The Artist

The Artist

Irene Hsu

Artists are taught to slaughter

their babies, those transcendent,

just-right strokes of paint or strings

of words. At the funeral,

some shedding of tears

permitted, but not necessary.


Prometheus was an artist,

chiseled mud into feathers

whittled stones into horns,

a real Michelangelo, you know.


His real masterpiece though,

his baby if you do so incline,

was that lump (you and me

and them) so pathetically

out of line, out-armed.


Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonder:

posture, consciousness, thumbs—

but let’s face it. We are the babies

Prometheus couldn’t bear to kill, no—

refused to kill. It is all irrelevant—

the result of one demigod’s want


to be a god. Don’t think Zeus allowed that

breach as Prometheus dished out fire

in clandestine fatherhood,

played make-believe better than anyone.


Wouldn’t you want to be worshipped?

This is what arrogance does to you:

time marked by incisions,

a vulture picking at your liver,

as though performing

a necessary operation.