I’m Not a Painter

By | 1 August 2015

(after Frank O’Hara*)

I’m not a painter

I’m someone sitting in a gallery
at the front end of the 21st century
at the back end

of the end of an epoch

and I’m writing

because the words just roll

on from each other like this

and you don’t have to wait
for the paint to dry

and you’re not left with a painting

you have to put somewhere:

in a gallery, or in the home
of a wealthy collector —just words

on a screen

and it’s the end of the day
writing this poem which has nothing

to do with my job
or perhaps everything to do with my job, everything

to do with sitting here waiting

for the next person to come in

or thinking about what I need to do

to organise the next load of art

to be trucked in here and all this
is so mundane now, Frank

it must have been exciting

to write about ORANGE

(or to paint SARDINES)

in New York in 1971 the year before I was born

before it all petered out


I have this wistful envious nostalgia
and I’m hoping something good
will roll out and onwards

for a few more years, even decades

and I agree, there’s many ways

you can write about ORANGE

if you don’t think it’s just a colour

but something you can ride on,

kick about,

poke your finger into,
lick, as well as suck

it’s ten minutes before 5 o’clock

when the doors can be closed
and I can go home but it feels good right now

every tap of the keyboard

echoing off the gallery walls it sounds like

I’ve got something to say

and it needs to be said

until it rolls no more

and the words are leaving

like the cars

that have started rolling

past the gallery

and out the gate.

*’Why I Am Not a Painter’ (1971).

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