there is a painting,
I am convinced is responsible
for the disappearance
of a number of, otherwise,
innocent art aficionados.
Once, while flirting
shamelessly with one of Gauguin’s
little island girls,
I noticed a man
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot’s
“A Day In the Country,”
with its blustery, leaf-flustered world
of browns and blacks and greys,
(about the only colors
he ever seemed to use in those days),
except, of course, for his
tiny signature dab of red
that always manages to grab the eye
and mind like a bright ember at twilight.
And the guy
is completely frozen, there,
an unbeliever, perhaps,
beholding the hybrid angel-demon, at last,
a bird lost in the thousand-yard-stare
of a cobra.
And I swear
I only turned away from him
for a second (to give my
little coco-chica a reassuring wink)…
When I turned back,
there was nothing left of the man
but a shoe.
This went on for a couple of months-
a kid with headphones,
a guy wearing cockroach killers
and a burgundy shirt,
an old man with a straw pork-pie,
a woman with a fake leg,
and a girl with a dragonfly
tattooed across her entire back.
And though I never actually saw
any of these… abductions,
would never be able to testify, reliably,
as an eye-witness to just exactly
what went down.
I know these people had been chosen by Beauty;
carried off, spirited away, shanghaied…
and, I knew that I could never know Beauty
like they did, could never possess Beauty
like they did, could never curl up next to it,
make dinner for it, take it on the job,
go on long walks through the park with it,
ride shotgun with it in a ’68 Chevy pick-up
through a monster summer thunderstorm…
unless, of course, something… substantial
unless I offered myself up, completely,
to the grinning, lizard-tongue-flicking
devil-god of the moment,
whatever that moment may be.
I went home,
took a long pull off a half-pint
torched everything I’d ever written
in a metal trash-can
and through my television
off the roof of my building.
I felt fucking beautiful.
-Jason Ryberg, 2004