Crater of Popocatépetl, Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros Artist's Statement
Honorable Mention, 2016 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition
sulfur reek red
as a shark’s mouth,
I was born into the French nobility. My
father was Napoleon’s official painter
of heroic scenes. Myself? I preferred
I was named First Secretary of
colonial scabs on earth flesh
roads for the varicose
legs of mules and their drivers
the French Legation. That’s when
I climbed the snow-capped volcano
with my friend and fellow painter
in background haze
the starved land chokes
Edgerton. I was also a photographer.
Or should I say, I was
one of the earliest experimenters
in a new visual medium
Time is coming
for the capture of light.
You could say
my approach to El Popo was cinematically telescopic
King’s men will slide
from your vertebral back
¡O Popo, Arriba!
avant la letter. Fascinated
by aerial perspectives, my eye— as though
conveyed by balloon or helicopter
hovered over this strato-
crushed in your jaw
volcano from the Pleistocene age. During
the 1830’s it belched hot ash only occasionally. I
pressed this massive natural object into a small canvas.
Mastered it from above, you could say. Indeed,
You will wipe your mouth
with the emperor’s flag
high on an impasto ridge.
you could say I nailed it.