Daily Archives: October 25, 2019

The Painting

In daily disguise as an average man
I keep my crazing under wraps.
This craquelure is not for the casual viewer.
I’ve never been able to explain what underlies it but now

this Average White Man-boy seeks closure.
Certainty. The ability to look the painting 
I have made of myself straight in the face
and call it artifice. To see through

what my parents made of me
and what I made of myself, 
point at something peeking through a crack
from under the surface, and say:

there I am, Average White Man-boy
through and through –or, look, there’s
the Mescalero, the Old One. There’s the Other
I was taught to believe was my canvas

and my truth. But what if, 
under all the trappings of Average,
I am in fact pure Average and Privilege
and it runs all the way through? What if

everything I have been schooled to show
while holding back a darker, better truth
is in fact all I am? Where will I begin again?
Why would I bother?

Straight up staring now
into the mirror and it’s pure Art there
looking back and even I can’t tell
if I was ever a good point to be made.

My parents whispered to me every night
that inside I should never paint myself White.
Then they started making sure
I’d never show a bit of what made that true,

and when I got my hands on my own pigments
and brushes, I kept it right up. I put crazy work
into that and kept telling myself it was all for show
and now I look and cannot see a damn bit

of what I claimed I was. I painted myself
into one sharp corner, and now Average White 
Man-boy can’t get out without slashing himself
to pieces and burning himself to ash.

It’s a choice, always a present choice.
How much of me is a lie, how much of me
is underlayment for the lie, how much am I willing
to live from, how much truth does the world require

of me? If I am to be honest, I trust
nothing of how I have existed until now.
Average White Man-boy. Pretty average picture.
Pretty much the same as all the others. Pretty much

as disposable as a sad-eyed clown
paint by numbers mess in a thrift store.
Buy me cheap for the novelty. I would.
Hang me in a guest bedroom. I would.

Laugh at me till
the novelty wears off
then toss me. I would.
It’s what anyone with any sense would do.


The Family Sleeping Rough Down the Street

Sixty-two degrees in late October
feels cold in the house,
unseasonably warm outdoors.

Stay outdoors until dusk 
and as the temperature descends
you choose to go back inside

where the temperature has risen
to a stifling sixty-eight degrees.
You open a window, just for

a few minutes, you tell yourself,
just to moderate what the sun did 
to your home while you were gone.

Now both indoors and outdoors
are in your house. Indoors echoes
with outdoor traffic, outdoors the neighbors

can, if they choose, attend to
your indoor music, smoke, and
inane conversations. You will shut

the windows before bed and call that
the end of the day, the reset moment
that reaffirms the distance between you

and that family sleeping rough
in the encampment down the street
who are permitted no distinction between

indoor and outdoor, private and public.
The noise and the cold are always there.
Home is a tarp and an abutment

and they are always well aware
of what the neighbors think.
You’ve thought it yourself

as you pulled your sweater tight
and closed yourself off: brrr…it’s getting so cold.
I’d hate to be them. That must be awful.