Makeup on Empty Space

By Anne Waldman b. 1945 Anne Waldman
I am putting makeup on empty space
all patinas convening on empty space
rouge blushing on empty space
I am putting makeup on empty space
pasting eyelashes on empty space
painting the eyebrows of empty space
piling creams on empty space
painting the phenomenal world
I am hanging ornaments on empty space
gold clips, lacquer combs, plastic hairpins on empty space   
I am sticking wire pins into empty space
I pour words over empty space, enthrall the empty space   
packing, stuffing jamming empty space
spinning necklaces around empty space
Fancy this, imagine this: painting the phenomenal world   
bangles on wrists
pendants hung on empty space
I am putting my memory into empty space
undressing you
hanging the wrinkled clothes on a nail
hanging the green coat on a nail
dancing in the evening it ended with dancing in the evening   
I am still thinking about putting makeup on empty space   
I want to scare you: the hanging night, the drifting night,
the moaning night, daughter of troubled sleep I want to scare you   
you
I bind as far as cold day goes
I bind the power of 20 husky men
I bind the seductive colorful women, all of them   
I bind the massive rock
I bind the hanging night, the drifting night, the   
moaning night, daughter of troubled sleep
I am binding my debts, I magnetize the phone bill   
bind the root of my pointed tongue
I cup my hands in water, splash water on empty space   
water drunk by empty space
Look what thoughts will do   Look what words will do   
from nothing to the face
from nothing to the root of the tongue
from nothing to speaking of empty space   
I bind the ash tree
I bind the yew
I bind the willow
I bind uranium
I bind the uneconomical unrenewable energy of uranium   
dash uranium to empty space
I bind the color red I seduce the color red to empty space   
I put the sunset in empty space
I take the blue of his eyes and make an offering to empty space   
renewable blue
I take the green of everything coming to life, it grows &   
climbs into empty space
I put the white of the snow at the foot of empty space   
I clasp the yellow of the cat's eyes sitting in the   
black space I clasp them to my heart, empty space
I want the brown of this floor to rise up into empty space   
Take the floor apart to find the brown,
bind it up again under spell of empty space
I want to take this old wall apart I am rich in my mind thinking   
of this, I am thinking of putting makeup on empty space   
Everything crumbles around empty space
the thin dry weed crumbles, the milkweed is blown into empty space   
I bind the stars reflected in your eye
from nothing to these typing fingers
from nothing to the legs of the elk
from nothing to the neck of the deer
from nothing to porcelain teeth
from nothing to the fine stand of pine in the forest   
I kept it going when I put the water on
when I let the water run
sweeping together in empty space
There is a better way to say empty space
Turn yourself inside out and you might disappear   
you have a new definition in empty space
What I like about impermanence is the clash   
of my big body with empty space
I am putting the floor back together again   
I am rebuilding the wall
I am slapping mortar on bricks
I am fastening the machine together with delicate wire
There is no eternal thread, maybe there is thread of pure gold
I am starting to sing inside about the empty space
there is some new detail every time
I am taping the picture I love so well on the wall:
moonless black night beyond country-plaid curtains
everything illuminated out of empty space
I hang the black linen dress on my body
the hanging night, the drifting night, the moaning night
daughter of troubled sleep
This occurs to me
I hang up a mirror to catch stars, everything occurs to me out in the   
night in my skull of empty space
I go outside in starry ice
I build up the house again in memory of empty space
This occurs to me about empty space   
that it is nevered to be mentioned again   
Fancy this
imagine this
painting the phenomenal world
there's talk of dressing the body with strange adornments
to remind you of a vow to empty space
there's talk of the discourse in your mind like a silkworm
I wish to venture into a not-chiseled place
I pour sand on the ground
Objects and vehicles emerge from the fog
the canyon is dangerous tonight   
suddenly there are warning lights
The patrol is helpful in the manner of guiding
there is talk of slowing down   
there is talk of a feminine deity   
I bind her with a briar
I bind with the tooth of a tiger   
I bind with my quartz crystal   
I magnetize the worlds
I cover myself with jewels
I drink amrita
there is some new detail
there is a spangle on her shoe   
there is a stud on her boot
the tires are studded for the difficult climb
I put my hands to my face
I am putting makeup on empty space
I wanted to scare you with the night that scared me
the drifting night, the moaning night
Someone was always intruding to make you forget empty space   
you put it all on
you paint your nails
you put on scarves
all the time adorning empty space
Whatever-your-name-is I tell you “empty space”
with your fictions with dancing come around to it
with your funny way of singing come around to it
with your smiling come to it
with your enormous retinue & accumulation come around to it   
with your extras come round to it
with your good fortune, with your lazy fortune come round to it   
when you look most like a bird, that is the time to come around to it   
when you are cheating, come to it
when you are in your anguished head
when you are not sensible
when you are insisting on the
praise from many tongues
It begins with the root of the tongue
it begins with the root of the heart
there is a spinal cord of wind
singing & moaning in empty space

Anne Waldman, “Makeup on Empty Space” from Helping the Dreamer: Selected Poems, 1966-1988. Copyright © 1989 by Anne Waldman. Reprinted with the permission of Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, www.coffeehousepress.com.

Source: Helping the Dreamer: Selected Poems 1966-1988 (Coffee House Press, 1989)

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Poet Anne Waldman b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

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 Anne  Waldman

Biography

The author of more than 40 collections of poetry and poetics, Anne Waldman is an active member of the Outrider experimental poetry movement, and has been connected to the Beat movement and the second generation of the New York School. Her publications include Fast Speaking Woman (1975), Marriage: A Sentence (2000), and the multi-volume Iovis project (1992, 1993, 1997).

Her work as a cultural activist and her practice of Tibetan . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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