Beheadings, slaughter of the innocents, suffering and sorrow say all the stabbed, ecstatic art of the museums and more of the same says the news, the glowing, after glowing now what, but also in the crowded galleries babies held by mothers looking at babies being artfully held in the celestial rain, the fat buttery ones, part putto, part lard who appear ready to slip from mother’s arms out of the frame into smoke and storm, the non-art part of the world, that disobedient, expensive part like a furious sea you paid to cross in an inflatable plastic raft, a child’s toy in a bath it looks like from America where we have no fate we can’t make. Fate is guns and money swamping the stars. Fate is the bewitched mixture of fuel with sea water that incinerates the self. Fate is the decree of childhood evaporating into unauthorized space where the I/you is so much questioning and answering non-art. In art I see the gold leaf, the gashes, the beautiful throats and hear the trauma arias of martyrdom that are the same in non-art deserts and cities. There are two schools: one that sings the sheen and hues, the necessary pigments and frankincense while the world dries and the other voice like water that seeks to saturate, erode, and boil. It can’t be handled. It can’t be marble. It wants to pool and rise and rain and soak the root systems. It ruins everything you have ever saved.
Copyright © 2017 Bruce Smith. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2017