In the solarium can be found
a famous representation
of giants in chiaroscuro,
singing and dancing
and tromping about the earth.
It is called Hymn to the Obvious.
It is a mysterious work,
an audible darkness,
and it is unforgivable.

In the sanctuary, to the right,
is an oil painting in which
Vitality is represented, wide-eyed
at the moment of waking, saluting
Death in the form of a toad
sitting on his belly.
It is an early example
of that type of brushwork
in which each stroke
is called a snarl.
Nevertheless, it, too,
is an unforgivable work,
scruffy and audacious,
cheerless and fireproof.

In the music room two busts
serve as a pair of bookends.
One portrays the young king
who to make himself invulnerable
to assassins, sampled
poison every day; the other,
the old Mithridates,
who when he desired to end
his life, could not find
a poison strong enough.
They are carved in stone.
Very hard stone.
But not that hard.

In the dining hall the group portrait
of a family weeping as they stand 
over a puddle of milk
is by an unknown hand.
Many presume it is waterproof.
In fact, the application
of the slightest pressure reveals
it is painted on an enormous sponge
that has recently been dunked.

In the mezzanine, Sprezzante
has painted The Great Cramp.
Is it eternity, you ask, running
your fingertips across the cool wall,
or the loss of it?
Facing it is his masterpiece: The Shrug.

Volume Three Index
The East Village Poetry Web
Paul Violi