Where the Night People Work
When Andy Warhol died, I worked in an art gallery
standing guard nights. I sat at the information desk
with a 15-watt lamp and AM radio that gave more static
than news or music. The gallery had vaulted ceilings
that amplified the radio’s ghosts and made me feel
awkward, like watching a ball game in a cathedral.
In the off time I read exhibit programs.
Francisco Goya is dead. Diego Rivera, dead.
The curator hosted tours where he told patrons
about those zero points when things stopped
and the artist’s eye captured them in an instance.
I imagined life caught in the cross hairs of a scope.
I kept inventory of the art, most of it was about death
or that moment when death is assured. Once,
we exhibited the paintings of an artist who dreamt
of falling. I listened to news of the world on the radio.
Collapsed mine shafts, the death of stars.
That night, I thought of car wrecks, Brillo boxes
and Marilyn Monroe. I remembered a Warhol film
about junkies who killed their desire to fuck.
Warhol was decadent and dead. On the hour,
I walked the perimeter to check the locks.
I banged on a black glass door. Outside,
my reflection stood resolute. I looked to the place
where our hands met, and rattled the door again.
Labor Day Weekend
Late night, early morning, 3 AM.
A mason jar of beer sweats on my chest.
Droplets disappear. I give you back to the river.
Across from the grocery store, a road through
the cemetery has been lined with red lights,
close to the ground. Far back, beyond the trees,
a mausoleum, inner lit, projects a stained-glass bullet
aimed at heaven. Bags of meat and fruit, jugs of water
and wine, toss and topple in the empty foot space
of my passenger seat. I am giving you back to the land,
cornhusks, brown bananas. Marmots eat wild grass
and carrots in the mélange of garden and compost
in my backyard. Vegetables and meat sizzle over coal.
Ballgames, Horseshoes, Day at the Lake, I give you up
for the sake of time. I brush you to the river of fire
and take this day to undevote tall grass, unburden
a closet, make a small engine hide. In the name
of quiet balance, today, I set the mind to forget.
Sean Webb has received many honors for his work including fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Utah Arts Council. Most recently he won the Passages North Neutrino Prize and the Gemini Magazine Poetry Open. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and was a past Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pa. His work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Nimrod, The Quarterly, and a chapbook “The Constant Parades.” Another chapbook “What Cannot Stay Small Forever” is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.