I am not an artist because
Erich smokes Marlboros.
he wears a cherry jacket and cherry socks,
a ghost shirt and ghost sweater,
and carries the box of Marlboros.
Erich, lying on my bed, spills blood and snow
on my raspberry and coconut spread,
So I paint the picture.
And the critics say "whatsa matter kid,
you don't got no other crayon
I am not an artist because
the strange boy has a fat neck.
He wears the same shirt everyday on the bus.
From the collar grows a neck
wider than his head.
So I split the neck and head on paper,
and the experts say "there ain't no one
looks like that why
dont'cha draw flowers?"
If Erich smoked Salems
the portrait would have been balanced.
The heavy red and white
would have been blown apart
by a mentholated breath of color.
The critics would have said
"This carnival of rainbows combines the
double enjoyment of a striking portrait
and today's pop art."
If the boy, instead of a fat neck,
had been given big, round eyes,
the portrait would be seen as a charming face.
The experts would have said
"This visage expresses the whimsical fantasy
of a child found in an adult's face.
His warm eyes thrill us
with a 'je ne sais quoi' sensation."
I am not an artist
because the critics and the experts
do not understand that truth is beauty
and beauty is truth-
Acknowledgement to J. Keats.
Asked what he was,
Buddha replied "I am awake."
I sleep, I don't sleep.
This morning, I search for a headache
because that pain would be an equalizer.
I watch weed, I smoke the weather;
Sidharta watches from his shelf,
a cold ceramic face that never moves.
He oversees the pull of necessity,
then the slow push of nirvana.
I know that all night, he has watched
the water trouble and turn.
Once, in a physics class,
I explained to a professor, in his language,
that G times EM into I was theoretically nothing
to a theoretic me; that I was just a microbe
whose outcome was probable- a vibration
through fluid, a string of membrane stretched
across the light of everything.
The professor had tapped his meerschaum
against his heel and told me that the space
for my grade was to small for him to identify.
This afternoon, I lay
on a plush red divan in the back room
of a store-front posed as a fish market
and let a vietnamese man massage my thighs;
he pressed his palms against my theoretical knees
with each fluid stroke of his hands.
I watched in a mirror hung above our spot,
tried to convince myself of its reflective nature.
I turned my head to avoid myself,
but Buddha was there, perched on the sill,
his gold face painted with a smile.
I just settled back into red,
a constant relative in my fixed background,
and wondered if he smirks like that
while the water rushes its angry banks.