“The Studio (Homage to Alice Neel)” by Alicia Ostriker appears in The Crack in Everything and has one stanza begin with a listing of colours: “Pallette knife jabs, carnation, ochre, viridian.” The next stanza also begins with a listing but not before our colour stanza ends with a wry observation:
The thing about life in the bughouse, says Alice Neal,
Is it’s better than killing yourself. And you get some rest.
And next follows the listing which the poet applies like colours:
Insane asylum, bughouse, madhouse, loony bin,
Snake pit, it’s like the Eskimo words for snow.
The poem goes on but I am arrested by the legend of the names, trying to find something fitting, obsessed.
If you were to read on with me you would find by poem’s end that you behave sanely and leave “And you’re back in the basement studio.”
Still in the studio, still obsessed. Tempting to run that list through a translation machine… just to see what craziness can emerge.
And so for day 873