Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool

I want to die textured like denim overalls worn thin and second-skin-like,
to die imprinted against a bubblegum pink background: t i m e s t a m p e d
Languid in my lank, p r e s s   m e   o u t

She has tan lines unveiling carmelbrown burned black and confined to clothing

Sweet thang
show me how you swing those hips
Sweet thang
show me how you purse your lips
Sweet thang
show me how to bounce that hair
Sweet thang
show me that stare only you stare
Sweet thang

Women in wicked white have grown to glow green against sparking canvases,
against sparkling apparatuses
And I can see that we have forgotten our projected selves

Sketch me long as an Elizabethan blazon
baking in the afterhaze of a midday watermelon served on ice
lime cookies to melt on tongues
as he calls me “lady”—unknowing of my sexual history

In the highlight of a sun setting over horizontally etched trees,
the word B I T C H is clearly visible across her spilling breasts melted chocolate smooth

We can come down together on a Sunday morning
basking in our skins and aware the thickening light will breathe beauty into our accidents.

In her sheer skirt and opaque heels watch her switch to the image
white in quiet acknowledgement
quiet in white ambivalence
Experience with me, soul sister, the absence of oppression
the absence of evaluation.

Come quiet with me.

Recognize with me.

Blood is hostile in the dirty south, in the unforgiving generation.
Subdued before the levee broke wide.

Her glasses like transparent stop signs—beacons of the self
Envelope her with self-portraits and make us congruent in the funny things.

See see us as we are in our least parodic states
Revolutionary in black youth.

In Versace glasses she is the satirical nonsense of popularized material
She is an enforcer of the comfortable black stereotype.

What does the representation of our 3 dimensions really mean?
Multiangular perspectives only bleed monotony
Different than a ripple on skin because our hands show her eyes sideways in accidents

Bruises in the sedimentation of discarded attachments.


2 thoughts on “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool

  1. “Birth” is inspired by my favorite gallery showing ever “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” which debuted at my alma mater, Duke University =D Hendricks’ detailed, colorful, stylish, and larger-than-life depictions of black men and women evoke emotion and leave a lasting impression.

    Images in order of reference:

    Barkley L. Hendricks, Misc. Tyrone (Tyrone Smith), 1976. Oil and magna on linen canvas, 72 x 50 1/4 inches

    Barkley L. Hendricks, Sweet Thang (Lynn Jenkins), 1975–1976. Oil on linen canvas, 52 1/2 x 52 3/4 inches

    Barkley L. Hendricks, What’s Going On, 1974. Oil, acrylic and magna on linen canvas, 65 3/4 x 83 3/4

    Barkley L. Hendricks, Vendetta, 1977. Oil, acrylic, and magna on linen canvas, 36 x 48 inches

    Barkley L. Hendricks, Blood (Donald Formey), 1975. Oil and acrylic on cotton canvas, 72 x 50 ½ inches

    Sorry ya’ll, can’t remember the title of the last one. <3

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