Friday, January 23, 2009

louise bourgeois

This poem contains six poems inspired by works by Louise Bourgeois during a visit Linda and I paid to her works at the LA MOCA on January 22, 2009:


Faceless lovers, one who has a leg
that’s an above-the-knee prosthesis,
in the missionary position beg
for sex that must be anesthetic
since neither of them has a head. We gaze
and wonder how this couple came
to meet, while asking if they can amaze
each other, since the sex seems lame.

Inspired by Couple IV, 1977. In what looks like an old wood and glass display cabinet from a provincial museum the exhibit displays two headless fabric bodies attempting to make love, but there is an emotional distance between the two. Bourgeois explains this piece as her confusion as a child after accidentally witnessing her parents making love, but the overriding sensation is of failure in general.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/23/09


Femme maison, woman with a house
where normally you find a head.
This is not a perfect spouse––
I would rather see a bed.

Inspired by three oil and ink paintings by Louise Bourgeois, depicting a woman with a naked torso and a house replacing the head.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/23/09


It isn’t where my motivation
comes from, but how it survives.
Don’t ask me about inspiration––
it breaks out sometimes, just like hives.

Inspired by a 2007 painting by the 95-year old Louise Bourgeois on which she writes: “It’s not so much where my motivation comes from but how it survives.”

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/23/09


Art, a guarantee of sanity.
Under arches of hysteria
we search for our humanity
to which we tend to be inferior.

This poem was inspired by two works by Louise Bourgeois. The first is a painting on which she has painted the words: “Art, a guaranty (sic) of sanity.” The second is a gorgeous and extremely sensuous bronze polished sculpture created in 1993, looking like a Brancusi that was sculpted under the influence of LSD called “Arches of Hysteria”.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/23/09


She has turned into a lair
the fortress where she once could not
be harmed, and lies within it bare,
while hoping love won’t hurt a lot.

Inspired by a pyramidal sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, “Lair” (1966). Concerning this piece Marina Warner commented: “She has turned into a fortress her lair.” Warner may be correct in her appraisal of this work, but it strikes me that in many of her other works Louise Bourgeois is working in a lair in which she seeks to be simultaneously loved and hurt.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/23/09


When shove comes to push
I pull for Brancusi,
whose muse when asleep
is more than skin-deep,
assuming a shape
more abstract than grape,
and drier than wine.
That’s why I align
myself, subterranean,
with this great Romanian,
though anti-Semitic,

Inspired by a 1993 work by Louise Bourgeois, “Arches of Hysteria." While that work inspired my poem “Guarantee of Sanity,” it also reminded me of many Brancusis I have seen. I was writing poems prolifically during the exhibition, which made me think about Brancusi’s “Sleeping Muse” (1909–10), which is at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/23/09

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