Philip Guston

A poetic ode to famed, and currently controversial, artist Philip Guston, who consistently tried to put himself in other people’s shoes, a notion that Paul Maziar attempts to play with in this poem. In contemplation of Guston’s art, Paul was inspired to write a “little to the left” of the work, which is to say, this poem might “mean” what you think it means…

Philip Guston. Painter in Bed. 1973

by: Paul Maziar

I’m all beat up
And it’s only morning
Though I can’t cry
It’ll kill me!
No one can know
What it means
This belief
I stand and hold it off
In the street
It’s no use

If I drive away
In a snorting red car
The objects of the room
Follow me
Demanding impossible stories
I may look back
But still I move
To define my power
For production
A hot wind replies

I have needs too
Black oil, broom-thick brushes
Bismuths and carmines, mummy-browns
Smokes and bluish mists
Of my mind
Sprinkled with personality
I doubt and erase
So I can die laughing


Paul Maziar writes about art and books for various publications such as BOMB, the Brooklyn Rail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Oregon ArtsWatch, L.A. Weekly, and RREALISM. A book of his art writings, ONE FOOT IN THE OTHER WORLD, is forthcoming from AC Books and his monograph text, Roger Kukes: Thirty Years, was published in 2019. TO THE AIR, his poetry book in collaboration with artist Cynthia Lahti, was published by the Cooley Gallery at Reed College in 2020 and his first full-length collection of poems, THE MIRACLE OF TALK, is forthcoming. Paul is a member of the Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art.

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