The Fractured Egg

useless art


Yet another travesty, Stan Douglas’ film installation at David Zwirner Gallery titled “Luanda Kinshasha.” It’s a reconstruction of “The Church”, the famous Columbia Records recording studio where everyone from Monk to Miles to Mingus to Bernstein to Gould to Aretha to Billie Holiday to Dylan to Pink Floyd and so on, recorded.

At, what I’m sure, was great expense, Douglas had the studio re-built, then shot an imaginary band doing an imaginary recording in the imaginary 1970s. The band consisted of some fine younger veterans like, Liberty Ellman and Jason Lindner but the music, which sounded like bad late Miles, was loud, tinny and did not do the artists here-to-fore mentioned justice. The studio was replete with groupies. Douglas claims that emphasis was on “compositional process itself rather than on a finished composition.” Perhaps that’s why there were so many takes. To my mind the aim was to sell the piece and nothing more. I watched, and exhausted after fifteen minutes, left, wondering why so many artists work so hard to create such bad and useless art. O.K. I know there are still folks who think Pollock, Monk, even Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” are useless. But give me a break. There’s “USELESS” then there’s just flat out USELESS (as in manipulative). Poor Van Gogh didn’t cut off his ear for nothing. Or did he?


AMBIVALENCEthe photos of Sudek – Paris July 24.1983


a. café

her sweet behind along st. germain

makes the dog’s ears twitch

a/typical French face – he says – ambivalent

ordering a mixed omelet & me frommage

a photograph of stone – smile & say FROMMAGE


a street being crossed …….. etc ….. contradictions


b. museum

lifted in the attitude of a right angle

leaning its shadow against the wall

the mute pitcher sealed by 2 crossed planks


& the wheel barrow walks toward god’s light

a light pouring thru the buttressed window

a light that turns away from saintly stone

church yards graveyards & clowns of contradiction


rope & tissue crumple in open space

in a room cluttered with breathing

amid a spectacle of dust & depth

where the skeleton of a single leaf rests


contradiction….. ambivalence ….. a blink


the eye of a crumbling face stares thru the vines

the absence of veins in the EGG

& the other face in the mirror

sacred trash

& the visible decay of broken shapes


her breast & her onion unveiled relaxed & taut



glass shell stone

screaming dead tree the crystal of a wet plastic bag.


c. café

the filth along the ark where the young ones sat

across from the bookshop

the waves that washed over the father’s son

the condensation

the rippling the crying the icing up of pain

on a hot summer day

obscuring the source of strength

he said they were THEY but they weren’t

as he ordered mixed flesh


d. café/museum

her head on a plate

in the garden

manipulated by a magician’s hat

she wears dog ears

he is gone

he leaves his chair behind

& under a cold umbrella

the shadow of his eyes remains


he said they were they but they weren’t


the extinction of useless lights

(Yves Tanguy Retrospective @ Guggenheim Museum 2/14/83)


your pale hands touch the moon

sighing always sighing

with an almost constant constancy

fingered lines etch across wastelands

hairlines like fine grass & straight geometry

sharp fingernail etchings

in dark & wounded gardens

accenting/extending sparse energies

filaments of other creatures

from dark seas or “other” planets

extinct or not yet seen

brain matter

wiggling across the different stations of day

sunset / sundown – always afraid of night

always bordering on NIGHT

like AUTO graveyards & grave grey sighs

tired desperate naïve & mad

(a skeleton of dark smoke rising up to startle us)

shy cluttered forms that hug the choking ground

from freedom to crowdedness

your alien insides wander with always the sky in sight

the SKY – a final HOPE

neither legend nor figure can trap the melodies of your bloated notes

from sweet space & alienation your form becomes bones

smooth polished stones that soften with each consecutive night

& your motion becomes concentrated until your movement ceases


in the heart of the tower

a prophet rubs his chin

& clouds of ghosts enter the world

soft kidney-creatures smile thru their wounds

& the clouds become THIS LIFE

from spaciousness to clutter

their alien insides wander

their shadows become a soft white tower


the more we are

the more we become our shadows

& our shadows then follow us about

the more we become

the more our sad forms recede

the less we are

the more ghostly our shadows appear



into wind / dust / sky/ >

this is our possible salvation / wind moving sky

wind that is SKY flat sharp spaces of white


in the heart of the tower

there is a prophet

his shadow becomes the tower

his pale hands the moon

his hair whisp(er)s of smoke

which leave to join the sky

his glance becomes a CITY

his suffering turns to stone

his alien insides wander

until his movements cease


his image becomes your soul

your soul is now your FATE.


