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Picasso (1964)

A canvas comprises a totality of surface

just as Spain is composed of constituent parts,

Catalunya, Madrid, hills and trees, etc.

 

Color dyes the fabric clothing form itself,

as wars and anthems unify

the body politic of mass and volume.

 

Neutral as Switzerland, the palette

confers legitimacy on every pigment it holds,

like a Roman Emperor. Zaragoza,

 

that dusty, lemon-bitter city of rough stones

with its cathedral of saints’ bones

on a plaza lacking any compensatory grace—

 

Zaragoza is but the corruption

of its Roman name, Caesar Augustus,

and so a cohort to historical inaccuracy.

 

This I propose as demonstration

that what matters is not accuracy but acts,

not chronicles but conquests.

 

The body is everything I have wished

to rid myself of through art

and failed. Yet surrender is impossible.

 

My hands persevere in the task of painting

as soldiers long after the battle is lost

carry on their raping of women in the streets.



ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR


Cambell McGrath is an American poet. He is the author of nine full-length collections of poetry, including Seven Notebooks (Ecco Press, 2008), Shannon: A Poem of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Ecco Press, 2009), and In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys (Ecco Press, 2012).