A Great Artist Has Passed

I’m taking it Jonas told me on the 504A because it’s a good line. You didn’t think of it he said you said it and you would’ve let it go. I the curator saw the value. Yes but it’s mine I said because I said it.

The line was as follows I’m looking for another Monet with a hideous body of work. We were preparing our speeches for the funeral of esteemed poet Peter Norman of similar once-removed relation to us both. Jonas too was a poet or so he fancied himself to be and I was no poet so there was another thing working in his favour vis à vis the thieving of the line.

I hope someone hears it right now I said and that they sell it to the big wigs in New York. You think the line’s that good eh Jonas tried now to needle me into submission when all in all he just wanted the line. The line he told me once a ways back but also on the 504 the line is everything. A picture is a thousand words but a line is infinite there’s a line drawn straight through the history of time.

You only want the line I said because you think it’s Frank-like. Frank who said Jonas Frank Herbert author of Dune? Poor Anne Frank? Oh that other one with the battlefield and the moon? O’Hara I said and I’m not even saying it does I’m saying you think everything should and any time you like the sound of a thing you think it does.

Ashbery said Jonas and Berrigan Ted Berrigan. I’ve been branching. Not too far I said those are just apples off the Frank tree. Jonas said you’re suggesting a mentor-style relation are you and I said oh no I’m no poet I don’t know enough to make a claim.

Funny how you and me a philistine and a poet get so tickled taking the streetcar to and fro even be faster for you to go underground. I’m not a philistine and I like to have the good strong signal up here for my phone I said and well I’m offended by philistine. Sorry Jonas apologized so can I have the line or what.

Take it I said I’m overwhelmed by melancholy and nothing is of any value to me. Now he said now you’re sounding like an artiste perhaps you were right to take offence just now. Oh I’m long over it I said but no more lines you can’t have any of that. I don’t want the melancholia said Jonas there’s enough of that in my work and besides you didn’t do much in the way of curious execution.

I’m looking into doing my own work I said O’Hara-like something like Ashbery meets Berrigan. The one with the battlefield and the moon was Stanford said Jonas I hate to forget a thing but I love to remember and speaking of could you refresh me on your line I seem to have forgotten.


Now you’re squirreling.

I’m focusing I said. Focusing on what said Jonas on sorting your little nuts in the ground. Good one Jonas I said I’m composing my thoughts have you forgotten that a great artist has passed.

RIP said Jonas rest in poetry. Speaking of which buddy I’ve been thinking can I borrow something of yours something nice so I look sharp so I can impress old Petey.

Really Jonas I said really you think Pete’s lookin’ down you’re telling me you’re one of those believer types is that what you’re saying.

Look baby I just want to look good okay besides it’s what Petey woulda wanted don’t you think he always wanted to see us with the academic girlies and you know this death house is gonna be crawling with ‘em.

Death house Jonas I said sheesh.

So refresh me s’il vous plait on the line no more squirrelling.

I said it I said and I said it in a moment of audiencelessness and now you’ve added this readership a self-awareness like a qualitative bordering on quantitative value and now yeah I’m squirreling I want the thing for myself.

You’re an individual taken to improvisation said Jonas you get inspired because you leave yourself open to the hit of inspiration. Yes and so what I said what’s this got to do with the line.

The shall we say Bad Monet of the gallery said Jonas that’s where the realness is and you’ve got it the realness and I’m green with envy absolutely green. Besides he said besides you weren’t even putting it in the speech you were tangentially elsewhere and I the great connector put two and two together.

So now what it’s being returned to me is what’s happening am I the owner of the line again I asked Jonas. Have it he said I don’t give a good god damn really.

Well I didn’t mean to piss you off.

I pissed me off.

I’m sorry Jonas I said I’m just a philistine. I didn’t mean to get you pissed about poetry. I’m a poet said Jonas getting pissed is like having an orgasm getting pissed is like carving up tender duck. Earlier you said audiencelessness and I thought it was a poor choice though now I’m warming to it.

You’re still acting pissed Jonas I said.

I’m a leech.

You’re no leech Jonas and if you are a leech why don’t you leech something like the dictionary and you’ll write Lunch Poems one dozen times over.

I’m a leech and the government is the salt on my back said Jonas.

See there’s a line.

It’s no line it’s a flag.

A white flag eh Jonas.

Yeah a white flag said Jonas I surrender.

A lull and then he for the most part stopped looking pissed and he said anyway so what’s with the melancholy.

Oh I don’t know I said just Pete and all and I’m sorry about what I said earlier when I said what I said about the dictionary. I didn’t mean to monkeys on typewriters your craft as if that’s some sort of magic pill okay Jonas I understand it’s not like you’re building with pieces here per se.

Monkeys on typewriters as verb eh said Jonas I like it.

