Braque's Diary of the Atelier Cut-Outs

by Tantra Bensko

I straighten sand, filings, coffee
Grounds into square containers,
Sponging the sides. The coffee blackens
The sponge in blotches I will remember
Tomorrow after I mix the grains and flakes
With paint; the next painting of my atelier
Needs a dark corner—a solidity
Overseeing the cutouts suspended
From the atelier ceiling.

Yesterday, my war wound answered
When Pablo, tapping his teeth, said
I should believe
More than my studio cutouts like streamers
For a child's party. My scar
Reminds me nothing else has meaning.

The flat, aluminum cutouts of bottles, apples,
Bowls, turn on their quiet wires.
They move me; I wave breezes to make them
Live, die, and live
Into many torn views.

Today, the buxom neighbor carrying blintzes
Egged me not to care about
What's not flat. She forgot
To bend, clanging together
Some fronts and sides.
I told her pianos
Sideways in the street were what
We hid behind. Bullets played
Clanging tunes like Schoenberg.
The dead ones grew grayer than
The piano shadows they lay inside.

Front views cast grey shadows on
The profile cutouts. The atelier easels
And chairs dapple their colors
Onto the slightly warped aluminum.
The smooth edges glint
When they take sides
With the window light.

Cutouts of still things move
Into all the sides of flatness.

We have to break into enough lies to see.