February 4, 2018 Back To News

Marc Straus Remembers Tim Rollins in a Poem


For Tim Rollins

You see a word. It isn’t. It’s
an idea, it’s letters forming a pattern
that may be as incongruous as breadcrumbs,
and there’s the bird that will peck at them
one at a time and miss the confluence, like a baby
sucking at a nipple, a smith striking the metal,
oh, and that eye doctor asking if you can read
the lower line. It means nothing, I think,
until you paint a red flower over some T’s and P’s,
until you ask yourself how you feel when that whale
comes rising up again, two harpoons embedded
in its back and ask yourself what if every page
of every comic book were lined up like soldiers
at Antietam, because you have to realize what you
are shooting at, and when Jesus passed the unleavened
bread on the Passover to his right what were the letters
of the Word, perhaps an Aleph, perhaps Nathaniel
Hawthorne might have chosen a different color, perhaps
you are tempted to misread Flaubert, perhaps my angels,
you annihilate the text by drawing a simple X, so then
tell me this my kids, what exactly did Jesus whisper
when he turned to his right, and if you have discovered anything
working in this studio together it’s that we each hear a different
whisper, we each must sort the letters into our own words,
and for me the letters are echoes, it is a timid boy
with an idea, with a paint brush, summoned up
to a high hill and below there is a cacophony, a
murmuring in Birmingham, in Jerusalem, in Brooklyn.
He listens long and then it is Love he hears.
It is Love.

Marc J. Straus

Published December 13, 2017 in The Brooklyn Rail

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