Martin Monahan

Four Poems

In the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen

In the K20,
Beckmann’s The Night
was hung too near the café;

we both observed this
though used the café anyway—
I ordered Käse Torte, confidently

(then had to be corrected).
They had furniture like Rietveld’s Steltman chair,
the one that looks so good in gardens;

I sat still and wondered—like George Costanza—
if the waiter liked me,
which happens so much more here.

Caffeinated, we watched The Night again:
it seemed deracinated
on those whitewashed walls;

guards stood too close,
people talked, bitte, alles klar, genau;
and what we’d gone there for,

seemed now, not to be the same
as what we’d sought—
our presence a mere

confirmation of the The Night’s
existence; not—as once I’d thought—
the culmination of some felt experience.

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