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Poetry by Douglas G. Campbell

The Gift of Indifference
Goya's Black Paintings
In These Times
Published December 29,  2016
Eleventh Transmission.
Eleventh Transmission: Poetry by Douglas G. Campbell
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The Gift of Indifference

Seeing is more difficult
than any of us may think
as we travel through this life.
Even though their eyes
are open my students
struggle to replicate on paper
an image of the seated model.
What happens on paper
rarely captures what is seen.
Is it because we have all
lost patience, or that we
are unable to be still long
enough to ascertain, and
then make visible what
our eyes are offered?
Some of us manage a closer
approximation of reality

than others. Our politicians
and academics argue about
what is real. But at the end
of the day, or week, or year
their sketchbooks are empty.
It is as if nobody is able to see,
to render a likeness of this
world we inhabit, or capture
the image of the other travelers
who clog the roads in the hours
after the working day is over—
when we wander the streets
as they pass through industrial
parks, or slums, past abandoned
factories where equipment rusts
and no workers labor any more.

Is it the world we’ve reformed,
and then reformed again and again
that makes us desire this
deep and abiding lack of sight?
There are so many things
I no longer wish to see—images
of starving children, war torn
scenes with the dead and dying
or, homeless people sleeping
in alleyways. The list is almost
endless. So many faces populate
my waking nightmares. No wonder
then that the lure of blindness
embraces me, appears so alluring
in this bleeding, topsy-turvy
brave new world.

Goya’s Black Paintings

Bats wheeling, darting,
plucking hapless insects
from within inky blackness
brushed on thickly;
ridges of dried paint
follow the arcing movement
of the painter’s arm and hand.
Witches, warlocks
and other creatures of the night
cling to the flatness of walls and ceiling.
Their familiars creep from caverns
within the painter’s mind,
the spawn of his isolation—
his misbegotten children—
bent on escaping
from the tattered fragments
of his soul.

In These Times

News flows endlessly
into my waiting, expectant ears,
and I am overwhelmed.
Images of carnage threaten
to push me down until
I can no longer hold my breath
amidst these constant recitations—
revolution, piracy, earthquakes,
nuclear meltdown.
How can I remain afloat—
tread water within this surge—
this great oppressive, devouring wave
churning, always pummeling me?

Where can I go to claim sanctuary?
Where can I hide, find quiet,
release the tension that fills
the ether above this small portion
of the universe with such venom?
So many words conspire to foul my brief days
beneath the smiling but malevolent mask
of necessary, factual information.

Douglas G. Campbell lives in Portland, Oregon. He is a retired professor of
art at George Fox University where he taught painting, printmaking, drawing
and art history courses. He is also the author of Seeing: When Art and Faith
Intersect, (University Press of America, 2002), Parktails, (Wipf and Stock
Publishers, 2012), and Facing the Light: The Art of Douglas Campbell,
(Oblique Voices Press, 2012). His poetry and artworks have been
published in a number of periodicals including Carcinogenic Poetry,
Borderlands, RiverSedge, Rockhurst Review and In the Teeth of the Wind.
His artwork is represented in collections such as The Portland Art Museum,
Oregon State University, Ashforth Pacific, Inc. and George Fox University.
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