Missive For Darkness As Vocation, William Hawkins In Mind - Poem by Warren Falcon
[after viewing a film clip of the American self-taught artist, William Hawkins1]
How would you now depict it,
even a corner of it?
paint as in
busy with the making
of it, belly's too much,
needs thinning, haunches
trimmed too to size, or
not, concise seizure of
eye and paint dependent
upon hands, monumental
concerns aright or at least
suffering amidst, against,
or in the teeth of, daily
concerns taken on as
visual commentary, response
imaged, is backyard ruin put
to good uses, kindness extended
in hammer's claw on cast
off wood, it is Crow near the
barred door, and with heart,
with heart meds, provide limit
to dulling descents, may then
find again's Desire, may plunge
further/deeper, deeper still,
into muck magic of shorter
days given in winter, in the longer
nights generously dumped,
upon the human,
such occupies, with familiars,
allusive smears, serving now
and ahead who will partake of
the offering, who will be held
healed in their beholding
nuanced in cloud swatch,
in land swath tumbled.
I once, your other darkness, quoted Hopkins
to you, seasons of dryness2 upon the bitter pitch3
amid discovery, 'What I do is me, for that I came',4
not a text for self worship but, rather, an assent
to keep world woe personally felt in that greater
perspective making poems from orphan woe,
from ever furtive grace eluding, then surprise,
in bleakest place, sudden braced, parses newly
in the greener green of things pleading still,
'O thou lord of life, send my roots rain'.5
In the shorter light, the extended night of cold
and star-bright questions, may you cast clumsy
net forward into what it all might mean to fretted
you, to me, stretched, though I will not thrust
these words any longer upon your brush or paint
but make offering with thanks for your own work
to feed us through the eyes, perhaps time to mount
that horse and soldier on or to fall off again, gain
Damascus perspective yet, from one's back watch
vision distort the massive horse into a God receding
into necessary darkness foregoing image in order
to see what may form in the spreading dirt,
what resurrection there is in the smell of paint.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
1 In 1982, Roger Ricco visited and filmed the painting studio of William Hawkins. in Columbus, Ohio. You may view a clip of the film on Vimeo...just type in Hawkins name and the link to the film should appear for viewing.
William Hawkins was born in Kentucky on July 27,1895
2 dryness.In this case dryness indicates spiritual darkness/depression/abjection/aridity of soul and spirit.
3 pitch I use the word for it's various flavors of meaning both noun and verb, throwness, thrust forward, a sports field, tar, sticky stuckness.
4 A line from this poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.
A line from Thou Art Indeed Just O Lord by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners' ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build -but not I build; no, but strain,
Time's eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
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