robert kelly

Robert Kelly poem to Ashley Garrett

Happy New Year, dear Ashley!

When the pen is loaded

the rodeo begins,

is that your horse

hopping over the hill?

Is that your wine-glass

shattered on the boulder,

your straw hat perched

on a saguaro,

how wise you are

to carry a desert

in your purse

so everywhere you go

you can at need or at will

suddenly have space,

huge space around you—

is that your slender hand

even now drawing the horizon?

—Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly writes to Ashley Garrett's "Melding Madrigal"

Melding Madrigal , 2018, oil on gessoed paper, 11 x 8.5 in.

Melding Madrigal, 2018, oil on gessoed paper, 11 x 8.5 in.


                                   from & for Ashley Garrett

The painting is as clear

as the morning daylight

it reveals the creation of,

the world of forms pouring

out of clouds,

                            birth of a world.


But what does the painter mean

by the words she knows the painting by?

Melding seems to be the first word

and madrigal is certainly the second.


Meld seems to be a term from poker

where all your cards in get displayed,

your power manifest,

showing your hand—

                                   from German melden,

‘to announce, proclaim’.


But in our American ears

it sounds like melting,

reminds us of colored wax

dripping slow down the candlestick,

crayons, mixing colors,


                     We think it means blending.

I hear the German word, though,

and know it means

the Hidden Deity

is proclaiming the actual,

this visible world.


Madrigal is harder—

is it the strict

 polyphony of creation?

All our loves and sciences

to chart, chant, cherish

the trillion voices of its structure,

and maybe colors are

 the melody we hear best?


Madrigal I forms madre,

the matrix, the mother,

cosmos of all living,

                                          the womb-song,

wild hymn of what we are.


She makes us hear it in the swirl of now.


                                   -Robert Kelly

                                   10 December 2018


A poem for "Velamen" by Robert Kelly

Velamen , 2018, oil on paper, 6 x 4 in.

Velamen, 2018, oil on paper, 6 x 4 in.

Children worship the sun,
think it is something to eat,
something they could eat
if they could get it out of the sky
that blue mother, who keeps
fruit and cake and sprinkles
out of our hands, children
are always hungry, we are
always hungry, we try to gorge
on music and language,
on touching each other softly
but the hunger lasts, at least
we have colors to play with,
coax them with our red mouths.

--Robert Kelly

27 January 2018
for Ashley Garrett