A painting is a permanent present

tense, an app that does one thing, & one thing,

lonely. Scroll down. There’s the gallery floor,

glowing. There’s the guard, glowering at your

emphatic thumb. Eyes were once yellow, now

they’re all red. Everything moves forward,

especially the past. Pay it forward,

Renaissance. Come, enlighten us. Early

Modern, it corrects, trailing its fancy hat

in the dust. It’s like that episode of

Scooby Doo where the gang unmasks the Ghost

of Hamlet’s father to reveal Fortinbras.

And it would have worked, too, if not for you

meddling kids. Oh, where’s the dial, the remote.

Early Modern limps and shucks and jives

for a tuppence dropped in its Tupperware

cup. In the next gallery is some art

made out of ones and zeroes. Cool. We ask

that you please not photograph the aura.

For I have but the power to live without

the power to be born.  Joyce could have told you

the difference between all this & porn.

It’s what you admire without needing

to possess. It’s the immortality

of death, a life that had stood in corners,

a device, fully charged… You’re standing too close.

Is this the original frame? Ciao, Joyce.

The guard begins to raise his voice. Oh look:

a still life, stilleven, even, still,

a still born, a still birthing, even,

Heavens to murgatroyd, exit, stage right.

There’s a reproduction in the gift shop,

crying for its mama. What is it to you

or you to it that it should shed such tears?

Distracted, Early Modern sheds some years.

Why don’t you take a picture, it will last

never. Memory full. Are you sure you want

to delete? Nothing stirs a second life.

Though we may long, it must longer.

A painting is the permanent vocative,

O, O, O, O, O. (Dies. The rest is—)