Rocks Near The Caves above the Chateau Noir (1904)

The eye’s motor motors,
activates the figures
of when and what
seeding then boiling
each other into steam
that, condensing, falls
as the poverty
or thickness
of the next moment
that bobs somewhere
always ahead of the hand
and the brush
that together rewrite
the history of their moves
in the physique of sight
as a new history
of the eye’s motor
activating the forms
of fleeting solids
and heavy light
as tectonic plates
of colour that remember
how once boulders boiled
though now their what
is the trees’ when.





Still Life with Cherries and Peaches (1885-87)

—mad scrunched spectacle,
white cloth pushing
boiling cherries, restless,
writhing stalks,
up against the fourth wall
out of vibrating
a shadow world,
partly back-lit,
of glazed green jug
and blue silk drapes
whose gold flecks and flashes
hum quietly in the peaches’
dull orange, dull ochre suede,
vibrating artifice
and nature, the peaches’
lumpy, clod-like peachness
against the cherries’
restless ‘what about me?’
highlights, against, in turn,
the painting’s underwatery
backstage, the eye chases
the thread or the thread
chases the eye round and round,
the drama never stops
vibrating, outside October gusts,
leaves shatter light,
catch it, juggle it—





Bathers and More Bathers

‘For in truth nature is our first language. Our bodies remember!’
Jacques Lecoq, Le Corps Poétique

In the age of the engineer | take the body out of the studio | in the republic of straight lines| take it outside | naked flesh | the play of light on it | joins the language | of water | grass | trees | sky | light on water | shadow on leaf

naked flesh | the play of light on it |allows the body | the same geometry | as everything else | limbs |torsos | standing or sprawled | the interplay | of crooked arms | bent knees | curved backs | are forms | answering to | forms

these bodies | at rest | could fuck | or wrestle | but wear desire | like they wear light and shade | these bodies at rest | are ancient ease | or ideal future | naked flesh | the play of light on it | another way | of getting nature | to reveal itself


Note: The phrases about engineers and straight lines are taken from Cézanne by Joachim Gasquet





Pendule au Marbre Noir (c.1870)

The traditional lemon’s
a joke: this isn’t still life

but a big, ballsy, ‘so what’
collection of wrongness.

Black marble clock with no hands,
the stiff white cloth that rises

under its own starch, scored,
grooved, in repeating panels,

cunty conch, jug that’s either
glass or metal (who cares?),

man-size cup and saucer –
bloke’s salon, man cave comforts

of the mineral, opposite
of a flower arrangement.

Black marble clock!
Now imagine who would have

(black marble clock!)
this picture in his wallet.







[David Kennedy was born in Leicester in 1959. He co-edited The New Poetry and is the author of New Relations: The Refashioning of British Poetry 1980-1994. He edited the magazine of innovative poetry and poetics The Paper from 2000 to 2004 and publishes widely on contemporary British and Irish poetry. His publications include three collections with Salt; The Dice Cup, translations of Max Jacob's prose poems with Christopher Pilling; the collaboration Eight Excursions with Rupert Loydell; and monographs on Douglas Dunn, on elegy, and on ekphrasis in contemporary British poetry. David lives in Sheffield with his wife, the artist and poet Christine Kennedy.]

Copyright © 2014 by David Kennedy, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.