Fun House Mirror, for Elizabeth Murray

by Anne Waldman

Elizabeth Murray, Art Part, 1981, Oil on 22 canvases, 9 feet 7 inches × 10 feet 4 inches. Photo by Ellen Page Wilson. Courtesy of PaceWildenstein, New York.


Fun House Mirror
for Elizabeth Murray

The “attack” from the midst of the action is here
A palpable one informed by love and arabesques
You might say in love with this lozenge and that cupped article
This loud bark and that rectilinear microorganism
That seems to be singing itself to you
I am here to outlast the blast and storm! I am a dusty old soul!
Out beyond the waves and foils, endeavor at war
Isn’t an option, fossil mongers and editors of dead zones, listen
People, listen, why do you waste your time outside paint
And its denizens of dance and light? Come alive with me
In my quirk geometry, in my atom-smashing laboratory
Consider radical swatches of life, switchbacks, liberty
And the pursuit of unmitigated happiness
That follows like undulating squiggles . . . tempting, seductive . . .
Lie on this bed, under that table, a dog will follow
With droplets of blood, tears, sweat to
Collapse happily in a pool of syllables, exclamations: Whoa!
And the cut of angle and no-nonsense fun digs in and muscles
Over the 3-D “brane” universe, you are all welcome but
Boys please step aside, green slime and protozoic empire is mine
Today, I created and cut the umbilical cord
And I will embed monolithic desire as well in my book of dreams
I am horizontal, I am swimming off the page
I claim materiality for all the females in 10 directions of space
I is a woman and a not damned but making noise
I is an actor in the theater of light and more light
And will pilot a way through mazes of objects and expressions
When I inhabit no barren terrain but full of shakti
Triangles on the surface of a sphere warm up now to break a code
Ride the canvas in a saddle be not afraid
What is gravity’s relation to space?
What is the secret tangible phenomenon you hunt?
Mystery’s a temperamental keyhole!
How long do we survive intricate squawking vortices?
I’ll give you an inkling (she says), Bug off!
The universe expands beyond frame & starburst &
I’ll ride the quantum breakthrough trans wood & pigment
Rush me, clump the flames into galaxies
Hold the vocabulary reliable not hostage, and
Be you me interconnected reflexive startled universe
Stare into it, then jump

—Anne Waldman, an award-winning poet, editor, performer, professor, curator, and cultural activist, directed the St Mark's Poetry Project over a decade and cofounded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics with Allen Ginsberg in 1974 at the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University, where she is currently Distinguished Professor and Chair of the celebrated Summer Writing Program. The author and editor of more than 40 books and small-press editions of poetry, Waldman most recently published In the Room of Never Grieve: New & Selected Poems, with a CD collaboration with Ambrose Bye (Coffee House Press, 2003); Dark Arcana: Afterimage or Glow, with photographs by Patti Smith (Heavenbone Press, 2003); and Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble (Penguin Poets, 2004).

downtown new york
Fall 2006
The cover of BOMB 97