April 16th, 2019


In Arles

Strange Van Gogh is my pet.
‘Let me pet you,’ I say.
He moves his red head
in an organised flame movement.

He has tears on his face which I try
and wipe off with a ‘Sunflowers’
National Gallery tea towel,
but he doesn’t want me to.
Nor does he want a sip of tea
from the smaller ‘Starry Night’

‘Please’ I say, now crying myself.
All of these tears fit into the Van Gogh
narrative, interpreted either as the signs
of a tragic life, or undiagnosed bi-polar

Strange Van Gogh has a strange effect on me.
If he would let me bury my face in that red beard
I would give him everything I have.
I would part with the savings of £3000 pounds
that I have been keeping for years to do a US road trip.

Strange Van Gogh’s ear is hurting, phantom sound,
ugly ghost-congealment. He’d like to do a painting if I’d
leave him alone. He doesn’t want to hear me tell
him again how he is the most beloved popular artist of the
20th and 21st century.

‘Before I ever met you, your paintings were fucking me.’
Strange Van Gogh shrugs and I slip my hand inside his shirt.
I gesture towards the ‘Cafe Terrace at Night’ coverlet,
where some actual fucking, could, in theory, take place.

‘The thing is, I love you completely,’ I say.
‘I am in love with seeing you cut into life,
in love with seeing it bleed all over everything.’

Strange Van Gogh begins a new sketch of my head,
this takes a while.
He then begins to paint it in, making my cheeks green,
my hair melon-pink, my lips curled white fronds.

Everyone will want to buy it.