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THE ROTHKO CYCLE / Three Songs on the Artist Mark Rothko

© 2008 Amy Antin

 

 

 

I    Rothko Day

 

It’s all been said, or not at all,

What once was breath is now a painting on the wall--

They breathe in purple, blaze in red,

resplendent blacks and bitter blues,

Mysterious and true, they get to you,

Every single time they do,

they get to you

 

It’s all been written, many ways--

They had hard times but those were the days

where art was Art and man was Man

and one worked hard and had a plan,

and he who fell got up again,

At least that is what they tell me

and I believe them

 

But these are other times--

The trains are red and only red,

The course of color winds from counting dimes to canvas threads

and I love what you said, 

how our successes only stress

our loneliness

 

My heart is full, I’m going back--

The trees come close and turn the window black,

And my reflection in the pane,

A block of green, a line of rain

below a blur of beige, gold and grey--

The perfect way, I’d say

to end a Rothko day

 

 

 

 

II     Common Ground

 

Rothko paints in blood, my own and his

I am amazed, deeply amazed by this

The magic edges, borders fray but to insist

that all we learn from form

is formlessness

       

The details of a life are forms as well--

Another harried soul just like myself

who through the dramas, traumas, storms and wishing wells

was glad that what we give

goes out beyond ourselves

          

A tailor sews a suit of grey on grey and blue on blue

and lavender and brown

and he wears it into town

so all can see that in the seams

he’s put his longing and his dreams 

for a more human world,

common ground

      

It's hard to speak of things that are so close

although we know it’s what we value most

Here, come over here, don’t be afraid

to find the love you fear

here in the love I’ve made

 

A tailor sews a suit of grey on grey and blue on blue

and lavender and brown

and he wears it into town,

So all can see that in the seams

he’s put his longing and his dreams for a more human world,

common ground

 

Rothko paints in blood and dies like that--

A pool of red across the floor, the bath,

All lives are death-- a steady, certain path,

With every step we take we’re only heading back

 

But a tailor sews a suit of grey on grey and blue on blue,

And lavender and brown,

He wears it into town

so all can see that in the seams

he’s put his longing and his dreams 

for a more human world,

common ground,

 

A more human world,

common ground

 

 

 

 

 

III    My Name is Rothko

 

Tell my story, but please do not speak about Art--

Talk about emotion, passion, tragedy and hearts,

painting as action and action a generous gift,

One man among many, 

dying to live

 

This is my field and my work and my cross and my game,

Sometimes you’re holy as hell and others ashamed,

Sometimes you feel so diminished it tears you apart

and just when the whole thing is finished 

you’re right back at start

       

It gets a bit easier now, now that I’m gone--

I don’t have to feel like a cog in their wheel or a pawn,

Don’t have to witness that smile on the sly auctioneer

Though the prices I’m taking these days, 

they ring in my ears…

       

All that I wish is I wish you’ll continue to feel--

Feeling as human as this you’ve just gotta deal,

You go weeding the wheat from the chaff, the joy from the blues,

And sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh,

what else can you do

 

Famous, infamous or fameless, it’s only a name--

Each of us works and he hopes that his work will remain,

Just touching something or someone, that’s how you survive,

My name is Rothko, 

and I’m still alive

 

 






 

Untitled, 2017, Amy Antin. Acrylic on Wood Panel. 63 x 63 cm




Empty

 

 

When my train would stop
at that stop
Three stops before my own
I would look out and up
At a simple balcony

And there she’d sit
On a plastic folding chair
Surrounded by books
Stacked around her on the floor

I’d pray for her
For all who she’d been
And still was
And for all whom she loved
And all who had loved her

I imagined she’d been a professor--
frail now of body but clear of mind
like a piercing light, she sat poised
One flight 
up above the world
like the lions 
before the New York Public Library
Standing guard over 5th,
Or the building itself,
or the books that roam the wooden halls 
like ghosts

I’d pray for her, then 
quite often
Even on times when we’d stop
and she wasn’t there
because I knew she was--
Indoors,
Failing

And then came 
the deep whirr of the train--
and we’d be off again
energetically moving forward

I’d look back
Wave goodbye in my mind’s eye
and bid her well

Today in Immobilienscout
Where I’m wont to move about
I came upon the listing
It said that an apartment-
that apartment- was for sale

It was that very one, her balcony,
The one where she’d sit
I recognized it right away

There were five photos of the interior
and one of the building as seen from the street
It needs renovation, they wrote
But I loved it
just as it was

The wallpaper was old and faded
but beautiful
The tiles were old and yellowed
but beautiful
The cabinets were old but tall 
 and beautiful
And the balcony that leaned out 
over that stop 
where the train stops 
was old 
but beautiful
and very, very

empty


-- Amy Antin, April 27, 2017

 

 





Maybe it's just because the neighbors have lit the grill...or for a thousand other deeper reasons.
 



