In Response to 25 Lines by Linda Pastan
Burn the place down, along with every inkblot.
Stains, oh stains, all over the walls, and the artists
Brought here long ago; now their lifeless bodies
Rot in the attic, dripping softly headwards
To the slowly rotating crowds deep down below;
Trudging through knee high palls of dark liquid, trudging
In the way unique to museums and T-virus victims
Dragging their children who hardly keep their heads up
While directors’ flickering tongues are showing the way,
While ashen boats bob as they rob them of coins for the crossing.
The dead haze of parrafin skins the inside of my nostrils
As I stop by a Rembrandt and take a quiet moment to see.
Those gloaming shadows, already they purge through the canvas
And the pale skin slowly sloughs off – to reveal there a carcass…
Stretched on a crossbeam of wood and its bare wrists nailed there
Its ribs open up to the world and the gaze of the painter
Whose eyes, bone-black darkness and oil paint, plucked in a cave
Look down honing vividly, haunted by corpses of children
And his wife’s lifeless body reflects in them, quietly lain.
A wild burning madness is wasting his swarming desire
Falsely committing his lover to rot in a madhouse,
He dies with no money, buried communal and poor…
Until his moulded bones were stolen and stored
In the crypts in the attic, darkly congealed on the boards.
I glance to the floor and I see the dark liquid is rising
Hear the screams start in the arches next door and I quicken
Raise my umbrella to part this heathen rain
I stare at at the canvas, I know I’ve not time, I remain.
The carcass has split and a figure resides in the centre
The wooden supports; hallowing a dark glass cage:
This papal recliner is drowning in shadows as I am
As the effeminate artist, whose eyes and thick brushes remain
Trained on a body themselves in a fancy hotel room
Who, drowned in the oil and the thin fumes, fills him with pain.
The gloaming has swelled as it foggily eats the events here
Whose squirming flesh is whipped with the causal chain.
After a brief interlude between life and death falls away
Wheezing, into the void, and the furnace burning
His urn stolen back from the vigil of gregorian chants.
As the pockmarked beams are collapsing, now raining remnants
Of the real, the pain and the passion, the thriving of life
Which is dust now, and crushed by the trillions of banknotes which follow
Dumped with the blood and the sinew of creatures, besmirching
Their effort, their trial, their crucifixion, their learning.
I turn now to run, but the glass cage, escaped from the painting
Surrounds me and quickly fills with the liquid, protecting
My skin from the touch of deep profit, the acid investment…
But something is in here, decaying, the flesh of the canvas
Now bathed in formaldehyde, its gaping maw drinking the blackness
A gormless requiem, purporting to shield us from death.
Distended they swallow as much as they can of the past
Screaming with unearthly screams they are blinded and fattened
Their pale eyes, quivering, are screened by expensive sunglasses
Made from the small stolen bones of Rembrandt’s children
They crying explode as the weight of the graveyard corrodes them.
I sigh with relief… but my skin also is loosened
And I turn to the sight of sublime nature’s irises hurling
Towards me through fumes, the sleek surface warping reflections
Till they snap on the match in my hand and I strike it and drop it
And the light of divinity illuminates the world once again.
No one, ever, was worthy of the works of the past
Who cultured them with exploitation, building
Foul industries upon the other’s blood
If only the life of an insect rests in the balance
it is better to destroy the entire history of art.
For value will always rest with the toiling people
They have these manifold shining works in their pockets
And their flesh and their body will anchor the work in its heart.
We dream the fever dreams of an ancient elite
That lost control, usurped and sent to exile
Disdaining our lives, and their simplification
Hoping for thinking deeper than we have received
Of late, but their lives rested in needless complexity,
bloated with capital, it’s time now to lay them to rest.
We are haunted by the blood of dead aristocrats
But their fill ins are worse, for they deal in faded skeletons
And those on their banknotes, holding their artworks together.
Ethical, art has never been, but now
Its blinding curse should willingly draw our eye
An ancient ocean marks these gaping lacunae
The halls where we might take art back, with fire.