On De Kooning’s Woman I


Woman smeared in grease, brush-strokes of red,
blue of uncooked meat, saffron, the black
of fingernails after an afternoon changing the oil,
all scooped out and scribbled on canvas
edges. He painted your skin all the luster
of lard, spat rouge only on your nose,
no nipples on your breasts, plastic bags
once filled with soda water now sucked dry.
But through that mess you smile—
five fangs chiseled dull as horse teeth—
you flaunt your overbite, saying:
what if you stick your tongue at me,
I’ll bite! And your eyes, the mud basins
of the Mississippi, yet wide open, glaring
at the one who had the nerve to paint you.
Leather shining on a General’s
boots would not make you blink.
With a shopping bag in your right hand,
clothes iron in the sinister, you’re armed lethal,
ready to wrestle all of Manhattan’s taxis. Fueled
with peppery mezcal, you look me
in the eye the instant before you open
the crystal door to Saks Fifth Avenue.
And you’re ready for a bargain, you’re thrilled
to live on credit. Your feet, goat-hooves,
click in midair.


* * *


Anthony Seidman’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Ambit, Caliban, The Bitter Oleander, The Black Herald Review.  His second collection of poetry, Where Thirsts Intersect, is available from The Bitter Oleander Press.

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