the bull–the line–europa         

         at the Picasso Exhibit Chicago Art Institute

discuss: Picasso’s representation of women/girls/Marie Theresa. normalization/aestheticization of violence against women. this in a week following the suicides of yet another. she too had a face that looks good, looks beautiful, splashed across news/Facebook—we are seeing her now in portrait: teenaged girl her classmates/school saw as Europa. Europa/Marie Theresa under the weight of the Minotaur: bull-man hidden under bull mask. and Marie, teenager of Europe, what mask does she wear in Picasso’s boy brain, limpid/ludicrous representation of her—unmarked/unremarked here on the walls of the museum? willing/ fulfilled/ fillable/ fulsome/ filled by/ fulcrum across which his weight straddles.


Spin: to draw out/ twist fiber into yarn or thread. To form thread. To revolve rapidly. To move swiftly. To set rotating. Quantum characteristic of a sparticle.


An Etruscan Pasiphaë rocks her infant

      Minotaur on her lap like any

                  mother. Little Minotaur,

you are no monster. No more than

      any other mother’s child & less

                  than Theseus who left Ariadne

on a rock outcrop after she gifts

      him thread to navigate

                  the maze


Twist: to unite by winding, to mingle, to wring, wrench, dislocate, to distort, to pull off by torsion to form into a spiral, to cause to move by turning, to follow a winding course, to change shape, to assume a spiral shape, to writhe. Act of turning. Curve. Bend. Unexpected occurrence (as in plot). Formed by twisting. Thread. Sewing silk. Baked piece of twisted dough. Tobacco leaves. Strip of citrus. Act of twisting. A dance. Spin given to a ball. Spiral turn. Curve. Torque applied to a body. Strain. A turning. Eccentricity. Distortion of meaning. Clever device/ trick. Front or back dive.



            uw-madison hospital, dawn 8-20-15


it was winter & I wanted sleep

it was winter & I hadn’t been sleeping


it was summer &


the man on the bike suspended between windows wheels turning & the lights

            his top hat/his hooked hands/his shadow not showing


his trunk/its roots/his blades/

they turn/they spin/they


it was winter & I was reading Orfeo. it is

always a man & if he always looks back to check his chain the traffic the angular momentum

of wheel: will he sentence me then?


will I re-turn ? will he ?


then I will write that sentence myself: I will write it and right it until I re-member this place

& the turning & my name & the way I used/do remember this play

& play the flute


it was winter & there was monitor

it was winter & there was monster


the monster talked to the monitor & the monitor replied & the monster listened & the monitor listened & the monitor became monister & the monster became moniter & the mon(i)(s)ter put away their differences & became something & the space between them & the IS & what it was & might have been & would be & will

                                                                                    be threading the distance between them threading the windows between us threading the bicycle poised not midair you can see as the lights come up           not the house lights      not hospital      nor helicopter lights    though it does but the god lights lighting up one more only on this less than


                                                                                    this       maybe not so only but so lonely


she. she is


always a woman who puppets him from the poles on which she hangs


on which she swings                 between which             he pedals          over

which he balances bending that crossbar

            her hair a shock of corn plume             the contrails of a life she practices letting


go while hanging onto              looking             forward


                                    maybe they don’t even see each other stacked one & one & strung between some other invisible


some hand, some hand


there must be two. there must always.


be love you see as the lights come up. be love as the helicopters arrive for her close up

her red shoes                            the shoes

you carry in your backpack

his shiny suit its edges meeting one

another & her


& you know this is how

you know what you don’t know

this finding the godlight this

belief that this circle of

something these blades. the way

they catch up with you. the way

they find you. & require you to

ARE to marry monster to

monitor so that they make

shadows that shiver/ shh-i-   ver

when the humans make rounds

so you prepare so you know so

you so ready

About Wendy Vardaman

Wendy Vardaman

About Wendy


Wendy Vardaman is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently, Reliquary of Debt (Lit Fest Press 2015). She has a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a BS in engineering from Cornell University, and recently returned to school to study graphic design. She has three adult children and has never owned a car.

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