The Slave Ship by J. M. W. Turner
Your home is left without a bust of Augustus.
(no dust over the paling hill of the forehead,
no trace of a dog tongue on the plaster nose).
What intention would persist here?
What empire would recover?
Several eerie African statues
above a volume of Mayakovski.
Their somber drums seem to bring back
the chaos of creation,
as the Ecuadorian bananas in the bowl begin decaying.
You got to know all the countries in the world
and what they’re worth
but not their souvenir value you now evoke.
Perhaps only the expended
years of the returning splatter,
clear and menacing as storm clouds
above the waves.
Above your bed
(above the covers, under which the hushed lovers
sink without the intention of propagating)
hangs The Slave Ship by J.M.W. Turner.
They say it sunk.
They say the imperative forms
float with lead weight.
You hear that water has gotten more expensive,
and he’d thin his paints with saliva
as if you don’t have enough insanity here.
And what to drown in, as a matter of fact?
Awaiting the incoming storm,
awaiting the disposal of your dying body,
I’m thinking –
your entire life
was a cry for help,
singing before sinking.
The retreating of faith
The end of slavery,
but not the beginning of another.
They say a bust of Homer
also brings conciliation.