The second half of the sequence of poems I wrote at juice's amazing residency in France with MaJiKer. If I wasn't writing music I was writing poems. Many of these reference Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman, the artist couple who built, lived and worked at the incredible modernist residence.
his daily swim
moving slowly along sulfateuse paths
moving in infinite space
an improvisation in water
NB 'sulfateuse' is a hose used to spray fertiliser, which Hans Hartung used very liberally in his later paintings.
his last paintings follow the journey of uncontrollable laughter
and puncture sunflowers; vomit fizzes and coils,
and kids’ sparkler trails brand night skies
there are long, slow sweeps, too,
like dvuet-smoothing the length
of Anna-Eva's spine at night
the paintings start to recede, draining
from somewhere on the canvas
as if someone is behind the frame,
and then they are back, full-blooded and furious,
spitting carmine and goldenrod
a deer-man with a slit throat, his selflife
diffusing first into hairs and then stars
slippery as butter, she could see
Greenland shrinking; something brooding
under the ice.
Striking out, alone,
for colours that might yield, and alloys;
she holds a knife and looks for the
glitter of metal-leaf.
Under the snow,
she has been told, there is a mosaic,
half-rotten, of gold leaf and firebrick
She adjusts the orbit of strange planets
and places offerings just so: a bear-head,
a horizontal sarcophagus, an eye-patch,
and a silver turtle shell.
A simple life.
Five dogs, cats called Whisky and Vodka,
and, always, painting. Hans and Anna-Eva,
in the overalls that made them look like parachutists,
or big-specced and eccentric in the ‘70s,
they painted together daily.
Some say she was in his shadow. She painted
next to him but was far away,
panning for gold in the Northern fjords.
though they died
two years apart
they were scattered
together, more offerings,
into the Mediterranean
mixed, paint and metal
leaf and oil
cast into her horizon
into that beyondness
or a final swim
in their saline pool
holding their breath
watching the colours slow
It is an igloo, this house.
Matte slabs planed to precision
and placed at angles to parry with the sun,
with a ping-pong crispness.
It is a chapel, framing the pool
where every surfacing is into a new life.
Windows to the frizzed bushes.
An atrium to the wide hug of sky.
Ice-chapel of light, water and stars.
And not a curve.
It isn’t always like that. On some nights
there is the filigree white noise of rain
on the pool, which is half in light,
half-not. Another of her horizons.
The rain unbuds the throats of frogs
and crickets, their polyrhythmic stutter-rites
scraping to the sky, which squats, dripping,
an indecent mauve.
Pine trees sop with oil. Little islets
of seeds are mashed and caramel-coated,
and little long leaves are like sprats,
piled in on a wave and stranded in tide-salt;
they have banked in arrangements
that are a gift to both of them. He sees
swipes and kabuki poses; she finds grace
there, and enough spaces between them
for the paint to fall.
The rain hiding in the trees.
The rain practising tiny beatbox hi-hats.
The rain playing hoop-games with the pool
or conjuring the air-kisses of starlet fish.
The pigeon draping its song
over a three-hooped farthingale.
The morning rain hiding with it in the trees.