Listen said Jonas hear me out. You uh what say we call it you non-poets how ‘bout that no more philistinian talk. You non-poets you do this all the time you uh you drop these whatchamacallits these little uh genius jewels ‘cause you’re not too deep up your own behind to hear the ring of the magic bell in fact your head is about as far from your ass as it gets you might want to get that elongated torso checked out by a medical professional just a side note. Now see us uh we the royal we the artisans of poésie we can’t access it anymore you see. We can’t unsee the intricacy of the word. The letter even. It’s flowery. We’re in the business of flowers. We’re botanists no that’s not right we’re mere humble florists. See I’m even doing it in describing the thing. Oh god save the self-proclaiming poet. What I’m saying is you don’t want to see it okay once you see it you’ve been launched out and once you’re out you’re out you can’t get back into the thing. Or in maybe it’s in I’m going after as in in the ass.

You’re right Jonas you might be doing a little arranging.


Arranging the bouquet.

Oh for fuck’s see now you’ve done it again I want that one can I have it buddy oh can I have it please?

Surely you could do that Jonas. You could come up with another one like that.

Surely no. Contextually.

Because you’re a poet Jonas? The lines are lost on you?

Without a trace.

Alright Jonas you can have that one and you can have the Monet.

Thanks buddy you’re really doing me a big one here. The crowd’ll love me.

Actually I said actually now I’m ready to get back to the melancholy how about that.

Go for it I’m all ears.

But wait first and foremost I don’t want any poaching promise me that much Jo-Jo.

You got it buddy I’m all ears. No hands. No pen no paper. Pass right through me like water.

Well now if you’re not even listening Jonas I’m not spilling it right here on the 501 I’m not hanging back to clean up the guts what you think I’m a lowly janitor you think I don’t need some uh any like analysis here.

Lay it on me lay it like an egg. Oh but hey man we’re rolling up to your stop eh you notice that?

Oh I don’t care.

Don’t care?

Don’t give a hoot.

A hoot said Jonas what is that East Coast I always hear that from the young Acadians.

It’s something or other I said just like everything else.

Hey I was just thinking and oh so sorry to interrupt but I was just thinking you ever think about how a painting can’t be plagiarized like yeah I know you can fool the masses and all that like designer bags like cubic zirconia but the written word right the written word can be copied literally like identically like speaking from the perspective of the quote unquote new world we’re copying and pasting. None of it’s safe.

And Jonas that’s the freedom of the word.

Freedom said Jonas freedom in what how when why way. It’s a prison of injustice it’s my word against his. And uh hey who are you now educating me on the word.

Prison of injustice Jonas now if we’re talking about meaning that has absolutely none. And is it not you who is the uh the his in this word against word scenario.

The his.

The plagiarist.

Hypothetically baby I’m talking in the ultimate rights and the wrongs of things. Yeah I’m leeching. Yeah I’m the one who’s squirreling. I’m poaching. This here is a dark dark world we live in and let me tell you if you want to be the only player of the big game then you’re a fool’s fool. Sure you can skate baby but there’s no winning when you’re the only man on the ice.

You patronize me Jonas but you just want to hear the sound of your own voice.

Surely with such a look in his eyes Jonas was about to clock me a real sucker but a man slithered between us a real closest thing to Jesus you’d ever see on the 501 type guy.

I’m just saying I shouted to Jonas sort of through and around the head of Jesus I’m just saying maybe the cruelty is a bit of a shadow situation maybe if you step out of the path of the light you’ll be able to see it.

See what said Jonas.

Oh I don’t know I said just it.

What said Jonas.

What said the mouth of Jesus and then the body of Jesus turned to face neither myself nor Jonas and from the mouth came the phrase what again and then it said

you fools



I am the governor and if I find you’re a rat
I’ll clip your claws and shave you with them​!!!

Wow said Jonas. Holy mother of wow.

What a line eh Jonas.

Truly said Jonas. Truly what a line.

You think he’s gonna shave me baby you think he thinks I’m vermin? Might just I said might just think. Might shave you clean as the day you were born.

Naked as a tabula rasa said Jonas might be what a man like me needs. Might be I said. Not too good of a look showin’ up to old Petey’s service not a trace of scruff if you ask me said Jonas.

Pete’d understand I said and besides he’s dead. Anyway I said Jonas buddy it’s been a slice but I’m thinking it’s about exeunt time and I’ll take the rest of my trip up by foot.

By foot he said at this rate you’re gonna be a fat hour behind schedule frankly I don’t know how you live like this. Frankly I said there you go again with the Franks I wish you’d get off that one and what’s an hour at the end of the day when at least I let the mind go loose. Nothin’ of it buddy said Jonas just like to get where I’m goin’ and Jonas and I said and Jonas that’s why you’re a rat.

Laps around the sun said the mouth of Jesus and the body launched itself out from between us. Laps around the sun Jonas I said and Jonas said yeah uh laps around the sun.

Fawn Parker is the author of Set-Point (ARP, 2019), Dumb-Show (ARP, 2021), and What We Both Know (McClelland & Stewart, 2022). Author photo by Evan Smith. @FawnCGParker on Instagram and on Twitter.