Hanging a Poem on the Wall

October 19, 2015

Contributor’s Marginalia: Rick Bursky
on “Everybody’s a Picasso” by Rebecca Morgan Frank

I was in a bank in Hollywood, California. Standing in line next to me, a man with a white painted face, red rubber ball on his nose and shoes that extended six inches past the toes and curved up.

“the scalp, the nose. Parts of the body relocated”

Other than that the rest of his clothes were typical—khaki pants and white collarless shirt. In most other cities the police would have been called. I’ve unsuccessfully attempted to write a poem about this on at least three occasions.

“into Picassos. I’ve had my eye transferred
to my chin so I can read the fine print. My foot
moved to my ears so I can hear myself walking”

I wonder if a clown, after reading one of my poems, ever attempted to perform in the smaller ring at a three ring circus while a man poked at a lion with a chair in the largest ring and a chimpanzee juggled in the other. Clowns seems to exercise better sense than poets. And unlike poets, most clowns have little to say. Body language, expressions, and props carry the performance. The narrative is based in image.

“home at night. My lips are now on my forehead”

Before becoming a poet I was a photographer. Though I still thought of myself as a poet of sorts. Instead of writing out my poems I photographed them. Later as a poet I decided I really was still a photographer, just too lazy to go out and take photographs, so instead I would write them out. If I had a camera with me in the bank I would have taken a photograph. But I didn’t. I’ve made many attempts to turn the image of a clown in the bank into a poem; unfortunately, unsuccessfully.

“like a two-headed cat with one of the heads missing.”

Poem are images.

Images are poems.

The great images were the inspiration for moving poetry from religion to art. If you believe the Bible is the word of God, disagreeing is difficult. If you don’t believe, it remains a beautiful poem.

“I have been looking at it ever since. I am waiting.”

People today are keeping more photographs on computers. So now there’s now room on walls to hang framed poems.

Rick Bursky lives in Los Angeles where he works in advertising and teaches poetry at the UCLA Extension Writers’Program, and occasionally copywriting at USC. His most recent book is I’m No Longer Troubled By the Extravagance, BOA Editions. His  previous full-length collections are Death Obscura (Sarabande Books 2010), and The Soup of Something Missing (Bear Star Press 2004). He has a BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

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