I had an exhibition once,
a hundred years ago
before the advent of the coffee bar
in a palace of a place
art deco on four floors,
a Lyons Corner House.
In perfect truth,
I shared the exhibition:
saw my babies
hung between the tables
("among some porcelain",
as Eliot might have said)
close by the chandeliers
between the longer term incumbents:
lithographs and reproductions -
names I loved and feared.
Amongst the Sutherlands, Man Rays
and Mintons - giants of the day?
My little ragamuffins in amongst those
grand celebrities? How could they make their way?
How did I get that stupid?
Words like "hiding" and "to nothing" came to mind.
I don't know how much tea I drank
in vain attempts to eavesdrop
what chat there was about my work.
Not a lot was being said.
Nothing for a gallon and a half.
Then "Orange Nude" caught someone's eye
who thought it was "The brightest, not the best!"
"Sandy Beach" fared rather better: "I can feel,"
a lady said through apple pie,
"what it was like to be there on that beach -
the colours tell me all I need to know.
Not so "Grey Man in Moonlight": "Cannot stand
Americans - especially Picasso!"
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