Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Curator of Public Transportation by John Reinier

Into the mandible
of inquisitive minds,
I drop exalted names
one predomination at a time.
Van Gogh is the first to go.
"Was he the best?" a lady
in a yellow dress wants to know.
She obviously expects a coronation,
right there on the ribbed black mat
rolled out for the famous Dutchman.
"As an artist, it's hard to say," I say.
"But as an arsonist he had no equal, ma'am.
You've never seen the sun lit
as brilliantly as he did it,
on a wheat field set afire.
Nor does the future hold much of a prospect,
that another artist will ever torch it
so thoroughly."
"But he does not detract from the others.
Edvard Munch, I have to mention...,"
"Did he have the munchies?" a small girl
-- with auburn hair and autumn landscape
for complexion -- interrupts.
"Imagine," I tell her, "a bird of prey
watching Chip and Dale at play,
at a game of tag around the barked barrel
of that tall tree right over there.
The dark bird swoops down, misses once,
but tries again, ending both chases forever.
In flight it gets disoriented by the light
reflecting from the front door of this bus,
coincidentally at the moment it opens.
With wings spread out, the bird alights
in the aisle up next to our driver,
still clutching the mortally-wounded pet,
now oozing what looks like red licorice,
a sight so twisted to your young eyes,
they twirl like pinwheel lollipops.
As you file out the back door of this bus
you let out a scream
heard around the metropolis."
"Marc Chagall never dealt
with such dreaded decorum.
His flights, instead, pure delights,
take place in an aquarium.
Figures float upward like jellyfish,
blue, or red, or green,
weightless in a welcoming sky."
"I like black-and-white pictures,"
a handmaid who's been shopping announces.
"Then you would appreciate the artistry
of the photographer, Ansel Adams.
He's the acknowledged aristocrat
of monochromatic color."
"De Kooning was an action painter."
"De Whooning was a what'd you call it?"
"Matisse blended color indiscriminately."
"My sister made a picture of me..."
"Barnett Newman was a fundamentalist.
Walker Evans, Edward Weston,
Wassily Kandinsky,
Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp,
Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Roy Lichtenstein,"
I list the rest in un-amalgamated order,
then listen to a small child whimper as I exit.

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