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Matthew Woodman

The Astronomer (1957)

            (after Rufino Tamayo’s painting El astrónomo, 1957)


The more I look the longer I last

just jump they say right in if you want


to understand but how does one reach

the firmament put oneself into play


amid the fault lines interplanetary

alignments slopes tracing the otherwise


incomprehensible tangle of table

crossed legs and do you want a refill


make of your head an orbital stone

be unafraid to careen and cause


questioning glance if need be at the hole

where the compass would be had you not


ditched it at the border along with your hold

on the pedometer and your corner chair


against the wall where normally you’d watch

the intersections traffic not in what


could happen but rather in fusing

the range your space to the spaces out there




Man with Flower

            (after Rufino Tamayo’s painting Hombre con flor, 1989)


The palette knife shaves seconds clean

into years since I had a full head

of hair the pate a sheen robin egg blue


the sky in spring shorn of the last

wispy tufts I still nick my throat’s right

when the razor’s dulled blade has seen


better days of buttered toast bacon

and eggs beneath a mound of biscuits

and gravy shelled on a handwashed plate


the rest proceeds both too quick too slow

how much has what else will rust

this patina before it all leaches


into the soil and sprouts a spindly

white daisy from which children

weave chains and forge crowns

Matthew Woodman poems

Matthew Woodman teaches writing at California State University, Bakersfield and has poems forthcoming in The Interpreter's House, Sierra Nevada Review, and The Meadow; more of his writing can be found at

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