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I know there are other things the water can be sure of

just as the graffiti on beach sand, or the copyright insignia

on the lower right hand-side of every chest is marked

in red by something else. We all belong to something, and

today with your family in circles there’s a re-make of a re-

make, an homage to Courbet, an homage to Larry Rivers

searching his heart for something to copy from Courbet,

and then being slightly grateful that someone the he cared

so deeply for cooperated and then died. This lineage is so

confusing, a bibliography of emotion. First there was

the crying and then the understanding of the wound. First

I saw blood trickle from my cousin’s shoe, his laughter

at this game of tag, and then the silence. And the shock.

And screaming. These are all variations on a theme

by God. Birth and death and then rebirth into something

else, the mockery of branding. This is Courbet

painting a burial of the horizon as mourners

in every gallery cannot discern where painting is

any longer. Death to art, to bushy-bearded Gustave,

long live painting and Larry Rivers scribbling

his variations of the mundane. What could be

more gratifying and repetitious than a cup of coffee,

than neglect of three death dimensions, than death?

There are numbers here, not of mourners but measurements:

This many feet, this many inches down. This many

displaced moments of dirt and then replacement.

How many hours until the house, how many minutes

more before we’re no longer are alive? Long live

painting, the comment of Larry Rivers making a copy

of a copy, a Burial in Ornans and the flat surface, the flat

face lack-of-depth moment recognizes nothing

will survive. How far is it from here, this set of tears

and tragedy, to a sudden burst of uncontrollable

laughter? To a miracle of smearing paint that allows

for mistake in all this that is already far too predictable?

Is any of this different from constructing individual

religions on each wall of bland Manhattan? A copyright

insignia stating life is compact disc music set to skipping,

same old-same old SAME-O beat resampled SAMO and

regenerated, the sound of heartbeats become cliché. Behold

the miracle of resurrection between break beats, between

Courbet and his grand funeral procession, Larry Rivers and his

pre-made sorrow, and Basquiat as epigraph or epilogue, eulogy

for the bare tombstones of city skyscrapers that spread out

in minimalist torture down every city block. This is measuring

New York, and then everything beyond. These numbered streets

and names so familiar you forget their meaning. Like funeral

can be a word and an occasion, like wake is a set of opposites,

both joyous and then you leave. I guess I haven’t told you

about my latest small world discovery: How William Carlos Williams

attended to a woman Larry Rivers got pregnant, performed

a free-of-charge abortion in support of free expression. In support

of poetry and the arts. How can we so small that the distance

between our circumstance is so very, very small? How tiny

can everything be if people are stealing Picassos from Ernest

Hemingway’s old mansion, picking up a poor simile of a cat

and then bounding down the street? How preposterous to find

a postcard that misspells a name? Or one you may have saved to send

later to yourself, a tragedy of time in your somewhat older hands.

And shouldn’t each correspondence be half question-mark and only

then half-period, like each coupling in the bedroom is? The reason

for all this groaning is every second that we breathe can be split

toward birth and death. Long live Courbet, would have been a sentence

in my philosophy today, his bloated artist’s body hovering

toward the snacks. Long live Larry Rivers and the arts, the things

we leave unborn, and the friends we collect shameful favors from,

some shred of understanding in paint globs and maybe line breaks.

Long live the searching for meaning at the end of a set of words,

the last gasps fingertips make as they fondle humid air, the sheets

and the curve of a lover’s face in impossible winter forever. Long

remains our sense of death and dying, the procession as flat

and meaningful as the grand-sized machines of the ever-present

paint strokes of larger-than-life Gustave Courbet. Long gone

are the wishes we could push to something different. Same old song,

as breathing does, resists and then comes to a stop. Set each track

on repeat and dance into the night. In Manhattan and beyond

the city is a set of tombs, each recorded with an epitaph. Maybe,

I told you I was sick, or To the child who never breathed. The sunset

breaks to shadows, your family exchanges gossip. All of this is

predictable. Drug addicts filled with liquid to replace each tube

of discharged paint, a procession of the line, and of the stain, flip-

flopped against art history as everything remains unchanged. Maybe,

What is that new painting you’ve been working on, Have you tried

these chicken fingers? Your other cousin, you notice now, is slightly

larger than the last canvas someone stretched in your studio space,

all blank and waiting for regurgitated ideas to reconstruct themselves

in black and white, in night, and then in daybreak. And in the buzz

of endings, someone always reappears, stops and refills your drink.

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