Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow

after Piet Mondrian

Some lines, right angles, and the primary colors
make out of almost nothing something lasting.
He’s found a new common denominator

in the poverty of paint. Sick of the clutter
of the particular, why not try fasting
on angles, lines, and just the primary colors?

Who says that you need God, a dubious smile, or
even lovers always sadly parting,
to find it art? The common denominator

between success and failure, fear and valor,
Russian and German, or you and me, looks something
like these lines and angles. The three colors

were kept cellared and pure, posit the scholars,
against the Great War’s squalor, so he kept painting
lower and lower common denominators,

and as he aged his canvases grew whiter.
After the war came another war, redrafting
the lines, the righteous angles, and the colors
to find the lowest common denominator.

Armen Davoudian

Armen Davoudian

Armen Davoudian’s poems and translations from Persian have appeared or are forthcoming in The Yale Review, The Sewanee Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He is a 2019 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and has received fellowships from the ALSCW and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and lives in Baltimore.
Armen Davoudian

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Author: Armen Davoudian

Armen Davoudian’s poems and translations from Persian have appeared or are forthcoming in The Yale Review, The Sewanee Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He is a 2019 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and has received fellowships from the ALSCW and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and lives in Baltimore.