To wander through this mortuary of art
Underneath a flyover at Clignancourt
Is sad not solemn – unlike Père Lachaise –
For this is where the unmemorable makes its unsung exit.
Bland landscapes on hardboard, lifeless drawings
From life, natures mortes that never grew
Or ever drew a breath. Portraits of abusive uncles
And unfeeling aunts: images nobody wants,
Stacked at your feet. Stepping back on a frame,
The only way you’ll pay for it. Art
That declines eternity, helpless daubs, transitory,
Unremarkable, bleak; and so depressing for the genius
Browsing in and out, uncertain of his catalogue.
He reasons, there can be no fear
Worse than that my visions, scenes, designs
May end up here; crushed against
The next poor corpse in a stack. Give or take
A generation, several shifts of taste, the vagary
And sheer caprice of fashion may well lead the work
To experience a meagre spell in purgatory,
Among old lamps, used pipes and chandeliers,
Before the dealer’s annual clear-out
Shoves it in the winter stove to crinkle
Rather than flare in the last oblivion of fire.