This is the second in a new series of poems commissioned for Art and Everything After. Poets chose from a selection of new drawings called companions.Ms. Kuan selected the image above. A full size image can be seen here.
Art is a kind of forgiveness, he thinks, tongue out
against the fractured world. It is the U-turn, the bald
erasure, the mile-long white correction tape. The retracing
of mistaken steps down the city's blackest boulevard.
Once he can kick a newfound tunafish can
down a block of construction scaffolds, a tin-town one-man orchestra,
he finds himself good,
he has made something of nothing, a performance
like any god's, lesser or no, and the whole of it—
rind and flesh of bitter experience—
dissolves, only honey and dewmelon cracked
by a headless hydrant, where the can spins to rest,
concluding its musical line. End scene, fermata:
paper-skin puckered in the pale green rot
of one last smoldering summer.
Debora Kuan is the author of XING, a collection of poetry (Saturnalia Books, 2011). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has also been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Macdowell, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Her most recent short fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in The Awl, The Baffler, Brooklyn Rail, Fence, Pleiades, The Literary Review, and other publications. She has also written about contemporary art, books, and film for Artforum, Art in America, Idiom, Modern Painters, Paper Monument, and other publications. In the past, she has taught literature and creative writing at the University of Iowa, The College of New Jersey, and New York Institute of Technology, and through Brooklyn Poets. She is currently a director of English Language Arts assessment at the College Board and lives in Brooklyn.