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“Self-Portrait in the Dark,” “Meditation on Communication,” “Meditation on Revision,” “Meditation on Transmutation”

Cy Twombly, "Night Watch" 1966 [Rome], oil based house paint, wax crayon on canvas, 200 x 252 cm / 78 ¾ x 99 ¼ in., courtesy of Galerie Karsten Greve Köln, Paris, St. Moritz. © Cy Twombly Foundation. Photo: Jochen Littkemann

Self-Portrait in the Dark

     Cy Twombly, Night Watch

We have been out in the woods again,  
                                                          always, it seems,  
searching for the future. 

Twombly in a helmet with a little light on the front. 
The tree-tips black scribbles against a blacker ground. 

Ahead, the path is coal-colored, 
                                                cold as a cave and about as useless. 

Whatever is on the end of my leash 
                                                       is tugging me into the brush. 

The growls stop,  
                        the full moon a mic-drop in the darkness. 

The stage is set, brighter self,  
                                             time to walk out alone. 

Cy Twombly, "Untitled" 2008, courtesy of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi Photo APF, © Cy Twombly Foundation

Meditation on Communication

     Cy Twombly, Untitled

Dear Cy – 

And why wouldn’t I go             
                                             like language  
to where 
                                             I am not blue scrim 
of sky and sea               
                                   calligraphy of memory 
                        not illustration but realization 

Have you seen the now, Cy? 

You would not             
                                  could never— 

The sky sun scorched 
            fire & more fire 

black as a bruise but not as soft 

I think even oceans                  
                                              are burning 
or melting         
                        everything molting 
from what it was 
            to what it is 
 going to be—             
                                 tonight my son 
asked what my weird super 
            power would be and I said  
                                   to walk into 
a painting         
                       so why wouldn’t I? 
                                               it/you go 
among the blue trace of 
 the almost 
of my name 
                                               murmur of the visual— 
            you have to me written so
             how could I not become 
the blue 
                       sky-skinned sea 
                                  my body a choir of bird-song 
             ready to light up with the  
               glowing wheel of alteration so that we may see 
             far enough ahead to go 
                                                                     to go 
that blue it is beyond blue 
                                                          the way this life 
is beyond all things coming directly toward       so why not among 
the cataracts lit by the light of not language but its shadow 
              its shell as 
                                                                     though it too is burned through 
 to bone—        
                                              I have driven 
through flame               
                                   this is not metaphor 
 and yet             
                        it is language or at least 
           its shell 
                                   its scorch mark marked look 
at my skin, 
                                                                   Cy, I am as blue 
            as the iris behind Death’s black patch 

blue as the sky when it changes to sea go?                                     
                                  I am 
                                                                                                  already there 

Cy Twombly, "Mars and the Artist" 1975, © Cy Twombly Foundation


     Cy Twombly, Mars and the Artist

All abstraction is a form of incompletion— 

                                 all incompletion an exit to emptiness. 

 Nothing can be said enough times. 

                                                           All writing is a form of silence— 

           all painting an access to blindness— 

                     To those who ask, god reveals himself through absence, 

to those who do not he stays silent.  
                                                       Still, we hear the red bleed blue.
Cy Twombly, "Untitled (hang iambics)" 1989, © Cy Twombly Foundation


     Cy Twombly, Untitled (Hang iambics)

To circulate there: 
to master the descent into disorder— 
           (this is no time for poetry) 

to dissolve into a map  
of your own making— 

           (hang iambics) 

an internal orbit of excess— 
orphic and oceanic all at once, 

           (this is no time for poetry) 

both vortex and veil:  
chaos + pattern = the possible

Dean Rader has authored or co-authored eleven books, including "Works & Days" (Truman State University Press), winner of the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize, "Landscape Portrait Figure Form" (Omnidawn), named a Best Book of the Year by the Barnes & Noble Review, and "Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry" (Copper Canyon), a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award and the Northern California Book Award.

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