Two poems by David Kennedy

Two new poems by David Kennedy from a project on Cézanne
Cézanne – The Card Players (1892-5, 1894-5)

I – (1892-5)

Slowed to two frames
a second, a present
moment where a wonky,
red-clay table glows
with more life than two men,
volumes as much as figures,
old pinhead with giant’s knees
vs. more proportioned younger man,
growing old in the playing out
of unbroken custom,
slowed to two frames
a second, a present
moment deepens, lengthens,
yawns, yawns and dust falls,
settles almost audibly,
staining colours with time,
ochres, browns, rough graphics,
as two men play beyond
desire or chance.

II – (1894-5)

Slowed to two frames
a second, a present
moment where a wonky,
red-clay table glows,
burns and pulses,
acts in the same nervy drama
of the next card
as two men who seem lit
from within, enlightened
in an endlessly lengthening,
deepening minute,
around which the world
stops spinning, a minute
where they arrange everything,
the light on each other’s jackets,
the pulse in each other’s flesh,
the bright abstract pastoral
that opens behind them,
then make their play.
Cézanne – Le Lac d’Annecy (1896)

En vacance en famille | ‘It’s temperate here’ | he wrote Gasquet | ‘And nature a little like | we’ve been taught| by young ladies’ albums’ | so he painted the lake | as everything | he and it | were not

the tree’s brooding fringe, | mountains as split | and shattered slate, | reflections in the lake | turning it to scored crystal | glass crudely etched | or reflections themselves | turned to blue chalk cliffs

first sun striking | the tree | the chateau | is smashed by the tree’s tangle | into a sky | and one lit hillside of | mauve | pink | green | yellow | blue | scales | splinters | shards | diamonds | all sections moving all the time

it’s as if | he catches first sun surprising | the world in dark dreams | of obduracy | of unloveliness

it’s as if | he embraces certainty of structure | only to tip it | crack it | mock it | shatter it
David Kennedy (@DavidKeS7 ) lives and writes in Sheffield. He has published three collections with Salt – most recently The Devil’s Bookshop 2007 – and pamphlets with Rack Press and Oystercatcher.