The Body Artist

The Body Artist

A Poem by Alpris

on two legs to two stilts from
          two hands coated; dripped
    with the inspiration of the unknown
known, may be,
  if the canvas were still alive
 but he has set his task forward, ago
    he hired me and I can pay him in
 only the respect of the gift I were given
o great muse driven to me by the wind  
my two lungs I can only deliver
breathe out, hope I never fail to show him

Now let loosely these oily vines from hardened but now limp skin slide from years of genetic makeup to craft my own makeup. I will be the master that people come to; to make them the pretty people they want to be.
    But their second life is not mine to claim; once they have entered our world once more, they are their own being.
I have told them the foundation of tears will not wash away their ugliness, only pain will but what is pain if not, beauty?    
    The children of the earth are sat in a circle around me; they watch me lift my clay-caked hands and I carve. My
wooden knife cuts through sodden skin with a chalky ease. The children watch in awe; they want to have hands like me.
   Hands darker than the tanned porcelain of my jaw and I speak:
        “Watch, my children. Art does not demand precision. If you make a mistake, you make art, you hear? These   
         resources are not to waste. We were given them freely, and we will show them freely to the world;
         if we give back what we were given we will live free and healthy lives until our next.”
    Yes indeed, they will nod in unison as if the sheet of green hill they sit on has just been pulled right out from beneath their peaceful perch. Their eyes follow the route of my scalpel; I cut away all the moles I can see.
    You can either work upon a blank canvas, or you can make a spoiled one better. These children, I must teach from scratch. 
       Every resource stripped from a canvas can be used on the canvas itself, to introduce subjects.
When my mother taught me how to stitch, she said you would have to really know the needle’s heart and
your own are beating in time together; for when time runs out, all that work goes to waste and you have to start over.
     It takes me half a day to finish a work; I know I have done it right when the smell bothers me more than the dying sun.
       I pull the man’s lengthy mane from his scalp; quickly, strand by strand and I wrap them around his wrist.
   Ooooh, the children chorus. They wish they had the same woven black and red bracelets. But they shan’t wear any of their own because they are beautiful.
     They are artists, not canvases.
           “Listen carefully,” I tell them, e
ven though I know they already are.
           “You are not a canvas, you are an artist. You cannot mix the two worlds and if you do,
            you can never be unwoven. You hear?”
      Yesssss, they say.
   The sun has been up for as long as it took for the smell of breathing grass to arise, and I have yet to show my children the way of the tattoo.
             Our growing shadows become the ink it needs.

© 2013 Alpris

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Added on July 6, 2013
Last Updated on July 6, 2013



Auckland, New Zealand

Here is a reference to my artistry - a painting of myself and Myra Hindley: At the point of acquaintance , I generally go by Alpris; a name given to me by someone I don't know, let alone the in.. more..

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A Poem by Alpris