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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 24-28



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A Morning In The Museum

for May Swenson

1. A GROUP ON THE TOP FLOOR

Rauschenberg.
   Lichtenstein,
      Stella,
         vacuum cleaner.

Scaffolding
General Electric
An inflated tire
An Olympic swimmer

The concept
"A vacuum is cleaner"
A balloon, a derangement of nature
A primary color

Don't forget
The polished stone
The museum makes
The clean floors from

How about a smear
Of menstrual blood
Or a sperm puddle
On the formica bench

Imagine
Licking it
A dog tongue
Hungry. [End Page 24]

2. CLAES OLDENBURG: THREE SOFT SCULPTURES

God bless
America where we have this funny
Sense of the ridiculous and "art
That doesn't sit on its ass in a museum"

Alphabet/ good humor
(Looks like intestines)
Upside down city
(Stuffed muslin spray-
Painted prison uniform
Green, dried blood
Red, and charcoal
Polka dots: looks like
Tortured folks hangin
Upside down: or parts
   of em)
Falling shoestring potatoes
(Yellow canvas sculpture
Drops from Kapok sawtooth
Edge paper bag).

3. SEGAL'S DINER

The shabby poetry is in the pathos
The counter falling apart
Is sort of sweet
Like a distressed woodchuck
A woodchuck sort of morning
A coffee please a slice of
I'm tired you'd be tired
Working my kind of hours
The pay I get, some life
Plaster dripped over cotton
And bandage gauze this guy [End Page 25]
The woman behind the counter
Is doughnut shape and falling
Over about to bump
The coffee urn.

In that era kids
Used to say "bunk" not bump
"I bunked into it."
"If he don't watch out
He's gonna bunk
Inta the tree."

4. MARK ROTHKO: THREE PAINTINGS

Tragedy, ecstasy, doom, what the man said
Painting was for, and here is a sorrow dredged
From an oceanfloor, the undulant blues
And purples resonant against your breastbone
Like tribal drum-tones slipping through a jungle
On a normal rainy day, savage and peaceful,

Between two villages, or like a ship's engine
Booming inaudibly while you observe
The phosphorescence, the hard slaps
The ocean gives to your vibrating hull,
Gulls falling away as you leave the shore
To enter the house of the sky.

Later you'll turn your blanketed body
Over and over again as the vessel travels
Forward through lustrous water and moonlight.
Be at peace now. The drowned tumble
Endlessly in their bags,
Wind blows ceaselessly
Eastward above the surface,

Remote from any earth where buildings stand. [End Page 26]

5. JIM DINE

A) The Bathrobe Paintings

Behind the dozen
Or so great canvases
Of the bathrobe,

The human volume
Afloat and aglow
It is my alter ego

On the museum wall
Someone flits
Like an insect, keeps

The pot cooking, the voluminous
Bathrobe washed
And pressed, her thoughts to herself:

It is some way
To spend a life,
She thinks – with her insect mind.

B) Four Pastel Drawings of Tools

axe like the femur
shovel of a tall man
shears elegant to the point
clippers of pain [End Page 27]

6. LOBBY

A) Cheerful Lady to Other Lady

We could bring the boys
I think they'd like it
It's pretty weird.

B) Next

A boy in jeans and new
Orange socks strides purposefully
Through the lobby, his large
And scuffed portfolio
Under his arm, What do they know –
What does anybody know–

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Alicia Ostiker has published eleven volumes of poetry, the most recent of which is No Heaven (U Pittsburgh P). Her most recent critical book is Dancing at the Devil's Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics, and the Erotic (U Michigan P).


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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-426X
Print ISSN
0032-6682
Pages
pp. 24-28
Launched on MUSE
2006-05-18
Open Access
No
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