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.
“You know,” she said, “it is the critics,
they are the real problem, all holy
and self-proclaimed arbiters of taste,
deciding what is and is not art, as if
God spoke late one night and declared
to each one that he or she and only
he or she would determine what is art.”
I wanted to argue with her, but I
was standing in a gallery where
the signs requested silence, that
and I really had no argument
with what she said, for I knew
that taste was personal, that art
had no hard metrics, this is, this isn’t,
there is no ruler, no gauge, no scale.
Add to that the fact that I
truly love exotic mushrooms, morels,
enoki, the odder the better, and she
finds all fungus disgusting, belonging
in its earthly grave, and though wrong,
it is her taste after all, so there it is.
In a bit less
than an hour
a new exhibit
empty space will
bodies of artist
universes will form
a thousand children
will be born
an old man in
a distant city
will slip away
a contented look
will ask why
but all of that
is not now,
but in a bit
“Suppose,” he says
“words may be used
only once, after that
“You mean in a poem”
she replies, “or life itself?”
Even four stanzas
can challenge most
except perhaps Basho.
Haiku would replace sonnets,
anaphora is self-contradiction.
“Imagine,” the young girl mused
talking heads struck mute,
fighting silent wars,
all poets condemned
to write blank verse.”
As you walk through
this particular space
will you see a small
child perched on a stool,
crayons in hand, a small
rectangle of paper
on the top of the desk
a world you could
never hope to understand,
or an older woman, leaning
on her walker, staring
into the canvas, struggling
to see each brush stroke
and three workmen
white hard hats, retractable
rules and laser levels,
measuring the gallery
against the blueprint
which are artists —
which is art —
does it matter?