The coolness of time like the coolness of leaves.
The coolness of time like the rustle of jungle. Of
Are all the artists making work about tropical
Plants. I mean
The artists I like. And some I don’t. But mostly
Why I am always reminded of Rousseau
When examining the green hand
Green face almond-shaped
Proffered by the examining artist
Jungle plants at IKEA we all buy them.
Yes: Art fair artist bar draped in them. The music is better
There. The drinks are ridiculous: orange and round like
Poets are naturally attracted to the pale-green language
That limns and dips them:
Botanical. Clicking syllabics and Latinate
Erotics, the rigor and swell of modernism, white
Concrete swerve of architectures and elephant-ear strewn
Interiors. (Lina Bo Bardi, the Pollock-Krasner Hamptons home, etc.)
I am so Western I will never escape the usual referents, etc.
I am so Western I was born in California.
I once wrote in a magazine:
“Fashion has a flair for the topical, no matter where it stirs in the thickets of long ago; it is a tiger’s leap into the past,” wrote Walter Benjamin in his vignette-studded essay “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940). Read the line quickly, add an extra letter, and suddenly the tropics are conjured. Benjamin’s “thickets” become jungles, lush with almond-shaped leaves, green and waxy; through them a tiger skulks and stalks and leaps. The darkness (or lightness) of history emerges, humid and heated, between the carefully outlined leaves. Benjamin’s sentence has become a Henri Rousseau painting, as it were. Then the mind takes another leap, tiger-like, shaking the German critic’s sentence into yet another anagram, and those thickets of leaves become smaller, more domestic, but just as decorous. Now they curl from a pot, near a butterfly chair, a man’s pale, naked thigh. The fashions and fabrics filling the frame might be 1970s-era American approximations of Rousseau’s colonial-tropical fantasy—a different kind of herbarium, a later moment in history. How did this happen? You are now in a——painting.
This does not answer the question, though.
Why do these plants feel like politics and the absence
Of politics simultaneously? This is not poetic
Rhetoric; this is a real question.
It is about contemporary currency:
Leaves like money. Green
They said in early rap lyrics from upper Manhattan
And lower California.
The coolness of my gaze as it projects a stream of moving
Images against the green plates
Of leaves: all my typical
Allusions / abstractions / alliterations. Coolness of the climes
Where the plants sway and drip
Empty of moving pictures, of the film
Of my gaze. Green darkness of jungle, that theater.
Video green of rain forests, the florescent artists
Taking their technology
Inside its interior. And its abundant
Literature. It would seem
To be the time in this poem to venture into etymology.
Wikipedia tells me:
The term “botany” comes from the Ancient Greek word βοτάνη (botane) meaning “pasture,” “grass,” or “fodder”; βοτάνη which is in turn derived from βόσκειν (boskein), “to feed” or “to graze.” A person who studies plants may be called a botanist or a plant scientist […] Botany originated in prehistory as herbalism with the efforts of early humans to identify—and later cultivate—edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making it one of the oldest branches of science. Medieval physic gardens, often attached to monasteries, contained plants of medical importance. They were forerunners of the first botanical gardens attached to universities, founded from the 1540s onwards. One of the earliest was the Padua botanical garden. These gardens facilitated the academic study of plants. Efforts to catalogue and describe their collections were the beginnings of plant taxonomy, and led in 1753 to the binomial system of Carl Linnaeus that remains in use to this day.
Ignoring the ancient Greek for now
What of the psychic garden of the jungle
Imported into our IKEAs and galleries and bars
And artist’s books? The psychic garden of our cultural
Stirs: some wind. Come heat. It “feels like” rain.
Earth come down from the hills
Leaves from trees. Before the torrent
We scan each
Leaf with the attention of a medieval gardener
Or modernist Italian architect
Or club-goer or critic.
We record it.
Leaf of all organisms not considered animals
Leaf of parlor palm and Victorian
Leaf of philodendron
Leaf of September and of Wednesday
Leaf of literacy
Leaf of photosynthesis
Leaf of evening
Leaf of poor copy
Leaf of feminism
Leaf of dialects
Leaf of imperialism
Leaf of the love I leave each morning
Leaf of the kiss I leave on his green cheek
Leaf of last night its lucidity
Leaf of photocopy
Leaf of participation
Leaf of entitlement
Leaf of her body with its soluble
Leaf of metabolism or materiality
Leaf of loose images and dark scanners
Leaf of the artist at their center
Leaf of tropical of botanical of some long artful fever
Leaf of the bourgeoisie
Leaf of a stranger and of that literature
Leaf of the coolness of time, its heat
Leaf of temperature
Leaf of coloniality
Leaf of neoliberalism
Leaf of class signifiers
Leaf of global-exchange patterns
Leaf of the coastal enclave
Leaf of South-South relations
Leaf of unassigned hunger
Leaf of the lyric
Leaf of morphology
Leaf that cools me
Leaf of this image