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Larry Smith

Oh my darling
a peep show has opened in the city.
Glossy photographs preview in the silent formal room
all that love like ours can be.

Here are images of hungry souls galore,
like the girl in curlers,
the working class vacant gaze, the crucifix,
the uncertain self-groping smudged in the oval hallway mirror.
Here too the social swirlers, the svelte houri astride the green felt table in
    the darksome parlor,
a slick glimpse of slit at the corner pocket the studs narcoleptic with
    their sticks
in the familiar ritual are taking aim for.

On one wall hangs pure form,
the hairless hole of a woman is a peach abstracted and shorn of all its fuzz;
on another wall, the utter longing of virgin boy and virgin girl nude at last
     and gawking.
Their eyes can't hold anymore. They're about to touch.

This is dance absolutely still:
go-go boy, his handsome Spanish hard-on, the red panties draped on in tribute,
     his dark tight balls, the mesmerized faces.
This is symbol more searing than substance:
the hand in the open purse, the towel that hides a naked woman's face, a jock
     strap entwined on horns, lips on a foot, foot on a haunch, a grease
     monkey's gas pump dripping.

Over here an eagle-beaked tennis queen in the locker room after a match feels
     up the poor kid she just beat.
You can see a few little pubic threads in the sweat-stained white cotton where
     the victor's fingers probe;
the young lady's yielding consternated face tells all that can be told,
about power and how clay forms in the master's hand.

Shall we grapple with our destroyers in the muscular poses of this museum?:
behold the Gorgon of the suburbs! There's a yarmulke between her legs,
all that's left of the last hapless chap she trapped is plopped just where she
     trapped him.
Anything is beautiful if you say it is:
look, those black women have torn off their clothes in the answering pews,
and the preacher who prances at the cross takes his pick of this God-struck
     Sunday litter.
O Kansas or California, venereal soil:
in the distant clouds in the last photo by the gallery's exit door
the dust of motorcycles or hot rod brigades from some far off time and place
     is as dark as death;
in the foreground, a willowy blond with bouncing pale breasts flees in terror
     in the mists.
Frozen in this awful art, she runs forever
with no hope the nameless thunder won't any second catch her up.


“Pictures Of An Exhibition” is from a chapbook called Pleas of the Queen. My story “Tight Like That” appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (print edition), #27. “The Shield of Paris” was in Low Rent and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Other recent stories were published in Exquisite Corpse as well as Lucrezia Magazine, Knock, Sliptongue, PANK, and Juked. Earlier fiction appeared in Hambone and spork. Poetry was in Descant (Canada), among others, and articles and essays in Modern Fiction Studies, Social Text, The Boston Phoenix, and others.
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