Wystan Curnow

Three poems from Modern Colours

Modern Sounds

Colourless electro-magnetic
architectural structures
enhanced their twin-triodic
tolvotubular singulvalvulous
high fidelity dial-a-diallers
with low chromatic emanations
as modern as tomorrow afternoon
from light sources distributed
by circumcentric electric
reflectors with supershielded
umbrella antennae attachments
for distance listening and connected
by the magnetic links of a
Bellini-Tostoc dynaphone
coupling system comprising
fifty plus coloured filters
arranged aethereophonically
in accordance with the spirit
of the actors on stage. Bravo!


The long term luminous
wireless radiation receives
these sheaves and walls plus
banshee wails ‘tween bulletin
or vitaltone speakers’ dynamic
combinations transmissions’ extra-
vagrant effects — key clickings
vaticum cleaners, radio stammers
bawling the whole hamshack and
wobbledown of interpenetration
plus the addled interference of
man-made chiaroscuro-
scopes inaugurating choirs
of forlornly ethereal voices
— frequency to frequency —
aluminium dissonance soundscape
headphone squeal whistle
hiss and crackle kilowattage
split, dinted, and soughed midst
this multi-media melegoturny of
trancontinental transmission.
Behold Enrico Prampolini’s
Grand harmonic condenseria!
Hooray for this unforeseen
aphasically Futurist impresario
with his sensational sono-
graphic proscenial enginium!


10 Rue d’Anjou, 1pm

almost to his monocle. Erik’s impeccable
spotless against him her hand now pulled
down his standup balcony collar railings
downpipe her small chin silk black dress the
short and shoulderblade tip of chin the
photograph taken is goatee shade pulled
down almost to his monocle “her long
graceful neck” of the broad flat brimmed
over Valentine’s dark blade tip of cape
(Kluver’s mistake) its stand-away tortoise
shell spectacles from Germany mother’s
fourth floor apartment standup collar and show
some shoulder out of the shade overcoat by
plaster masks of lines “her long graceful neck”
the shutters shut (Gertrude) shutter his goateed
shadow broad brimmed flat hat slightly aslant
she shutters leaning lightly against him her
hand now resting on Erik’s left shoulder “her
long graceful neck”


Portrait Of Picabia

Francis Picabia’s a nomad we thought
he goes through ideas the way
one goes through countries and cities
— incessant, says Gertrude Stein —
swallowing abstruse rosellas and
wood pigeons, wolfing down volume
on volume, hanging around high flyers
making love to curious cormorants
and washing one’s forearms in alizarin


‘Funny Guy’ Francis Picabia
is an idiot
is a dag
is a pickpocket
is an imbecilic professor
of Spanish


Francis Picabia is to style parliaments
as jumbo jets and jumbos as I don’t know
what costly erotic cures for dumbstruck
summoning up plausible ungeants
hologrammatically from the decks of
ocean-going liners, just to get by. Says


he from the pig’s back! Or the internal
engines of combustion! Steam heat!
More than him as to ghost writer
of resignation speeches for sticky label
despotics never again see the people
he knew and loved, even casual acquaintances
— notorious roue never put — his word —
the same woman twice in his bed unless
he’d another who cheated on him every
day with a different man. Even so.

Modern Colours, cover


Francis Picabia’s a wag
He is an idiot
He’s a clown
Is not a painter
Is a crazy
Is a Spaniard
Is a professor
Is not serious
Is rich
Is poor.
Take his word

These three poems are included in Wystan Curnow’s Modern Colours, published in an edition of 500 by Jack Books, Auckland, New Zealand, 2005


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