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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 13, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem focuses on ‘Bed,’ one of Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘combine’ paintings, a series in which he mixed found objects and paint with a structural support to make something that ‘acts in that gap’ (his words) between art and life.”
—Lauren Camp

The Bed on the Wall

After Robert Rauschenberg’s “Bed,”
oil and pencil markings on pillow, quilt, and sheet, 1955

So garish: the arc of his interior
thinking. So red,

so deceptive. The coordinates of this project fall
between sheets and box spring:

the command of horizontal passage.
The bed soaked

with the overlapping tongue
of his brushes, with pattern interruption, the departure

from edges. Let’s say he is within
his composition. Inside

his story. As he tips
the paint, the objective can be taken

altogether away until he detects
only desire: a rough strike

of purple
censured from exuberance. The room remains

with the weeping wreckage
all around, and the panels

in the corner
beaded with aggressive desperate skins.

Below the window, the dirty
city, its permanent

tensed distances, its hungry
catastrophes, its bare

windows. His pillow is creased. It tells everything
we need to know. Each drip, directionless.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Camp. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Camp. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp is the author, most recently, of One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016) and The Dailiness (Edwin E. Smith Publishing, 2013).

by this poet

poem

One borrows time not to be left out.

Been in the pattern of sun—secure, re-creating.
One needs one thing.

One father is left with new limits, but one
father is left. This repeat is filled with above and below.
(Do you understand that it won't cease?)

Every hour compared to dozens of

2
poem

Let there be footfall and car door. Let me
be finished with fire. Let
the man get on a plane for his morning
departure, erasing each reverie. Soon
there will be only daylight,
maybe a blue envelope, torn. Maybe bracelets
of color from the petunias. I will need
to know how to