'Breaking Myself Into Small Defeats'

My Father Fallen.jpg

Komunyakaa again:

The Falling Down Song

               Here I am
with one foot on a floating platform
       breaking myself into small defeats--
   I'm the ghost of a money-changer
      & halo of flies, half-moon of false teeth
  unable to bite bread. Please
 go & tell no one you've seen me under the cypress,
     a fool-hearted footstool,
        termites in my two
            sad wooden
                legs,
sawdust in my black leather shoes.

Based on my affection for Mircea Suciu's work, Breakerbaker was nice enough to recommend Vincent Desiderio's work. As with a lot of stuff I'm into these days, I really lack the vocabulary to tell you why I like it. Part of it is not knowing much about art, and the other part is simply not seeing enough. What I can say about this piece, Suciu's "The Funeral" is what I've said about comic books, and hip-hop before--I enjoy the unknown, the spaces and caverns left for my imagination to do its own exploring. 

Much of what I see these days is just so terribly explicit. Every romantic comedy wears itself on its title (The Proposal, The Back-up Plan, and so forth.) as though we simply want to see beautiful people filling out roles the contours of which we've already been assured of. I'm not picking on rom-coms here, it's just a favorite genre of mine, and so I notice it.

But I look at this and I'm moved by the inability to see the father's eyes, his attire (corporate downsizing?) by the potential meaning in his girth (heart attack?) I really have no idea. And it's sort of beautiful to have no idea.

Anyway, this is a total amateur--a professional amateur. at that--thinking out loud. Anyone who knows more about art, or about Desiderio is welcome to chime in. Evidently, I can catch him at the Met.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that affects children. Could marijuana oils alleviate their seizures?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In