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—)