Pictures of an artist’s pictures, in a book.
Diego. He sits on a chair. All of a piece.
A chair, curve-backed, body-shaped―
already something of a puzzle.
(A chair says it must be itself alone
if to mimic human flesh and bone.)
A bare floor, an elder brother.
His pen moves for a growing shape.
Black lines, thin, to shake semblance.
A net of stress. Brother draws brother.
To get it down, if not once and for all.
A sense of form cloning forms of sense.
A single sun-ray, yellow, naïve―
the glass of turps on the shelf turned yellow.
Incompleteness completes the art’s desire.
Things still become things, otherness inspired.
Tell me he’s still in our thoughts our lost friend,
almost here with me now this many years later.
But if well on the way to being forgotten,
then you and I, what cost of interruption?
All at once I recover a childhood lake in the North,
staring surprised for the first time at very deep water,
streaked green and white, wallowing, ungraspable marble,
and was taught how it constantly changes to mist.
Brash seagulls come in from the coast screeching.
Below them still flat water, winter breezes’ glittering
dents in a distant sun’s reflections, losing its strength…
Sometimes I prefer preposterous signs of calm.
So that memory can return to what has been
already known once, held close in every month:
revisitable thought― not locked, no, not locked at all,
unbreakable experience by enduring surface.
Rackety Amsterdam, a market stall,
old disused books, two guys at chess.
Heedless of rain and passers by,
making and working their puzzle.
Leaning head to head, nothing said.
Rain shower, green awnings, wet canvas!
Every raindrop a bright sky loosening
from rims, becoming nothing.
Two men, a pastime of white and black,
plastic knights to parley and destroy.
Crowds, cars, vans, all in a mass
cram forward, push on, while
two men old enough to know
a slow game’s best for here and now,
a lifetime to comprehend the puzzle.
Computers crunch numbers,
grand masters turn down their kings.
Tangles of meaning― talking,
to get to the right end, one loses the end.
Words, keys to brass locks of words.
That rage for order beyond order!
One, though, (since nothing means nothing,)
one… number of strangeness, awe,
beginning of nothing beginning…
Beginning the end of the matter.
Header image: De Singelbrug bij de Paleisstraat te Amsterdam by George Hendrik Breitner.
Gerald Solomon was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. After a short spell as a sales assistant at a bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road he worked as a producer at the BBC. Subsequently becoming engaged in education, he helped found General Studies courses at Hornsey College of Art, and this led eventually to an enjoyable period teaching poetry courses at Middlesex University. He retired early in order to paint and write. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines in the USA and UK as he prepares his first collection. He is married, with four children, and lives in Manhattan.