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Poems from All Kinds of Disorder

(Open/Not So Open House Exhibitions)

To Harry, the annual bloom
of open houses in the hotbed city
is a dream come true.

He leaves his bags of materials
at the church centre
and goes armed with a toothbrush
like a votive candle,
settles himself in a new-bought sofa
to absorb the ambience,
and if challenged to explain
an unharmonious presence,
in the manner perhaps
of Kaspar Hauser, announces gravely:
Yes, I am an Art Lover.

His eye is immaculate,
his taste informed but catholic,
his attention to detail unparalleled.
He particularly likes bathroom interiors,
toilet seats and brushes,
various kinds of tile and grout;
averse neither to the traditional
nor avant-garde, he appreciates all
two or three-dimensional artefacts,
puzzled only why some bear
price-tags and some not;
but when interrupted in his state of trance
he can come back at once with a variation:
Yes, I love Works of Art.

Sometimes he spends several hours;
others, if he is made uncomfortable
by savage voices no one else hears
or visions that don't sit easy
among watercolours of the garden
or Cubist portraits of the children
he takes a breather on the street.
There is always another haven
within reach; somewhere to overhear
his hosts explain inspiration and technique
in intimate surroundings where
the void with no art is shut out.

It's hard on Harry
when festivities are over,
doors and windows close
and each shangrila
returns to anonymity.
He feels obliged to demand entry
on his own terms and expresses
his disappointment creatively;
impromptu performances
with a cast of professionals
as doctors, do-gooders, law officers,
concluding with a violent exit
from a somewhat disturbed set.

Harry is not impressed
by the anaesthetics of the closed ward.
The composition is clinical,
material and treatment, to his mind,
soporific, and the overall effect, drab.
But Harry harbours his exuberance.
Next Spring he will be back at large,
the streets festooned, as bar and theatre thrum,
and for an art lover like himself
so many places to call home.