Pamela Garvey


THE GREAT ART OF EXILE

Finally a father, a centenarian with steady hands
but few teeth, Abraham sketched
his masterpiece, Penis and Porridge.
Centered, erect and disembodied, this penis,
along with Sarah's protruding belly,
proved Abe never needed Viagra.
The thick, dark strokes of the shaft
eclipse everything else--
the blade, the sun, the trees
shading himself and infant Isaac
as they devour their gruel.
Isaac always preferred that sketch
to Knives in the Hands of Dotage
and Dotage Sacrifices a Young but Hairless Ram.
Partial to mixed media, Isaac used oil, sand
and the shavings from his wife's legs
for the Hairy Men series; each man more
beast than the other, each chastened
by the hand of God unbuttoning him
from collarbone to navel,
the paint swirling so the men appear to quiver.

Under the Egyptian influence, Jacob
edged his paintings with a code
cryptically cursing his brothers.
If you read every third letter in the borders,
they spell who sucks my cock now
over and over.  But Jacob's brothers
never stumbled upon any galleries
in the groves and deserts.
That's not to say they were Philistines;
they knew the great works of Noah:
water colors of copulating snakes,
copulating crows.  Legend says
the forty days and nights hearing and smelling bestial lust
drove him mad.  But had he remained
on land painting pastorals
he would have faded from memory,
and we never would have had Lot's Portrait of Angels:
wings tipped and dripping into women
sparkling in the foreground
where the daughters disrobe and rub themselves
in the tears of their mother.
From a distance, the women look like pulsing,
like stars calling us back, closer
to the mother's eyes and mouth
stuck in sorrow.

If not for those angels, how could Moses have sculpted
his four story net of bronze, The Locusts
Some critics say art ended there, dismiss
everything New Testament.
The New York Times blasted John's The Apocalypse
with its red and black paint splattering
lace panties, cigarettes and bottle caps.
Why not join Luke and Mark making films?
Sell out to Hollywood?  Settle for B movies?
Race after the quick cash of Old,
the pornography of Malachi and Daniel?
It outsold even the popular art of the day--
those posters of Moses shattering
the golden calf.  For years, that's all you saw
matted and hanging in living rooms
where late at night, children in bed,
parents popped in Susanna does Montana
or Susanna Spills Seed.
It's rumored John has been sighted stocking up
on such DVDs along roadside shops.
The kind with peepshows and booths for two.
The Freudians argue the red horse, the lion, the seven seals
which creep in and out of his paintings
can all be traced back to his addiction to porn;
his need to obscure,
to rain righteousness on the masses
who rarely step foot in the MOMA.
I'm afraid the masses prefer Paul 
copying the traditional methods
with his portraits of veiled women,
their heads bowed to suited men
who reach up to row after row of pink clouds
topped with cherubs so plump
we can't see their genitals.
And if we could, we'd never really look
for they're as asexual as dandelions
or potatoes
producing offspring with eyes only.
Their sex visible as viruses
feasting on our cells.



Pamela Garvey's chapbook Fear (Finishing Line Press, 2008) was a finalist for the New Women's Voices Competition. She has published poetry and short stories in many journals including Margie, Esquire, Cimarron Review, RATTLE, The North American Review, Sonora Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Pleiades and many others. Garvey has received many awards and honors for her poetry including two Pushcart nominations and semi-finalist for the "Discovery" / The Nation prize. Associate Professor of English at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, Garvey lives in St. Louis with her husband and son and is the co-founder of Words on Purpose, a committee of socially concerned writers who organize a benefit reading series. Her favorite front porch was actually a balcony on an apartment in Richmond, Virginia. From there, she could spot the skateboarders, the bickering couples and the drunks with great ease, could eavesdrop without notice and read in the blaring sunlight with a cat at her feet on the ledge. It was little space and great comfort.

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