With ginger hair dragged over
fiery orange face
Blue shirt, red scarf knotted round his neck,
Blue jeans, soft leather Russian boots
Tied round with bands he ties and unties when
His feet are not spread sprawling on two tables—
Yawning, he reads his effort. It’s about
A crazy Icarus always falling into
A labyrinth.
   He says
He only has one subject—death—he don’t know why—
And saying so leans back scratching his head
Like a Dickensian coachman.
For his bad verse—he’s no poet—an art student—
—Paints—sculpts—has to complete a work at once
Or loses faith in it.
Anyway, he thinks
Art’s finished.
   There’s only one thing left
Go to the slaughter house and fetch
A bleeding something-or-other—oxtail, heart,
Bollocks, or best a bullock’s pair of lungs,
Then put them in the college exhibition,
On a table or hung up on a wall
Or if they won’t allow that, just outside
In the courtyard.
(Someone suggests
He put them in a plastic bag. He sneers at that.)

The point is they’ll produce some slight sensation—
Shock, indignation, admiration. He bets
Some student will stand looking at them
For hours on end and find them beautiful
Just as he finds any light outside a gallery,
On a junk heap of automobiles, for instance,
More beautiful than sunsets framed inside.
That’s all we can do now—send people back
To the real thing—the stinking corpse.

This Issue

November 18, 1971