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Saturday, November 21, 2015

T. E. Lawrence-- Two Paintings by Augustus John

Forget the movie
forget the actors
forget the desert
forget the Arabs
played by an Englishman
and by an American
forget the handsome Egyptian
forget Omar Sharif
forget Peter O'Toole
though they probably
are the elephants
that create themselves
inside our heads
forget the oil beneath
the sand thousands of miles
away beyond the curvature
of a boiling earth engulfed
in a new world war
to see the man
an Englishman who was himself
dressed in the clothes of a nomad
the handle of his janbiya or Khanja
sticking out of the belt
his thobe and tassels
the kufeya, ghoutra and igal
if you want to blame someone
blame him for being a man
who opened the Bedu
to the 20th Century
so that now every one
has a Lamborghini or Ferrari
with a Kalashnikov
in the back seat

Here a wide-eyed crazy painter
or so how he looked
still creates the images
now long after both are gone
as if these two flat creations
could see into this future
where we experience a locked door
afraid of the neighbors
shy of the others
who shop like us at Walmart
where the greeter wears an hijab
in an Iowa city
who smiles as she checks
the receipt
for her corporate bosses
certain you might be deceitful
with unpackaged
toilet paper
and cases of bottled water

A painting sees more than its subject
It often sees the people
who many of us can't see
and don't want to



Barry G. Wick

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