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