Steve Barbaro

The Pond

—after Paul Cézanne

the sitters, waterside, sitters, 6 of ‘em, how they’re globular, or just block-
like, wedge’d, but not-un-lively, because stoutly clothed, if not quite also face-
full, yet attentive, all in all, they still seem, very much, & even almost burdened as

such, I mean they’re ensnared by the scene, but geometrically so, & with a heft
there, an un-natural-seeming bulk, & with one in particular ramp’d in sleep,
coop’d, & on the land’s very fringe, itself slope’d… I mean one figure’s sprawled

near the center, & seems not only half-absent, but also self-tunneling,
like maybe he’s in a dream, scrunched, something yanking the very land on
which he’s dozing up through his body, like, the pond, say, via the eyes, or else

the land via the chest, the air itself via the wrists, the neck, etc, plus there’s
a tall-ish tree, see, rather straw-like, & pastily-trunked, nearer the center
than where lies the sleeper, yet too far off to be reflected in the water, way

too far… but, wait, wait, the water does re-show touches of the pasty trunk,
doesn’t it? plus, what-looks-like-a-boat looms in the bottom right, & there’s
a person maybe climbing in, as if he might escape, & shirk the intensity… yet

you look & look at the scene & you sense something—what? that the French
government, say, rejected the painting upon its owner’s death? though it was
the will of the owner, one Gustave Caillebotte, to give the frame, along with

65 others, to the nation? but what Caillebotte knew, perhaps to a fault,
was the painting’s value, for he stipulated that ‘The Pond,’ plus the 65 other
paintings in his possession, all made by friends, must be hung in the Louvre

or else the Luxembourg Palace, for Caillebotte simply did not want the pictures
ending up in a provincial museum, or, as he said, some ‘attic’… paintings like
‘The Pond’, ah, just must not get lost—lost like, say, anyone ogling some such

‘Pond’ might become, their face gradually mixing with the scarcely shown
face of the water… & not that one must necessarily see something to see, of
course, its influence… but not that the face of a pond (a lake, a sea) could

ever really be (with, like, finality…) seen, except as something racing against
its very own appearance, & especially when the whole scene seems long-
since-become a piece with the water, lapping, lapping, what with the slope’d

land & the pasty tree & all 6 figures & even the sky itself all appearing
part & parcel of the bottom, I mean the painting’s bottom, which is the pond
itself, or just the pond’s top, which is clipped-off, & like the land, rippling, rippling…

Articles of Capitulation

Today is the thousandth day, don’t
you know, the thousand-thousandth day we seek
the fumaroles, the fumaroles seeking
altitude right next to the car dealerships, right
where we’re ogling their smoke in lieu of
everything, in lieu of a savior or a demon

or a progeny, let alone an eternity to swallow
the cacophony of our inevitable bickering over
everything but the fate of those very same fluttery
fits of smoke. But is it a wonder that the world
hoards such smoke’s sources in hidden
interiors? Is it surprising that the world flaunts

only such coy hints of its most ominous
flutterings? Some wing’d bugs, don’t you know, some
would-be mini deities or just petty tyrants of
the micro-world are waxing aerial, Emperor
Nero-ing the skies their corpuses make of even the most
domestic interstices, yet what of the event-lessness of those

same bugs’ disappearances into some niche of a life-space
typically fronted by a door itself long since
regarded as a plane of consummate finitude—what of it,
really? A murkiness beckons. Murkinesses, plural, I should say,
rather, & murkinesses, what’s more, that are not
un-geometrical… I went away for a time, see, I went

away to the place where you can go away & not feel, like,
self-conscious, or castigated. I just didn’t need
anyone telling me how really away I was, that
extremity, not to mention what it was like back
there in non-away-ness, don’t you know, where
the fumaroles fume, right alongside the glossy beige

minivans manufactured in Lower Saxony, now
just sitting there where everyone insists everyone
comes from, like, originally, but I’ve come back for
good now though, I swear, I swear, seriously.

Steve Barbaro’s poems appear in such venues as The Yale Review, The Elephants, The Common, New American Writing, DIAGRAM, Denver Quarterly, and Web Conjunctions. Visit him online at stevebarbaro.com.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.

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