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Robert Cole


My eyes attuned to the roseate surfaces of a nude
take in the lampblack skeletons and candleshades.
A cat walks across my path. The drizzled cobbles
roll with the ball of my foot. A damp seeps up
into my soul through the marrow.

These pigments might sell to buy more pigment.
I crave a shot of absinthe. Models function on love
til they become mere shadows.

The Salon has rejected my canvases.
Their prurient purile reactions.
They save their livre for the brothel,
play the Pharisee with me.

Suzette is up and walking in the mist.
She has lounged on my divan for hours
until rigor mortis threatened to set in.
She promises me she will be back tonight,
but I doubt her resolve.

Who could she have met recently?
She has hardly set foot out of my garret.
A civet cat has more life drained of its perfume.

I have painted away all the love
she ever had for me. Surfaces only.
I've neglected the real Suzette,
for coveting the image of Suzette.
She will never forgive my obsession with paint.

Passing the gallery of Bourdaise
I'm sickened by the cheap commerciality,
the banality. How could anyone
part with their money for this?

So Bourdaise is making a living out of lying.
He can paint the interiors of WCs.
He's fit for that. There is space for him
like there is space for roaches.

I could prostitute my art for these numbskulls,
make Suzette into an exotique with a veil,
a masturbatoire fantasy.
These bastards know nothing of beauty.