art after

by phillip gillis

I. Painting

The ephemeral colors dancing on the horizon
in a daring ballet of lavenders,
not purple,
and rust, like metal weathered in many storms,
and periwinkle blue,
like “mother’s dress,”
lost in a mystic confusion
even if Bob and Vincent did it better.

II. Music

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The rhythms and lyrics bouncing around-
little care for formalities and scales-
humming while trying to find the right word
but the feeling is right
even if it is not quite translated through once calloused fingers
as the Taylor keeps the tempo
and a drink makes it easier.

III. Theatre

The words spouting from his mouth
but not quite the sweetest of epiphanies-
Strutting and fretting
and finding (and missing) the marks.
A mass of confusion
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Playing the part (whatever that may be)
trying not to catch the ire of the audience
for just a few moments.

IV. Sculpture

Roughly shaped-
much like a child forms a world in front of him
and parents use a past to make a future.
Hands moving gracefully
finding something in
nothing.
A clay jug can bring in water
while also keeping out spirits.
A missing arm or nose
(broken on purpose perhaps).
Imperfections on a perfect form.

V. Architecture

Structure.
Rules.
Codes
But the beauty comes in as the falling waters
carefully cascade down a mountain,
curling delicately under a porch overlooking
some semblance of heaven
(function giving way to form and back)
Created by hands.
Dreamed of elsewhere.

VI. Cinema

Lights dim.
Lost in another world (or a living room)
for a moment.
The suspect is just around the corner
waiting patiently…
as the crop duster flies overhead
and all seven of the samurai (and Major Tom)
reach Rashomon
and then are whisked away into a western
(starring Clint).
Fin.
And return.

VII. Literature

The words escape out of her head
and fall off the page…
out of the pen…
off the screen…
wade into the river…
and into another’s soul-
misfits and imaginary friends
at a dinner party
and lies and a game.
All stories.

VIII. Catharsis

Reflections
mix and swirl-
all lost in that same horizon
(a ripple of life and eternity)
while the band plays on
(hopefully with a proper second line)
because the show must go on
(or so they say)
the towns and works built from clay and rubble
(and occasionally returned)
and the work is never finished
(there’s editing to do)
until the credits roll
(for now)
but the stories remain.

-dedicated to Ray, a friend and writer who finished his earthly story in January 2022

Phillip Gillis is a teacher, writer, wanderer, semi-retired professional wrestler, and father of two beautiful children. He is also a proud native of Allensville, NC and grew up in a hardware store, C&G Supply Center.