The Blood Spatter Analyst Considers Pollock's Convergence #2
The Missouri Review Poem of the Week, 04/16/2007
Zambonhomie's Café, in our village's art gallery
Slash skating rink was crammed like a sardine
Inside a slightly larger sardine. About 13 persons,
All told, both old and older, sat in a semicircle
Around a well-oiled man—Agent Ripcord Grace
From Crime Scene In Vivo. Behind him: our Pollock.
Legend had it that old Webb O'Rothenberg
Had regifted the painting in lieu of property tax.
Webb claimed that he had received the canvas
For steadying Jackson's old mister holy Moses
While the artist pissed his name into a snow bank.
But the thick-book crowd threw a hissy. The experts
Claimed our masterpiece was a pièce of shit.
So we hired our own whiz, because truth
Is stranger than creative non-fiction.
"It requires more energy to spatter
Than to bespatter. Quinn-Martin physics. Note
The satellite stains," Ripcord said, using
A laser pointer. "Here, see the bay scallop ridging?
This is consistent with having been produced
By a high velocity impact." The crowd went ah.
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
Asked old Lassie von Kipper-Redact, our ranger
Slash aroma therapist. She had asked me
To Homecoming almost 50 years afore.
I had to say no. I couldn't forget watching her
As a girl feed antacid tablets to seagulls
Just to see their stomachs explode
So she could study their contents. We laugh
About that now. "I am," said Ripcord, "I am
Saying exactly what you think I'm saying—
Which is what?" That produced not less
Than three gasps. "Exactly. Let's continue.
There in the northeast quadrant we have
Gustatory leoparding with sharp, well-defined
Votary pustules. Can you see the speckly pointillé?
Can you smell the viridian freck? Can you taste
Fleabite soup! Good. Now, follow the blue,
Pursue that carnal cobalt tunnel past the pervy
Patch of Snoopy effects, south, and here—here
We find twin points of spurt coalition
In ripe, seething greens and black panics.
Thus, this canvas reveals one climax:
This pigment pattern is the result of a shooting.
And, if I may step intrepid— such piquant
Trajectories are more often the result
Of homicide! Of murder most foul!
I'll take one final question." The crowd
Was beside itself. Old man Rutherford
Our swine herdsman slash muckraker
Was next to me, which was unfortunate
For me. "But Mr. Grace," he said, "we hired you
To tell us if this is a genuine Jackson Pollock.
Murder? There's been no cutthroat round here."
Ripcord looked at the ceiling and then at his watch
And then at a midget league hockey game
And then at the broken vending machine
And then at the door to the women's locker room
And then he spoke, "Bloodstain interpretationists
Consider the surface textures upon which
Lines and shapes have been set—but not
The texture of the artist's character!
Murder? Genuine? Hasenpfeffer? Brazilian-
Cut bikinis? A pool of winter sunlight
On the floor of an orphan's cell? Umbria!
Damn it, people! I only see the depth of vision…
The art! Crude Father Commerce is of no concern
To the professional pattern connoisseur."
He had a point. And I have to admit
That I saw that painting in a whole new light.
What had once seemed like a crazy quilt
Of spider webs, bat guano, smeared jam,
Rabbit guts, pudendum, and grease slur—
Looked real pretty. Now that I grasped its story
I knew it was my tale. Our rapt gnosis!
I pulled out my air horn, and let loose.
"Come on folks, the choco-tacos are on me!"