Xia Yu (1956-)

The Ripest Rankest Juiciest Summer Ever  Ventriloquy  Fusion Kitsch 

The Ripest Rankest Juiciest Summer Ever

Summer sinks into the clock-face of the cat’s eye
Sinks into chestnut colored limbs

A 17 franc basket of peaches
Day four and already summer has run from ripe to rank

All spring long we dined as if we had all the time in the world
Followed with interest the color, light and atmosphere

Observed the shadows of the grapevines advancing to this
Last evening of the postimpressionists

The dabs of light thicken on the hammock
Grow thin on the windblown curtain

Each stroke acquiring definition
Until the last stroke added bursts grape-skin

Must be August
Ripe for the Fauvists

Never again will mere light so delight us
And O how we weary of atmosphere

Our idle conversation spreads like vines in the arbor
In this ripest rankest juiciest summer ever

And O how we weary of style
Does style, after all, exist

So like the snow
Defiled at the merest touch

But while the snow does not exist
The hammock is more manifest than ever

More than an April iris or an aperitif at six
Although compared to soccer broadcast live hardly anything exists

Our guest, an enthusiast of “Old Cathay” asserts that in these fallen days
Only armed revolution presents so many tragic implications

And then there is soccer
O how we dine as if we had all the time in the world

Smoked salmon, crab and lobster
And will you look at the size of this oyster

If we could but find the proper outlet
To release our leftist tendencies

1906, Cezanne, caught in a storm, returns to his studio
Removes his hat and coat and collapses by the window

Taking stock of the table, its overturned basket of apples, he notices
The “appleness of the apples” and their shadows, the three skulls

The wardrobe, the pitcher, the crock
The half-opened drawer, the clock

It occurs to him proportion is hardly worth making a fuss about
He will not fret over whether the table is level or not

He closes his eyes and dies
His eyelids trace a line pointing straight to three o’clock

Still, there is something wanting in all this
Must be time for Matisse


I walk into the wrong room
And miss my own wedding.
Through the only hole in the wall I see
All proceeding perfectly: The groom in white
The bride with flowers in her hand, the rites
The vows, the kiss
Turning my back on it: fate, the ventriloquy
I've worked so long and hard at
(tongue, that warm aquatic creature,
squirms domestic in its tank)
And the creature says: I do.

Fusion Kitsch

When did it all begin
This bucolic and pan-incestuous atmosphere
Was it not always there in the selfsame family album
Lovers fallen to the status of kin
Animals fallen to the condition of lovers
Nor let us forget the repressive inclinations
In the animistic discourse to which
All romances arrive in the end

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