I've always liked the idea of working from art--but have never had much success with it. There's a painting of Cy Twombly's in the National Gallery that just makes me vibrate--I shift from foot to foot and just cannot keep still; it's totally unconscious. I've tried to write from that painting, but have never been able to do it. Perhaps I'm just not ready yet. After all, it's taken me 10 years to write a couple of poems, so I'm not ready just yet to pass by this field.
I have managed one poem that I think holds up. I thought I'd post it and the two source images. They're two Untitled paintings by Joan Mitchell, one is from 1957, the other 1959-1960. I think the poem fails in terms of ekphrasis, but it does follow through on what I experience from the paintings.
They went inside: shaved him, incised;
the infected vermiform appendix, excised.
Dream again: hot stink; meaty lengths,
gut loops spilling from where he was abscised.
In the peritoneal corner, it waited; darkened,
swollen, like a blighted iris rhizome.
The doe’s gut split, viscera scattered across
the lane: crimson smears, aubergine muscle shredded: pulverized.
Sun through the pines, spare room, hot sheets.
She changes the bandages, pity in her eyes.
Inside, inside, inside, some days he’d just repeat it. Inside
the cells; inside the chemicals locomotoring on and on. Inside,
as though the more he said it, the deeper he could go, the more he could apprise.