Poems of the Week


by Julia Griffin

“Fortuitously, a marvelous work by the celebrated contemporary Italian artist, Maurizio Cattelan, is coming off view today after a year’s installation at the Guggenheim, and he would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan. … The work beautifully channels the history of 20th-century avant-garde art.”—Letter from Nancy Spector, curator of the Guggenheim 

Of all the esoterica
To grace the White House annals,
There’s few to match “America,”
Most avant-garde of channels.

This marvel is, as you’ll have seen
(I’d really hate to spoil it),
A fully functioning latrine:
The world’s most costly toilet,

Or rather (let me try to find
Terms pleasing to the nation)
A bathroom of the richest kind;
A golden comfort station.

O my “America,” your beam
Bespangles all the White House,
Reflected in a private stream
Like some uprooted lighthouse!

It’s no use playing satirist
With things like this in town.
Let’s just beware, if they persist,
Of what comes trickling down.