When I Go to an Art Gala

I Talk to No One

Dylan Loring

I don’t want to hear how the artist’s


mother died in a house fire or know


where he or she falls on the attractiveness scale


between Sloth from The Goonies


and Jake Gyllenhaal in his early thirties


or watch whether or not the artist will flirt


with the critic who works for the only-


kind-of-important New York magazine


nor do I take an hors d'oeuvre


off the silver (yes silver!) platter


held by the skinny white guy


in the slim-fit white dress shirt


who smells like yellow pack American Spirits


but what I do is stand in front of each piece


for about six or seven minutes


longer if anyone enters my line of vision


and try to figure out the artist’s gimmick


whether he does bright squares real good


or she slops like 10 layers on everything 


or exclusively paints different angles


of Fonzie from Happy Days


and usually I read the accompanying description 


which always makes the artist come off


as either pretentious or simple-minded


and sometimes helps me understand


his or her particular gimmick


since every artist has a gimmick


and the good ones have five or six gimmicks


and when I come across a great piece


one that makes me feel as though I am the exact person


meant to appreciate its greatness


I stare at it until after the lights go out and the janitor


inadvertently sloshes mop water on my Nunn Bush shoes


and if anyone tries to articulate the greatness in words


I plug my ears with each index finger and keep staring


so that when I close my eyes for the next few hours


the ghost of the piece (as though a bright bulb) remains



Dylan Loring is a poet from Des Moines, Iowa. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato and teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Barron County. Some of his recent poems have appeared in Bridge EightThird Point Press, and the minnesota review