“Anything I paint, if it comes off at all in my work, I
feel it in myself. If I don’t feel it physically, I know
it can’t be working. With all the figures that work, I
feel that this is physically right, and this is a thing
that I feel within my body.”
Taxi, beneath the palm tree’s crimson road,
Keep me from chewing out the problem’s fur,
The image shaking Dog, sweet lips of Toad.
Tide’s body, take me from the gyre’s Squirrel,
The lonely slash of gray on hemp, since day
Drips oil smeared on canvas, disastrous Beige.
Now something’s in your eye, your terrier shake
Won’t chamois it out of Spirit’s ridiculous bridge.
Now everything’s exploding, like Dog through Skin,
Like kisses too nocturnal for a Friend,
Like Judas hanging toad and dog, bursting
Belly, balanced on a bony End . . .
You grasp the nasty paw of God without
The blurry pant of sacrificial jade,
Surrender to jaws and limp, delirium, doubt,
The tail that leads to All Transgressions Paid . . .
The anatomy of emotional accident,
White spine and pottery of skull, the shattered
Tango resurrected in the paint
Of secret tongues and loyalties battered
To flamenco, white flames and camels signing palms
With anger’s empty heels, cheekbones and eyes
Over everything but Blood on ruined Lambs . . .
Yes, spine and butchery, red curry lies
Tossed off to dogs and drunks, the casinos of God.
Bacon’s Dog is an homage to another master, Francis Bacon, the British painter, and the poem takes off from a painting simply titled Dog. The canine in the art reminded me of a bull terrier I owned who had a terrible skin infection for which I had to put him down. The struggle here is that between the spirit and the flesh, or rather, the way the flesh manifests the spirit, especially in terms of pain and eruption.