Matthew Woodman

                (after Rufino Tamayo’s painting Paisaje, 1921)

Look both ways
before crossing

the public space
may be lit

early morning’s
temporary premise

this haunt will resist
strip mall or sprawl

will (as if from within)
be flesh or at worst

nostalgia or nausea

the door reads
push not pull

someday signs will
post private property

no trespassing
if you lived here

you could be
home by now

                (after Rufino Tamayo’s painting Danzantes, 1942)

To navigate a complex depression
become share allow the audience

a sea
wash over
leave you

polished smoothed but may you ask
of the deeper grieves how to sail

there’s no I’m afraid back coming

from those a body may return even
a mind but strangers them will recognize

wave on the street you
will know dates and the steps
not though the singer

the caller behind from over
shoulder synchrony just like were you

Red Mask
                (after Rufino Tamayo’s painting Máscara roja, 1940)

How many in the audience flayed
Marsyas for not having met expectations

who by request what countermelody
challenged hand assumptions carved

as they are as they are as they are
not the song bleeds all art bleeds

before gallery beneath garnish
limited time engagement no one

can touch the one already who has torn
away has in the alcove slipped one skin

about which to wind made of one’s face
a wound cannot that be unheard

The Tormented Man
                (after Rufino Tamayo’s painting El atormentado, 1949)

has stripped the screw 
                                          what now
juts the frame half disassembled

drill it out with a carbide bit
sweep the metal shavings 
                                                the edge
of his hand slivered at the end 

when was the last time he punched
a time card 
                      it must be years

the pieces stacked and loaded
he climbs in his cab 
                                      calls it
a day 
            turns on the talk radio
where the disembodied tormented
man castigates strangers he has never
          those he knows are decent for
the most part like him 
                                          just get through
the next check on the list 
                                                try to make
something out of this life 
                                                he doesn’t 
understand this talk of taking 
                                                        he gives
          fastens one life to another

Matthew Woodman teaches writing at California State University, Bakersfield and is the poetry editor for Southern Pacific Review. Other ekphrastic poems inspired by Rufino Tamayo's art appear or are forthcoming in Sakura Review, Hawai'i Review, Oxidant/Engine, S/WORD, and Sierra Nevada Review.

More of his writing and a list of past publications can be found at www.matthewwoodman.com.
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