Why are all the artists quitting town?
They have packed their paints and brushes
In a mountain of portmanteaux
and abandoned monoliths of Portland Stone -
even marble from Carrara's high and dry -
and on donkey carts and pony carts
and bicycles with trailers
there are cases full of oddments,
and portfolios of work,
on top of which are easels
now collapsed or disassembled
beneath piles of masons' chisels
and some chippers and stone hammers -
hammers that have hammered out
their human weightiness in stone.
There are models, nude and otherwise,
and bevies of sweet paramours and wives
holding flagons of light ale and dark red wines.
Why do they all skedaddle in this way?
Is it just performance art performed en masse?
What might then be the meaning of their play?
What message has this sudden exodus?
Why do they shuffle in their thousands
through our forests and our fields,
why reciting, singing, dancing as they go?
What ails this crocodile that cries out for fiesta -
and where on earth's a crocodile to go?
Is it that there's nothing left to paint,
that we and all our precincts are played out?
Of landscapes nothing's natural these days?
Are the shapes we've made of culture, too banal?
Is it simply that there's nothing left to do?
that we've scraped the barrel clean - is that what’s in their minds?
They’re out to play the ace - their final card?
We've filled the barrels with our most insipid wines
and every viewpoint and perspective's done to death -
and what is left is simply laughable, they say.
Or is it something darker? Could it be
that artists everywhere are being scared to death,
being offered sums of money to get out
by people with a grain or so of power
who know instinctively, the greater power of art?
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