The Best Artists Are Complete Failures

Three poems by Kyle Seamus Brosnihan

Image cropped from photo by Ken Lund via Flickr

The Best Artists Are Complete Failures


                   I ran away from home, away
from St. Louis, and then I ran away from
the United States of America, the Statue
of Liberty—I preferred the Eiffel Tower,
which made no promises.
                            One dance
made me          the most famous colored
woman in the world. I was not intimidated.
Everyone is made with two arms,
                            two legs, a stomach
          and a head.     Just think about that.
A violinist had a violin, a painter his palette.
All I had was myself.


To be an artist you have to give up
everything,     including the desire
to be a good artist.
                           I assumed
       it would lead to complete failure,
    but I decided that didn't matter
              —that would be my life.
My experience
is very fragmented. In one place,
a certain kind of thing occurs,
and in another place, a different thing
occurs. A complaint,
               or appeasement.
                   As one gets older,
              one sees many more paths
              that could be taken. One
would like not to be led.
        Remove the signs
        of thought—
it is not thought
that needs showing.


Everyone discusses art and pretends
to understand,       as if it were necessary
to understand, when it is simply necessary
to love.     I'm not performing miracles,
my garden in a slow work. I would like to
paint the way a bird sings.
                   I must have flowers,
always, and always. I planted them
          for the pleasure of it.
Every day I discover more beautiful things.
There is enough paint here for a lifetime.
 My wish is to stay like this—living
       quietly in a corner of nature.
       Colorful silence—
                here is a little square
 of blue,   here a circle of pink,
                here a streak.      of yellow.

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