Guston Steps Back

To compose is to compare compost –

orange rinds from memory, broken brown eggshells,

banana peels blackened, experience’s juice.

Here, I say, is my life as I write it;

my fat hand crawling on the page’s stained walls:

a mark right there, old ketchup red,

a second gesture there, mustard-canary.

The background?  Rainy sky blue.

No escape.  Show me your shoes,

Their nails and rotted bits,

and be fast about it.  I’ll show you

the white blimp of my cigarette,

its red ember buttocks, its rash.

How it smokes much whitely, right into my face…

Throw art into a bowl.  Forget it.

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