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Wednesday, April 10, 2019


by Matthew McDermott

Coco Fusco: Twilight at The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL. 

Beauty makes me long to build hotels.
Dorothy stood here once, her hands on her slaphappy hips.
She spoke glowingly of Kansas. I thought of her milky white tits.
She cast my advances aside, wanting true love from my heart.
I mimed my felonious advances, knowing of no other art.

The therapist sailed in confidently and tied three volunteers to me.
He rolled me down a mountain slope, trying to set a new side of me free.
We headed west, until, one day, we came to the great Muddy.
Surrounded by prairie dog dens, he sought to introduce America to me.

Off, off, off! I whispered, but we were tied together like a bundle of sticks.
The therapist flew above us in a balloon, watching to see if my mind was cleared.
My parents were killed in a car crash when I was twelve, said the man strapped
to my back. I cleared my throat as one is supposed to when sympathy is required.

I have breast cancer, said the woman on my front, but I couldn’t get a look
at her, no matter how I writhed. I gave up and threw my weight to each side.
Come on, I said. What’s your deal? I’m waiting. You better not be dead.
I can’t take the smell, the bugs, the worms! Just then, I heard the therapist’s voice.

This worked before on a man with a heart of coal, but here we only have an absence,
a tin chest acting as a relic of our forgotten humanity. I wash my hands of you,
there’ll be no rebirth; for here strides our grifter-in-chief, the Tin Man. To feed his ego
he would sell the earth, or your sister, your dog, your child: all are casino chips to him.

I shrugged at his pronouncements. And smiled. Why am I so lovable then?
There’s one thing, I, as a grifter, know. It’s not me, it’s you. I couldn’t do
any of this without you. I will remake this nation in my image: hollow men.

Matthew McDermott is a poet and nonprofit manager who lives in the Chicago area.