A history of western looking
In a room, 1898
Whence the myopic voyeur who, having nothing this
drab afternoon, borrows the bare-headed woman, she’s
hunched over her lunch, no, she writes a letter, yes,
and a bronze vase in the foreground.
Woman leaning on a table, 1898
Holds like a model her pained head, fingers, long
enough to be the kind men brag about, curl at the ends
like a child’s dream, which ends in piss. Is as her
husband’s brown vapors.
Bridge, effect of fog, 1903
There’s a man’s head’s a square washed out of its black
by lilac, had claimed languidly, present as there are
yawns where movement used to be.
View of the river, 1906
A white sail fake-floats on the drag queen’s lacquered
nails and other whites are clouded over. Hers is the
abrupt hand of a carpenter, of a storm threatens the
watermelon curtain, drawn.
On the too-sticky bed and in clothes transparent as the
angry night, flowers in their hair bright as tumors, sex
as lace hems, frayed, bodies are stained glass. They side
eye as it moves away this gaze.
Roofs and cathedral, 1908
A stack of small lives, none inside the frame. Not a
docent but ochre roofs upon which has jumped the
spires, filament have become its walls.
Sketch for composition , 1911
A face with a red mouth that sinisters into an eye is a
gull within a crowded sky. Cat’s paw, elephant caught
mid-blink. DJ with his torch of green and seal. Thumb
or penis, every nipple is a gray whorl.
Prose of the train and of the saint, 1913
To get rid of the human that makes things ownable.
With words stuck together out comes smoke, summer
of a forest. In real life words are as much for people as
time, which would have nothing to do with them.
Landscape: __________, 1913
They shall warm it out on the hill where busy clouds
have built black pickets for the avalanching mess.
Everybody’s all mess but the gentle kite’s about to land
on the autumn hill, lipstuck grass, clown’s blush.
Portrait of a girl in black, 1913-14
Hers is blue as nausea, in a dress of an evening sky
somewhere you’ve all seen, whose inner life is your
refusal, are all her six fingers, on your technicolor
prison of a chair.
Metaphysical still life, 1918
Where a door closes a zipper’s unzipped, he halves a
hemisphere to let the white in, his nape bikini-stringed
and aflame. What’s done is the easy job of description,
thoughts already ever exposed.
For the lips is whatever’s on the nose, which tracks
down the side of the ears to the collar to a shock of hair
smells of the same fever, and around the eyes are a
Black square, 1913/32
Zero of form, with corners, at the bone. From
annulment emerges a shy leopard’s spots or a medieval
virgin’s raiment, and from the birth of the idea emerges
Mark Anthony Cayanan is from the Philippines. He obtained his MFA from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and he is a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide. Among his publications are the poetry books _Narcissus_ (Ateneo de Manila UP, 2011) and _Except you enthrall me_ (U of the Philippines P, 2013). His new work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rogue Agent, Cordite, Crab Orchard Review, and Lana Turner. A recipient of fellowships from Civitella Ranieri and Nuoren Voiman Liitto, he teaches literature and creative writing at the Ateneo de Manila University.