Jeffery Conway



American existence, you said, is not imaginable.
Hibernation in Provincetown, Marx skewered
to your studio wall, windows confronting
Cottage Street, a fading lace-capped hydrangea, 
coffins of drifting townies. Heaps of semi-
alphabetized movies on video, the foghorn
parodying itself in the distance, and the hazard
of (metaphorically) slitting your wrists.
Eighty-two-year-old artist.
To hold dear a man who speaks with a slight
impediment, to have him mollify your volatile or
melancholy moods with trinkets from the dump
and pulsate on your featherbed with dolor and
delectation, the alliteration of his pacemaker,
as you remember him taking you from behind,
stirring above you like the inception of the universe.
The white taste of life as sand is sprinkled on
Commercial Street and the gallery owner places
the shrinking percentage in your palm.
It would be beneficial if you could wind up in lockup
and so paint your seclusion in still lifes.
Beneficial if you could have married the beclouded
visage of a good capitalist—someone whose eyes
were not there to look into, who could sell
stocks and bonds, luxuriate your body with
a new cedar shake roof and jacuzzi tub.
No—, you said, someone passing for other
than American, a hammer and sickle
on your t-shirt, atomizing your politics
into the tissue of a fellow Village dog walker,
willing him to become real.
You’ve been in autumn a month now.
What have you established? Your journal entries
narrate the annoying ceremony of five-o’clock snack,
staring out at the remaining crack of bay between
two shrill condo complexes across the way,
the Social Security check you collect
“just for being old,” and the tips required
for so much as a cup of coffee downtown.
Eighty-two-year-old painter,
Chagall did not choose to be Chagall.  


© 2008 Electronic Poetry Review