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Tuesday, December 29, 2015


by Rick Mullin

Ellsworth Kelly, one of America’s great 20th-century abstract artists, who in the years after World War II shaped a distinctive style of American painting by combining the solid shapes and brilliant colors of European abstraction with forms distilled from everyday life, died on Sunday at his home in Spencertown, N.Y. He was 92. —NY Times, Dec. 27, 2015. Photography by Jack Shear. W Magazine, July 2012

I got the news in an iPhone ping
from the New York Times
as I changed from my schmattas,
those long-gone pajamas
on a greyed-out T shirt
from New Orleans
bearing a folk art cartoon

of Satchmo.

I had just finished painting
(in two shots divided by lunch)

a violin lying on five dead roses
and baby’s breath pulled from a bouquet
I’d given my wife before Christmas.

It looked like an ample brown nude
or a corpse waked outside its coffin.
Of course the paint was still wet
and the image still new
and the oil smell still had that sweet
tinge of wood wax and rose.

Rick Mullin's new collection. Stignatz & the User of Vicenza, is due in January from Dos Madres Press.