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Exchange of Values

Exchange of Values
acrylic on board 48'X96'

"Structure of Color Perception"

"Structure of Color Perception"
48'X96' acrylic on board

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Antonio Ciseri.  Ecco Homo.
I was determined to write 40 poems during lent as a kind of votive reflection and discipline (though this seems more of a burden and sacrifice to anyone who might try and read them then it does to me to write them).  I wanted to again use the motif of the “Stations of the Cross” I have used before as a springboard into these poems.  I have not completed my own series of paintings on the stations yet so I decided to use some other well known works of art, starting with Antonio Ciseri’s “Ecco Homo.”  I got this one poem finished I think, and I have started two or three more.  I got ideas for another half a dozen but I’m already running short of time and inspiration and my heart is waning.  Again, another lenten commitment I won’t be able to keep and we’re barely 4 days into the season.

First Station of the Cross, Jesus is condemned to death:

Ecco Homo

I.  “In the beginning darkness covered the face of the deep.”

As Ciseri painted it
His robe has been stripped back
Exposing his naked shoulders
An Intimacy
Like you might expect at a strip club
Or slave auction
Specimen spectacle spectators
But the way we’re situated
No one meets our eyes
Everyone traces a different vanishing point

As usual his hands are tied behind his back
Lost is any chance to take up the sword
But the seed of temptation to call on Michael’s army
Will soon be sown into his body and
Others will take and eat of it
And they will make the bastards pay

Although compositions like this one have multiple perspectives
Each stroke of the artist effects interpretation
But the Spirit is not in the picture yet
How much else is missing?

II.  “And God separated the lights into lesser and greater lights.”

The Roman is as smug as any empire
Sure it all collapses eventually, they all do
Just a matter of running short of capital
Number crunchers misallocating resources
Until then we’re all caught up in this blood feud

But this is not a tale of simple revenge
It’s the story of a family
A drama about the Jews and their God
The rest of us are bit players
Bystanders without any real say
Even Italia’s potentate is a flaccid member
Like you and me
Too much a friend of Caesar

III.  “And God separated the light from the darkness
and called it good.”

Sometimes as a necessary expression of democracy
The empire let’s us choose
Which kind of savior we prefer to kill
A decision we celebrate as freedom
The votes for Jesus or Barabbas are harvested like
Ripe grain swaying in the wind
Maybe the smart move was to just kill them both
Wash our hands of the whole affair
But lasting empires need willing executioners
To make sure everybody gets some skin in the game

Each crowd is a peculiar species of organism
But lynch mobs are all pretty much the same
anonymously lethal vigilantes and orgiastic lovers
I have seen an entire nation of ‘civilized’ people
Change into crazy-eyed killers

But they loved this man once didn’t they?
Felt something real for him
Some combination of desire vanity and affection
Mixed in with fantasy fear and hope
Is there another kind of love more real than that
A love that doesn’t eventually end in pain and
Despair descending into anger
Or worse, sentimentality

IIII. “Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.”

But as Ciseri painted it
We don’t really see anyone’s face
Except for that one woman
Who has already turned her back on them all
The tableau is so crowded
There’s no easy way to fit our selves into the frame
Ciseri has got us all crowded into the wings
Instead of witnesses
The artist has made us into stage-hands
Or props

I wish I knew where we are in this story
Our arrogance convinces us that we are the final act
Faith commands us to abide in expectation
But the road is longer and harder than we prepared for
(Not that we weren’t told)

V.  “And there was evening and there was morning of the first day
And God saw what was made and that it was good.”

Maybe death doesn’t get the last word
But who got all those other words between
“In the beginning...” and that last “...amen”
Who's responsible for all those words
That have caused so much confusion and grief
Yes, and the word love too
Whose word is love?


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