Archive > Vol. 16 no. 1
Paul Klee: the late style
Came to painting on burlap, not for lack of fine paper or canvas.
See the effort of scraping the paint across that surface. Almost pain.
And the stuttering, crude and approximate edge.
His own skin drying: scleroderma. Paint on that.
The opposite of watercolor,
where juice and gravity take us
with ideas of their own.
But sackcloth ... Paint that dries
before it’s left the palette.
That has to be dragged, already crusted.
There could be despair in this. Or
freedom, knowing that already
we’re too late.
The kettle drummer
he made almost nothing
but his drum.
Like the broadcasts hammering
the airwaves, nightly,
into the shape of a war.
Like waking in the darkness,
your heart thumping, but no
other edge to your body,
lost sensation of its borders
— just this, dull percussions
surging. In, out, sure as the tide.
If a tide could be dry.
If you can’t help but hear the drumming,
if there’s nowhere (even with the Alps
between you) at a far enough remove
then (as your canvases are hung
skewed— decadent! —fenced round
— degenerate! —with crude graffiti,
as your own skin tightens
on the bonecage) be
the bold bald mark on what
you can lay hands on, be
the drum skin
beating till it rips.
And beating, and not beaten, even then.