Work-in-Progress

For C.D.

The one-time bag man, skinny
bag-of-bones man, barterer
of stones & stone-aged man
leans back against a packing crate
& laughs. BECOME an artist?
Hell, I AM one! What they mean
is, I should make money at it —
be like them.
Mustache twitches.
A figure of fun, a harmless homebody
nobody minds.
Pointed fingernails
sweep sideways in a wave.
And I’ve decided to go along with it,
just to prove a point.

Yellow teeth glisten in a coyote grin.

The clay pipe passes back & forth
& the whole attic hunkers down
to gnaw its gristle: cans of quartz
crystals sorted by size & color,
boxes ammed with squares of gold
& silver foil from cigarette packs,
a shelf of empty one-shot
whiskey flasks, broken lamps
& chipped porcelain trash-picked
from suburban curbsides — literal
yuppie scum — plus
the inevitable flotsam from ten years’
service in the Merchant Marine.

Some lore more occult than the Kabbalah
imposes its madness on the method
of this assemblage — makes my host
seem less a prestidigitator than
an honest-to-god magician.
Palms up, he invokes the Angel
of Unreproducible Results, bids me
take another look: Nothing here
is accidental. This is my art.

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