Today's poem is by Justin Vicari

Diane Arbus

submerged the prints in their chemical
baths, stirring, tonging them
sticky and dripping. Each one

a Salem witch made to float.
Float or drown? Sink
or swim? What swam to the surface

was the soul, always brighter
encased in mortified flesh.
Every Puritan knows this.

The longing for transcendence
is suffered more acutely
by the base.

At the Venice Biennale,
her pictures were covered in spit.

she sallied out,
her little black box
still getting all the action — more

interested in the world
than she was, tugging her by
her eyeball like a bull

by the ring through his nose.
In the end she could never prove
whether attention creates

a freak, or vice versa.
Filling that last bath,
easing in,

she was ready to find out.
Once, she threw a birthday party
for a lonely transvestite

in a Village walk-up, complete
with children's paper hats
and streamers. But in the memorializing

portrait, in spite of her
threat of kinship — all we see
is his loneliness. Unalleviated. Still.

Copyright © 2011 Justin Vicari All rights reserved
from The Professional Weepers
Pavement Saw Books
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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