Incidental: Seeing Faces
Uccello, c.1438-40, ‘Battle of San Romano’, the Louvre panel
I can’t not see it; the face once formed
I can only meet again in recognition; it hovers
an agreeable Horrour. It takes
for its eyes the slight openings
of soldiers’ helms, its red mandrill nose bridge
a length of painted lance, its bared teeth the bronze discs strung
along a horse’s browband. I see it because I’m averse
through tiredness, modernity,
to making any sense of the action.
The upright lances induce in the whole formation
a wobble, the way of human-turned wood,
unyielding but uncertain in the elements.
There is an enjamb of horses
being turned by humans, snagging on
each other’s articulated finery.
Uccello is still torn between a love of surface
and that new mistress with the sweet-spot,
one-point perspective: both claim each line
for its masculine cause or feminine upkeep.
Peace is surface decoration. Sex is a horse haunch
turned to face. War is a one-point perspective.
The problem with allegory, it longs
for a one-to-one with reality, a true romancing.
The mandrill face, unlike,
is fit for seeing not meaning.
Call it primitive, but then it will turn up
at the telos party. All our bright-bitted technologies
will throw us—still wildly asserting our bodies
through space—in front of this mandrill
mid-saying: ‘if you misuse me for a
beginning or end I’ll let that happen too.’
- FREE: 20 Poets anthology
- 94: EARTHSUBMIT to M Takolander 93: PEACHCOMING SOONwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones
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- NO THEME VIII Editorial
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