A Poem by Gessy Alvarez

I birthed no humans
I faked my virtue

I feared the world
I kissed forked tongues

I killed honey bees
I hid cigarette burns

I held back screams
I cried for nothing

I craved the respect
I licked the grass

Audio is available here.

About the photo: From the exhibit “Guillermo Del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio” at the Museum of Modern Art. March 2022. Photo by Gessy Alvarez.

Mid-Life February

A Prose Poem by Gessy Alvarez

The rain cools the unseasonably hot February day. A once divine youth faces a mid-life spectacle of indecisions. Isolation that once felt like a blessing smothers the spectral fire of yearning. Strangers want you to fulfill your promise. Your desires drop twenty degrees – a frost follows. The pure will to lock the streets in black ice fails. No winter follows this swampy February glare and unidentified flying objects – missiles crashing on downy mountaintops. We stand, flies buzzing over our heads fifteen thousand feet from the sea. On our descent, cradled inside the gentle sway of a 110-year-old train, a marathoner races downhill – barefoot, heels embedded with stars. As the skylark February dies in a summery fire.

Audio available: https://gessyalvarez.substack.com/p/mid-life-february

Photo credit: Chad Fish / Associated Press.

On A Summer Day


Sharing this beach with many humans

every single one thinking living playing sinking 

levitating under the sun

I am confronted by my ordinary existentialism 

by the surreal awareness of a solitary mind

humming to an idiosyncratic ringing 

as the waves wash over the pain

the triumphs 

stealing my sight my smell my sound

back to the sea

Photo Credit: Gessy Alvarez, Provincetown.

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The Whitney Museum, 1997

Ekphrastic Poem

for Jay Defeo

If you have formed a Circle go into it, go into it yourself and see how you would do.
– William Blake

In a rented studio on Fillmore Street
she worked on her obsession
colossal circles
like the ones she used to draw as a child
symmetrical radiating facets in white
hues of reds and browns
against a black background
paint piling
multi-dimensional transformation
a sculpture rising from a flat plane
she worked
in a white lab coat and
cotton gloves
chipping away the dried crusty oil paint
sipping brandy
smoking Gauloise cigarettes
watching a rock strata
emerge from the endless depth of 
her circle.

About “The Rose” from https://whitney.org/collection/works/10075:

“First exhibited in 1969, The Rose was taken to the San Francisco Art Institute, where it was covered with plaster for support and protection, and finally stored behind the wall of a conference room. Legend grew about the painting, but it remained sealed until 1995, when Whitney curator Lisa Phillips had it excavated and restored by a team of conservators, who created a backing strong enough to support the heavy paint.”

Photo Credit: Jay DeFeo working on The Rose, 1958–66 (known at that time as The White Rose), San Francisco, 1960–61.

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