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In the Gallery of the Ordinary

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In their excess, their blowsy dreaming
and King Solomon-like tempers, the clouds
possess the grandeur of eighteenth-century oils,

when a painter earned his profession
as an anatomist. Those artists of verdigris
and gamboge, too gorged on joy, perhaps,

treated that blank pasture of the “heavens”
like something that had lived.
Their crawly undoings remind us

of the mean curiosities of sheep, the sea’s
half-remembered boil, or a few twisted bolls
of cotton—the morning phosphorescent

or sunset a dull, worn-out gilt.
The nights there were scumbled with light.
How could we ever have taken them

for the abstinence of art?

Source: Poetry (December 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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In the Gallery of the Ordinary

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