by Kathleen Lynch
It came down
to a choice between the bad
but harmless motel print
of beflowered birdhouses
or the oversized steel sculpture
squatting in the quad
at my old college.
I chose the three-dimensional.
I knew the sculptor, AKA my first
art teacher. He got me to pose nude
for his sketches. That was before
his fame in big metal grew beyond his
expectations. Before he went Avant Garde.
Now I'm an aging writer banging away
on an assignment in the second-most
ephemeral of arts - poetry - which lasts
only as long as that old train
of language can haul the freight
of meaning from one century to the next.
About as close as I can come
to Avant-Garde-anything is the way I joked
with my husband when he called long
distance & said he was lying on our bed naked
because he just got home from a bike ride
and had a saddle sore. I said Me too!
That's a rough workshop, he said. We laughed &
I said No! I'm naked too! This motel is hot
& I have to write a poem about art I hate.
Then I said Want to have Avant Garde phone sex?
What do I have to do? he asked. It's easy
I told him, Just leave stuff out, screw
with the order of things. Or poke
fun at it. He said I'll give you
an IOU. I IOUed him too, smooched
goodbye so I could get back
to Mr. Big Stuff & his cagey
interview with the press. A reporter
asked him what WAS that thing
the college forked over big bucks
for & he said ABSTRACT ART
invites you to inject your
own meaning. Abstract my eye,
I thought - two plump & slumped
keg-like spheres flanking a rusted tube
taller than the snack-bar kiosk.
Let me get this straight:
I have nothing against dicks
per se. I rather like the shape-
shifting trait, which is like a quick
study of being old, then young again.
I admit I did sleep with him. Once.
But not in the metaphoric
sense, which keeps people up
all hours. Something about the dope,
he said, and all that wine.
I said Fine & wished I'd had more
to drink myself. He taught me one thing,
though - I did learn that Art
is bigger than Life, and lasts longer.
Lynch publishes poetry, fiction, essays and B&W photographs. Her
work has been anthologized and reprinted in college textbooks.
Recent publications include Poetry, Poetry East, Poetry Northwest,
The Laurel Review, Nimrod, Slipstream, English Journal, Quarterly
West and The Midwest Quarterly. Her chapbook, How
to Build an Owl won the Select Poet Series Award from Small
Poetry Press in 1995. She is the recipient of the Spoon River
Poetry Review Editor's Choice Award 2000 and the Salt Hill Poetry
Contest Award 2000. She lives in California, where she works as
a free lance writer, teaches a writing workshop and studies sculpture.
To Build an Owl, winner of Select Poet Series Chapbook Award,
Ten: An Anthology of Northern California Poets
Both can be ordered from Small Poetry Press, PO Box 5342, Concord,