Monday, October 31, 2011

When Artists Go Bad

When Artists Go Bad

While passing through

The Albuquerque airport

I saw Dale Chihuly in chains;

Thick ones on his wrists,

Thin ones that tinkled

Around his ankles

Checking his stride as he walked.

He was being transported

By federal marshals.

One was muscular, handsome, Hispanic.

The other wore a Hawaiian shirt

And an expression

That said

To maintain law and order

Murder is always justified.

In this context

Dale’s eye patch

Seemed somewhat sinister.

So did the tears tattooed

In the corner

Of his visible eye,

And the spider web on his elbow.

The artist and his two guards

Were given special handling

At security.

I lost sight of them.

But later they were seated

On stools at the counter of

All Aboard Noodles.

Dale was seated in the middle

Eating from a steamy glass bowl

With a porcelain spoon,

Slices of pink pork

Like poker chips

Floating in golden broth

White noodles looped

Like calligraphy.

Tying not to stare

I passed them by.

When first class was called

For my flight to DC

I made a last minute trip

To the bathroom.

Dale stood at the urinal

Dick in manacled hands

Pissing loudly.

The Hispanic marshal

Stood one step behind him

A respectful distance

But within easy arm’s reach.

They spoke like

Business acquaintances

Which I suppose they were.

“When we woke up this morning

I had to scrape the ice off

The fucking windshield.”

“Where did you guys

Stay last night, Los Alamos?”

“I don’t know where the hell we were.

He was driving.”

The marshal spoke perfect English,

But Dale had a heavy Spanish accent.

Strange I thought at the time

For a one-eyed glassblower

From Tacoma.

I wanted to say,

“Mr. Chihuly,

Over the years

Your art has given me

So much pleasure.

Thank you for creating

All that beauty.”

I wanted to say

“That bowl of noodles

Made my mouth water.”

Under the circumstances –

The US marshal,

The chains,

Dale vigorously shaking his dick –

I said nothing.

They walked out together

Law enforcement holding the elbow

Of a ground breaking artist

Gone bad.

I was filled with regret

For gratitude unspoken.

For passing on the noodles.

(I did spot Dale Chihuly in an airport recently, but it was Newark not Albuquerque and he was not in chains. I do regret not having spoken to him.)

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