William Corbett

The Painters

DeKooning, Jack "The Dripper,"
Guston, Kline "Life"
prints your paintings
Excavation, Mahoning,
Attar, Blue Poles,
compelling me to the cellar
where I brush housepaint
on woodscraps and shingles.
Dream of youth there to see
instantly ridiculous.
But the feeling, the freedom,
the charge in your work
is there to this day.
Bluhm, Goldberg, Hartigan,
Mitchell, Leslie, Held
book spread open on lap
how deep my pleasure
like swimming under water
not wanting to come up.
America accelerates so fast
the world we dream of living in
we grow up to discover is our past.
50s world of us and them.
Painters celebrated for poverty
today celebrated for wealth.
Their New York dream
ripening to a memory.
Mine, Blind Gary Davis
"Twelve gates to the city,"
Bob Dylan, astronaut splash
on TV in every store window,
crepe dressed JFK death
10th Street, the Cedar Bar
history. As quickly passed
New York of my youth.
Remember another "Life" photo:
Air Force officer Stapp used
to test G force, strapped
to a railway car and fired,
like a bullet. A close-up
of his wrenched and rubbery
painful grimace. We were all
in the future before we knew it.