Poem/Short Story – The Painting

This poem/short story basically rips off Kafka and Hemingway, but what the hell, I’ll just say it’s a tribute.

The Painting

It was on the morning of the 28th that the council convened under the painting.

Policies of the utmost secrecy were discussed under the painting.

When one member knocked the painting out of kilter, another quickly set it right.

The painting was faded, which meant it was a masterpiece.

Although it was a masterpiece, the members ignored the painting because it was faded.

But the painting didn’t ignore them: or so it seemed to one of the members.

The member was called Arthur, and before he drank his coffee he felt obliged to run his finger around the rim of the cup for good luck.

His opponents claimed he had become the Head of Intelligence not through skill, but through luck.

He had always had the habit of running his finger around the rim of his cup of coffee, and he hadn’t failed to notice that whenever he had gotten a lucky break he had happened to have been running his finger around the rim of his cup of coffee at the time.

He was perceptive. He was the Head of Intelligence.

It was conspicuous to Arthur that the painting was inconspicuous.

Not only was the painting faded, but was of fruit, and paintings of fruit are common.

The Head of Culture spent the meeting looking at the painting because the fruit was exceptionally well-painted.

But to the other members it was just another painting of fruit, even if it was a masterpiece. They continued to discuss policies of the utmost secrecy under the painting until 1pm.

During the lunch-break everyone but Arthur went to lunch.

The Head of Culture encouraged Arthur to join them, but Arthur stayed behind. The Head of Culture said he’d save Arthur a seat in case he changed his mind.

During lunch the Head of Culture became angry that he had been slighted, especially by Arthur. The Head of Culture didn’t return to the meeting.

Once Arthur was alone, he took the painting from the wall. The wall was bare.

Arthur knocked on the wall. A cleaner entered the room and asked Arthur what he was doing.

The cleaner entered with her cleaning cart. She appeared to have been ready to clean the room while it was empty, even though it was virtually clean.

She asked what he was doing there. He asked what she was doing there. They both looked at the painting.

The painting was of fruit. It was a masterpiece, but faded. That was how you could tell.

Arthur drank from his cup of coffee, then poured the rest over the painting. The painting was destroyed.

The cleaner hurried from the room. The Head of Culture would do everything he could to destroy Arthur from this moment on.

After lunch, the council concluded their meeting under the presence of the bare wall. The meeting was a success.

Poem – Samuel Jones

Samuel Jones

Dark white of husky moon
Louring over pines;
Iron woods that shake the wind
High on high;
Jarring brook of clock-cold water
Barking banks with stony touch
And ticking due true-north.

Wanders long the trepid trekker,
Fingers knighted, breath-fog witching,
Rock-boots laced with rust-pine-pins
And lashed with river-blood.
Lips that speak of lips chapped bare,
A dormant tongue that hears no man
Embroider balding clothes.
Chapel-lifed, he threads through thickets
Rived by crackling overtones;
Night-bright falls on fish-flash scalp
Star-crossed by sparring bramble-scratch;
Timeworn trees who tweak Time’s nose
Pose over shuffling young old man;
Snapping water matches steps
And sticks to tick-tock marching ambling gait of Samuel Jones.

Son of moon, pulsar of night,
Cold lamp of life that shines unseen of light
The point through, pointing due north by compass
Of tendril-straight needling of pin-tingling stream.
Houred each minute, Sam Jones keeps lock-walking a-ream.
Houred each minute, Sam Jones keeps lock-walking a-beam.