Attributed to the Harrow Painter. Nick Twemlow. Kuhl House Poets. University of Iowa Press. Iowa City, Iowa. 2017.
"I must've eaten
Waiting for you"
from - "Responding to my father's question"
Nick Twemlow has a section of poems near the end of Attributed to the Harrow Painter, ten of them, all titled "Responding to my father's question." These poems seem to be a confessional primal scream of beautiful tone and duration. Underlining every poem is long love letter to Twemlow's son Sacha.
Twemlow nails that lava hot emotional battlefield where families crash and burn or the relationships grow white/blue like tempered steel.
There are nine poems, groups of poems, making up Attributed to the Harrow Painter and they all have the same feel, a machine gun pace and the best bolognese temperament, proper burn. Twemlow
is one of those whip-quick-smart poets. His ideas come so quickly you can't figure them all out in one read. These cats are dense, but man oh man, Twemlow can throw a line.
All along you were Right, they were flanking our
house They Documented you taking off your clothes
every morning I requested these Documents & they
sent someone's Illicit hard drive I fucked with the
commandant Nothing that mattered Continued to
happen into the Nothing that made us laugh like Gas
does Most of us went WYSIWYG Which meant sand
kicked In our face &/or our Life was a fracking disgrace
I know you lived mostly Desirous of desolation A
kind of Interior branding a Lesbos of the Soul Let me
introduce you To my friends Who fry bacon & Spumoni
de Kooning cooling limbic An astral fryer. Thomas
Mann Spelling things out I exhausted I falling down
On my face the divorce Anything but legal Just shame
& egrets Shitting the windows I realm I record Life
begins to get in The way the life Of a novelist Which
I assume is not Only more comfortable The advance
is ridiculous But strident The perqs develop Their
own antiquities I always go back to my Preference
for medications that act swiftly I don't do time-lapse
So well I get hell I focus my gaze On Takashi Ito's
Structured vision Of the not this world But space is the
place Where we can mace the strangers walking into
our loathsome Into oblivion The usual I refuse My son
Wallows the smooth Tallows of the luxurious paradise
of Time to spinneret to Pearl the moustache I get that
You falsify Perfectly you stream experience Like a coin
you toss Into whatever Fountain I still Believe the
poem Delivers a brutal shrill lust for streaming Cusps
your romance With ecriture If my mother were To read
this How much shame Would envelope Her I'm sure
you assure us Reassured all of us Which might mean
Write out & out & out else Make this a god Or homeless
People to shine a light On a poem amending The title
Intended to circumscribe My mother's loneliness I am
thinking of My mother a lot These days which Pass
in spasms In theory If we are anything If we have
nothing else uncommon My mother Finds comfort
in Planting bulbs each fall She left me a voicemail
Message for my birthday Several days late to which I
never responded I didn't Listen to it for months I can't
remember if I did listen to it. Fred told me he couldn't
Get over a line from the Poem I read in Chicago This
summer from a poem that shows up later in this book
"Look, I've loved my mother Most of my life."
Its permission to admit why the anxiety Over mother
love Why depict spiders skittering All over our dreams
I didn't mean I didn't always Love my mother her Name
is Robyn same As my wife When Oedipus says I get the
feeling his dumb Luck is his fortune Is his is Oedipus
Reminds us to behave Better in the future Which his
motherwife Reminds us is unknowable Every memory
I have Or choose to have Of my mother saturated In
the blues of a Dusky sky I should Cry I should inhabit
The cliches entrusted to me To exhibit A lonely boy
ill Treated defeated before Birth exiled from Chance
When I Remember my mother Crying I don't remember
Her ever crying She loved me I'm certain As she loved
her Spring tulips not unconditionally But with proper
proportion Unhappy that I cannot heave My heart into
my mouth I Love your majesty According to my Bond
no more nor less the man standing Next to me inside of
me in Permanent ecstasy the cyphers Scuttling under
passing cars Unable to find A shadow to Dissolve Into
The barrel Of a gun twists Back at me I lard The scene
with A company of C's I see the scene in every Register
but time-lapse returns No favor The mother coma The
mother coma The various strobing Or phasing The
clock dial is a riot Planning itself Years in advance Go
quietly address The vending machine Snip wires Stare
at Pictures of you Jolted twenty feet back onto The hood
Of a viper Flicking its Capital relentlessly At the brine
of these new centuries Erupting like nothing You or I
know I pick at a scab I develop A hankering for Insta for
gratification A door that slides Shut just As invasion
of talk Of jetties & molly & away to Somalia As if
you could evade The glistening Of your Fund which
powers up In a shadow Enciphered this cruel media
this papering Over & proxy servers & Anonymous
nerve Tapping to allocate resource Assuaging Assange
Buffering Beyonce Journos Copping a feel in Ferguson
ecstasy of Entering the Gilgamesh Dying 'neath the
heath Hammered to a tinsel thin Instance of justice
You don't belong To tribe always acting as Leering
at The contents of the mirror Mirroring the Warhol
Insistence on or the Basquiat Keith Haring! Nauman
walks in a square that Occludes race & class Privilege
preening or Peacocking Queer Theory rasterized
Resisting salve of Semiotics Your brother arches His
eyebrow Thought This true & u spend so much of
yourself Spending credit scores & fantasy The vale
we Vulture in our waking dread Waxing what You
examine with your niggling X-ray You my standing
Camino All the world's nostrils flare & Zenith & zeroes
shiver Me back into my car & I Drive home totally
Today's book of poetry would like to apologize to both Nick Twemlow and to the University of Iowa Press. In its original form, in the book, this poem is justified on both sides, hence it appears as a monolith. Idiots that we are here we haven't figured out how to do it. Imagine. Of course we are still posting these blogs/reviews with a Commodore 16, steam and coal powered.
