The Artist’s Model Musing, Dixie Salazar

Salazar3The Artist’s Model Musing, Dixie Salazar

The Artist’s Model Musing

Taking off your clothes is the easy part–
Absorbing all those eyes takes stamina
and a shut off button—not just to halt
their slow crawl over your scars,
swarms of brown spots, lopsided moles,
cellulite ripples, tuck and roll abs,
ripe pimples and marbled stretch marks
but also to cut through the unspoken
conversations– to slide the glass between you
and them like a cab driver who
doesn’t care what you think of his accent or
his lizard tattoo and who knows he has your life
in his cigarette stained hands but couldn’t
give a shit about making smilie talk.
When I slide the invisible
glass down between us,
my thoughts will roam the pasture
then like wild mares—
must buy dog food and tampons–
that lady in the corner makes my boobs
too small—next to her draws me like
a circus freak—no one’s body could do that–
And for god’s sake don’t ask me what color
my eyes are again–Oh God my foot’s asleep—need
to get pickled pigs feet –promised J—
Maybe skip the water bill– I can buy books
for anatomy class– could I move my left foot just a tad?
Give me a break just draw what you get–
I’ll look like a man when your done anyway
what’s it like to have a penis?
Oh sure… how’s that? Is that good now?…
Just don’t paint me like T did with a pink blow
dryer and Hitler mustache–
I’ve got to get on the waiting list
what place am I now in the que?
No one’s taken Rose Marie’s spot, I miss her
even if her drawings made me fat—
she made me laugh
test results come back tomorrow
what’ll I do if…

________________
Dixie Salazar

 

Review by John Garmon (Assisted by Shane Brant, doctoral student at UC Santa Barbara and writing assistant at the College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas)

 

Consider an excellent, unique poem by Dixie Salazar, “The Artist’s Model Musing.” The strength of this poem is its blending of concrete imagery with actual and imaginary, subliminal thoughts of the personae, the narrator, of the poem. Thoughts that this artist’s model catalogues and describes clearly cover the span of a modeling session, going from the present time for the narrator to the remembered things, personal concerns, in the model’s past. The listing is effective as the model opens the poem with the statement that “Taking off your clothes is the easy part.” This is made more interesting, and the stage is set for the internal thoughts of the model as the poem moves forward with graphic listings that give the poem its immediacy. The imagery is clearly unique, as the model explains,

Absorbing all those eyes takes stamina
and a shut off button – not just to halt
their slow crawl over the scars,
swarms of brown spots, lopsided moles,
cellulite ripples, tuck and roll abs,
ripe pimples and marbled stretch marks
but also to cut through the unspoken
conversations–” [and here, with a long dash, the poet makes an unsuspected yet quickly apprehended transition].

The poem explores external vulnerability, the essence of being human, being judged by others; the existential central lessness of one’s position. The poet/narrator engages in a stream of consciousness-like mode as a way of baring her insides, making her internally as exposed as externally, but manages in the whirlwind of her discursion to repossess herself of power. This is human vengeance against gods; people can always exert power over their situations. Their power is one of the mind – what it thinks, and what it lets out.

“Give me a break just draw what you get – “is the mortal’s critique of god’s process – metaphysical indignation and rebellion.

“No one’s taken Rose Marie’s spot, I miss her/ even if her drawings made me fat…” This is acceptance of the self, desire of a form; here is where she feels extremely in control again.

The ending, “what’ll I do if . . .” is facing the abyss, the typical human uncertainty, possibility of anguish – and it seems as much to provoke reminiscence of Hume, custom, how do I know there will be a tomorrow? I don’t but I take it as custom – what will I do if . . . there will always be an obstacle, such as human custom.

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