Sunday, February 27, 2011

Study #2: After Rembrandt van Rijn

The guarantee is your willingness to make faces
at yourself, and to let the weather do likewise.
No plastic surgery. No wrinkle cream. No hair dye.
Laugh lines, you mock the sudden errors in the text.
The serious creases supertitle a slow crash.
This face is, you claim with a golden flourish, me.
Well, in that case, who am I? Who is this writing
about you, making you up as I paint, repaint,
affording you the best lines, begging a few laughs?
Who but this dour worrier is your dear guarantor?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Study #1: After Albrecht Dürer

Double eye. Double bind. Double blind.
The dark paints the dark in the dark.
I am the Christ. I am not the Christ.
I am not making claims, or so I claim.
So I watch my eyes, my eyes that work
in blue, in all that looks beautifully true.
When the doormaker throws the sun in
my face, and shows my eyes are brown,
you shan't take my word for it any more.
Word can stand down, leave by the door.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Seven Studies for a Self Portrait

Seven Studies for a Self Portrait, Jee Leong Koh's third book of poems, subjects the self to an increasingly complex series of personal investments and investigations. Ever-evolving, ever-improvisatory, the self appears first as a suite of seven ekphrastic poems, then as free verse profiles, riddles, sonnet sequences, and finally a divan of forty-nine ghazals. The discovery the book makes at the end is that the self sees itself best when it is not by itself.