The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

William Logan

Bad Bad Picture

 

The archway of the past,

Roman rather than Byzantine—

beneath its bitten stone

two palms, an indefinable animal,

 

a landscape stretching

to bare outlands.  The painting

hung in a shadowy corner

for three decades—varnish crackling,

 

a small tear through the eye of a camel

(the camel!  I’d forgotten the camel

and his over-varnished driver)

above sand and undersketched shrubs.

 

Where did my parents acquire this refugee

of l’Orientalisme, they who knew nothing

of the Empty Quarter, or camels—

or paintings, for that matter?

 

Their colonial grew old on furniture-store

furniture and a riot of floral wallpaper,

except this odd survival from some dead aunt,

now after their deaths lost again,

 

as such things perhaps deserve.

 

 

William Logan

Division of the Spoils

 

                      Of all whales captured by anybody on the coast of that land, the King,

                   as Honorary Grand Harpooner, must have the head, and the Queen be

                   respectfully presented with the tail.

                                                                 Moby-Dick

 

The sky was worn asphalt

for those idle, those industrious,

for the rich and the dead,

the grind daily or not.

 

Old windows had been removed

for the window tax, the chimney pots

left in outlandish shapes

like the stacks at Sellafield.

 

The poplars had contracted jaundice.

A lone robin visited the garden,

now dried pickets of sunflower

and procrastinating tea roses.

 

Those in power were pitched out of power.

The sashes had been thrown open,

but there was nothing to be said.

The coin came up heads or tails.

 

 

William Logan

In Black and White

 

So, Diane de Poitiers, goddess of moon and hunt,

archives of perfumeries were not desired.

 

The surviving portraits show long-nosed

detachment, eyebrows a gold highlighter

 

had defined, and the hauteur de neige

that is the compass of beauty.

 

In Clouet’s oil, the bolted-on breasts

give the lie to perfection.

 

Pathologists have found her hair toxic,

but death came as death came,

 

whether by fall from her favorite horse

or endless draughts of gold martinis.

 

 

 

WILLIAM LOGAN's most recent books are Rift of Light (poems, 2017) and Dickinson's Nerves, Frost's Woods (criticism, 2018).

 

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