Permanent Exile

From the collection published in 2017, Refuge.

Permanent Exile
The prisoner
stood in the square
every day for years and years
any weather
any season.
He had only one smile
and it came straight from his
broken marble heart.
Both hands damaged
(there was no money for repairs)
he managed nonetheless
to point a finger at
anyone who happened to pass
waiting to meet again
the artist who gave him the face
of a man dissatisfied with his dry cleaner
topping off a paunchy body
wearing a toga
all done in inferior stone
to suit a small-town budget.

8 thoughts on “Permanent Exile

  1. Thank you. I was watching a movie and there was a brief shot of a statue in a square, and it put me in mind of statues I studied in college , Greek, Roman, Egyptian, etc. (though the movie statue did not look like any of these) and their often-damaged state after so much time. From there, well, it just was imagination!

  2. This poem puts me in mind of the Oscar Wilde story ‘The Happy Prince’, another poignant tale of a statue. I love public art and sculpture but often find myself wondering about why some last the test of time and become classic and others seem dated within the decade and are crying out to be replaced. Maybe that is because I grew up in a postwar new town where the town planners were obsessed with erecting random sculptures that were often lacking.

  3. Our town had zero public art (unless you count persistent graffiti on a highway underpass or two). So when I came to Philadelphia I was intrigued. I agree, some statues you wonder who ever cared (the ubiquitous soldier on a horse thing, who are all of these people?) and then odd modern things that age well or else…splat on the sidewalk ten years later, as far as visual impressions. I have gotten more interested in sculpture as I have gotten older – for some reason I seem to notice it more and have more interest.

  4. It makes me think of a statue in Philadelphia I saw for years and years in Center City that I just have to say looked like a pile of doo doo to me. Just saying.

  5. Thank you. I remember seeing photos of statues from ancient Greece/Rome etc when I was studying archaeology in college and I always remember thinking about them when they were new, and as they aged. A statue is somehow very alive, in a way, and when it gets hurt…it seems like it is happening to a living person, almost.

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