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Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected a poem by Anselm Berrigan for his sixth in a monthly series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “Peasant Dance” (1568) (via flickr.com/mbell1975)

After breaking its spine we notice
More clouds dressed up as brains
Writhing past towers all adrip
In grey snowlight. The skids
Remind us both of that Bruegel
We ought to know, but everyone
From a distance is going natural
Goth. Another Pernod for Mr.
Archer, please. Neon doomsters
Swear everything registered will
Be good, if not especially just.
Eventually the climate overpowers
Inaugural sentiment, breaking
All comers into lists of pursed O’s
Melting down over candy, rejecting
Unasked for snapshots of our
Tackish purple-lit carousel rides
By the Seine’s inviting trashbag
green currents. The anti-concussion
Rules can’t keep up with evolving
Bodies hurtling themselves across
Numbered chalk lines for us
Without guaranteed contracts. No
One truly broke fears that, exactly.

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Joe Pan

Joe Pan grew up along the Space Coast of Florida and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut poetry book, Autobiomythography & Gallery, was named “Best First Book of the Year”...

3 replies on ““Complementary Noteboke” by Anselm Berrigan”

  1. It’s really enjoyable to read the lines and observe how I see new things in the painting. Love that line about how they all look goth for a distance. There is a hidden darkness in Brueghel that isn’t talked about a lot and I love how berrigan is drawing it out. Thanks for getting me to focus on this joe

  2. Glad you enjoyed the poem, Danny. A good deal of poets over the years have been drawn to Brueghel’s work, for its darkness, its playfulness. Williams Carlos Williams (http://bit.ly/14vmJaR ) & Auden (http://bit.ly/fxXB5q ) & de la Mare (http://bit.ly/ZMqyEm) also wrote famous poems about his paintings, but it’s interesting to note Berrigan writes of the “Bruegel / We ought to know.” A tip off, perhaps, that there exists an unknown Bruegel, a lost Bruegel, an unknowable Bruegel out there than only this poet has access to.

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