Movement in Squares


This art will start as a square canvas.
And at the finish a thumb-width frame
fashioned plain, and base metal.
But paint awaits conception
for the painter is confined.

we think of the key, each in his prison
thinking of the key, each confirms a prison

How Eliot resonates whilst I’m pondering an opener
a way out of this block. Between the blank beginning
and the hanging, possibilities stretch perpetually.
Such a yawning void, as in life sentences.

shades of the prison-house begin to close
upon the growing boy
but he beholds the light and whence it flows

Recitations from the long gone days of youth
and so the great lake poet activates
some artistry. No Wordsworth landscape
but contrary, abstract squares. Metallic momentum
that calls for cadmium. Viscous, vivacious yellows.

Sunlit crossbars hopscotch the horizontal
– with the finest outlined shadows
– the whitest high-lit contours.
And captive within, some aquamarine
several semitones down to creamy blues
like twilight skies in skylights.

“a slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.”

yes Larkin spoke of art. What else are those Whitsun views
from a moving train but ever-changing frames
of coloured shapes. And there where the track arcs
a broad sweep of sienna. Warm-toned depths
in descent, announcing contrast.

For finishing touch, an open vent
to brush some air with the finest hairs
across dividing lines. Quadratics on the move.


Movement in Squares ~ Bridget Riley (1961)

It was all the rage then
was space-time warp pre-LSD
all sea-sick chess board men
the square plane skewed, an anti
rage, darker even than the bomb.

Then colour crayoned in the blanks.

For my poetry challenge we paint a poem from imagination, prompted only by the title of a renowned art work. And/or write an ekphrastic from the actual piece of art. I chose to do both (but only reviewed the painting after part i) and wrote a 6-word square poem as the artist Riley talking retrospectively, for Poetics: Poet as Painter