Still Life with Paper Bag (On Loan)

" from head to foot                                    

I am marble-constant; now the fleeting moon
no planet is of mine."

— Antony And Cleopatra, V. II - 244

Station 1

At 3 on a drizzled Tuesday emptiness, echoes and shrieks arc the walls of long tunnels from where dinosaurs are kept. Exhibit C: to the right, a small room on the main floor of the gallery hall, a low marble bench against the wall; stained-glass, on loan from the Morgan Bldg., with its splash spectra among soft fall patches, the filtered sun familiar to most museum goers -- delightful poultices against a cold, recessed vacuum of masterpieces from an age when darkness was rave fashion and severe, its art cutting the heart out of space.

Station 2

Her thin verticality on the bench in the room beyond hugely dreary Flemish masters that seem to press her like waxed flowers into the fiber of the wall panel turned edge on to picture things Precariously balanced like fronds of plain, brown cotton tumbled down from her lap &onto the floor. Or, perhaps as propped umbrella with streamers noted for retrieval by 'lost&found' on his way back from station 8.

Station 3

The armory is space carved by form protected from space. The great empty ceremonial suits are useless for battle; inert forms of mythic stature that once warned of invincibility while its hapless resident stood the watch of a pickled worm in a mezcal bottle. She half-reclines on the wicker chaise, and curls her nylon feet around its ornamental detailing, eyeing the useless madness of yet another flag-sucking gesture. The great helmets would be insufferably hot. Thank god they took pity and let us in early. Back there, she could only stand at the vertex, blot out the crowd and feel the great wings with their 57,939 voiceless names closing around her like the pages of a dark pornography, crushing her to jelly inside their vacant promises, passing her from name to name until the whole U.S. Army had used her up, smeared her jellied remains the entire length of 140 black granite panels. This morning her fingers brushed the slick trail of snail track that coiled over his name. She left a replica of her touch on the sea of 58,209 vacant desires that refused to die and took the first door that offered relief from fresh flowers. Her eye traced over the seams of his metal boot, sizing up the empty shell that towered above her. She could see dents on the shins and rust on the segmented knee plate. She slipped her palm through the vents in the crotch and felt around in the empty cavity. She ran her lips over the blood-soaked interior. Rivets tore the skin from her back, the breastplate was insufferably hot, the helmet blinding, the confinement excruciating. A closing bell rang through the empty rooms. She rose, adjusted her skirt and left without looking back. A day-glo sign flickered behind her, promising more dead things.

Station 4

wiblldiyup wibbldiyup, wibbldiyup. gggggggggggaauauauauauAuAuAuAUAUAUAUGGGGgggggggggggggg wibbldiyup, wibbldiyup. grbla, grbla grbla, brbla grbla, brbla chka.chka.chka.chka.chka.chka. CHKA.CHKA.chka.chkachkachkachkachka gckgckgggggg.GGGGGGGGG.ggggg wibbldiyup,
Sl i de &fit with tab 'n slottle skin- ny little things nobs &throttle dang ling smooth shim- mering light ly, slight ly eel- ong- )-gated shapes slip(ery sur- face (e)s2 sentially play full parts with soul- full reach may chatter clatter on de- part ure. picture: noguchi biomorph.

Station 5

The glass doors to the Shakespeare garden are closed & locked. A statue is somewhere out there, subdued by the overgrowth in a setting of bramble, nettle and fig and has given up crying for recovery. Benign neglect born in times of tight money . Even the old beer cans and gum wrappers have been swallowed in the tangles of Elizabethan habit . A shopping cart is parked by some back steps, its wheels resist gravity's desire to feed it to the hungry Shakespearean flora. They remain closed: EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY and to one side, the long hall to The Dinosaur Exhibit is underscored by a big day-glo arrow


He thinks he'd like to put an arrow down the other end,


The time isn't quite right, but he thinks about it. We presume a moment's break when the clouds part, of sunlight appearing to flicker in the cart by the back door, warming her milk.

Station 6

Her nails chewed and ragged, stained fingers scarred with cruel marks, seasons of unrelenting usage; HANDS DISCOVERED HOLDING THE WORLD TOGETHER but it does not slow them down attaching light patches to remnants with needles as fleet as quicksilver -- curved like the meniscus of the moon in an overflowing cup - bands of colored cloth snaking from a paper sack, as she hems them with hues of stained glass. The biomorphs cannot be seen from his direction. The woman cocks her head to one side/the other in rapid succession. From here, she is vertical line suspended between two versions of the same Picasso, eye-s and everything else in profile. She throws bread-crumbs in the direction where the Biomorphs generally congregate. He cannot see this gesture, he is hurrying to the next station.

Station 7

The last clock punched, he races by the columns in the grand foyer, slides the final twenty feet through the room of dark masters and into exhibit 'C' as the final swatch of daylight scratches the beak of the tallest biomorph and heads home. The Biomorph recovers from an involuntary gesture that widens a thin line into essential complex shape, but the bench is empty and the race continues. Last Exit Echos of doors clicking shut urge him down the hall and skid before the EMERGENCY EXIT The cement steps into the garden are pied with large drops of rain. A remnant of paper bag dissolves in the 'hand' of something longish and Mondrian, folding down the steps out across the forest green of unkempt lawn. A thin vertical line merges into a thicket of wholly purpled leaf, awash and gone!

Station 8

Note to the night custodian: 1) There is some birdseed and bread crust, in 'C' again. Not much. It can wait till morning. 2) Do me a favor? See if you can find a piece of plastic to put over the shopping cart by the east-exit stairs? 3) The exhibit will be moving on soon. I expect the birdseed will no longer be a problem. Can you get me a jar of dayglo paint from the supply cabinet?

Clocking Out

He imagines them on exhibit. Each one the penultimate statement by artists who carve space into life- forming perfect relations with Emergency Exits.
Rollin' Life, with Brown Dog" Museum acquisition, 1999; gift of Eddie 'C' Street.
" Removed by Order of City Council"; From the collection of Loaves and Fishes, Sacramento, 1998
"SuperX" Annie Warfrat;circa 1950. Permanent collection.
" This Cart's for You" found at abandoned river camp; anonymous; c. 2000
They'd parallel park on the sides of the esplanade; or diagonal down the tunnel to the Dinosaurs, under a multi-colored fantasia of circus lighting. They'd strut with re-enforced cowcatchers, night-vision reflectors, plastic grocery saddlebags. They hold one of a kind treasures, cotton bouquets, aluminum pop tabs, rubber bicycle grips. They are infinitely grander than the wealthiest homes of their neighbors; They are brigantine, caravan, windjammer, Chinese junk and surfboard. They insist on equal access, they vote, they can cure, they are Art. In the 'C' room they would circle like wagons; birds would nest in their branches, patches of sunlight play in their compartments and they'd sport the very best in stained-glass grillwork from the studios of Frank Lloyd-Wright.
biomorph-2.jpg - 11.5 KB

'Red Slider, 1999-2014
from "Noguchi — The Man Who Entered Stone",
BigBridge Press (2000)