AD (notebooks)

 "the fear of outliving one's own mind"                    
                                               —Kenneth Baker, on Willem de Kooning

notebook 1: Wanderguard

If it has a hallway, I keep it
If it doesn't have a hallway, I keep it

I don't go off. She sets off
and comes back and sets off

cloak and hover sheep together
in hills of plastic metal

                      hand me     your ...

arm/leg how glimmer in milk
their sponge

cleaved clover body        over now we

get our little

                       airy cream

        hand me     your...


                                     ... they're dying me orange ... is it the war?                                     
... when we press orange dye doo-doo into plastic

                      Can't go in or out without
                      him can't get in or
                      out can't get
                      out              get     out


By "the outbreak of the definite" we refer
to tine of fork

                      & won't eat that thing called:

                               (word) (word) (word)

sliding over it pearls glistening chlorine

Pink and yellow shine       white passage
exhaled and gone


notebook 2, "radiant inklings"

She may be tipping from the sidewalk or I'm falling

Cement is under us but grass must leave it
Pink falls, is sanded, flooded, erased and then falls again

I sandpaper my children   My son is at the edge of the sidewalk
and would blot it roughly with a paper towel

". . . because when I'm falling, I'm doing all right . . . when I'm slipping, I say hey
I'm really slipping most of the time, into that glimpse . . . "

When the airplane's flying over the camellia bush

When the airplane is next to the orange tree
it is next to the rose blue pool full of ozone

and I see no one who is me no body swimming
where I was, who was contained

The appearance of his arrival
shimmers but the grasp of it
separates itself from the event

The event's trajectory or possible
history remains athletic but static
You, yourself, may remember a map

in which the colors bear no relation
to the terrain they represent,
the ocean growing lighter & lighter

or its depiction (traced on thin paper)
hangs over it, touching & leaving a smudge.

"If the picture has a countenance," he said, "I keep it.
If it hasn't, I throw it out."

Yet his desire for her presence remains in him until his arrival at which point she
cannot sit still and must hurry towards a point of light at the other end of the
hallway where they lead him to his brushes and this imagined light he carries in
each step to her door

He keeps in a shut paper bag his red and yellow crayons from school
weighting him down which proves the law of usefulness


notebook 3: taking away

She must be

mother light
traded in

for lover light
god in Chicago light

Let there, let there
be word      food      red
& god

every Sunday
borrowing him back

noon's chicken

over them, noodles too &
finally alone

Lead kindly light

           I could draw a line with my crayon but the other lines are swallowing it.

           then a little humming &
           some POP sound pulls sideways
           and I'm gone


notebook 4: the erase

           he                  erases                   her


           then he
                                             takes a little

                     and blows it


           as if she

                     from a string
                                                                 in a scraped

                     corner of

an old Fifties month

                                            when he then
                                            erased up her body

                     which he



notebook 5: "in spite of gradual defecits"

Through deep parabolas of air you swim up to her.
The room says "I'm a little bit out of this world" but

you are inside her when you paint
and you like the pink embankments of her shoulders

A certain muscular ditch is flawless between two points
You can find both sides of her later

She gives you her colors when you scrape her down and layer her
again with rose madder bleached by repititions of white in the width of big

embankments, as if you thought of her
as a road to somewhere called "dedication to light"

Everything sifts through the painter's torso which is central
in spite of gradual deficits and paired helical filaments,

"like a plasterer laying thin coats of sparkling paste" incised
with charcoal      Turning, staring at nothing, the hand holds

the hard paint tube oozing fresh pigment, stretched & trimmed
Yet her swollen red passages in crystalline absence and array

Drawing from early numbed chatter trailing bright ridges
of silence      Or the lost year he tried to open her smearing apart

Again and again pour of turpentine, plaques and tangles
roughly proportional to loss


notebook 6: Making more white

      takes                    little
             blows it                                           if floating
a string
                      old mouth in                                   erase
            body                                       entirely

            parabola air                       you swim
                      room says                                            "this" but
      inside her                                            paint
                                pink                            bank of her

                 muscular                         between two
can find                                               sides

                                                                     scrape her down
with rose                                 bleached

   in width                                          if you thought
            a road          where                                                  light

                      THING SIFTS THROUGH             torso
        spite of                                        deficit           helical

                         laying thin coats                                       incised
charcoal                         staring

tube oozing                                           & trimmed
yet           swollen red                           absence                 array

from numb chatter trail
                 silence                                    lost year open, smearing

                         again pour                                    plaque and tangle




notebook 7

the track of de Kooning's hand



                                                                     the track of my
                                                                     mother's hand




notebook 8

"When you stand among the paintings,"

                             (I stand among the paintings)

"they make a sharp swerve away"

                             (I swerve away)

"from what his name attaches to"
"or a leaning into prodigality of"

                             (leaning, leaning and)

"pink and yellow hallways empty
of the highly composed"


"mysogenist greens we've come
to know and"

                             (not. No)

"brushwork gives way to
bounded forms that appear to"

                             (appear to)

"be drawn and filled in as if
mannerizing his own flesh"

                             (her flesh)

"exhaled and gone"



notebook 9

Disappearing lines on snow.

Pulling his stroke along the dark

granular table. Grains of going away.

Frequently dragging dust into white,

thereby folding himself into her

and leaving her.


: This poem for Willem de Kooning and Marjorie Fraser, stricken by Alzheimer's Disease [AD] in parallel time. Quoted passages from Willem de Kooning and Robert Stores, parts 2 & 4; part 7, from Kenneth Baker.


return to top
return to Selected Work menu


* "AD notebooks" (originally appeared in 5 FR/ 17).