Two poems by Ross Stager

The Madness of Sunflowers
after Robert Altman’s Vincent & Theo

Mix the food coloring with a bit
of butter for a paint we can spread
with our mouths.

He started with a palette.
The paint never got
on the canvass.

Yes, there is one original.
Just one. We live in it
all the time. Swim its rivers
constantly. We’re a gallery.
This is just one exhibit.
Each second of the day
a single case study in a file
drawer for which the clock & I
are negotiating still a name.

In the same vein, I turn
these poems over
for public examination.

Girl with Cigar
after Robert Altman’s Vincent & Theo

I plucked this one from the market
just like any eggplant or cantaloupe.

Now we’ve traded terms of value
on all minutes of the day, a cage

you’re glad to inhabit. You allow me
to capture you in pages, with language

& imagery. How my hands inquire
after the facts of sight & vision!

To witness you at our wits’ ends
& hold you so close. Tonight

a great haze clouds our inhibitions,
all that talk of once again making

discourse of shadows relevant
such are these wicked polygons

pursuing a modicum of sublimity.
But our principles of artistic system

outpace the alcohol, balance
the randomness. It’s a pattern

of cause & effect in theories
of order & chaos, metaphysical

schemas of greens, forms of yellow
& orange & reds in the context

of brushstrokes, oils & acrylics
in soul mechanics this wordy

abstract poetry a verbal energy
that insinuates a crazy music

exactly how the world idea
reifies itself, becomes actually being.

You just puff & puff until
we blaze & disappear into

the cloud of symbolic infinity,
fall on the canvass as our

bodies take shape & like paint
drip down & accept mixture

with impurities of the flesh
& spirit & a love of it all.


Ross Stager is a student of philosophy and English at the University of Minnesota and works as a night manager at a small grocery store in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis. He has published poems in such places like Otoliths, Alimentum, Inner Sins, Lunaris Review, Penwood Review, CultureCult Magazine, Chantwood Magazine, and 30 North, as well as a short-story for The Bacon Review. Catch him on Twitter with the handle @RossStager.

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