Circular Ekphrasis


Dueling Jim Dine

“My mind was going and so was my hand,” he said, and so did I.  There seemed to be some sort of automatic conduit, almost an unthinking or unconscious mechanics between what occurred in my brain and body and the gestures of my hand fisting a tool.  He called his “drawing,” I, “writing”; “scribbling,” both.

He sketched a line.

I doodled a word.

We compared combinations of marks.  I thought his propitious, he considered mine apropos.  We continued.  He smudged and scraped, texturing and smearing a darkened patch of his paper.  I scrawled smudge, erasing the ink as I wrote, leaving a bleary term, as well as “melancholy knot.”  He raised an eyebrow, squirting water on lines of ink, causing them to run and wriggle down the surface.  I likewise thought “crow’s blood,” and wrote “mood of lightless cavern,” in carefully dropped water stains.

He squinted as if he’d been challenged.  I, the I writing, watched, expectantly.  The draftsman sat down.

I roped out over my page “the knife sliced deep through parchment, carrying fire.”  He leapt to and slashed his surface staining the tear’s edges black with brilliant red and orange pastels rising off the seam.  We chuckled, he winked.

Picking up a squat bottle of indigo blue, he dashed it against an open field on his paper, creating a blotch slowly swelling in miniscule fronds.

I reacted.  Grabbing pens in both hands I charged my page and inscribed, as if in fury, fat-felt-tipped and intimately paralleled in circular lines (by turning the paper as I scrawled) “maniacal laughter sobs from grievous wound seeping rabidly throughout his grocery list, voicemail and every phrase and memo taken in, given out, as if he could not escape the inky squid-cloud, the night’s obsessed vortex, unable to feign or dart his pollution.”

Scenting blood, inveigled in duel, he savaged his canvas with cadmium shrieks, scratching and scabbing the pulp, then clouding it with sponges of charcoal and chalk, dementing the work to a state.

Scowling, he read the above.

We rested with coffee and smokes.

At this point, he challenged me to a mark-for-mark, side-by-side, making in tandem.  He moved and struck; “drak” I jotted.  He followed with a long downward arc of blue chalk while I scrivened a loosened cursive “loop of sky in gravity’d tears” also in chalk.  Jagging yellow up and across, all caps I shouted “WITH THE HEAT OF THE WIND’S BLAZE THROUGH DESERT!”

He spiraled while I “circled round the mayhem of the mill, her lilting light goes out.”  We darken and begin to fill the ground…as he shades and scumbles

I “in the apparatus of time the world dims and pops.  Stumbling gesturally through policy and poem the language drains its line.  Discovering its feeble feet it finds a lure and breaths crackle in plentiful song.  The patching powers perhaps the frame, caressing its fitful desire, soon it swoons and whispers.  The vapor twists its noise and cogitates in action worrying, tendering, arousing limpid lisps.  We vibrate and hold, tendrilling thread to conjoin.  Fastening now on swoop and dive, a sistered surround, a remoteness drawn near.  We are woven, our minds are going and so are our hands….”