“You have to go all the way to Washington,”
he said, “to find decent statuary.”
“Oh, you can find one or two in almost every city.
Its founder, some general or admiral,
some animal that oddly represents
a metropolis that has cast out its animals,
or penned them up in zoos, put them on leashes.
New York has quite a few, Boston as well,
and Chicago, well it likes sculpture,
but spend half an hour in Vienna
and you are overwhelmed with statuary.
Maybe they have lower standards there,
or far more history, but I suspect it is
that they don’t rush about on the winds
of whim, despite our endless example to them.
I walked slowly into
the darkened showroom
of the tattoo parlor, walls
lined with the wares
of the burly, bearded man
dragon rampant on his chest
barely contained by the Harley T-shirt.
Look around, he said, till you see
what you want, I’ll be here.
On one wall all manner of dragons
and other dreamlike beasts,
one of mermaids, nymphs
a corner of cycles, one of butterflies.
What I’d like, I said
is a Campbell’s Soup can
Tomato, preferably, or
Chicken Noodle, on my biceps
close to life sized.
He stared, slack jawed, but
you never really know,
it worked for Andy Warhol.
In the night
what I am perched
on the edge of sleep
you appear, just
out of the dream shadows,
avoiding the light,
you are featureless.
I call to you and I think
you must be smiling
but your voice is the wind
through the Austrian pines
and the drip from the ever
that slowly abandon
the eaves of the house.
We greet as long lost friends,
having never before met
save sharing a place
a decade apart.
I strive to cling
to what was there
in that place, she,
fueled by the frustration,
has turned away
just because of it.
I go home to my words,
she to her art,
and we know
our paths will cross again.
She stares at you, unwavering.
You find this strange, wanting to see
something more in her looks,
but you get nothing from her,
as you have gotten nothing
from so many others before her.
You know men are as capable
of such stares as she, but you
don’t tend to see them, your own
gender blindness perhaps, or just
that men are less interesting
and more seldom seen
in these surroundings, usually
standing, posing, looking away.
You want to know what she
is thinking in this moment, what
she sees in your face, transfixed,
but the artist didn’t reveal that,
and so she will stare as well
at the next viewer throughout
the gallery’s open hours.
The once gods have been reduced
again to mere mortals
and find the change disquieting.
Just the other day I saw Hermes
meandering along Fifth Avenue
pausing to look at scarves in a window
of a store he never imagined.
Even the once great queen
finds herself behaving like
a love-struck teenager.
One who bred desire now works
as a hack writer for a card company,
a blow to his psyche more
than anyone can imagine.
Even the nameless one
has been seen working behind
the register at Walmart
thankful for the extra hours
as the holiday season approaches.
We no longer aspire to be gods,
it is too much work and there is
simply no payoff.
This morning, as I do most mornings,
I took my paints and painted the sky blue.
Today for some reason, I opted for Cornflower,
it seemed to fit my mood and the neighbors cat,
after considering it for a few moments
seemed to agree with my choice, though she
suggested tomorrow might be better served
by either Carolina Blue or Iceberg, but
if I don’t sleep all that well tonight,
I suspect I will just go with Cool Gray.
The Cardinal says anything darker than
Dark Pastel blues is unacceptable since
it takes away from his beauty, but that vanity
aside, it takes too long to sweep aside
the clouds to do the second coat
the brighter blues all demand.