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The Blog Bog

The Mag Rack

On Visiting Moma, Jan. 19, 2013

Three exhibits: Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925
                                         New Photography, 2012
                                        Edvard Munch: The Scream

"I transform myself into the zero of form, I destroyed
the ring of the horizon and escaped from the circle of things"
...Kazimir Malevich

All I could think about were people starving
as I walked thru this exhibit, some familiar names
others I didn't know and noting

the brush stroke vertical lines of
one artist, geometric shapes of another, didn't really matter;
a woman's face peaked out of the confusion
struggling to free herself, fails and
vanishes in the next artist's colorful swirl
that hit me like a sudden blow on the head...
lines and shapes began to disappear color fade;
I came to the end: everything was white
there was no where else to go
but black

it's 1970. A few men are about to be executed.
a life magazine photographer asks the executioners
to hold their fire until he takes his shot, then

turns away, never looks back
several shots ring out but
I only hear hisÉit is loud, unrelenting
like that scream pitched too high for words
like the sound zero makes
if you could hear it

                           Linda Lerner

The Wrong End of Williamsburg or a Life

It felt like a stage set I'd wandered onto
heading deeper into the dark down deserted
blocks of shuttered warehouses and street signs I couldn't see
past where I should have turned like
those times no amount of sunlight could burn through the darkness
but I'd already gone far enough in this direction retraced my steps till I saw the right street and kept expecting someone to
jump out with a gun saying it's over,
this is as far as you go, once pointed at me
when I exited an elevator on
returning jet lagged from England and
ran screaming NO   down the hall

                                               your hands are so cold, a friend said,
greeting me in the gallery....too bright, too sudden
I was still outside as I walked around looking at
my friend's collages, struck by their beauty and
tried to talk my way into this room to someone who
said that he's scared when he sees people where he lives
not when there's no one about

back in the same dark I'd never fully left
with two male friends I ran to keep up with
as they fled down the subway steps
into a train which had just pulled in...
one tried to hold the door open for me as
I struggled to swipe my metro card past try again
watched the doors close & froze:
this is as far as you go struck

                           Linda Lerner

A Dead-End Path

She might have been hurling rocks from a cliff
words flew with such blunt force don't turn around, he said...
scattered about the subway station entrance
                                                       a safe distance behind us/

across from where we were seated
a loud metallic clatter….no one but you turned around
knives, forks, hundreds of kitchen utensils spilled out
of a large bin the waiter carried
bounced off each other into our conversation
hitting the restaurant floor I'm not everyone, I said

                                                       there was no safe distance
kept falling out of the bin
out of her mouth into her cell phone I said
no, that last one was aimed at you don't look
he said, too late... all that beautiful
sunny day-after-day- blue deepening into
blue sky week right thru my birthday
a perfect weather storm raged between
words uttered and those that weren't

        Linda Lerner

The Proofreaders

"When the studio / musician remarked / that Russell had /
no technique, there / in that dark room / Pee Wee picked up /
his horn and blew / a mistake so lovely / I saw a tear /
even in the eye of / the idiot..." ..Hayden Carruth

I hear their heavy boots stomping
through poems sinking into air vents
smack unruly lines into place
hammering in apostrophes & commas
to clean up shoddy workmanship

they misunderstood when we asked for their help
we misunderstood

they'd never run breathless into white space
taken a great leap, soared without a net
risked falling, getting hurt
and so what...it's that incredible soaring
unplanned accidental burst of lightening
that got through, when a poem is left
to breathe on its own

        Linda Lerner