centaur defaced

(inside the elgin marble)London – july 14, 1983


(her warm breasts move under black underneath)







scratched out in red like Joyce’s ULYSSES







(warm breasts under black cloth)






Interior (after the drawings of Edward Hopper)


i sit in my suitcase by the window

watching the sails eat the wind


in my suitcase by the window

curtains ruffle like sails


i sit & peel away my misgivings


night shadows cupid’s heart

bride& groom i eat them all

gifts from my grandma

coated with different flavors

colors with the same rich center



i sit in my suitcase by the window

my eyes like dimmed headlights

on the old buick

my thoughts separated like its grill….



The Evening (after kasper friedrick david)



dusk blue pink

below the rise

2 shapes

between an army of cedars

& scattered bushes


holding hands below the ridge


one direction moving differently


A Bio-morphic Enigma

(Arshile Gorky Retrospective – Guggenheim Museum 1981)


her ugly purple fingers & puffy chipmunk cheeks

lead me to the first canvas – bring me to my artificial knees

with inner laughter – as someone stroked me from behind with

brassiere-d breasts – leads me to the elevator (red) & to the top of your

beginnings – (blue) i capricious find myself in someone else’s frame

you did not begin on top but in the middle spiraling tensely – twisting down.


i speed thru kandinsky enlightened & insulted for you

everyone in the museum speaks everything but english

i write blocking views – the familiar phrase “excuse me”

walks accented into my ear & i shift away from klee’s

“don giovanni of bavaria” to his “aging venus”

as another aging venus brushes my arm rushing toward the goal / restricted

the fright of one stranger to another transferred like knife wounds.


i wander thru miro’s “tilled field” a masterpiece of wit & curve

as a 9 month old german child talks first tongue in curves & bellows

joy & lined discomfort sounding like any other 9 month old child

but not to those who birthed her – staring at the colors on the walls

with 9 month old eyes.


the structures changing with the lines

the women of early evening becoming heavy lines of light

becoming night becoming matta luminescent pink & tiger-like

becoming linked to past ghosts that you resemble

& most of whom you did not dare outlive

thru gears of fear years of stone

becoming smooth pale strength grown – arping toward the light.


leaving your “precursors” – a word the sign said was what we had just left

we enter into YOU & turning find cezanne/picasso look-a-likes

& somewhere in your mocking fickle lines find you…still you…but not yet ….YOU

curved & slipping into pain & down toward terrible desperate death.


an armenian born vosdanik adoian avoiding persecution

escaped to new york surreal rooted anticipating abstract expressionism

bold valiant suicided pioneer (how neatly they relay your life)


we are all caught & try to capture perfect space & vision with our senses

your leaning toward the (in)finite – your description your endless search for

“night time”….. & it’s …. “enigma & nostalgia”

your eye catching an image & repeating it over & over like day repeating itself

& again becoming…………… did you catch at last night’s form?

did you finally get the riddle?

or did you lose it / walking / inner-out-of-doors/

in the color of the flesh from perfect line

& fresh detail to obscured fingers lost in soft cushions of paint

& destined to fall off ?

the flowers you held obscured by weeds your portrait of your mother & yourself

& turning jump again into picasso’s arms.


a young girl tells her friend of her first “ménage de tois”

& while watching someone pencil copy your pencil drawing

saying “beautiful…. how beautiful”

i think of how i should of kept harry’s july 6th pencil drawing

of his own mad boredom which tho less famous was no less enigmatic

than your own –


suddenly your “bull in the sun” shines so clear out of the movement of your

miro-mind / & passing slowly thru the shock of transformed essence

your simplicity beckons me inward

all clouded milky spaceness & broken murdered paint

all precise & precious struggle to break loose.


