The canvas (a poem)

A new typewriter poem—or 75% of it, anyway. The last section didn’t add anything worthwhile, so I cut it in favor of the last line here.

I look at this canvas
and want to x out the entire thing
erase it down to its threads
leaving just enough to hang together
so I can start over

The problem is that I will start
the same way I did last time
using different colors
but getting similar results

By the time I finish
the canvas will bear
too many layers of paint to count
while failing to completely suppress
all of the layers underneath

These are things I can control
but which I have no control over
short of re-casting the laws of physics
in someone else’s image—

and that is a dubious proposition
given my lack of refined drawing skills

I can manage a crude sketch
but any resemblance to an actual person
will be coincidental at best
and not very flattering

I once drew a self-portrait for a class
I stared so intently
at my reflection in the mirror
that my portrait looked angry

Perhaps it was, given what it had to work with

I do much better with photographs
I have less say in the outcome
seeing as how the properties of light
and the laws of physics still prevail—

so much so that the film and the pixels
have ideas of their own
and what I have to deal with
is whatever they decide

Only a workaround of some sort or another
will enable me to have my say in the equation

It is only in this respect
that I could be considered an artist

Well, an accidental artist

You see, accident and coincidence
factor significantly in my efforts
it is my recognition of their influence
that gives whatever I do
any redeeming features it may have

That’s something, I suppose—
better inadvertent heroism than none at all
and if I can achieve that without trying
then that’s even better

Attempts to do the right thing
often have unintended consequences

I myself am probably an unintended consequence
I’m sure I wasn’t what my parents were expecting
and I strongly suspect that they would prefer
I had turned out differently

I would prefer I had turned out differently

I’d keep all the good parts
cut out the obvious flaws
and ratchet up those characteristics
that would benefit from greater prominence

It’s not easy being tied to one’s mistakes
hard times in a comfortable place
are no less difficult
particularly when better things
are always placed within view
but still far enough away to be unattainable

Well, I’m not going to dwell on that today
the here and now is where I am
and though I’m wishing for better weather
it’s good enough for today

I can always go buy another canvas

(31 May 2018)