All Must Go for Sale Real Cheap

One guy’s work from fifty years back,
these unframed watercolors of a white farmhouse,
here gabled, here by the sea,

next, on a mesa, or in a valley–
at least a hundred of the same house–
assaulted by weather, birds, eucalyptus;

this one with purple wisteria almost lets
some sorrow leak through, but this
with the slashing branches, Lord, the mood

he was in that day. Pity no one told him
not to use black for shadow
or night; still he evokes queasy dread

in this cloud bank bearing down. No one
clued him in about translucence,
about paper’s desire to shine through paint.

Still, it’s all here in this dusty garret
of a shop no one visits but me, and only
when listless, out walking, and I pop in

for a look-see. The beautiful thing
is his signature, in calligraphy, the musical
mid-century name of a mid-century guy.

You can tell he stumbled
into salvation, left these relics behind–
one man’s ticket out of hell. Maybe he

took the class, read the book. He’d drive home
late and couldn’t resist picking up the brush.
He’d get it right if he painted one more.


Cheerful Defense of the Realm

Once I used to be and desperately wanted,
but in the beginning I wondered,
though once upon a time I secretly knew.
At first I declared; then I believed.
After awhile I noticed, but not enough.
In the end I still wanted. In the middle
I was lost, very lost. In the meantime
I complained. As a general rule I felt.

When it was over I gently explained
how I had guessed according to the stars.
A propos of nothing I apologize.
With hindsight I throw up my hands in praise.
Under the circumstances I’ll take another.
Given a second chance I’d choose the blue.