is a strangely splendid bit of architecture,
covered in recycled newspaper shards.
The tour guide met me at the entrance
and gave me a badge that read “Just looking!”
We started with a modern piece:
The Jury, it was called. I saw a chorus
of mechanized bluebirds. They turned at me
immediately, and fixed their hollow eyes
upon my lips. They sang so loud I could hear
nothing but “SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK”
“SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK”
Don’t speak, mouthed my guide, slashing a finger
across his throat. We backed away… slowly…
He led me to a room with only Venuses
in various states of decay. Moth-eaten canvas
“No, moth-eaten skin,” he corrected. “Here,
take this,” and handed me a bee suit.
In the corner, I spotted Mona Lisa
in a bed with demons on her chest.
The tour guide chuckled and told me a secret.
He said she was counterfeit – the real one
was called Monica – the real one
was burned up in Rome, in Alexandria,
in Salem, in somewhere. He couldn’t quite
remember. He didn’t seem to care.
I felt my stomach churn as the stench of oil
paintings me made me wonder…
No one asked them if they wanted to hang
on walls, or if they wanted a sentence
in a history book (or several history books).
but don’t speak… just looking… As I left, I asked
how the building stands through time. He said
the frame is made of bones. “But don’t worry.
They aren’t human.”