research
    for his doctoral thesis. Traveling from
archive to archive. I think of my own journey.
    Journey into the centre of this summer.
    Then I am sad and I think to myself is

this the last summer that we’ll spend together
as father-daughter. This thin sea in my hands.

The tide in my hands. The current
telling me to step back from the strange, silent sunshine
of the day. There are glass fragments
in my heart and evening swallows, a
Chinese dragon breathing fire, and
I’m turning the page. I’m turning the page.
I give up this day to the rain. I am
standing on a diving board. I am standing on a diving board but nothing
feels real to me. I think of J.’s guitar. I think of S. and her
frail deeds.
Her wheelchair. I think of water. The radio
which has become so sacred to us. Repairs to the heart. Leftovers.
Posts on social media. Antelope that linger.


Artist:

Abigail George