Sonnet No 7: Three MoMA Guards

Not one, but three of the security staff at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) had me unsure where the art finished and the rest of life began. In two of the three cases I went back a second time, and saw that the exhibit was diminished by the absence of the guard who had been there the first time. I only visited the third room once, but the guard in question moved away and was replaced by someone who didn’t value-add in the same way.

Three Guards at MoMA: Gober, Gober, Dubuffet
Dolphin-sized, shaped from tobacco
sheafs, a fragile beached cheroot.
He’s on guard at its head. No whacko
Gets past his secret-service suit.
Wallpaper patterned with a lynching:
a thousand times a Black man hangs.
The guard is Black: without harangues
he sets us White art-lovers flinching.
Prints of dark beards, roots and gravel,
dig underground, compel, and revel
in earth, but then a high sweet tune
the guard hums lifts us to the moon.
Next day, there’s just an art brut star,
a pomo wall, a giant cigar.

The links will take you to images from the three environments referred to. (And yes, it hardly counts as a sonnet – can the volta ever come that late?)

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