i improvise

walk in circles slowly to the end

watch myself with young man’s eyes while watching others

moving freely in front of your lines

themselves moved freely from your brush.


some woman talks about the jews the holocaust

with a clinical view & suntanned face

& our lives occur again & again not yet so close to closing time

& the crashing craving for human love in soft & perfect lines

& moving search – we search & circle – we climb & fall

& cry & frown & laugh a laugh & twist with our anxieties

& fit the pieces puzzling into place.


seeing your study for “the liver is the cock’s comb”

i stroke my arse as i stand behind a pretty woman’s skirts

not too crazy at this moment about your work

i watch a long thin transvestite stroke his hair as she falls into place

behind your strokes.


i’m gone into your thinner building bilious broken organ sound

i see no straightness only curving roundness that filled your life

i watch the pretty woman watch me from the sharp oval corners of her eyes

shifting in their reflective sap – smiling – soft less gluttonous stare –

i stare back as i pass a young tree surrounded by smaller plants

standing between me & your art for the moment

slighted by the sun.

i cross & come across “love of a new gun”

aimed at & melting into my chest – crushing my mouth with tension

wondering about its history standing suddenly so close

to the pretty woman’s cornfield so near to your “cornfield of health.”


suddenly alone i shiver with her back toward me

separated by a row of rhododendrons

& watching her shadow as she stares into your eyes

like a waterfall i break wind.


i break myself into sections

& fade into the wall

leaning enigmatic & with heavy skin

i turn & look down to your path’s end

& notice the woman who shares my bed & gives me love

sitting benched & lost & lonely.

i curdle up inside as fingers tap & trap my self in green water

rolling around in the tumult of my maze

attached to life yet defeated by life’s strength

i turn you inside out but do not understand

i judge what i do not see – but do not understand

a broken rim the love of cause the effect of love

the pressure of the tyrant known as heart.


abstract we finally come to realize our aims

we simply turn again we simple abstract beings built

the obvious brightness of the site first seen

one’s sight returned like foreskins & caterpillars

into more distractions & reflections in a glass.


we lose we win we break the soil

or scatter in a breeze

we twist inside ourselves & finally DROP

we drop to the edge of the canvas like thinly washed paint

then STOP.


with my wife next to me near the railing the pretty woman parades

softly in my face & the lady tour guide explains your work to all who care to listen.


remember you remember movement remember what to say from there

as people try to rationalize your lines – CREAM –


she tells us you loved apricots & that you ate them in armenia

while writing poems (to apricots?)

& “luscious” was the word she used

& luscious were the strokes the mother’s touch

the softness of her apron

the deep greyness of your sparse & fluid fields

the ending of the lines the “hugging”

of the “charred beloved”

stuck inside a “betrothal” or was it a brothel?

sick with longing & with life

a sad bloody sexual enigma last seen in heavy black

balls cut girl gone everything in flames

painting arm paralyzed & signed with LOVE on packing crates

your life or what was left of it packed in crates

so you packed it in & hung yourself

for one last time on your last day.


i listen to the guide explain you away with excited compassion

seeing “agony” for perhaps the first time

i hear someone say “if this were miro then this would be gay”

& someone else say – “it’s an attitude”


& all i can think is that it’s an attitude of agony that killed you

or something else or someone else



& year after year the depth & the dullness of some of us

grows more limitless consumes us to the limit & murders us




the screeching & the halt “the plough…..” “the song”


the screeching & the

HALT !!!!


outside the museum an apricot colored spider the size of dust

runs madly along the border of LIFE & ART


stretched & standing upside down

steeped in IDOL WORSHIP & SLOGANS the world is a flying BIRD


Picasso & His Women ( Waiting )


Picasso on the platform

waiting for the express

waiting / waiting / waiting

his shirt a fragmented bowl of fruit

his hat a newsprint guitar


“Waiting is such a waste” – he grumbles

“…they will be at the cafe waiting & weeping

if I am even a little bit late.”


women scream from windows

shutters flung open “ POBLECITA POBLECITA –

where are you?”

they run out into the street

wring their aprons with their hands

tear at their hair

“Pablo. Ay Pablo. Where can you be?”


