Prompts for RWJ, Prompt 168


Edgar Degas, Cafe Concert: The Song Of The Dog

He liked to catch his subject unawares.
Like nudes bent on washing themselves
and ballerinas in the waiting room
and cafe singers after dark. As
unromanticised a portrayal as one
would come across. An artist, he set
the bar pretty high.

The cafe singer in a yellow dress
and black choker was a satire. Just look
at the title–Song Of The Dog–hands
like paws! Uncompromising, into the world
he poured a kind of disdain. First restrained
in colors then heightening palette to
vivid pastels.

Imagine this was anti-religious Russia
so the singer Sylvia could not sing of
God or Lord or Christ or Jesus.
What would ooze out in song?
She sang, “Rise and shine, and give
Dog the glory! Glory! Rise and shine!
Give Dog the glory!”

What? Have you taken a liking to paws,
Sylvia? Has Degas degraded you?
She wiped ber brow, that honorable woman,
saying, I’m not sore either. What is
d-o-g but God spelled backward?
That said, poured herself some vodka
like one who’s landed on all paws.

So I’ve watched a Youtube documentary on French Impressionist artist, Edgar Degas. And I was reading Langston Hughes’s biography, I Wonder As I Wander, and he’s wandered to Russia to work on a movie about Blacks in America and this subject came up about a Black spiritual singer called Sylvia and she was the singer in the movie singing spirituals like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. Anyhow in stanza three above, this was what she came up with, when she was faced with an actual Russian conundrum. I thought I’d like to link that to Edgar’s painting by virtue of the painting’s title, and so I did. So the prompt is to think about a strange pairing in a poem.


4 thoughts on “Prompts for RWJ, Prompt 168

  1. More than one pairing,

    Written At The Desk, Stage Right

    Oh then Tweedledum
    and Tweedlefiddledeedee
    were discovered on
    the sly and slinking
    off stage left as if they would
    be better doing
    more prosaic work
    than one more damn poetry
    reading, acting out
    metaphors as if
    at the commands we laid down –
    the daily orders,
    the unending drone
    of authority smearing out
    any possible

    I gave them at
    request, both a nom de guerre,
    and even if Lou
    chops off my fingers
    one by one, I will never
    reveal when or where
    or who the Tweedles
    really are, or who Lou is
    for all that matters.

    ‎June ‎24, ‎2016 2:22:22 PM

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