Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Funeral poem

We look fit at funerals, you and I,
as we file past the casket, bow and turn,
your black veil flares, my gothic perm
caught in the reflection of a platinum urn
lit by candles, while lily-clad damsels scatter platitudes
over colleagues and cousins and cumbersome shoulder pads.
All the dads too strong to cry on our shoulder, as
monochrome chic can’t be soiled by grief.
Our contrast immaculate, our edges too accurate.

Exhume the funeral: the final resting place of style.
The death of colour. Man Ray would get it—
Just take a cursory glance at the history of aesthetics:
Rauschenberg painted coffins, Brigit Riley made us cry.
Still, it took Chanel to give death its eyes.
A mathematics of line, curve and shade
that would imbue the most pitiful holiday snap
with the jouissance of the French New Wave.

We’re back in Kansas, in the town where we began.
Just ink and canvas and a middle-distance stare.
The last strut of the Rat Pack, coffin aloft,
with the best dressed member sealed into the box,
We’re ready for the close-up, we’ve never been so ironed.
Our lives, a film noir, classily made,
and nothing is more classically designed than a grave.

Black and white is a durable idiom.
Immortality a blessing as well as a curse.
Some things never go out of fashion:
the camera, the pupil, the ink-well, the hearse.

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