“Waiting is such a waste” – he grumbles ..

“especially when you know you’ve just missed your train.”


their cries get louder…their weeping more defined

their longing all the more shapelessly long

due to the body’s inconstancy


the train arrives at the station

CAR # 5372 of 12 opens emptily

onto the moist August afternoon


back on the platform Picasso yawns

closes his eyes

—& as he leans against a column

a tear

breaks upon his



Rebecca ( the photos of Paul Strand )






lying leaning


always melancholic &



arms a round a void en


your solemn face


no longing love smooth dark approached yet unapproachable


but Rebecca we are a running society a moving rush so


let the escalators have their secrets..


Charles Henri Ford – A View from the Outside

for ford – another i did not know


ashes of roses

atop a cardboard knife

you burn


a collage




dissolve into haiku’s



roses of ashes




in the Blue


written at Provenzano Funeral Home Oct 11, 02


It’s funny how memory works. Selective memory. What one chooses to remember. Forget. Like where i put my beautiful, signed hardcover anthology of View magazine published in 1991 by Thunder’s Mouth Press. Or my copy of the 1991 City Lights book of selected poems “Out of the Labyrinth” that i bought from a homeless guy on the street , already signed and bearing the inscription “A pleasure to be with Martin Baldwin & truly a leap year.” Ah! but there’s that 1988 Seahorse re-issue of the ‘33 breakthrough gay novel “TheYoung and Evil” by Ford and Parker Tyler, replete with original paintings by Tchelitchew, staring right at me. i bought that one in Housing Works for a couple of bucks and then later got my wife to get Ford to inscribe it. There were tons of copies available at the time. i should have bought more.

It’s funny what choices memory itself makes without our consent or knowledge. How one remembers first encounters. Adds to. Omits. Fabricates. It’s ironic how, sometimes, one remembers things that never even existed.

That’s my memory of Ford. He was a phantom in my life like others that were near but whom i never got close to. Right here in my town. A ghost of the avante garde. A revolutionary, as i put it recently, who succeeded the revolution. In this case the stormy post-World War 1 revolution known as surrealism. He knew them all. Breton. Stein. Tanguy. Duchamp. He brought them back to America, if not literally then figuratively, where in 1940 he and Tyler teamed up once again to start the aforementioned now legendary and influential magazine of the arts View. And here’s where my journey into memory begins.

i first became aware of Ford thru his work as editor-publisher, in the mid-70’s, when a book dealer acquaintance of mine, who realized my uneducated passion for surrealism, took me to his loft to show me an almost complete set of said magazine. There on its covers & in its pages i discovered so many of my childhood heroes including one of surrealism’s lesser known enigmas Pavel Tchelitchew whose painting “Hide & Seek” had both haunted and influenced me ever since my first encounter with it in my early teens at M.O.M.A. Now nearly a 1/4 of a century later i still seek it out and vice-versa. i did not find out until a few years after viewing these precious zines that Tchelichew and Ford were long time companions ( from 1932 up until P.T.’s death in 1957.)