Today's book of poetry had David Bowie's "Young Americans" on the box this morning. Today's book of poetry finds "Young Americans" always takes us back to our cab-driving days, 6 pm - 6 am. Mr. Bowie helped us get through more than once long night. Today if feels a right companion to Attributed to the Harrow Painter. Controlled mayhem meeting precision, Twemlow and Bowie are similar smart cats. These poems go to your brain before they force their way to your heart.
Today's book of poetry would want to suggest Nick Twemlow plays with his readers, but he is a poet at play.
Responding to my father's question
I square dark spaces
In the places where
I'm an addict. I rinse &
Delete on repeat.
In me charms the
Awful offal, where
The memories (of you) collide
In stride, the memories
Of you glitch through.
Like tiny flashbacks
Flashing back your priors.
Now you tell me.
You think you're going
To hell. I look forward
To your review of the place.
The mild discomfort you'll
Feel is my two year old
Self wondering why
Mum looks so
Peaked & wearing
Hospital gown. She could
Barely look at me the one
Visit I remember taking.
There was an inner
Courtyard teeming with
Plants. She seemed to prefer
Being in there than being
Anywhere else. If you feel
Anything for her. If you
Can't stand all the
Redress. You've spent
Most of your life
Listening to the berserk
Among us spit our
Holiness at you. That'd
Kill most of you, which
It did. I can't come this
Weekend. I'm grilling
For three these days.
As my friend said when
She was pregnant with
Her only child, at brunch,
"Bacon wants sausage."
Attributed to the Harrow Painter leaves marks. By the time you've hammered your way through to the end you'll have notes all over the place, painters to look up, other new poems/poets to read. Twemlow provides us with new areas of study. He also heats the place up.
Our morning read was held in some summer sauna hot offices. We have a couple of old aircraft sized propellers hooked up to two large fans. They create enough to wind to lift my desk off of the floor so no loose paper in the office today. You have to lean into the fans to get to the bathroom. Unfortunately they're only pushing hot air around. How ironic is that for us here at Today's book of poetry?
To tell me
& I jumped out of
To the picture
In the living
At the still-
Reading Nick Twemlow was a new thrill for Today's book of poetry - so of course we sent Milo, our head tech, a note asking him to add Nick Twemlow to our list of "must find poets." Attributed to the Harrow Painter has weight when you read it and a splendid aftertaste when you're done.
Today's book of poetry gets such pleasure out of introducing you to books like Attributed to the Harrow Painter, we can confidently promise "no regret" reading.
ABOUT THE POETNick Twemlow’s work includes Palm Trees, and his poems have appeared in Court Green, jubilat, Lana Turner, and the Paris Review. He coedits Canarium Books, and is a senior editor at the Iowa Review. He teaches at Coe College and lives in Iowa City, Iowa.
“Meandering around the edges of the beginning of someone’s mid-life, Attributed to the Harrow Painter dips back to lost teenage friends, traumas, accommodations, pleasures and losses and forward as the father of a young child, to the inevitable future. There’s the New York diaspora, and there are the blue jays and backyards of skull-fuck cold Kansas. Where are you most alive? Like Dana Ward and Ariana Reines, Nick Twemlow writes brainy poetry that’s as dispersed as real life without losing heart. I found the book very moving, and will read it again.”
—Chris Kraus, author, I Love Dick and Summer of Hate
Power in Poetry - Nick Twemlow Interview
Video: Skylor Andrews
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