The Poetry Project

Washington Crossing the Delaware/Number 28/June 6, 2022

Simone White

There was to be an art historical joke about Washington’s balls
in this space, for I am a lover of tawdry jokes and poop humor.
There is in fact a bejeweled or engorged set of cherries peeking out
from beneath the war costume of the General crossing the Delaware
resting so as to catch the eye, to humiliate, and also to allow
for plausible deniability. BUTT Isaac cried out when I explained
the grammar of certain common curses and we busted a gut
laughing almost til we cried because how could it be that ass
means butt and shit is actually poop and this is exclamatory. Butt!
and fuck! are not the same. It’s a wild painting. I am a patriot
as everyone knows, the sublimity of the country still lives with me;
I do not struggle with my Americanness. Whatever I am is one with
the General and the double prick Leutze gave the man in the picture—
better to fuck you with, my dear, if you must know how I speak to myself.
Pretending this is a world in which there could be a symbolic,
I find the rosy fob foreboding and terrible, fucked coming and going
over the River. Crazy, it’s not even this painting that interests me,
but the relay between it and the Ab Ex conversation TJ Clark is having
with all of Western thought (how do you start a conversation like that
you might ask and the punchline is, by quoting Hegel, but only after
Frank O’Hara). I’m twitchy around Ab Ex, it excites me in a bad way,
I feel ill will toward Number 28, but I’m ignorant and can’t really follow
the guy’s moves. Clark’s I can follow though, you feel me. I declare
je suis l'une d'elles. Je déclare avoir avorté and also I can’t stand the
domineering tone of this form of art criticism. I thought I was going to jail
yesterday at the Park Slope Food Coop because that’s the kind of
bourgeois I am, the kind who gets arrested at the “supermarket” for
being uncivil to white people. I am uncivil, Jace tells me so all the time.
Trouble died today. The dead are piling up around us the gallows
lift on the river of gore.

#269 – Summer 2022