Heather Taylor Johnson
Why Painting is Like Geometry
At university I learned about mathematics-in-music.
Between binge drinking and finding my soul
I discovered the inevitable:
inspiration doesn't become creation without fine tuning.
I bought a Dave Brubeck CD and listened while I studied,
while I strove to write poems without counting syllables,
while I ate two minute noodles and drank six packs of beer,
while I tried to sleep to my roommate fucking
(in time to beats of jazzed up fives)
a coed from the second floor.
I memorised melodies and had to do equations
and questioned my vocation as would-be poet
because Take Five wasn't a stroll down an alley
of garbage cans and scurvy cats, the woman in red,
a hobo whistling, a man in a suit with an alto sax;
it was perfect numbers from fractions
with order and reason
and from it came rhythm and song,
only I wanted to be that woman in red,
that very sax, even one of the cats
because I wanted to believe that magic lies within the muse
and the artist and the sound and the word and the pen
and algebra was dead as high school classes
during padlocked summertime days.
I wanted to heed the creed of art for art's sake.
I was eighteen.
I failed Music Theory, ascended to drinking
bourbon and cokes and lost my virginity
all in a year.
My first, he dumped me in two week's time
while the bourbon turned to cheap red wine
and I wrote poems on life-til-now
while others took notes
on why painting is like geometry.