top of page

Mike Tries to Paint (Homage to O'Hara)

I make a sardine-shaped indent

onto the knitted strands that stitch me one piece

It needed something there, Mike tells the poet

he has worn-out hands and an elusive gaze. 

No - lies - I am much more than that!

I scream, but the fabric is nailed onto wood 

too tightly to rip out.

Canvas is 5.95 an inch, the economy booms,

and painters and writers - as always, Mike interjects - do not get paid

A dollop of harmless crimson drips onto his already stained jeans. 

“Don’t waste your breath,” a voice 

           muffled and bored, 

           from where the poet stands. 

“You are the traditional space holder.”


A little notebook peeks out from the pocket 

of his somber coat, slightly damp with the rain. 


Its pages are dog-eared, 

                      loved and tortured. 

Then the poet turns and 

leaves from the door he came

taking ORANGES with him,

wet bootprints on cheap hardwood. 

I think of ORANGES, 

what its pages must say, if those worn-out hands write 

with a destructive hate against 

                        the fragments of the world.

Then I am left alone again with Mike 

in the New York apartment.


Until the day he takes a brush loaded 

           with a deadly crimson, and cuts 

through my gills, I fall off the canvas, 

my tail a bit farther, flopping on the now dry wood.

Tomorrow he repairs the cut canvas with a combination

Of the newly found love for the non-image, 

   Art nouveau and letters.

“Where’s SARDINES?” 

The notebook peeks out and grins

at my stitches broken through, blood on my gills

staining the already abused wood. 

The canvas is 5.95 an inch, this one, 

like The Burial of my kin in Madrid*, 

millions an inch and gasps of awe. 

* Francisco Goya’s painting ‘The Burial of the Sardine’ now can be seen in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid. 

bottom of page