Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trapped in a Static Wall Painting

Restlessly dreaming of gathered poets
At picnic tables by a summer sea,

None of them recognizable to me,
As renowned, though they were, nor as my friends,

I heard talk of an annual contest.
The theme
This year was to be, "static wall painting."

Ooh, in the dream I believed I could win.
I asked the head poet, "There's how much time?"

"You've got twenty-two minutes," he told me.
Fine. Good.
I don't give a damn about revision

Anyway. I'm on it. What's my angle?
I know.
Night Gallery. The Escape Route. That one.

Trapped in hospital beds at seven
Various unravellings of the mind

On black-&-white televisions, twelve feet
And above the foot of each high-barred bed,

The occasional nurse for a remote,
I caught
My first whiff of Rod Serling and horror.

I didn't understand that much of it.
A man
Who had done bad things was a visitor

At a museum where he would linger
In front of a bucolic oil painting.

When the good guys were on to him he fled
Back there,
Bowing his head and fervently praying

To escape into the happy landscape.
He did.
Sort of. When the Nazi hunters got there

He had vanished and they never found him.
He screamed
Forever from a crucifixion scene

That the docents had hung up, replacing,
That day,
The lovely landscape that hung there before.

The last scene was a close up of the man's
Horrified, howling face staring at me.

Yes, I whispered to another poet
Crumbs from the table where I scribbled, yes,

This will be perfect. Get it? The static
The TV hanging its heavy grey head

From the wall while the boy lies trapped in bed
The poet licked up the last crumb and grinned.

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