#217 v15,09.101
20th anniversay issue #2
NORMAN J. OLSON: visiting LA on Halloween
CORAL HULL : Open Window
101poet3 : 101poem3

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visiting LA on Halloween

By: Norman J. Olson last Tuesday, October 28, 2014, Mary and I decided to go to California to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids in Riverside… to see them for Halloween, see their costumes and see them Trick or Treat… we had not seen them over Halloween for a few years… so that was really fun… Mary had to work Saturday, so we had to get a car as the train from Riverside into the city would not get us to the airport at the time we needed to go to catch the red eye back to MSP Saturday a.m…. it was a great visit and is always fun to spend time with those wonderful kids and grandkids… on Thursday, everybody had to work or go to school for the day, so Mary and I decided to drive into the city… since we had a car anyway… as those who know me know, we were recently in Belgium where we made a special trip to visit the home of James Ensor, an artist who I specifically admire… to recap briefly, Ensor’s masterpiece painting, Christ’s Entry into Brussels, which is a large, wall sized piece, was refused hanging by the avant garde group (XX) that Ensor was a founder and part of in the late 1800s… so, the artist kept it in a smallish room at the front of his house where it was washed by the brilliant milky light of Ostend which came in through tall windows which looked out on the street a block from the sea…. Ensor painted this piece in 1888, the year my wife’s cousin Axel was born in Sweden (we went to his 100th birthday party in Uppsala, Minnesota in 1988!)… and Ensor kept it in this room until his renown had grown to the degree that in 1929, the piece was taken out the window and moved to an exhibition… Ensor fancied himself quite a musician and played a small keyboard instrument called a Harmonium… which he was given in 1906… however, he is not remembered as a great musician and his music, according to sources I have found, was not particularly profound, being referred to by one scholar as “dance tunes….” anyway, there is a famous photo of him sitting at his harmonium in front of the painting Christ’s Entry into Brussels… having recently seen that room with the harmonium and a mock up of the painting, I thought it would be great to again brave the traffic of West Hollywood to get to the Getty and see the painting in the original… I last saw it about ten years ago… so, we spent an hour and a half on the freeways across the northern rim of the Los Angeles basin from San Bernardino to West Hollywood where we hit a massive traffic snarl, which is ordinary in LA and people there do not even notice anymore when their freeway system becomes totally nonfunctional… anyway, we got to the Getty, which really is a lovely building on top of a hill looking out over the city from white marble terraces and pavilions… I have gotten so that when I am going to a museum to see some special work of art that really speaks to me, I usually do not look at much else as I want to have the memory of the encounter with the artwork without a lot of interference from having looked at acres of Rembrandts, or something like that… so, while Mary wondered around the museum and looked around, I spent an hour in front of Christ’s Entry into Brussels… it is, of course, placed so the light from the ceiling glares off the top so the top is impossible to see from up close, but otherwise, it is gorgeously displayed in a room of its own… so, looking closely and from a distance, from every angle available, and making a few sketches, I think I really refreshed my mental feel for this truly amazing painting… we then left the Getty and were amazed to hit only light to moderate traffic all the way back to Riverside… the gorgeous San Gabrielle Mountains were sharply outlined on our left, with only a hint of yellow smog at the lower levels… the freeway unrolled the miles and I thought how different the bright crackly light of LA on a sunny day is from the luminous glow of Ostend… but the painting did not seem to mind and seemed quite comfortable in the middle of the huge and mostly insane City of Angeles… a city of Mexicali slums, hilltop mansions, freeways like vast unspooled ribbons and traffic that would drive a saint to drink… all sprawling among evergreen trees like cones and tall palms… with the hot desert sun at war with cool breezes from the mountains and the sea… crazy place… back in Riverside, on Halloween, Friday, we made a nice old fashioned Minnesota dinner of pot roast, potatoes and calicoe beans… and brought our cooking over to our daughter’s inlaws house… everybody seemed to enjoy the meal and they had some amazing Mexican grilled chicken to go with it… then the kids and their parents and grandma went trick or treating, while I stayed behind to pass out candy to the children…. all the beautiful little people with their costumes… and mom and dad excited to show off their kids… all wearing masks… as every one of us in Ensor’s paintings or on the sidewalks of West Hollywood or Riverside or Maplewood, wears a mask… a mask ironically which, like the masks in an Ensor painting, often reveals more than it conceals… in not too many years, my peers and I will have ridden with Roy Rogers and James Ensor into the West LA sunset and the world will belong to all of these little ones… I wish I could give them all some words of wisdom to help them make a better job of their stewardship of the planet than we have done… but I have none… all I had to give them was a candy bar… but as an old and little known artist, I can only hope that what we leave behind as a generation… in my case a few paintings and drawings… gives them some of the joy of contemplation and the invitation to rich and profound thought and feeling that I have gotten from the art I love, including Ensor’s amazing work… and from being lucky enough to travel around this surprising planet…

POETRYREPAIRS #217 v15,09.101

Open Window

An open window threw up its pale curtains, indicating a space that I had departed into. He was left in the attic holding the sky in his palms, the sunlight wedge cutting his red jumper in half like a neat apple. He stood by that dirty rage and clicked his jaw like a bear. Never follow a monster into its cave. There is little left of me now. My smile has stretched into blue serenity. Like an old dog's mouth will go long and lean or like a black line, before he digs for a flea inside his ear. A late fall butterfly muttered on the wood of the pane, its oily heart and grey dust lost from its wings. After all he had done to banish me, the tapping willow branch could have been my defeated fingers creeping back in. The situation of the open window couldn't seem to end itself. The best thing was when I made no sense to him anymore.

POETRYREPAIRS #217 v15,09.101

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OLSON is a painter (poetryrepairs' cover artist), a poet, a 'slice of life' and travel essayist. NORMAN has had a long association with poetryrepairs.com

Issuw 1 included this poem from Australian poet CORAL HULL. It is the first poem published by poetryrepairs.com then called poetryrepairshop