Drilling for oil in a white cube

They―always they, not us―
aaawanted to drill for oil in the gallery.

They said it wouldn’t be a problem
aaato pull up the polished wooden floors;

they could build up through the roof
aaaand over, positioned like a giant mosquito

with a black-steel proboscis pumping
aaafrom the earth into a bulbous belly.

“And the gallery?” I asked.
aaa“What about the Constables, the Monets?”

“Who made this decision? You can’t
aaabankroll a gallery on profits from oil!”

They were right of course;
aaapeople came to look, and it was said

it was the best conceptual work
aaasince Duchamp hung 1200 bags of coal

from the ceiling of the Gallerie des Beaux-arts.
aaaOur jobs were safe, and we didn’t have to apply

for funding―anyway, government money
aaafor the arts had been drying up.

The Constables and Monets darkened
aaato a Malevich black, and it all

shouldn’t matter, but somehow it does
aaa(or something like that kind of frustration).


Published in NZ Listener, 29 March 2015 


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