My next encounters with Ford came thru contact with Beat/Surreal poet Ted Joans. He constantly mentioned Ford to me. His connection to the surrealists. His life with P.T. His voyages abroad. And his living quarters in the famous Dakota, where he resided from 1959 until his death in 2002. Joans, when visiting New York, always made trips to Harlem to pick up sweet potato pie and on his way back downtown he’d stop in to see Ford. Ford was very fond of Joans. He even made a collage poster of him. Well for some reason Joans would always take that book dealer to visit Ford but never me. He always told me “You can’t come.You’ll just be rude, crude and ill-mannered.” This infuriated me but what could i do. i was never good at going above 14th St. on my own so i guess those are more memories i’ll have to make up. But alas i finally did get to meet Ford in the flesh in 1984. Or so i think. It was at the opening of his show at the now defunct Barbara Braathan gallery. It was a show of his haiku in collaborations with his companion, the artist/photographer Indra Tamang, whom he met in Katmandu in 1972 and whom he remained with until his death, and the Nepalese artist Reepak Shakya. i had always been fascinated by the haiku form and have been writing haiku since my late teens. i remember the encounter like this. after climbing up two-what-seemed endless flights i entered the space. The first thing i saw was a large planterlike seat. It was still early.The place was empty. i walked up to the refreshment table to get some cheese then to the wall to look at the work. Ford, by this time, was 76 and i did not know what he looked like. i turned from the work and looked toward the round planter/chair thing seeking a seat so i could write. Ford’s work, tho in the “traditional” 5-7-5 haiku form, was nice but not really haiku in the true sense. Even so they inspired me to write haiku based on his “haiku.” A form in Japanese known as mojiri. A polite way of “stealing” by more or less paying homage to the original work. Lo and behold who was sitting where i wanted to sit? One of the champions of 60’s art and another soul who at that time had made a big impression on my life, the sculptor ( the term sculptress no longer valid ) Marisol and her dog. i was overwhelmed, for even tho by this time she had almost exclusively given up sculpture for real estate, all i could think was WOW. i turned quickly around. Wrote my haiku. Ate more cheese and after a brief stay departed with my wife. To tell the truth i don’t know if i ever actually got to meet Ford, or even find out what he looked like, tho my wife confirms that we did. She said we introduced ourselves to him and that when she told him her name was Yuko he said something like “Oh Yukio like Mishima” – Mishima being one of his passions and the subject of some of his collage as i later found out. He’d say this to her every time thereafter.

Within a year or two of that “encounter” i received a catalogue from a Boston book dealer. In it was a listing for the rare 1945 Ford edited book on Vanguard Press, “A Night With Jupiter and Other Fantastic Stories”, containing the likes of such giants as Chirico, Henry Miller and Paul Bowles, for only $20. i ordered it and 2 weeks later it arrived in the mail. But to my diappointment without a dust jacket. i decided not to keep the book so i took it to a local copy shop where i meticulously copied every page. When i got it home i realized that the inside spine was badly damaged and as memory would have it, did not recall whether i had received it that way or i had caused it while xeroxing. Anyway i wrote a postcard to the dealer complaining. He called me several days later and after a minor dispute told me to return the book and that he’d return my money minus the postage. And i did. i read some of the stories and shoved the xerox underneath this very same table i am now typing on but sometime along the way moved it and again, as memory would have it, i forgot where it is.

As the yrs passed Ford would pop up every now and then at readings and shows. i finally grew familiar with him and would always politely say hello, introduce friends to him, or get him to sign a book as i did the last time i saw him at his opening at Ubu Gallery a couple of yrs ago. This was primarily a show of posters, visual poems and of course, under glass, copies of View. In fact what i got him to sign was that View anthology, the precise title of which is “View: Parade of the Avante-Garde 1940 to 1947 and edited by Ford,that i still can’t find. i’d always use Ted Joans as a reference and that made him smile. Along the way i’ve gotten to know many of the luminaries within Ford’s circle like Penny Arcade, Gerard Malanga and Ira Cohen. Penny, as she stated at Ford’s memorial in St. Mark’s Church, was with him near the end. She said that at one point he raised his hands and chanted, knowing that he was close to death, something on the order of “I’m so lucky. I’m so lucky.”

Over the yrs people have offered to take me uptown to see Ford, but sadly, like a wide variety of other missed opportunities, i never took them up on it. i am, however, happy to say that i did finally get to see Ford’s apartment, my curiosity finally, tho a bit too late, getting the best of me. You see i make lots of collage. Always have. And sometimes when i do i think of Ford as often as i think of Ernst or Matisse’s glorious cut-outs. So if you can’t see the artist, i thought, at least see the work space. i strongly recommend this to everyone. And Ford did indeed work and live in the same space. A not very big one at that but way bigger than mine with a spare room with draws and draws of collage material.

