Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Tragedy


That's quite a title that Franz Kline has given
his late-career oil at the BMA.
That AbEx gang was really serious,
serious drinkers and serious about their art.
Me, I like the title. But look at this thing:
not glowering or glum, knee-deep in blood.
It's all sunny yellows, except for what
is going on there in the center, gray
and brown and black. The eye goes to those after.

First, it's honeys and pinks and blues. And orange.
My god, it's like a sunrise, not a place
where bad things happen. And that's exactly right.
Old Franz Kline knew what he was up to. Sure,
atrocities often root down in the dark.
Ditches make room for limed and fetid bodies.
But they are not the sites of tragedy.
It's where there is no stain of evil doing,
ever. Where poppies overgrow the soil.

Imagine, say, King Lear ceding his kingdom
not in some flinty throne room but in a field
surrounded by green hills a league from the sea.
He's dozing in late sunlight, as a few
benign and sluggish bees surround his head.
It's warm. His daughters' robes trail over the grass
and billow like jibs in the saltish breeze.
The nattering of Kent and Gloucester wakes him,
and the king remembers he has work to do.
He rises and strides forward to where a map
the size of a large carpet is unrolled
in blinding light. Sun hits Cordelia's hair;
it blazes yellow. No sign of rain clouds,
and gale-force winds seem unimaginable.
All's perfectly tranquil as the old king
begins to speak of love to his loved daughters.


David Yezzi

The Hopkins Review

Summer 2017


To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php