Outsider Art

Outsider Art

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Richard Cole is the author of two books of poetry, The Glass Children (University of Georgia Press) and Success Stories (Limestone Books). He is also the author of a memoir, Catholic by Choice: Why I Embraced the Faith, Joined the Church and Embarked on the Adventure of a Lifetime (Loyola Press).  His poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Hudson Review, Image Journal, and elsewhere.

Outsider Art

From WTP Vol. IX #2

for Lonnie Holley and all the unknown others

God is the unexpected.
God is junk.

So out of junk and abandon, out of busted
nickel and the power of God, out of cast-offs and defects
picked over, spent with ample grime
I make this charm
out-rigged and harmonized,
embedded in rank and sour development,
hanging thread-
like, unfolding out of three boxes in the mind
with roots dangling,
out of magic markers, TV plastic,
pink costume jewelry, rusted bedsprings, rivets and twine,
full-throated with the human head
of a tea kettle upside down
with the spout for a nose and two eyes
punched in on either side, the third
on top to see God coming,
crowned with thorny fences
spiked against fat demons quick to bite
and Satan (subtle breather) on his spider toes.

Be calm. Be born. You’re healed. You’re saved.
So Jesus crushes death between His teeth.
So art comes back as teaching art, blind eggs for eyes
and double-sighted, stubborn roots
hauled up and dripping holy colors,
art that escapes
outside and deep within, deformed
so it can breathe, an art overlooked
and rescued so the mind can see on fire.

So we ask the prophet Lonnie
What are you doing on that mountaintop?
and Lonnie says I’m trying
to undo hell.

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