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tearing the rag off the bush again
My Seventy-Fifth Birthday PDF E-mail
My Seventy-Fifth Birthday

Fifty years ago
Leroi Jones
Wrote a poem
For a 25-year-old King’s
Twenty-fifth birthday
Seventy-five is three
Quarters of a hundred
Memories reach out
And clothe
The food I eat
The bed I sleep in
Seventy-five is three
Quarters of a hundred
Seventy-five is three
Quarters of a hundred
Multiply
The seven of spades
With the seven of clubs
And augment kindness
 
 
If it fails
Begin again
Pause
Having weathered
The narrative
I expose
The whereabouts
Of what Andrew
Crozier called
 
Me
 
“The man who
Was never there”
 
 
I crossed the ocean
And I couldn’t chuck bricks
And was made a Jigger Man
A flowerpot maker
Flying an airplane
In the Jungle I carved frames
Box jockey   Short order cook
Mezzotint maker
For Sergeant Major Lou Byerow
Jingle bells   Chess sets
For Charles Olson
Deliver the stones
And get the corrections
For ABC
CBS and NBC
Franz Kline   Nijinsky
Houdini    Shackleton
 
 
“I have a biography”
 
 
The Brooklyn Museum wrote to
William Hershel
And being a scholar
He wanted to know
Why does Basil King
Ask
Where does the light
Come from
And I answered
 
 
I know
The empty canvas
Has no favorite
Painter
Pause
I have heard the whispers and know
Paranoia is never a friend
It takes patience and belief
To watch the clouds
Move behind the trees  
Blue the color of love
Insists light defines
The teacher who taught me
I am one of seven
 
 
A scent of mischief
Arrests the roof
And in order
Of content
The house
Secures a tapestry
A coming together
Of disparate things
Clean plates trowels
Something unknown
Turns the rain
Yesterday I used Grey
Today I used Orange
And a color I am still
Mixing refers to a space
That says
 
 
There is always time
 
 
A long time ago
In a boarding school
We called the “HOME”
We crocheted and played
Hospital
I climbed trees and grew Sunflowers
I was seven years old and I wrote letters
To my mother who was in hospital  
And every weekend me and my father
Went to the pictures
THE BLACK SWAN and a biography
Of the composer Handel
My autobiography isn’t finished
And I’m not sure it ever will be
 
 
But in the meantime
I take no pleasure in someone else’s pain
Bygone catastrophes something lost
Minorities are congratulated and then abused
Listen to their voices and you will hear
What they don’t tell is
I eat where and whenever I can
I knock on strangers’ doors
I am Anne Frank
Remember there were two families in the attic
Without them there may never have been a dairy
Climb the stairs and witness
Those who did the killing
And those who were killed
Brothers and sisters check your DNA  
Summarize your fears
Hate has festered for centuries
To know what to tell and who to tell it to
The oven baked bread and bricks and pottery
The oven baked the baker’s imagination
The retrogrades dismissal
Evolved before you or I were born
Pause
It’s been twenty years since I painted
Playing cards
Ninety-nine paintings Aces through 7’s
Now I am painting “The Face Cards”
Having internalized the father
And wondered why didn’t my mother
Name me Jack
 
 
Martha knows I am one of seven
She knows every one of us asks
Which one is going to do the division
Prime the canvas take out the garbage
Answer the people who say they don’t know
Where the paintings come from
They come from dark spots
External haunts
Icons
When I put my head down
Seven beating hearts
Ask
Who is going to paint cook supper
Write and dispel the confusion
It has taken us
A lifetime
To take a fork in the road
And find a table
Wide enough to accommodate
8,9, and 10
Muscles and triangles
The physical and the abstract
And we are seven
Pause
Basil King
May 30, 2010
Born – Basil Hershel Cohen
May 30, 1935
 
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