057.3: Matthew Hittinger:: There Were No Sculptures & Stendhal Syndrome / Nude Study 057

Matthew Hittinger's first poem begins with the absence of art: "There Were No Sculptures." This absence does not mean that art disappears or is forgotten. Instead, the void becomes filled, first by "bent steel beams and painted rods / sheet metal cut outs and rusted knots" then, eventually, the people who "posed in their stead" replacing the sculptures. This is the power of art: its insistence on existing. Even in its absence, art forces itself to appear in some form, a new form. Hittinger's second poem begins with Stendhal syndrome, an ecstatic moment that is caused by viewing a work of art. The triggering point that causes this ecstatic moment is, again, the art of the human body. The poem is written as a diptych, and this dual nature speaks to the relationship of viewer to artwork as well as poem to artwork. The reaction to the work of art, whether that reaction is internal thought or an ecstatic moment or the decision to write a poem, is inherently separate from the art itself. The decision to write a poem comes from a similar place as the cause of Stendhal syndrome, the desire to make that internal thought manifest itself outward, to perpetuate itself and spread itself: "for the simple project called form / called awe pleasure and delight / to view, to be viewed." Andrew Wessels

There Were No Sculptures

           at the Socrates park their lots
taped off for seed and sod

           there were no sculptures there

they had all gone home penned
           to peer over a weed covered fence

were no sculptures there were

           bent steel beams and painted rods
sheet metal cut outs and rusted knots

           no sculptures there were no

chimes but three balls belled the silence
           behind the vanes’ cupped ends

sculptures there were no sculptures

           so we posed in their stead
“like a milder wren” you cut a ‘t’ from threat

           and dubbed me “heart with tin gem”

Stendhal Syndrome

/                                                      Nude Study

Not quite a swoon but like a spoonSun slab frames your limbs bleaches blue
          not quite snug in the spoon slotsheets, skin be it black, olive,          
not quite lined with the other spoonswhite in this light it holds no hue
that silken sheen jars like a spotjust a shadow edge, hieroglyph
light metal glint lodged behind eyecomposed of pores on one man dark
          but not so harsh just a browndots the hairs torn from the chest          
body turning gold in my mindwhite bumps cluster the ocher mark
Sargent’s light, memory’s a crowncalled nipple and shaft shadows rest
not for the head but for the clefttheir lines against your packed abs where
          between pecs where skin burns whiteon another a soft mat          
no rotunda study here leftcurls against cheek, ear, a path flares
free from myth and history’s bitefrom the navel’s lower lip, black
for the simple project called formblaze a nest for the bulge and neck
          called awe pleasure and delightof the sleeping pear. On some          
to view, to be viewed, senses stormed the hairs spiral, contour thigh, check
not just by a pose but by lightthe calf and Achilles curve, thumb
reversed in the eye: a pillowthe veins on each arch, the toe tufts.
          straddled head and gaze tiltedLie back my many hued you          
not Sebastian’s long neck, pierced showslide palm under skull base. Heave. Puff.
but a Boston bell hop quiltedHollows braced, sinuous sinew,
in oil, Thomas E. McKellerthe side ridged, the clavicle raised
          and before him NicolaA second shadow scratches          
D’Inverno and the coloredscruff, brow, shields your eyes from the rays,
beach bodies water and cola.frees the sleeper sand from lashes
Balance your weight on slung back armsas if probed by insect feelers
          thrust chest and shoulders rib cageyour blades flipped, ear teeth-tatted          
us V way to uncut inches.stray hairs that escaped the razor
Not a swoon. No. But breathless. Yes.stray light balled in an off ballad.