Michael Rothenberg: STRIPTEASE D'ORSAY 1

The poem was planned. I took all the right trains
I was sure to get there, anticipated each impression, would list every
Artist whose work
I encountered in d'Orsay: Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Matisse
Van Gogh, Derain, Gaugin, Lautrec, Renoir, Degas
Rousseau, Signac, Seurat, Roualt, et al
Then close the poem with poignant line: "And not a woman among them"
But it didn't work out that way
Instead I walked over a bridge on my way to d'Orsay
Sat on a bench for almost an hour, listened
To a man in tartan play a bagpipe
Took my jacket off. Imagined making love to several women strolling
    past me
Worried about three beat men in dread locks crouched like trouble
Painters who don't paint just dress like painters
In blue jeans, blue smock and yellow socks flopping dry brush
Over paintings lithographed and lacquered in Belgium
I took 2 F, 20 centimes from my pocket, rolled the coins in my hand
It might be too much or not enough to throw into the bagpipers velvet
Instrument case, asking myself if he was
A really good bagpipe player or a bad pipe player
How would I know?
Double wide boats on pontoons with tourist cargo shuffled
Up and down Seine. I gave the bagpipe player change and continued
Across the bridge enthralled by an arch I believed would lead me to
But it was the Louvre! What was I going to do at the Louvre?
It's too big! I didn't plan the Louvre until next week
I was going to give that monstrosity a whole week
It's too far, I thought, to walk to d'Orsay now
A fountain beside a glass pyramid shot my glasses with spray
It was time to sit down, regroup
I found a bench in the shade where old people sit
And gypsies with bonneted babies beg
And men from faraway continents sell dolls to
School children eating little day trip lunches from little lunch boxes
It should have been d'Orsay! It might still be yet, I thought
I'd see when I got up. Instead I walked to the Orangerie
I'd already given my best lines to the Louvre
And I didn't want to write another poem