Poetry: Another Late Night

Sadly, it seems there’ll be no Leather this week. Once again, there’s just too much to be done, and by the time I get home I’m way too tired to consider writing. And so it’ll be a poetic week instead.

This is another poem written as a response to a painting from an Art History class I took back in ’92. This time, the subject is Albrecht Altdorfer’s The Battle of Alexander at Issus, which is kind of an amazing painting. If you have follow the link, be sure to look at the higher resolution version. It’s gorgeous and stunningly detailed.

Which informed the poem, really. And the kind of drive that has an artist go way beyond what anyone might expect of him.

Which, you know, can be said of writers too now and again.

Another Late Night

I touch the tip
Covered with a light brown
To the steel grey pigment
And add another lance
And another
And another
And get more paint
It’s sludge — I need it thinner
I need it precise
I need it right
The sun’s gone down and I can’t
Get any of these lamps bright enough
I can’t see
I can’t sleep
I have to get this down
Some black and grey — on
Either side of the brush
Get the strokes down
Get the basic color
And add the detail
The impossible detail
There are thousands and they
Aren’t enough — I need more
I fill the night sky with dark clouds
And a halo `round the crescent moon
While on the other side the sun burns
Setting, but still above the horizon.
Night and Day
The world must fit
On a wooden sheet
Four feet wide
Four and a half tall
The whole world
Mountains — too small for life
Too big for fantasy
Dark and forbidding, yet proud
The sea is in the distance
The bright towers of civilization
Closer, civilization has been rotted
By the pennants of war
I’m out of grey — I need it
I need all the armor to be right
I cannot look at a model and see
It has to be in my eye
Without it being in my sight

Don’t they see
I need to get it done
Right now
I need to get it perfect
I have to make them fight
I have to make them struggle
I have to make them live
Fire burns
On the left hand side.
Does it fit? Should I have
Put it in the center instead?
Will anybody notice it?
Why can’t I get it right?
My life is on this canvas
My life is with those soldiers
My life….

The outside world
Turns grey
Soon it will be blue
I will need to scrape and
Tuck and rework everything
Until every last tiny figure
Is perfect
Not perfect in form —
But perfect in imperfection
The lances — they all face the same way
(To a side)
But they can’t all be at the same angle
That’s a fake
Life is imperfect
Perfection must follow
Or it’s all a lie

Inspired by The Battle of Alexander at Issus, 1529 by Albrecht Altdorfer

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