The Pictures He Paints

September 23, 2009


Those ratty kids. Those names they put him through—

Like Little Boy, and Tiny Alpha Man,

Like Dog Head, like Krakatoa—my son,

He’s a volcano? They’re comparing him

To a volcano?—well, he saw it through,

And I guess he did see the explosion…

But you don’t know what you look like,

Do you?—or how tall you are, or big…


…Until those photographs came out in Life—

With captions like:  A Giant, The Pictures

He Paints, Prometheus.  A cover story,

His body, log-like, gaunt. The whole country

Saw them. The world.  And it hurt him too, I saw

It in his eyes. He’d thought it was to be

About his painting, not a ghost story,

Not a freaky giant.  These days they’re famous,

These pictures, taken by a famous photographer,

But at the time, we didn’t know that or care

About it. This woman comes out, sits on

The porch with her camera, and takes

A few ‘shots’ of Harvey, and the next thing

You know, he’s in Life. Harvey was serious

About his painting. He had a few shows

Before he died.  He even sold a few portraits.

Harvey was seven foot three inches tall,

A giant man, with a six year olds’ thoughts

And mind. Even so, even as a kid,

He knew about Prometheus, he knew

A god lived in his soul, the ghost of a god…

Imagine that.


Now I am become death the destroyer

Of worlds—for Prometheus also lived

In Little Boy—a very deep flame—for

Prometheus knew the universe at base

Was fire, that Little Boy was the fruition

And friend of fire…

And if f it seems stupid to think

Of modern physics in terms of a six

Year old…

Well, truth is, he was this giant with

His interior turmoil, with his pictures

Like ghosts stolen from the sun…ghosts

Stolen from the sun. Think about it,

How he did that—an amazing technique,

This self that lacked a proper self, or so

They thought. Heliochromic  thievery.

A kind of parallax process, a print

Of sight via sunshine via desert

And emptiness. Well, its dawn now.

The energy will surge across the mesa….

Can Harvey come out to play?


Now, Franz Kafka’s take on Prometheus—

You know, the whole thing with the eagle,

The rock, his liver every day clawed out,

And every night, like fucking clockwork, it

Grows back for yet another day, Jesus,

One more day of feeding pâté to the birds—

Anyway, Mister Kafka’s thinking here

Is finally geologic. There remains

The inexplicable mass of rock,

He says, the substratum of truth, which fire

Cannot touch.  Prometheus it seems

Cannot reveal Prometheus. It will

Take Little Boy to show the world Truth,

It’s substratum and all: For those who are

Awake there is one common universe.

And it remains common despite the sleepers,

Despite those people who hid Little Boy,

Or think he’s unknown to us. Imagine! Unknown

To the Voyeurs in the Substratum! Hell

Itself is not unknown! Capitalize

‘Voyeur’! Capitalize ‘Substratum’!

Capitalize ‘Unknown’! You go ahead,

Take your armor, take your troops.

Capitalize ‘Troops’!

Capitalize ‘The World’!

We will still exist, you know, and not just

In the ‘substratum’…


Now Lucifer was not dead . . . . or if he was I am his

sorrowful terrible heir;

I have been wronged . . . . I am oppressed . . . . I hate

him that oppresses me,

I will either destroy him, or he shall release me.

Damn him! how he does defile me,

How he informs against my brother and sister and takes pay

for their blood,

How he laughs when I look down the bend after the

steamboat that carries away my woman.

Now the vast dusk bulk that is the whale’s bulk . . . . it

seems mine,

Warily, sportsman! though I lie so sleepy and sluggish, my

tap is death.


His first friend is ‘End Friend’. His crude scrawl spells

‘Fiend’ but we know he means friend because

He says ‘friend’. A second try, though, says ‘Ed’,

‘Ed Friend’, and it is so true to something

He knows, he rips the first to shreds and burns

It in the yard, burns ‘to the sun’, he says.

We don’t know where he got the matches or

The kerosene, but by the time Old Uncle

William smelled the smoke, it was too late.

Between the two of them they damn near burned

The barn and chicken coop down to the ground.

Ed Friend, huh? You see, there’s nobody out here

With a college education, or time to know

About art and all that, but he was real,

Ed Friend, eerie and real, not one of those

Crude things with thick splashes of paint like he

Used to do. This was different. Refined

And careful, the skin looked like it was real,

The eyes looked right at you, cat’s eyes. They said

The Holy Spirit painted it, but shit,

What’s that explain? My brother, you could watch,

Did it with a cheap box of paints we got

From Sears Robuck. His second friend was called

Tyson Mars, and folks started saying it was

The devil doing the painting—but Tyson

Was Harvey’s friend, his ‘pigment friend’ is what

He said. The sun’s pigment friend…

Hours, days, careful weeks

Of putting paint on the canvas. I watched.

It wasn’t the devil or the Holy Spirit

In the room there. I watched. There was no one

There. I don’t know if even Harvey was there.

The ghost was on the canvas.


One Response to “The Pictures He Paints”

  1. JimmyBean Says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

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