I Saw the Son of Man

by | May 28, 2019


I saw the Son of Man lying on the 95 –

probably one of a dozen prints,

someone’s elementary school project

now splayed like a fossil

ripely excavated,

blanching in the sun –


his sheltering apple strudelized.

It reminds me of how the sky is,

its sheer-blue polythene

perforated with clouds.  In another scene

the invisible priest presides

over his banquet, feast of culture.

Lifting his rebel shape,

a red communion wafer.

That portal was once a message in itself –

but then the landscape shifts, and my mind

quivers, loosening against the seep of mirages

with no focal point, no missive.

Eye gone. An aperture snapped shut.


No, about permanence he was never wrong:

that polite old anarchist, with his chest of toys

stooping to pack feathers and

rubber eggs, stripping ossified

sheets for playing the ghost.

He tells me how he’d end it,

if it were up to him:


more dignity, a murmured

‘Cupio dissolvi.’,

a jade of light off a pigeon’s wing.

Never saw him but in a beat

I heard those symbols sing.



Naturally today, there wouldn’t be the same uproar.

It’s a fine point, but one that must be made:

viewers participate. They are looking for more

than steepled-fingered provocations,

or ideas that soften under the tongue.

They want themselves to be absorbed. So creation

is easy, simply dredging up the pith

from pools of what they know. Our act, then,

is one of revival – but we sever the myth

from its monster. If we had a manifesto would be

‘the perversion of all that is significant’ – has a nice Marxist

ring to it, I think – and you can rid yourself of contextual debris


once you’ve begun stretching out those signs

like latex, peeling shell from shell, unstitching

what history has wrenched together

to divine the dark, viscous nub  –


yes O yes once you pierce through it’s wonderful

– congealing in its vagueness,

native and wordless. Craving art turned flesh,


they feel already the sticky saccharine

dancing on their lips –

that pleasured sting of uprising,

the joy in separation.


The ocean hits the shore, and pulls back

with a shudder. It is bought and discharged by the moon.

Mosaics of meaning, still we wobble

and seem off, as we stand

looking at a painting with one eye shut.


Poem by Alexandra Beukers. Illustration by Alice Yang.