I Am Not

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
but red?"

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.

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