"the fear of outliving one's own mind"
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
me your ...
arm/leg how glimmer in milk
cleaved clover body over now we
get our little
they're dying me orange ... is it the war?
... when we press orange dye doo-doo into plastic
go in or out without
can't get in or
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
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
If it hasn't, I throw it out."
Yet his desire for her presence remains in him until his arrival at which point
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
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
for lover light
god in Chicago light
Let there, let there
be word food red
borrowing him back
over them, noodles too &
Lead kindly light
I could draw
a line with my crayon but the other lines are swallowing it.
then a little
some POP sound
and I'm gone
notebook 4: the erase
an old Fifties month
when he then
erased up her body
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"
with charcoal Turning, staring at nothing, the hand
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
Again and again pour of turpentine, plaques and tangles
roughly proportional to loss
notebook 6: Making more white
with rose bleached
if you thought
SIFTS THROUGH torso
laying thin coats incised
yet swollen red
from numb chatter trail
year open, smearing
again pour plaque
the track of de Kooning's hand
track of my
"When you stand among the paintings,"
stand among the paintings)
"they make a sharp swerve away"
"from what his name attaches to"
"or a leaning into prodigality of"
"pink and yellow hallways empty
of the highly composed"
"mysogenist greens we've come
to know and"
"brushwork gives way to
bounded forms that appear to"
"be drawn and filled in as if
mannerizing his own flesh"
"exhaled and gone"
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.
NOTE: 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.
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"AD notebooks" (originally
appeared in 5 FR/ 17).