“ON CORTADA’S RED WOLVES”

You assume–being so knowledgeable with your one art history class
taken decades ago while studying in London (yes, London!),
where there were real, honest-to-god Monet water lilies in the what’dya’call it Tate
–that the two red wolves are symbolic or something.

Maybe that’s why only one is kind of tawny, the other being black as death or shadows
or the long lustrous hair of your neighbor’s new girlfriend,
who has got to be 20 years younger than than him,
the shyster shit in his big ugly Spanish Colonial that dwarfs
your tiny, termite-eaten bungalow.

Those Monets were something, alright, big-ass canvases
like the massive flat screens the neighbor has all over his place
–living room, dining room and master bedroom–
where he probably watches porn while she works the night shift at The Palms,
coming back in the dawn reeking of sweat and hand sanitizer
and what-not hospital smells, stripping out of that sky blue uniform
as the lech watches from the king-sized water bed.

Is the red wolf the black one’s reflection or something?
Could be with the blue-green below like maybe murky waters or turquoise springs
or the huge screened-in pool of the neighbor where you watched
the bikinied girlfriend laughing while slipping like a kid on those smooth, cool ceramic tiles.

Anyway, the black wolf beast slouches, the cocky bastard,
looking right at you as it goes by going somewhere.
Bethlehem, maybe? Galilee? Except now that you think about it
the black one and the red are slouching in different directions
so the walking-near-water (in water, on water?) reflection thing
doesn’t quite make sense after all
but at least you’re here, right, appreciating art?

Meanwhile your shallow neighbor is probably lounging
by that pool staring smugly at his mug reflected darkly
as the dusk creeps into that goddamned mausoleum of a house,
thinking how he’ll be in danger of dying when she’s still young,
of how bleak and black the world can look
even from top of the goddamned food chain.

— Mark R. Vickers is the author of, among other things, the novel The Tollkeeper. He blogs at markrvickers.com and tweets @mark_r_vickers