Jug of Milk by Susan de Sola

Jug of Milk
by Susan de Sola

(From Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid”)

She caresses the jug,
the milk tops the table.
A four square hand,

its robust thumb
sidles up the handle
in soft connection

through the green cloth
of a magician’s table
through a rough stone floor
to earth and worms and grass and cows.

We are born and go
from milk to meat
to earth to worms

to grass to feed a cow again
(and the Dutch know cows).
But here, in this Vermeer,

the light, which is none of these things,
makes a great deal good.
The earthy Dutch, they caught that light,

pounded it in pigments (earth again),
but still, it seeps out,
a wondrous milky haze

here in the museum
enfolds my shoulders,
lets me forget those cows,

lets me think everything is light.

Woman Sewing by Kate Foley

Woman Sewing
by Kate Foley

(After a painting by Vulliard)

She’s bowed her head,
obedient to the light,
small dun brown woman
wearing a sparrow’s speckled dress.

Sewing, domestic heaps of blacks
and browns, half-tones, shadows,
her gilded neck, her sleeve
alive, strokeable light

glazing each offered plane.
It’s the one thing needful,
the necessary measure for every shade
of black

and sitting with the light
as a creature beside her
is work enough.

Interval by Iain Matheson

by Iain Matheson

(After Iain’s piece of music of the same name – see the video below)

Silence is nothing
if not an absence.


Its size need not be
great so long as it’s


entire. The contour
of each silence, stretched


from then to now with
not one rumble or


bang, has a brilliant
geometry of which


nothing may be said.
A silence is so


simply mislaid, fierce
rehearsal alone


holds any hope of
keeping it secure.


Bronzed Pair of Booties by Edward Mycue

Bronzed Pair of Booties
by Edward Mycue

— bronzed pair of booties holding down a sagging telephone line,
— picture from a gone time but one that is still just out my window
here on fulton and octavia streets next to olive trees with plastic bags caught in
—“witches cowls”—filled with passing breezes
amid caws of crows & occasions when sea birds escape east from ocean storms &
to California from the Sierras when calmer,
settling in our parking lots deciding maybe east or west again, birds moving,
pausing; only flitting hummingbirds silent so far
— & my mind’s bronzed booties imaged there from pairs of tennis shoes often caught
on lines where drug runners marked territories;
my San Francisco mind-marked with long densely-textured decades written, cared-for,
polished, discarded, & somehow are written again
because the mind wasn’t finished with them & i was unable to find a step-down
to get free from voices, visions. where when i’m
dead will those booties go? will there be telephone lines & poles?
will it all sink as sediment under risen shores scraped, lathered by
empowered tides with only birds on their ways in their days that alone continue
below fish swim above our yesterday silt
in fog, rain, wind & sun without anyone until “time” arrives as
earth itself fractures into “space” that collides beyond my deeming.

Madonna del Parto by Joan Z. Shore

Madonna del Parto
by Joan Z. Shore

(After Piero della Francesca’s fresco)

My name is Miryam.
I have been married young, too young.
My life was very simple, sweet, and mild.
And now I am with child.

I don’t know how it came.
My husband cares for me, works hard;
He loves me quietly, he holds my hand….
We cannot understand.

I am not ready, I’m afraid.
This life within me frightens me, it stirs
Incessantly, demanding to be born.
My flesh is torn.

I must be strong.
Dear Yossef, too, must bear this pain;
Must help me raise this child, this precious jewel.
The world is cruel.

Postman by Seree Cohen Zohar

by Seree Cohen Zohar

Sun-ruddy cheeks puffed in anticipation
of his titian beard tickling newborn fingers,
sprigs from a wildflower bouquet flung
cheerfully above a fresh-clipped lawn,
there he goes, the postman
striding home, telegram in hand

while you, conqueror and tease supreme
of oils and brushes lathered in sunlight, left us
the rousing chuckle that bounces
Joseph-Etienne’s artfully untrimmed plume
across the span of his double-breasted cobalt sea.

Adam Francis Cornford – Study in Chinatown, San Francisco (1886) Edwin Deakin

Study in Chinatown, San Francisco (1886) Edwin Deakin
by Adam Francis Cornford
for Genny Lim

Corner of Jackson and Dupont rough
awnings from crumbling masonry above
tall Chinese posters on crimson paper
alien then as messages from space
A merchant sells pots, pans, and shovels
imperturbably smoking a long pipe
sitting on a bench in baggy blue pants
his white sock-shoes resting on a box
scrawled with CHINESE MUST GO
Around the corner below a window
hung with more red banners inscribed
with the painter’s fake ideograms
white flowers bright in the windowbox
of the Union Chinese Mission School
a family mother father and little kid all
faceless in shadow and same baggy pants
is descending into a basement shop
under the faded signboard WING ON
and somehow in this little Orientalist
yet xenophobic exercise they do wing on
They are not going they’re arriving.

Adam Francis Cornford – Immigrants

by Adam Francis Cornford

Who airward lean straight, who bonetune cluster anywhere
who always infringing, who grey scrawl peel to ghost-rose
who spread and flaunt seethe tents above tatters

who remember motion and moon, tide-wide arriving
who fed koala, dark-lanterned with crows in the dry stars
who knew sand, who muttered pattern-crack creeks until they ran

who writhe skin characters downstroked in rain joy
who revel pale-jade cricket shade among these thicker greens
who winter rattle shards half off at crystal angles

who sun-scatter over us, who million-talon light into seafloor
who afternoon arcades name ocean as wish
who airswimmers gather summer oils, who flare in Santa Anas

who like other raggedy comers brought for crops assessed useless
who cross equator fireweed tree, who named invader
who infill and prosper, teach here hills a near-aspen speech

who blood-orange stumps gape along the truck ruts
who lopped, who backhoed up, who trunks chaindragged in stacks
who shreds and twigs roadway litter like refugee trails

who buttons dropped wait wheel-driven under mud
who sapling asylum inside live-oak maze, on maple steeps
who unerase, who flayed under crescent crowns keep rise.

Susan de Sola – British Air

British Air
By Susan de Sola

In the pocket of a British Airways
chair, an in-flight magazine in flight
flaps in its centrefold
a cartography of routes,
routed in red, an empire
of aeroplanes.

The arcs seem phonic
as Pisa lead to Tunis,
Newquay to Cork,
and Killarney can Kilkenny.

Jersey mimics Guernsey,
Glasgow ends as Carlow,
and Nairobi swallows Cairo.

Not imperial,
yet empyreal,
the panoply of red lines,
spokes of a coloured umbrella,
spreading out from London’s nub,
covering and eclipsing
British mails,
British rails,
cleaving happy ozone trails.

Susan de Sola – Box

by Susan de Sola

He went
and left
his things
where lies
a box
to bring
the things
he left
he left
no box
to bring
his things
the things
are here
but he
is not
this is
the box
that time
begot –
how can
it be
that mould
can mean
the form
of man
and yet
its rot?