POETRY: Calvin Walds

Dark Rupture (James Baldwin) 1941 – Beauford Delaney

I’ve stopped appraising my skin.

The soused thin of it; a receding
held curlicue.

I imagine it. My skin. To be something
auxiliary. Unraveling about. Consuming.

Beauford begins to paint Jimmy.
Were you singing? Baraka asks.

The rest in the tremor of dots, a white sun.

Beauford’s brush gently strikes the linen acid.

A gesso laced canvas. Jimmy’s unbuttoned oxford.

Russet slides into black opsins, eye bags.
The one lick of blue, winter’s
rainless fog.

Shadows drench the portrait’s budding flora.

Inviolable Halleluiah.

A glass vaults through a diner window. Jimmy threw it

in New York. Beauford caught it in Paris. In Istanbul, they drank, again.

Beauford’s hematic hand. Fringed peaks of the opus.
Pealing red chimes surrounds.


watercolor and gouache on paper
(after Beauford Delaney circa. 1957-1958)

Neglect a heat map canvas.
Aerial shots of lava drenched Hawaii.
Earth cracked open, egg split, droop
Beauford, last night, you smiled
a mouse scurries your loft, pried
orbit you slept, blood dripped
a palette, I slept a phone, as to hear that asunder
acuity dipped blue, your loved
sour yellow, segued
over everything or every sorrowful
thing runs. Beauford, I touched
your letter, you were buried in an unmarked
grave. Beauford, why do we
We? Did you can you hear, we only love.
You paint nothing. I write nothing.
Loving what isn’t there.

Calvin Walds

Calvin Walds is a MFA candidate in cross-genre writing at UCSD. His work with 20th-century painter Beauford Delaney is part of a project on black abstraction and practices of relational fugitivity. He has received fellowships from The Watering Hole and Callaloo Journal. His writing has appeared in The Felt, Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters, Coldnoon: Travel Poetics, and Hyperallergic.