Not all paints are created equal. Some, ground by a master, are
apprenticed on a palette, then sweet-talked onto the bristles of the
master’s brush, to become part of a Primavera or the Mona Lisa.
They play a role in the aura glowing around a savior rising from a
gloomy tomb or the rosy aureole of a Madonna’s nipple, sucked by
rosebud infant lips. We common factory paints have no such luck.
We never flow like music from horsehair, or figure in an odalisque,
a scream on a bridge. We end up on the fingers of kindergarten
Goyas. We’re a diversion after basketry for broken-down nerves.
A pasatiempo for those with more time than paint on their hands,
we get no r-e-s-p-e-c-t. More of us is washed down the sink drain
than ever tints cheap Kraft—with a capital K—grocery bag paper.
Joe Smith poet
Honoria Starbuck illustration