Stephen Ratcliffe




grey light coming into sky in the window opposite unmade

yellow and blue bed, plane of still dark ridge below it,

white circle of moon in window above it


asking about “the simple constituent parts of a chair,”

knowing it makes no sense to speak of “the parts of a chair”


Foucault claiming the poem is a system of references, Ponge

thinking that “things are already as much words as things,”

words “as much things as words”

                                  parallel lines of high

thin white clouds in pale blue sky above point on right,

gull perched on triangular orange tip of the GROIN sign




robin singing 3-note tyeep on branch in upper left corner,

bright blue of sky behind it, goldfinch perched on curved

copper bar above feeder

                          Rodin noting “I place the model

so that the background light outlines the profile,” which

“is given by the place where the body ends”

                                              woman on left    

asking about tobacco plant leaves, recalling spelling error

in reference to what woman on the phone said, which sounds

like overheard conversation

                              blinding silver of sunlight

above plane of ridge, white circle of full moon in pale

blue-whiteness of the sky above the point opposite it




circular red-orange flower against green of passion vine-

covered fence in lower left foreground, plane of ridge

behind it, sound of waves breaking in channel

                                                Mike Wallace

placing hands on chest when he says “these are not my words,”

then calling Ayatollah Khoumeni “a lunatic”

                                              man on phone

noting “I'm being held captive by Indiana Amish,” downed

trees on road to Terre Haute, round barns so the devil

couldn't hide in the corners

                               lines of white water

moving in across blue-green plane in right corner,

circular green pine on tip of the point above it




angle of branch slanting to the left across orange blackness

of sky in upper right corner, edge of roof across from it,

half circle of waning white moon overhead

                                            Bush noting

“I've always said this would be a long war, not only a long

war but a new kind of war”

                             Stein insisting on difference

between repetition and insistence, which “in its emphasis

can never be repeating,” since it “can never be the same

even when it is most the same”

                                 blue whiteness of haze

on horizon to the left of the point, cormorant flapping

across the nearly motionless blue-green plane toward it




grey whiteness of sky in window above the unmade white bed,

line of black wire slanting to the right across it, pigeon

perched on edge of green roof across from it

                                               Sheryl Crow

repeating “I'm going to soak up the sun,” concluding “I've

got my 45 on so I can rock on”

                                 Ashbery noting that Stein's

inrush of clarity is an aesthetic experience, a description

of which “applies to ‘real-life' situations, the aesthetic

problem being a microcosm of all human problems”


circle of sun rising above plane of ridge on left, blue-

white sky reflected in motionless grey plane below it




vertical yellow edge of building in grey-whiteness of sky

in upper left corner, brick-red plane below it, yellow-

beaked bird pecking up green from pot on fire escape


Smithson claiming writing on art replaces presence

with absence, “abstraction of language for the real thing”


Coleridge thinking “poem should be both obscure and clear,”

Ponge wanting it “to introduce to human thought traits

which are not beyond its capacity”

                                     red brick edge

of building against grey-white sky in upper right

foreground, pigeon flapping up across behind it




rectangular flat black plane to the left of the sandstone-

colored wall in right corner, edge of black forest green

roof below it, pigeon flapping up to the left across it


man on phone noting bird that sits in a tree at corner

of Bush and Webster, which begins to sing at around 1AM


woman on left wanting a very dry martini with Bombay gin,

recalling “I've been on phone with fact checkers all week,

some of whom are women I call ‘fact checkeresses'”


red edge of building against grey-white sky in upper left

corner, bird gliding toward circular green tree below it




edge of sandstone-colored building against brick-red plane

in lower left foreground, pigeon disappearing behind it,

grey-white sky tilting down toward it

                                        Paul Desmond

practicing for weeks very fast, noting “I wanted to sound

like a dry martini”

                      man in black sweatshirt recalling

scattering father's ashes into headwaters of the Kern

River, who'd asked for that 17 years before, adding

“it was so private and so gigantic”


green glass plane against grey-whiteness of sky

on the right, bright pink metal wall below it




circular yellow-orange flower against white wall in right

foreground, edge of dark green roof in window on the left,

sound of cars in the street below it

                                       man in the woman's

sequined dress looking back at the pianist, confessing “I

haven't felt this good since our heyday in 1967”

                                                   Madame X

looking over her left shoulder, a strap originally falling

across powdered right shoulder, Sargent noting “I suppose

it is the best thing I have ever done”

                                         triangular grey

glass plane against grey whiteness of sky in upper left

corner, wind in leaves of circular green tree below it




edge of rectangular brick-red wall against grey-white sky

in upper right corner, angle of black wire slanting across

from it, drops splashing up from darker grey plane below it


man in black leather jacket speaking Polish into cell phone,

having had 9 front teeth capped in Poznan

                                            Marsden Hartley

writing postcard to Gertrude Stein about numbers in Germany,

claiming “I have seen some wonderful ones here, especially

a green 3”

             grey whiteness of sky reflected in vertical

grey glass wall in the upper left corner, shadowed red

brick plane of building in foreground across from it