Munch Cycle

Posted on February 14, 2008


By Rob Woodward

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter and an important forerunner of Expressionistic art. His best-known painting is The Scream.

Warnemünde (An Opening Portrait)

A “savage” loincloth
brush pointed
battle joined
not quite –
Because the eyes, the glare
speaks taciturn Norway
with winter

a man spun in webs of hair:
with no smile
only dark need

Summer in Scandinavia
is short and serious:
fun must be had
love loved
before the curtain
and dreams
turn inward

I kissed your bare belly
in the soft-night woods
as your thighs
owned me
with pubis of moss
aching –

Please love me as I know
you can’t …

Give me your small, non-nourishing breasts
and allow me to lose all my dignity
as I again try and fail to feed,

thru the brief time before endless day
turns to endless night

My life is cold
and burning.

Portrait of Self Portraits and Photos (early 1900s)

The unmistakable northern countenance:

You could be a photograph of a banker,
teacher, or preacher especially (Unitarian?)
Minnesota 1874 still reading magazines
from the old country twenty
prairie years on …

But I see a pinpoint madness
in your pupils passion banging on
thick frosted glass disheveled hair sleepless
red-rimmed eyes weeping actual tears or not
over the terrible dream of creation
cold studio floor leave the paintings
out in the snow until they fade and harden
facing the truth of love women
sickness death and loss and the horrible
reality of the days when it’s impossible
to tell any of these things apart

In other words,
I see you

in the

Summer Wonderful (Three Girls at the Beach
and Other Paintings)

So it is possible to dance a little
  in the northern mind!

Cobblestones and shops of bakers and dressmakers
the young and the aged walking children
playing on the beach thru their golden hair
and potential …

Hoist the sun up a tower
rope and pulley
for all Norway
to see!
Impressionist colors extant
if not quite bleeding
even after being
left out in the snow
for God knows
what reason

The joy of life! Closer to the surface of life!

But whose husband died in the war?
Whose consumptive kerchief
is not visible?

Still I hold this to be the truth,
a level of truth:

It’s OK for there to be
children temporarily healthy
at least
It’s OK to walk thru the everyday
for long moments at a time
only lightly burdened by life,
by the weight of love’s needs
and death’s price
It’s OK to want to drift into song
even if you can’t quite let that happen
under skies like Holland
to my open American

summer wonderful
scent in the breeze.


Rob Woodard was born in Anaheim, California and lives in nearby Long Beach. He is the author of the novels Heaping Stones and What Love Is, to be published in 2007. Burning Shore Press will be bringing out his first volume of poetry, King Of Long Beach, in 2008. He is currently at work on a third novel, tentatively titled Backwaters of Beauty. He blogs at King of Long Beach.

Posted in: Poetry