measuring his need

So I’ve been discovering the amazing poetry of John Matthias. The book I’m reading (only book I was able to find in a library) is Northern Summer: New and Selected Poems 1963-1983 and I highly, HIGHLY recommend getting it, reading it etc. He’s damn, damn good. Here is one of the poems.

John Matthias: You Measure John

For posterity you measure John.
For the catalogue
you measure with a tape
his works
and recognize yourself as woman
among women
in the life of this man John, his death.

You measure for the catalogue
the pictures
and their frames
thinking of the others
measuring his need
measuring his pride (who could not
please himself)
measuring his gypsy caravans of children
as he went away to paint, badly,
the famous and the rich.

No, you do not like Augustus John.
Measuring the thickness
of a new biography you offer me
I think -
not. You tell it simply
and with no embellishments yourself.
It is an old story:
some man damages the lives of women
who would love him.
There are various excuses.
One is art.

3 thoughts on “measuring his need

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