Four Reds for Rothko
Mix cinnabar and ochre with eggs. Then light. Where
to go once red lunges into fire? My servile edges aflame sounds
as if an end is redly near. How quickly the chemical swallows and
peels: saffron, vermilion, cadmium blue tipped with teeth. Very
meditative. Also agitative. Fire spins its colorwheel. Prayerwheel.
Sequels of fur-lined syntax melt. The flame, a triangle with eyes
at the apex and silvery feet. The body, a matchstick house. A house
is always burning, breathing commonly hard. I’m advised by
specialists to arrange an elaborate fish tank and comfortable leather
chair. Watch every day how slowly life moves in Anotherland. Add
salt and flakes. Watch every day how slowly life eats. And so full
2. Paper Conversion
There was red and then there was red. Red and
Pink on Pink, Three Reds White Cloud (which is red), Brown
and Black in Reds, and even just Red, though in the
end Black on Gray. Several of them. There had been Green
and Tangerine on Red and Ochre and Red on Red. Black
on Dark Maroon. Yes. I could work with some pills, some pills
but not others, and then a flood of paper with paint and my heart
still swollen sick but yes, there were paintings. Hundreds flying
from my hands. You could see the progression. Dvinsk, Russia, to
Oregon and then New York. My final resting place East 69th Street.
In the end I had to work on paper. Like some writer.
It was my heart, an aneurysm of the aorta and no more canvas, canvas,
canvas had held me for so long. And then paper. Roll after roll
of slick surface. No teeth. Paper, like some goddamn writer, but
no pen, no pencil, no keys. Dumb heart. Dumb paintbrush. Then it
was mostly brown or black on gray and a skinny white border that
bobbled. A skinny white seam for red to break.
3. The Art of Untitled
A period says when to begin or end but who really
knows. I spend hours and days inside red trying to solve syntax.
Savage. Salve. Save. My hands big as horses, as houses. Big as buildings.
Does somebody have a cigarette and light? Scale has gone and the
cigarettes return proportion. The size of red? Distortion. To make
a sentence impossible now. No more titles or names. No more red.
To float one layer on top of another. How to be
perfectly still. Perfectly flat yet layer one on the other. For
example, Four Darks in Red, Horizontal White over Darks, or
Untitled (Brown and Gray), or Untitled and Untitled
and Untitled. And then they wanted me to make a church
and I did. A chapel and everything went dark.
Marcus Rothkowitz is not my name. Never trust language
and words can unglue. The flatness of the picture plane. Purity
of pigment. Purely flat. Never trust a name. Untitled and
Untitled. Direct experience and exchange. Really, it’s
all very mathematical. Very spiritual. I’m not even here.
Here, the paintings are made by no one. Untitled and Untitled.
4. Black, Maroons and White
(with a line from Wallace Stevens)
Look how red can eat in Brown and Black in
Reds and Four Reds. Hungry Little Red Riding Red.
Red forest. Red clouds. Clouds over a red lake. A grandmother and
a wolf. I made a brick house in Black, Maroons and White.
A bole chimney and uneaten loaves of bread. A cherry pie with forked
crust and secret slivers of lemon peel. The mooncloud of God dissolves,
foaming at the wolf’s mouth. Sticky liver. Lover. Sliver.
To eat a woman’s mouth, tie her lace and cotton bonnet underchin.
My chin. Trick or treat. Or meat. My little inamorata, my lithe
little pumping red. I wait for you with God on my side. Who eats,
Dim the light and darken the hues. A parachute taped to the skylight
so I can see the pigment glow, a hidden light source only the pigment
knows. The spirit and space, the empty spirit in vacant space.
Shallows of color swallow others. The wine-red sea opens to
drown me. Only the wolfish pigment knows where the red ends and
black begins, where black rises over red and red recedes against
maroon, where black washes into green and green breaks in two and
red is vanquished and swallows men like pearls.