Another thing he and i had in common. SPACE.

My last encounters with his work was the brilliant collage show ( most done in his now “trademarked” index card size ) at the now defunct Scene Gallery on Rivington St. in 2002 and at the original Mitchell Algus Gallery in Chelsea ( January 4 through February 1, 2003 ). i went to the former on a blizzard-like day with my wife and it truly knocked us out. So much so that we went back twice more. Ironically the show was called “Alive and Kicking”. It was due to open in Oct 2002 with the thought of Ford still being with us. He, however, died in Sept. but at his wake at the Provenzano Funeral Home ( the same place where Gregory Corso’s body had been on view and a place i’ve now visited 4 times in the past 2 yrs to say farewell to poets and artists and friends ) a representative from the gallery gave out invitations for the show saying that he would leave the title as is. As Yuko and i avoid most openings i asked a friend how it went. He said that it was mobbed. Quite a difference, as memory would have it, between that and the 1984 show. The Algus show, filled with drawings, collage and photos of and by Ford, was historically more interesting but overall dull and certainly did not yield the very personal and artistic rewards that the Scene Gallery did.

If my memory is correct, i was asked to keep this piece at 700 words or so. Since i do not know what 700 words amount to and since i am too lazy to count what i have written i will end here with a quote from the Ford poem, “WAR”. Timeless. Yet very relevant to our time.

“…..the journey is slower than massacre;/ but there will be conscriptions/ and marauders no more apropos/ than those in Ethiopia/ bombs hurled at 15000 poets/ killing 2000.”



Auto – Portrait

(after a portfolio of water colors by Francesco Clemente entitled “Early Morning Raga”)


mouth open

unbreathing sword

nostrils moved by devilish

language wings



of course

fish dancing in the eyes

mouth – balls

my balls


this erect night

your mouth

a breathing wheel

swallowing time

with its revolutions


the old man kissed my shoe

when i told him how young he looked

don’t kiss my shoe i protested

gently i’m

69 he said in my country we do that

to show thanks & indebtedness


the hand is a jewel

that works

like a timepiece

to mend & destroy


the tree cries blood tears

in the garden


the garden no longer is


she rides away from me on her rickshaw

her womb full of love

or whatever being born might mean

my bike has 2 flat tires


my head rests a boulder on a hilltop

my arse flies away like pe gas us

my libido climbs the stairs

a fish out of water

& swallows you swallowing me

as the summit is reached


pale orange yellow grey

pale green blue peach


what color towels should i buy she asks

orange pink whatever you like

but i like my old towels


snakes dancing with each other

me whispering breath into my beloved spider

open mouthed & breathing at the heart of it

the blue broken heart of it


– heart & soul i fell in love with you –


our two skulls hugging break the vacant air

broken 2 headed love


my finger touching rugs

kissing talking smelling jumping falling

so many heads

so many eyes

a fly at the apple’s core

so many skulls

like fruit beneath the earth

so many balls

this nail thru your drying palm

your tired feet

so many symbols

eyes tongues 1/2 empty cups


ganesha has a long nose

steve almost has a long nose


numbers flatter those

with clogged eyes

bother those with no ears.


Richard Bellamy Memorial @ P.S. 1 – 5/13/98


the one thing we inherit from our parents

is that we are their children


the one thing we inherit from our teachers

is that we were their students


the wind blows thru the open outside corridor of the old brick building

like a flame – a faaalooooosh in heavy backdraft searching for the microphone

& filling it with a deep wavy backdrop for the speaker –


the one thing we inherit from space

is our ability to fill it

the one thing we inherit from PLACE

is memory


the writers their words

the painters their colors

the textures produced by both

the wind / flame degrees of chill/heat

temperature & temperament





we inherit

their direction


( a continuous moved ambition )


lists of names are lists of names – nothing more

we recognize some – personally – others we have no relation to at all


a memorial is like a happening

only even at its peak very little happens


burning wreaths – testimonials – long wind down equally long passages –

then everything stops @ the door


what we inherit from the door

is its unswerving flexibility


what we inherit from a broken clock

is its face……………………….



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