The Painters at MoMA

We view their work the most,
though it never inspires
the dazzle of camera flash

like the hyperbolic wheeling,
the furious burn & swirl

of that famously heaving
night sky. Their work is never
complete, & I’m not talking

rumors of unsatisfied masters
entering the galleries

with a crimson-lit brush
stashed beneath a coat
to secretly retouch a delirious

sunset purchased years ago.
No: I’m talking the weekly

after-hours revisions,
the men toting paint-rollers
to touch up fingerprint & scuff

on the bare stretches of wall
between a sleeping gypsy

& Gauguin’s Tahiti. I’m talking
the only painters in these galleries
whose one ambition is pure

erasure, whose pinnacle of art
to blend in. Imagine the muscle

of their fluid push & pull,
the effort behind their continuous
mural to anonymity. Let us,

this once, praise Santos & David,
those names no one scrawls,

the brushstrokes no one copies
onto the blank of a sketchpad,
praise, this night, John & Andreas,

their pure heights spattered
with a series of minor frames.

from Tongue & Groove


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