Van Gogh Soliloquy

this I have to offer you
without a tree I am pinned and bleed
remarkably painless
The shred of ear still pink
blood hot on my neck,
but, seeped into tunic syrup.
had I left it inside
it would have bubbled to my brain delirious. yes.
that’s it. a safety valve. it
could have been my genitals. should have -they
make loneliness harder. the
constant nagging throb. perhaps though
the nose. or tongue
they could go.
the tongue. no one listens. or
maybe one little finger —
it’s all symbolic anyway
a finger. a little finger
wagging at me. do this. do that
maybe all the fingers
one by one. if I could bare
one hand stumped and finally pure
then what to do with the good hand. unpure? what
remedy? what archangel’s blade to free me? what ties
me? what cord strangles?
my eyes pop inches out of their sockets no
air, my blood suffocating me
my genitals acting outside of me.
my hands. filthy hands. filthy hands
my imperfect sense. all. all tainted
the ear. that dares to hear music
in a cacophony of pain. the ear
straight gleaming razor slashed through air
and the release. god. god. the release
lost in part and saved in whole
my gift. my gift dearest god. who has showed me this small way
this tiny salvation. in the arena. i stand in front of cheering thousands
waving this trophy. one bleeding ear. the corpus still alive
      and so pregnantly ripe for still more pain.


Illustration  © James Conant

Illustration © James Conant


Jack Powers founded Stone Soup Poetry in 1971 and hosted the series for over 30 years, publishing over 100 books and journals. He passed away in 2010. Thanks to Oddball Magazine columnist James Van Looy and Out of The Blue Gallery volunteer Laurel Lambert for recovering this poems from Jack Powers’ papers shortly after his death.

James Conant is a Cambridge artist who was a primary illustrators for the online journal Spoonful.