How to Poetry Better (*w/ apologies to Fischli &Weiss)

The Guggenheim Museum here in New York City recently closed a wonderful retrospective of the Swiss artist duo of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. For those unfamiliar with their work (as I was), I suggest reading this from one of the Gallery Guides who posted on the Guggenheim Museum’s blog. Explore the site further to learn more about the exhibit.

 

One of the things that struck me about the retrospective was the infectious sense of play that clung to the works and also influenced museum goers of all ages. You could hear laughter and sighs of contentment, bursts of Aha! as jokes or visual puns sunk in; the entire space was filled with the buzz of people not just talking and reacting to the art, but feeding off its energy and fun. I’m currently working on a poem that more directly deals with the themes of Suddenly This Overview and some of the popular opposites that emerge there. But this present blog post comes inspired by a completely different piece in the exhibit, the Large Question Pot (1984), an enormous painted polyurethane and cloth vessel, filled with dozens upon dozens of questions on the inner wall, written in German in various colors.

large question pot
Photo by Philip Greenberg for the New York Times

 

In keeping with the theme of play (and, in some cases, the juxtapositions found in popular opposites), I wrote answers to some selected questions that the curators translated for the exhibit. These answers, at times short poems, or even poetic bits, or simply sharp responses, were written in quick bursts, as the muse struck, with no rhyme or reason necessarily to unite them, other than the poetic exercise itself. At some point I’d like to find translations of all the queries inside Large Question Pot (my German being, well, non-existent), to continue exploring what Fischli and Weiss bring out of me with their work. Until then, you’ll need to be content with these selections.

 

 

 

 

 

A Kettle of Answers to

Select Queries from Large Question Pot

When does the money get here?

Tuesday. As long as I get the burger today.

Should I put a red hat on?

No.

Should I sing?

And dance. But no beatboxing. Or humming.

Or mumbling. Or made up lyrics. Read the

karaoke screen for gods’ sake!

 

To whom is the moon useful?

Wooing lovers & lost wanderers & whitening

launderers & leaping wagyu & wage deficient laborers &

lonely werewolves & star-struck stuck strivers lacking in accuracy

Am I being watched?

Nice tie.

Should I invade Russia?

Napoléon: Non.        Reagan: No.

HItler: Nein.                Genghis Khan: Maybe.

        McDonald’s: HELL YEAH!

Should I go to the zoo?

Old MacDonald: But there are so many creatures on my farm

Ol’ Dirty Bastard: Brooklyn zoo!

Ol’ Man River: Roll along, jus’ roll along

Old Man: No, The Sea

Who governs the city?

Mr. Mayor, cousin to the congressman, son of the

senator, consort to the queen, lackey to the lords,

monkey for the mob, that sniveling sot standing at the open bar.

Why must I always fight?

Because of your honor. I’m a man

hero dreams etc, etc

Should I lie?

awake at night the mind swarming with thoughts lapping worries in photo-never-finishes?

saying the thing which is not? I love you.

down? Only if the ache has reached the tips of your fingers

Am I the chosen one?

Let’s review. She chose you and divorced you. They hired

the other candidate. The bouncer left the velvet rope up.

They skipped your number at the butcher’s. They called another name

down on The Price Is Right.

Sans scar, sans midichlorians, sans hammer, sans scantron, sans prophecy,

sans sword, sans portent, sans oracle, sans sacrifice, sans adoptive parents,

I’m gonna go with no.


Is there another bus?

The SMS says six minutes and the schedule says

yes and the queue says probably and the traffic

eventually and past experience at some point and

all I want is a window seat and a courteous driver

 

Why are the forests silent?

With no hikers and no bears and no trees or leaves or

loves falling, they’re really just enjoying the peace.

Do I know everything about myself?

A. YES                C. Maybe

B. NO                  D. Can I?

E. ALL or NONE of the above

Why can’t I sleep?

GCS nighttime

Who will pay for my beer?

On Tuesday, when Wimpy catches me back for

that burger, I got your beer.

Where are the galaxies moving to?

On up. To the east side. Where they’ve finally got a piece

of the pii-iii—ie.

What does my dog think?

IMG00016-20110103-1419

Do I stink?

Yes. At many things. But not hygiene. I bathe like nobody’s

business. Soaps and scrubs and shampoos and exfoliants

keep me clean. But they’re no help to my math skills,

flirting, dancing, drawing, and picking the fastest line at the market.

Was I a good child?

Grandma J: Indeed, the family’s Great White Hope

Grandpa L: I won’t get to see

Grandma L: Save the one time I drove you, wiperless, in the rain

Grandpa F: I won’t get to see either, but drink this beer, it’ll open your appetite

Grandma E: You’re too young to be bad, and I definitely won’t get to see

Mom: That’s my boy

Dad: Until you got your license

Brother J: Hell no, you just got away with it

Sister A: Probably-obably


Is the New Ice Age coming?

–Man, are they making another one of those movies?

or, alternatively,

–Of course, and the polar bears are more than a little impatient.


How far can one go?

Space-You-are-here-950x320

Is everything a game? And is it over?

If yes, up up down down left right left right

A B B A start select start. Then 99 lives.


Am I not right to ask?

it’s just that I never ask the right

questions or proffer the right answers

she: can I get your number? me: really?

she: flirts. I flirt. 20 minutes. Dammit I should’ve asked for her number.

Should I go? Should she stay?

Is she coming? Is she going? Is it love? Is it

like? Is it over yet? Is it really starting?

How will I know? How will I know? How will I knooooow?

Who you gonna call?

Naughty? Nice?

Candidate A? B? R? D?

When does it end?

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s