Disembark the Turners seem to say,
those starburst barges glowing in the dusk,
but I can’t read old Rembrandt,
his guarded eyes are jewels, like black men.
Even the loaned, marble busts
of kings and soldiers fail to arrest you.
It’s nearly closing time. The elderly linger,
rapt. Who has looked at either of you lately
with such tenderness?
Entering the narrow hall,
I ignore my favorite portraits, their ruffles
and bodices, carnations and powder puffs,
afraid to share my joy with you,
yet your bearing in this space—the procession
of your shoulders, the crowns of your heads—
makes them sing anew.
You are both good men.
Walk into the Fragonard Room. You both seem bored still.
It’s fine. Perhaps we can progress like these panels,
slowly and without words, here—the city
where I first knew men in the dark—
in this gold and feminine room.
Mom said, I want to name him Patrick. Dad said,
He looks like a frog. The moon said, waning
crescent. The thermostat said, It’s South Florida.
Cumulonimbus clouds were not in attendance.
Mosquitos said, sugar of life. The night said, Welcome
young blood. Magazines in the waiting room said,
Jackie O and Charles & Di and Axl Rose and Cher
and Madonna and Oprah, skinny in a sparkling purple
gown, is the richest woman on TV. Ebony said,
25 Years After The Civil Rights Act of 1964
What Has and Hasn’t Changed? “Batdance” played on
the radio. The TV said, War on Drugs. The TV
said, Drought. The TV sang, Thank you for being a friend,
travel down the road and back again. Dade County said,
snakes and amphibians mangled by lawn mowers.
The United States said, The life expectancy of black men
is 64.8 years. 1989 said the following for the first time:
latte, caffeinate, cyber porn, viral marketing, Generation X.
Karen was the last thing the Atlantic Ocean said
that hurricane season. Voyager 2 said of Neptune,
What is this ring? What is this Great Dark Spot?
Saturn in Capricorn squaring Venus in Libra said,
Hello small bachelor, here’s your near fetishistic desire
for classical beauty; said it’ll take your Saturn Return,
a whole revolution, to begin loving yourself. Jesus
didn’t say anything but a senator said He did.
On a break, the attendant nurse bought a Dr. Pepper
from the vending machine. Then she went outside
with her menthols and Walkman to listen to self-help tapes.
The cassette skipped and skipped and skipped.