Pentimenti

by Gary Leising

That hard candy given out at weddings
cracked one of my teeth. Root canal
and rebuild followed. Next, a crown
awaits. Where is this going? Why
ask about my teeth when there’s art
everywhere? And Grey Goose vodka.
The busts of Napoleon get painted over
when Napoleon’s packed into exile.
Thank you, Russia, for withstanding
Napoleon and for vodka. From the first,
we get pentimenti painted busts
behind painted curtains. From the second,
we get drunk, which is as good as art
and art historians with tenure
who discover lines painted over other lines.
Guernica is painted over a teddy bear
resting in a field of flowers.
At museums I think this: if it wasn’t
for the frames, I wouldn’t know where art
ends and where life begins. Sculpture
sucks: I talked to a marble goddess
for an hour once before realizing
she wasn’t interested. Whistler’s Mother
I know wasn’t my type, thank you,
frame. But Eve confused the hell out of me,
up there on the ceiling, one foot in Adam’s side
like she’s real. If I had wings I’d fly
to her. Thank God I don’t, ‘cause crashing
into frescoes hurts like throwing yourself
clear through unbreakable sheets of plate glass.

Gary Leising’s poems have been published in The Cincinnati Review, The Connecticut Review, and Buzzard Picnic. He also won Indiana Review’s 2008 1/2K prize for prose poems and short-short stories. Currently, he is an associate professor teaching creative writing and English at Utica College.

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