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Dean Kostos reads from Broken Color

In Broken Color the poet looks at art, but the poems are not, to my mind, ekphrastic; the poems are more about the looking than what the looking is looking at, pleasure after thought; they are poems about being, more inside than out.

I’ve read two other books by Dean Kostos. One of them, The Boy Who Listened to Paintings is a memoir, a work of prose. The author looks at himself, which is always difficult; it’s about growing up, an adolescent tour de force about a boy who stutters. No one knows more about words than the stammerer. To avoid embarrassment, the shy boy writes down—before he forgets—what he wanted to say as an after thought, that esprit d’escalier, in the blink of an eye, remembered and spoken finally.

Poetry tries to name the unnamable, and give form to what is felt. Broken Color expresses that effort. Poignant is the desire to be heard; it comes through in every poem.



The psyche knows itself in the corridors
     of green mirrors

steps into cool waters.
     Meets itself

in half-lit hallways:
     imprints pollen paths.

The self
     dips to drink,

its face melting, reformed.

jagged extremities.
     The soul knows itself

by itself,
     feet plashing.



I live through my eyes.
Apricot-colored light

secretes from columned Zappeion Hall.
I crane my neck to see

the statue of Lord Byron, “gloomy egoist.”
He shakes off his marble skin & climbs from the plinth.

I thank him for his sacrifice to Greece’s
independence, recite octaves from Don Juan

His marble sheen reflects present & past.
We rove corridors of knobby vines.

In response to the poet’s presence,
butterflies flicker in clouds of bougainvillea.

Dark doves murmur from pines, scent
of late summer musk, of semen.

Oranges pattern the ground, rot among petals
The doves fall silent.

as dusk seeps through crosshatched branches
the poet returns to his plinth.

Church bells echo my thoughts: alone
all one.

Monarch butterflies close their wings
like eyelids.


In the Vimeo below, the poet reads a sequence of poems from Broken Color called “Skies,” about artists who paint, or in the case of Francis Bacon don’t paint, the sky. I include some of the text in the Vimeo so you can read along. Enjoy.




          After a photograph by the author, manipulated for dramatic effect

Impressionists stabbed paint in short
figures, flesh

Rising from the bank of a creek, a tree’s
roots resemble Chinese characters.

Rhisomes tangle below a body
of water. Bark like elephant hide;

puckered skin.

In this landscape that doesn’t exist
leaves explode—shrapnel

white, gray, indigo. A tree trunk slants
across the scene,

across time’s border. Ashen colors evoke
the firebombing of Dresden.

Branches anoint
a thicket of shattered wings.

Wind & sun blast
ferocious light, sear

an imprint: Face
on the Shroud of Turin.

Broken Color is published by MadHat Press. You can check it out here:






The Boy Who Listened to Paintings is published by Spuyten Duyvil. You can check it out here:



Dean Kostos


This Is Not A Skyscraper by Dean Kostos:

Dean Kostos reads from THIS IS NOT A SKYSCRAPER






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