THE PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION, CIRCA 2007


Is the best little hold up to in Venice to hit on cute boys. Standing
not by WOMAN WALKING but WOMAN WITH HER THROAT CUT where the plaster
that molts from Giacometti’s coat under streetlamps surrenders to forged
bronze, a praying mantis, fork-and-spoon with split carotid.

Pick the tall boy with basketball fingers, holding a tacit leather journal
tied in vermillion ribbon by a girl he will not go home to, studying fresco
curves and beloved Irish bars as foreign infidel to the quietest room on the street
or the dirty A-­‐shirt real regazzo in cargo pants, legs cut akimbo.

When you speak he smiles. He mentions the perspective of THE ANTIPOPE
shunted to show the labia of the blonde, ethereal as vapors ascending
and you, that the horsehead queen with her torso bisected, glaring at the green
gamine neck draped as totem, is either Peggy Guggenheim

or Ernt’s mistress. His elegant diagram made mostly of “R” is a machine for sex.
It says, “bonjour” and you watch its wonderment of pleasures as if its sex
lathes Vaseline all over the porous palace in temporary exhibition, stuffing its parts
into an encephalitic womb—part pommel horse, part car engine—and James Franco

shows up just to eat branzino, then gets picked up by a water taxi off the veranda
where the penis of THE ANGEL OF THE CITY casts erect. So the story is,
either the museum removed it when the nuns passed in their gondolas
on their way to tithe or, in those moments, reattached it. Just imagine,

everyone wants exactly once to be exactly what you are just as Yoko Ono
has a tree in the garden that makes you think of bodies, or sandwiches,
or torn scraps of paper falling from branches in place of leaves. Feckless.
Flirtatious as a haircut. Mostly shaved. Mostly an expressive swooping bang

that glides into the Aperol ice and blurs the bitterness into an olive again, lolling
and cutting like fresh-­formed licorice. The codess who looks only like a machinist,
his sparse hands, his pockets bulbous with drawings of toys, who comes mostly to
stand near the Elsworth Kelly delicately—actually—weeping.

ON THE BEACH stands watch. The geometric puppets of Picasso building a sail boat
from sand as sand themselves. It’s not implicit but you know the day is happy
and somewhere beyond the frame barks a small grey dog. He is just less certain of
sand castles and hasn’t decided to enter the picture yet.

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Shayla Lawson (shaylalawson.com) is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, and Creative Writing faculty at Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts. A collection of her poems and sketches, A Speed Education in Human Being, is available through Sawyer House Press. Her work has appeared in Anti-, Sou'Wester, and TRACE Magazine.