By Patrick Ryan Frank
Featured Image: Merrymakers at Shrovetide by Frans Hals, 1616-7
Tumbling down that wide Niagara of laughter,
the blonde girls and the gray-haired men beside them
swirl away through picture after picture.
If there’s champagne, there’ll be a waiter’s smirk.
If there’s an ice sculpture, it will be a swan
weeping for its flaws. If there’s a pool,
a horrible beautiful woman will end up pushed
and the garden will quiet just to hear her thrash
within the weird slick of her ruined silk—
and then the jokes and it all begins again.
Oh vanity, why won’t you leave me home?
Why must you pull me by the elbow down
that crowded hallway then leave me by the wall,
awkward as an interrupted joke,
adrift in the back of half the photographs:
a face turned too far left, mouth spread too wide
to grin, gaping as if to gulp back breath?
Patrick Ryan Frank is the author of How the Losers Love What’s Lost, which won the 2010 Intro Prize from Four Way Books; and The Opposite of People, to be published by Four Way Books in 2015. He was recently a Fulbright Fellow to Iceland, and he currently lives in Austin, Texas.
Originally appeared in NOR 17