Thursday, November 20, 2014

Balthus—poem

"Balthus" originally appeared in the The Pure No Nonsense No. 1, in 2007. Enjoy.

Balthus

I Les peintures de Balthus

In the paintings of Balthus
it is difficult to know
if the girls are asleep
or aroused
or dead

in the paintings of Balthus
the girls stare at mirrors
have cats
and seem unsure if they should be ashamed
for letting someone look under their skirts

in the paintings of Balthus
young girls read books
and play solitaire in sexual positions
they seem unconscious of this
they seem lonely and bored

II La peintre

Painting does not mean
you understand what you see
the more you look at an object the more
unfamiliar it becomes
declaring nothing
isolating what is most significant
a form of prayer

III La chambre

A girl naked on a couch
hair loose on her shoulders
arms and legs open in the window sunlight
the curtain just opened by a younger girl
who has none of her sister’s curves
her face ugly and mannish
the face of the painter actually

and this is art isn’t it or isn’t it
the part of us we put in
ugly though maybe interesting
yet there to reveal
though the motivation to do so
unreadable open to interpretation
jealousy hate desire

IV La leçon de guitare

Was the girl bad stubborn
did she not practice her scales
did she say who cares about guitar anyway
and is the woman teacher angry annoyed
this spoiled girl whose rich parents pay for the lessons
while she earns extra money teaching brats

taking the girl on her lap and grabbing her hair
pushing the skirt up past her navel
all smooth down to white knee socks
the girl not seeming to struggle
except one hand pulling the teacher’s dress open
she looks away refusing to acknowledge anything
not even the hand gripping her thigh
the guitar forgotten on the floor


V Nu au repos

The girl is wearing nothing but a shirt
unbottoned opened lounging in a chair
the shirt a man’s her skin grey almost burnt
a foot crossed underneath the other bare
leg and her body leaning to the right

the room feels almost empty in the light
that filters through the small dirty window
her long dark hair still tucked beneath the soft
white glowing shirt that she has just put on
to keep her warm to rest nude girl at rest

VI L’enfance

If we see sexuality in this rendition of a pensive child, it is our problem. Of the way that the child flashes her bare thighs at an alluring angle and flaunts her underwear-covered labia, that’s how little girls sit. Where obscurity remains, it is the sort that requires submission, not clarification. Little girls are familiar, a universal theme. Additionally, they often dress in interesting ways. His attraction to little girls was no deeper than that. If their knickers show, it is because little girls often sit in a position in which their knickers show, not because he was lusting for them or wanted his viewers to. This error should not be seen as an innocent mistake. It was inspired by the human craving for gossip, the same attractive motive that makes people act as if he has a thing for little girls. There is after all, in the subject matter something that goes beyond mere communication. The subject matter in emotional terms is manifestly a matter of life and death to him. Reality, exactly. My childhood was wonderful. I had a wonderful childhood.


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