Artist, by Mark Blaeuer
“The only culture in this place is an active yeast infection.”
Now she was bailing out--
trudging thirty-five miles to the local university.
She packed food and camping gear, then
set out on Highway 62.
Appalled by carcasses
of animals run over by cars,
she’d cradle the body of each victim
to the nearest roadsign,
where she’d drape
a distinctive breed of message.
Two days later
(after the Missing Person report),
the police discovered her ten miles out,
sobbing on the gravel shoulder,
a dead possum around her neck.
And they arrested her.
author's note: "This poem builds on an incident reported as true, described in a Fayetteville, Arkansas, paper called The Grapevine. The article about this artist came out c. 1980-82, when I was a grad student. I attended an exhibition of her paintings around that time; they were, if memory serves, family portraits in which the subjects' skin had been omitted so as to reveal the musculature. Sadly, I don't recall the artist's identity, but I believe her first name may have been Julie."
Mark Blaeuer’s poems and occasional translations of Spanish-language poems have appeared in Blue Unicorn, The Dark Horse, Ezra, The Found Poetry Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, Measure, Nimrod, Verse Wisconsin, Westview, The Windsor Review, and many other journals. Kelsay Books/White Violet Press published a collection of his work, Fragments of a Nocturne, in 2014. He lives a few miles outside Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, where he was employed as a ranger for twenty years. His M.A. (in anthropology) is from the University of Arkansas.
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