Of Van Gogh
“The vast fields of wheat under turbulent skies”
were spotted red as your bullet
lodged itself in your stomach.
In the hospital your last words,
“the sadness will live forever.”
Why did your landlords call you
“the redheaded madman?”
Was it because you chased after
Gauguin with a razor when he wanted
to leave your “art collective?”
Or, was it because you nearly melted
your hand from hapless love and pleading,
“Let me see her for as long
as I can keep my hand in the flame?”
Your love interests teetered
between first cousins and
women ten years your elder,
between widows and alcoholic prostitutes.
You left the world with paintings
instead of children.
You inspired a new generation
of tortured artists,
We stand transfixed
seeing your “The Night Café”
mounted against the museum wall
and marvel at your genius,
“the way he uses schizophrenic colors to achieve mood.”
You lay earless, entombed.
“The sadness will live forever.”
I did not enjoy beaches.
I loathed how the wet sand matted
against my skin,
how salt crystals
clung to my clothes
after the seawater had evaporated.
But you convinced me
with promises of our silly laughter,
your shy body clad in a bikini,
warm sand tickling
our bare feet in our Los Angeles ‘winter.’
I drove my parents’ car,
you sat passenger,
and your sweet, singsong voice turned
my sober head tipsy.
Drinking and driving.
Cars crammed the beach parking lot,
so we innovated and furtively parked
across the street at the Jesuit Church.
We j-ran back even though
not a car was in sight.
I hope the Jesuits do not excommunicate us.
The moment our feet touch the sand you coveted,
it seeps into the gaps between my toes,
creates a webbing.
I want to scream.
But I catch a glimpse of you,
your euphoria, how your arms nearly drop
your mother’s beach blanket
to throw your hands into the air.
To conduct the joy in the air
through your body and into the warm sand.
I start to like the beach.
I stepped down the grimy staircase
And into the maze of practice rooms.
I heard the moans of the adjacent pianos
And the roars of sinful men.
I paid my due and entered my room,
suddenly transfixed by her
ebony wooden polish reflecting
light from the dim fluorescent bulb above.
She was every musician’s dream so
I approached cautiously,
Incredulous that she belonged to me,
At least for the next hour.
I gingerly lifted her upper lip with gentle fingers,
Revealing white and black teeth underneath.
Back straight, reverent fingers on middle C,
It was my first time.