Archive for Thomas Hart Benton

A Black Cat Crossed the Road I Was Born On

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 10, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Benton, June Morning

So many have passed on.

The mailboxes keel over from the weight
Of the catalogues and almanacs
No one has claimed.

On my day off, I’ve thought
Of coming by with posthole diggers,
But Death knows my ass
From a hole in the ground.

The people on the roofs are drinking
But they don’t brew that beer anymore.
Death is no chauffeur,
Nevertheless, he holds it in the road.

When Death beats his child
Nobody listens.

For two bits I would pull over
And lay down in the long legs of the past,
But Death is two-timing me.

Death can lace his boots
Before you can spit.

He can get all the ham off the bone.

Some people I knew hired Death by the hour.
He brought in good money every week.

My mother used to beg,
“Son, don’t write about Death,
We’ll cross that ditch soon enough.”
I ask you to have respect for the dead.

This is the place alright,
Like a flower in the night
Death drifts over the garden
Of our shoulders,
Like a boat with no eyes,
No place for the oars, the hands.

Death has a high voice,
An auctioneer to oversee
All your worldly possessions.

He is selling a bed
That belonged to your father,
He is coming in low,
Dumping your brother’s boots
In the enemy’s field.

Death runs a little side show
And you always buy a ticket.

There is no doubt in my mind,
Death is a bad hog.

Death ties everything down with guy-wires.
It sends you a message every month
To keep you in the black.

The Church has a record of your birth
But Death keeps its own dossier.

When the moon is pulling its blood
From its many lovers,
And Death is caterwauling with the cold fish-
Bone in its mouth, shedding all
Its skins and secret light I, like you,
Set out a dish of milk.

Text: Frank Stanford, What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2015
Image: Thomas Hart Benton, June Morning, oil on masonite, 1945, Cummer Museum of Art

Time Forks Perpetually toward Innumerable Futures in One of Them I Am Your Enemy

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 9, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


I am going to die.

Friends who made good,
Friends who did not,
I am going
Down into the Egypt of your sex,
The lands of your mystery and death.

Do you still want me
To find you
Somebody to love?

I cruise through the delta of your love,
Paradise on Sunday,
Cold as ice on Monday.
A hundred pounds of it on the tongs,
A butterfly at the center.

Going home I cross the bridge
And throw a bottle out the window,
Hit all my friends in the head.

The crickets under the straw
Like old folks spitting in a paper sack.

Now my life the Sphinx
Laid by slaves,
My death the promised land.

A light rain falling, a split tongue
And sad eyes, no lie,
I’ve got you by the tongue.

I park my Cadillac outside your temple of madness.
You are worshipped there.

Look at your face, swollen from sleep.
Are you waiting for me
To unwind you from your last clothes,
Do you want me
To bury my long ship in your heart?

Your lineage like gravesites for the stars,
Way stations for great dreamers.

There is a six foot rattlesnake
Asleep in the birdhouse.
Are you taking crumbs to the warblers tonight?

Death is an isthmus, you can get there on foot.
But love had made its island.

What of the young?
I hunt them down,
Good winds in the desert,
Blue eggs in the junipers.

Tell it:

There is a fear without age or Christ
That goes through us
Like moonshine in a coil.

There is a stranger
You see more and more of
Every year, he is silt in the riverbed.
And the water tables of your mystery
Rise to their final levels,
The spitting image of your death.

If you leave a girl of your own,
Tell her to run off with your enemy’s son,
If you have a son,
Tell him to run off with your enemy’s daughter.
And if you have no enemies, inquire of me,
Your troubles are just beginning.

Text: Frank Stanford, What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2015
Image: Thomas Hart Benton, After Many Springs, oil and tempera on masonite, 1945, Collection of the Thomas Hart Benton Estate


The Prodigal Son

Posted in Painting with tags , on July 7, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


He has come home too late. Nobody has seen him from afar and run joyfully to meet him. There will be no forgiveness, no best robe, no ring, no “music and dancing”. He stands in his shabby clothes with his poor, roped suitcase. A beaten-up car- the last trace of his squandered wealth- parked in the background. He is gaping, with his hand to his mouth, at the ruin of the family homestead, ruin caused by his own greed and wastefulness. He looks as if it is just dawning on him that he is stupid and cruel and without hope. The light is failing in a chilly sky beneath wind-ripped, twisted clouds. Instead of a fatted calf, there is a stark white animal skeleton, the skull horned, lying in the unattended grass. We can guess at the grief, resignation, and failure that have overtaken the family and its home during his heedless absence. Who can he blame for it but himself? The desolation is infinite.

Text: Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010
Image: Thomas Hart Benton, The Prodigal Son, oil and tempera on panel, c. 1939-41, Dallas Museum of Art


Posted in Painting with tags on July 17, 2012 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

July Hay

Posted in Painting with tags on July 1, 2012 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Thomas Hart Benton, 1943

Kitsch as all hell, but  full of nostalgia for a Midwestern boy.