Sentient in San Francisco – 27 March 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 27 March 1852 – Jan van Beers, a Belgian painter and illustrator.

Below – “The Letter”; “Portrait of a young woman”; “In the hammock”; “With thoughts of him”; “Portrait of a noble woman”; “A balcony.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 27 March 1926 – Frank O’Hara, an American poet and recipient of the National Book Award (shared).

“Morning”
By Frank O’Hara

I’ve got to tell you
how I love you always
I think of it on grey
mornings with death

in my mouth the tea
is never hot enough
then and the cigarette
dry the maroon robe

chills me I need you
and look out the window
at the noiseless snow

At night on the dock
the buses glow like
clouds and I am lonely
thinking of flutes

I miss you always
when I go to the beach
the sand is wet with
tears that seem mine

although I never weep
and hold you in my
heart with a very real
humor you’d be proud of

the parking lot is
crowded and I stand
rattling my keys the car
is empty as a bicycle

what are you doing now
where did you eat your
lunch and were there
lots of anchovies it

is difficult to think
of you without me in
the sentence you depress
me when you are alone

Last night the stars
were numerous and today
snow is their calling
card I’ll not be cordial

there is nothing that
distracts me music is
only a crossword puzzle
do you know how it is

when you are the only
passenger if there is a
place further from me
I beg you do not go

Below – Burak Sezer: “Lonely Man”

This Date in Art History: Born 27 March 1875 – Albert Marquet, a French painter.

Below – “Girl Embroidering, Seated in a Garden”; “Village Cafe”; “The Coffeepot”; “House at Saint-Tropez”; “Street Lamp, Arcueil”; “Bouquet of Flowers.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 27 March 2012 – Adrienne Rich, an American poet, essayist, and recipient of the National Book Award.

“Prospective Immigrants Please Note”
by Adrienne Rich

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.

Contemporary American Art – Susan J Chen

Below (photographs) – “Sleeping Beauty”; “Alice”; “The Frog Prince”; “Little Red Riding Hood”; “Making America Great Again.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 27 March 1923 – Louis Simpson, a Jamaican-American poet, translator, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize: Part I of II.

“Working Late”
by Louis Simpson

A light is on in my father’s study.
“Still up?” he says, and we are silent,
looking at the harbor lights,
listening to the surf
and the creak of coconut boughs.

He is working late on cases.
No impassioned speech! He argues from evidence,
actually pacing out and measuring,
while the fans revolving on the ceiling
winnow the true from the false.

Once he passed a brass curtain rod
through a head made out of plaster
and showed the jury the angle of fire–
where the murderer must have stood.
For years, all through my childhood,
if I opened a closet . . . bang!
There would be the dead man’s head
with a black hole in the forehead.

All the arguing in the world
will not stay the moon.
She has come all the way from Russia
to gaze for a while in a mango tree
and light the wall of a veranda,
before resuming her interrupted journey
beyond the harbor and the lighthouse
at Port Royal, turning away
from land to the open sea.

Yet, nothing in nature changes, from that day to this,
she is still the mother of us all.
I can see the drifting offshore lights,
black posts where the pelicans brood.

And the light that used to shine
at night in my father’s study
now shines as late in mine.


Contemporary Spanish Art – Oscar Alvarez

Below – “Romantic 18”; “16 – Beach”; “Free Horses 6”; “White and blue”; “C-23”; “Vaquero 35”; “Walks through the sky – 20”; “20 – Beach.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 27 March 1923 – Louis Simpson, a Jamaican-American poet, translator, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize: Part II of II.

“Walt Whitman at Bear Mountain”
by Louis Simpson

. . . life which does not give the preference to any other life, of any
previous period, which therefore prefers its own existence . . .
Ortega y Gasset
Neither on horseback nor seated,
But like himself, squarely on two feet,
The poet of death and lilacs
Loafs by the footpath. Even the bronze looks alive
Where it is folded like cloth. And he seems friendly.

“Where is the Mississippi panorama
And the girl who played the piano?
Where are you, Walt?
The Open Road goes to the used-car lot.

“Where is the nation you promised?
These houses built of wood sustain
Colossal snows,
And the light above the street is sick to death.

“As for the people—see how they neglect you!
Only a poet pauses to read the inscription.”

“I am here,” he answered.
“It seems you have found me out.
Yet did I not warn you that it was Myself
I advertised? Were my words not sufficiently plain?

I gave no prescriptions,
And those who have taken my moods for prophecies
Mistake the matter.”
Then, vastly amused—“Why do you reproach me?
I freely confess I am wholly disreputable.
Yet I am happy, because you found me out.”
A crocodile in wrinkled metal loafing . . .

Then all the realtors,
Pickpockets, salesmen and the actors performing
Official scenarios,
Turned a deaf ear, for they had contracted
American dreams.

But the man who keeps a store on a lonely road,
And the housewife who knows she’s dumb,
And the earth, are relieved.

All that grave weight of America
Cancelled! Like Greece and Rome.
The future in ruins!
The castles, the prisons, the cathedrals
Unbuilding, and roses
Blossoming from the stones that are not there . . .

The clouds are lifting from the high Sierras,
The Bay mists clearing,
And the angel in the gate, the flowering plum,
Dances like Italy, imagining red.

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