Arguing with Francis Bacon over Infallibility

Was it a swan dive, a full gainer, a back
flip that launched him into the
electrocuting water, the Westlake boy
in the Acapulco luxury hotel
swimming pool? Did he do the dead
man’s float in that gin clear liquid, his heart
convulsed by the ungrounded
pool light in the Intercontinental,
his iceman a sub-minimum wage
technician? Having canceled the visit
to the Holy Land (intifada, dangerous),
their blue lipped son un-
breathing, were his parents still proud of the money
they saved traveling
to Mexico?

You preach what matters is the
smell of chlorine,
not juniper. and so it wasn’t gin.
Perhaps rum beneath the toothpick paper
parasols in the Mai Tai’s of the poolside tourists
who evacuated, or better still
tequila, imperativo, in their frozen
tropical margaritas. Worm
of the dog.

But I insist; the dour, Bombay
protrait of Queen Victoria is both
therapeutic, political, and physical.
Imperial as malaria:
tonic, and quinine. There is no understanding
that likeness without the Mandate,
the Balfour Declaration, and poetry devoid
of politics is a snowglobe snapshot
of the boy diving before
the electrocution. A mother’s world
about to be both
shaken and stirred. A screaming
pope.

Did you know that screaming popes are difficult
to paint? The execution of a screaming pope
a technical marvel, an oil-pigmented adventure
through canvas? That donating the precise shriek
of apocalypse to a pope’s eye, capturing the sunken ash
of his skin, the dusty furrows of his fear, these
are to portraiture what tenure is
to poetry? Without feeling,
the boy framed perfectly,
forever, the swan about
to enter that electrocuting martini.

Terrence Provost*

*for more of Terrence Provost’s work, please click on link “Chomsky in Chains”

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