A B Jackson vs. Messerschmidt

Scottish poet A B Jackson recently published a suite of ekphrastic poems in Poetry LondonThey reply to the fabulous heads by eighteenth century sculptor, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Here is one poem from the suite, with a Messerschmidt head that might just be its pair.

"Charakterkopf (Character head)" by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783). Photo by Dalibri, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Charakterkopf (Character head)” by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783). Photo by Dalibri, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Difficult Secret

By A B Jackson

Lips, what? Keep schtum,
stay buttoned. Beaked spirits
govern this mum state
with knife and cockle-spoon,

crave rosebud or bee-stung
lips, those kiss-limpets.
Airborne occult potentates
bug me, spy: a southern

pout or pucker, eyes ‘molten’
or ‘melting’—leaks. Be shut.
Lips indrawn I unfruit.
Should I perish, dear cousin,

follow this breadcrumb:
in forty-nine apple crates
my several heads, one secret.
Cousin, lips herald bedlam.

(Published in Poetry London Spring 2014. Reproduced with kind permission of the author.)

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