Red, 2013, Amy Antin. Acrylic on Wood Panel. 127 x 170 cm
Click on the photo for a larger view

NOT WITH THE FIRE                                                                                     
 
“Perhaps my best years are gone...
But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now.“

                                  Samuel BeckettKrapp's Last Tape & Embers
 
I’m not giving up, I’m not easing back
And I can’t make up for the love you lack,
Take the smallest place, say it’s big enough
I won’t hide my ace when the game is up

Do what you will you can’t still this desire
Not with the fire, not with the fire
Do what you will you can’t still this desire
Not with the fire in me now

So you say it’s fine, you don’t mind at all
For you know in time all who rise will fall
Put away my hat, wipe away that smile
I’m not leaving yet, gonna stay a while

Do what you will you can't kill this desire
Not with the fire -- with the fire
Do what you will but my heart will not tire
Not with the fire in me now
 
You say my stand is second-hand and all my force is dwindling
But I just found out who I am
and my destiny,- the best of me,- is kindling
 
I’m not gonna rest till I get my chance
But I don’t expect you to understand
There are things on earth you’ve just gotta do
There are things in heaven that speak to you

Do what you will but the flames’ getting higher
Oo with the fire - with the fire
Do what you will you can’t kill this desire
Not with the fire in me now 


 © 2015 Amy Antin





The Dancers, 2013, Amy Antin (detail). Acrylic on Wood Panel. 74 x 120 cm
Click on the photo for a larger view

                

A new song.


TAKE HEART

Keep the faith in all you do  
for the wolf is waiting at the door
He will shake the very core of you
He is made of fear and nothing more
You were born for greater things than to crouch and shiver in the dark
So take heart my heart
Take heart

I know that it's hard for you
to let go and trust that you won't fall
But what else is there to do
If you stay like this you'll lose it all
You were born for gentle arms that reach out and catch you from the start
So take heart my heart
Take heart

Turn your eyes to a bluer sky, to a summer day, to a butterfly
Pave the way for a better day
You know how
and there's no time like right now

Keep an eye on he who lies
Know you do not have to let him in
Stay here in the pulse of life
Where we know that evil cannot win
You were born for all that rings from the mountain down into the garden
So take heart dear hearts
Take heart


                                                       © Amy Antin 2016





Cavalries, 2015, Amy Antin (detail). Acrylic on Wood Panel. 127 x 170 cm
Click on the photo for a larger view

Day 2.  This song is an entreatment, or maybe even a prayer. 


GENTLE

Be gentle galaxies, glaciers and polar bears
Be gentle with me and family over there
Be gentle with he who holds my heart in his hand
My gentle man, my gentleman

Be kind oh Cavalries, battle for love
May not this sorrow seep into our blood
For we are tender folk of tender ways
With tender hopes for tender days

Your wings over our heads
Your feathers in our beds
Your love in all our lives
My gentle Lord and light

Fare ye not carelesslessly in times of need
The path is full of thorns, the air of greed
We are but come to give the Earth increase
And leave a legacy of peace

                                                           © Amy Antin









Day 1, back on the blog. 
The website is anyway a bit too full, but here goes. 
Maybe it's a good time to say some things, and the way I know best is this here-- lyrics, paintings, poems --- signs of life.  
Hoping they serve something or someone somewhere.






Secrets,
 2013, Amy Antin. Acrylic on Wood Panel. 63 x 63 cm
Click on the photo for a larger view



THE DANCERS

 

Heal your heart by giving
Keep your secrets hidden
Raise your voice 
but not before you've thought it over
For these are not the days for candour

Find a dream to stay with
Every day update it
Keep the faith in all you say you keep your faith in
For these are not the days for wasting

These are days for staying close to home
Keep the fires burning
Far too many out there all alone
Nervous and afraid
All the plans we made never had a chance
For these are not the days for dancing

Keep the dance inside you
Let the music guide you
Room to room in the arms of Fred Astaire
I can see you there
Lighter now than air
and laughing

We can't save another
Father, sister, mother
How I wish I could point my wand like this
and it would be okay
But these are not the days for wishes

These are days for staying close to home
Keep the fires burning
Far too many out there all alone
Nervous and afraid
All the plans we made never had a chance
For these are not the days for dancing

Heal your heart by giving
Keep your secrets hidden
Heal you heart by giving
Keep your secrets --

  

                                                       © 2013 Amy Antin







 

 

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