James Mesple, Jeffrey Levine
The Color of Cardinals
oil on canvas diptych
80" x 30"
(Photo: Robert Kameczura)

The Color of Cardinals


as the antithesis of snow, as antidote to sand, as allowing for passage

through a certain kind of incandescence—things disappear—

they disappear and with them, conventional itineraries,

subterranean walls, passion fruit or the unwound string, and better,

the last half note of your favorite Brandenburg or best,

the weathered skin of the old men up in the hills,

what they drink, what they wear around their necks,

(the color of your lips) (the color of theirs) what they think or anyway,

that pigment in the desert cliffs, up there toward the top and in them,

nearly visible in the first blush of morning, the stunned red birds.

             --Jeffrey Levine
                                                                COLLABORATIVE STATEMENT
                                                       Artist James Mesple and Poet Jeffrey Levine

James Mesple has had a long-standing interest in colors and their layered metaphysical associations of
meaning in paintings.  So he was delighted when he read
"The Color of Cardinals" from poet Jeffrey Levine's
book of poems Rumor of Cortez.  Through phone conversations they discovered that they shared an
interest in classical music, as well as the playing of woodwinds. Levine plays the clarinet and oboe while
Mesple plays the flute and bassoon, so that Mesple included the instruments as stand-ins for for poet and
artist.  The instruments intersect as a symbol for the collaboration of word and picture.  Mesple has said,
"Many of Jeffrey Levine's poems are so rife with exquisite word imagery that an artist couldn't help but be
filled with ideas for paintings."  

Levine states: “As a poet, my life and my view of the artistic process as it affects my own writing are
informed by weave theory. I hope that my interweave with the sacred is fairly transparent, e.g. I find
beauty sacred. After all, the word "text" means "something woven." What was fascinating about my
collaboration with the painter James Mesple was that it was like working with a twin vision.”
I am very much a poet of relationships and, even though the writing is itself layered, multi-stranded,
collaged, sometimes fractured—the engine of those poems is the stories that compose relationships. In
speaking with James Mesple, it was clear to me that he “got” that vision, and that he had the artistic power
to collaborate in a way that would render the combined work an exciting, almost archetypal, exploration of
inner space.”