Tuesday, September 8, 2020


art museum during a pandemic

they have black markings
etched into the pavement

thick like road bumps

that tell us to wear a mask
and stay six feet apart

and walk single file

we try not to trip over them
as we head toward the door

where a masked not-medical expert
is waiting to take our temperatures

if you hit 100.4 fahrenheit
you don’t get to go inside

which begs the question

who goes to an art museum with a fever?

staff recommends
that we use the steps
instead of the elevator

this angers the old people
who haven’t taken steps in years

they complain through their masks
they sound muffled and bitter

old people could find something
to complain about
during the apocalypse

which is a bit what this feels like
as there’s hardly anyone in the place

the galleries are mostly empty
but the art hangs on the wall like old friends

o’keeffe and bellows and hopper
and archibald motley jr

that whole gang you left behind in another life

it feels good to see them again
you feel almost human

of course, there’s some asshole
in green shorts and a pink polo shirt
standing in front of your favorite
stella painting of the brooklyn bridge

some things never change

he stands there examining it
like he’s an art expert

he looks like a watermelon

while the old people mill around the room  
bitching about how the museum hasn’t changed
their exhibits since march

you think about how it feels
like it’s been march all year

even though in two days
it’ll be september

one long march that has lasted a lifetime
and has caused a lot of misery and death

finally watermelon man
leaves the stella painting

and you go up to it
to have a look

but there’s two old people
waiting behind you for their turn

so you take a quick look and walk away
and head toward something else

another painting
a window showing the hudson river
and new jersey

and a bright, late summer sky

that makes the day seem real
all of this seem normal



--John Grochalski


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