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A history of ... | Mark Anthony Cayanan

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.

Girls, 1907

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.

Self-portrait, 1920/21

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

jaundiced alphabet.

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

an idea.

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.

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