Wind Shapes The Mountain, Sand Is Many Men: Two Poems for Thomas Dexter By Devin Powers

Wind Shapes The Mountain, Sand Is Many Men: Two Poems for Thomas Dexter

By Devin Powers

I met Thomas Dexter nearly 15 years ago at Bennington College in a psychology class focusing on Sigmund Freud’s writing. Thomas was in his second year; I was a Freshman. I had the impression of his strong philosophical dimension: a passion for ideas and a questioning, keen intellect. But what I remember most about Thomas was a pressure in his speech and even the way he held himself. There was a tension behind his words and actions. I still see it and feel it on occasion when I spend time with him. This intensity is a natural part of him—just something he carries. I mention this bottled-like energy because I see it as the spring source from which all of his work flows, irrespective of media, idea, or the shape and look each independent work takes. The energy is always powerful and volatile in feel. It often has a formal beauty—not a calm beauty like a field of flowers, but a rumbling, sublime beauty like lightning cutting a storm. In his best work I have a feeling of awe accompanied by a real sense of fear. This builds into an excitement that could become something out of control, even maybe ecstatic if I am not careful with myself. Nietzsche almost certainly would have called Thomas’s work Dionysian.

Thomas asked me to create a written response to his work in TIME(AFTER)TIME at NAPOLEON. My first impulse was to write an essay, but the more I watched the works again and again, the more I felt an essay would do more violence than justice by making a too static interpretation on an artwork that was so open and alive. Instead, I recorded a poem called “Bone,” which responded directly to Thomas’s “Verschiebung (displacement)”, image still, 2015.” In addition, I adapted a poem titled “Lines of Light,” I first wrote in 2008. The language in “Lines of Light” connects well with the turning kaleidoscopic imagery in “burningdownthehouse.” The feel of the poems relate to the anxiety and libidinal energy I see in Thomas’s work. Intended to be heard rather than read, the following two poems have been shared on the NAPOLEON blog as audio files.

Bone

I recall
remember
repeat
ripple
repeat ripple
nipple

a mumbled
jigger
the flicker
that smelly liquor
dance
and lick her

wind shapes
the mountains
thin white light
lights

digits play
along sheets
blanketed over
dark

see between
past the rasters
net
face
a twitch

dip your head
dip you head
dip

the water
i the water

see static sea
a quiver
in the gravestone
nine years old

the freeze
that frees
the draperies

the geeks
and the greeks

the headless angle
time past hellenistic

age

again again
again

baby

babylonian
ion

stiff vein
strong arm
force

egyptian
how the river flows
backward

under the sun
dark energy pervades

where it goes
how it blows
these strings
of seeds

stars forever
long telephone
ring ringing
wrinkle

the great tapestry
the good zips and
snips

through the bed
glacier

erasure

rustle rustle
he’s Russell
he wrestled Russell
a wrinkled mess
of parts
and bodies
the hand darts
up her skirt

bent down
knees together
elbows on knees
feeble fetal
faecal

in dark air
surrounded

see shore
silence

sand is many men
beaten below
the clouds
below the winds
and
its rain
below nervous
waves
below the
ocean
bellow the
ocean

hello

and what
what’s above
clouds

what is below
sentiment and
sediment

below sediment
rock bone
fossil

blood blood
red blood
and more bone

Lines of Light

underneath she is calm
and empty
under she is empty
underneath is calm
underneath is soft
underneath is naked
underneath naked

maybe she was crazy

she said
many lines
she said he was
many lines
she said he saw
lines
she was probably crazy
when she told me
when she told me
we are all lines of light
she was probably crazy
she was crazy
she said we are all lines
of shooting light
she said lines
of shooting light
she said he was lines
of shooting light
she said I was shooting
lines of light
she said I was shooting lines
of light
she spoke shooting lines of light
she spoke shooting light
she spoke light
she spoke
she

what do you think

what do other men think

safe
calm space
easy
calm
and easy
sleep

About the Author:

Devin Powers earned a BA in Studio Art from Bennington College in 2005 and an MFA in Drawing & Painting from Brooklyn College in 2009. The paintings in Powers’s recent solo exhibition at Lesley Heller Workspace were described in the New York Times as containing a “writhing, billowing energy”. For more information on the artist please visit his website: http://www.devinpowers.info.

To download a PDF version of this essay, click Dexter_Powers_May_2015

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