Tuesday, June 15, 2010


In the Nelson Atkins Museum,

in Kansas City, MO,

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

absolutely motionless,

before it-

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

were sacrificed,

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

of Presedente’,

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

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