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Open on the Plain by Mark Penny

by Jonathon | 6.19.12

AltamiraBison

The plain stretched tritely left and right,
Flat as the sky it laughed at,
Which was gray
And rolled like prairie, but less wild.
Bands of rain scented the slow wind with their sweat,
Stalking through grass as yellow as a sun
Ripe on the lowest branch of waning time.
They’d be here soon, but not before I fled.
I sat with the dogs,
Facing the ruins of a fire:
Surly white stones speckled with planet dust,
Stained with the feeble fingerprints of flame.
The oil pump on a neighbour’s farm
Browsed on the beasts its shape bore memory of:
Big head, long neck, deadly indifference,
Sucking the black blood of the earth
The way mosquitoes have since blood began.
A piece of charcoal wound up in my hand,
Scraped a few lines of very basic art
On the disgruntled face of one white stone.
Meant to be Cat,
Looked more like Bison.
Something with spear and arrows in me danced
And caverns shook with earthy reddish light.

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Image: Altamira Bison by Ramessos.

6 Responses to Open on the Plain by Mark Penny

  1. Jonathon

    Nice. Plucks a very different string, this, and almost (but never entirely, thank goodness) redeems those mechanical monstrosities.

  2. Patricia K

    I enjoy the spinning, upside-downness of the imagery. Dizzying. Everything cross-dresses.

  3. Mark

    I actually have cross dressed a couple of times. One time under duress. Cross duressing?

    Anyway, this one also really happened, although in the real incident, I may have drawn a cat while trying to draw a bison. Poetic license, what, what. At the time, I was re-reading The History of Art by HW Janson, going for long, dog-tailed rambles in the golden grass and trying my hand at sketching, which I might someday actually get good at with a lot of concentrated practice. I’ve always envied people who can draw easily and well. I seem to suffer from some sort of hand-eye discordance.

  4. Sarah Dunster

    I love the upside down, too :)

    My favorite: “meant to be cat, looked more like Bison.” I love that. I love the way you take something very mysterious (to me, at least)–cave paintings and cro-magnons (or whatever the people who made cave paintings were) and humanize and humorize them.

  5. Mark

    Always glad to evince a chuckle.

  6. Mark

    And elicit one, too.

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