Friday, July 18, 2008

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Nelson for the event last night. I really enjoyed being a part of it. Much love to Glen North, Bob Holman, and Rebecca Ofiesh for putting this event together. For those of you who couldn't make it, here is the painting by Jess along with my ekphrastic poem. The title of both is Figure 2--A Field of Pumpkins Grown for Seed: Translation #11

In a field where pumpkins grow for seed
And rumpled rainbows hide in trees
There is a special kind of vine
That grows a pumpkin-man combined

One such rare phenomenon
Is Private Fredrick Ray Gourdman
His orange and vertically creviced face
Is the only sign of his pumpkin race

Partly pumpkin but mostly man
Fred sits on his father; his mother in hand
Staring at the creamy Autumn Sky
Contemplating days gone by

Fredrick Gourdman left this land
A prodigal sort of pumpkin man
Looking for fun and fortune and fame
He picked himself and hopped on a train

He took right to gambling, women and booze
And it seemed like the pumpkin man couldn’t lose
Soon he had squandered all he’d acquired
Burning through money like a bank vault on fire

Hopeless and Penniless Fred was alone
But had too much pride to try and go home
He met an Army recruiter in a local bar
And a couple drinks later he was headed for war

The war they were fighting required a lot
Of men on the frontlines where the battle was hot
So Private Fredrick Gourdman was stationed
In the trenches of a far off pumpkin-less nation

Although quite accustomed to living in dirt
The horrible violence, bloodshed and hurt
Weighed on the soul of the innocent squash
The vertical valleys of his face were awash

With blood, sweat and tears. As the battle raged on,
All he could think of was the stillness of dawn
And purplish morning soft on the rinds
Of his father and mother whom he’d left behind.

Growing for seed just wasn’t for Fred
But war was as empty and he’d end up as dead
So like the center of a palindrome
The battlefield started his journey back home

He hopped off a train in the pumpkin field
Under a velvet hat he concealed
His face but his father knew just who it was
And before Fred could explain all of his flaws

The old pumpkin tore lose from the vine
Rolling fast toward the railroad line
In a gesture of love uniquely Gourd-ish
He forced Fred to sit on his side in forgiveness

Reunited they sit a family again
In spite of a world of war and sin
In a country field growing for seed
Partly pumpkin but partly human indeed

I want to thank my beautiful and witty wife Melissa for coming up with the idea for this one. I tend to steal her ideas without giving her credit all the time and just wanted to set the record straight about this one.

Also The Pitch wrote a great article last may about the importance of this piece by Jess. Check it out for more info on the artist.

I also want to give some love to the winning poet named Lou. He won with a piece inspired by Alex Hay's sculpture Paper Bag, and it was awesome. He did it at a reading earlier this month and you can check it out on YouTube here.


Matt said...

Hey Billy,

This is one of my favorites you've done. Wish I could've been there. You totally should have won...

Anonymous said...

you did a great job at the nelson the other night. i'm with matt, this is one of my favorites of your recent poems