Small White Dot
Cronkite’s face blizzards, sucked into static
as the solid-state TV shuts off with a clunk . . .
I’d watch the screen go black, a small white dot
like an eye watching me back as if Cronkite
was still there behind the screen, waiting
for the cathode ray to fire up. He ghosted me
in his death mask, bringing napalm to dinner.
I’m lying on a gurney in theatre; the nurse says
count down from ten. A small white dot
floats above; I lift my arm, hand open, to catch it,
but it’s shrinking, smaller, smaller, smaller –
I don’t want to let it go, be gone.
I have the power to switch the set back on,
to breathe in, out, in, out, in
Frits De Vries’s Great Work
One day, Frits De Vries stopped painting.
It had been a successful career, but there was no satisfaction;
he’d come to the end of what paint could say for him.
He began to collect objects salvaged from the war,
found amid junk in the vlooienmarkt or offered in the classifieds.
The owners wanted rid of them; they brought back bad times:
rusted helmets, gas masks, uniforms, empty shells,
battered machine guns, medals, tattered Stars of David
that Jews were forced to sew on their lapels.
Objects took possession of his studio, filled it to the ceiling, slowly
began to infiltrate his house. He couldn’t stop them. His wife declared
she no longer wished to sleep besieged by misery.
When Frits died, his treasury was removed piece by piece, shipped
to Guislain Asylum, where the Doctor had gathered his own collection –
art created by inmates. Only madness could stockpile
so many implements that spell evil. His calling was to keep them alive
rather than killing them with paint;
museums were cluttered with enough bowls of fruit.
We stand on the threshold of his rooms enshrined behind Perspex,
while his things shrug off light, shed function and word,
reveal their greying arrangement.