Ode on a Bust of A. O. Scott

A monument to movies’ gilded mage
Stands in a vaunted, vaulted sepulcher.
The sculptor—like the critic, just as sage—
Has chiseled (as Scott’s learnèd pen) assured.
When subject and the master crafter meet—
An artist’s medium and matter meld—
The stars align and astral muses bless.
Enlightened viewers’ joy is just this sweet:
Orthographers’ delight at words when spelled
By method more than guess!

But lo! I’ve jumped the track of railèd thought
To conjure rhymed iambic syllables,
Like A. O.’s wand’ring eye full granite-shot
A-search for prose that more than pencil dulls.
… My mind returns to said ensculpted eye:
Like one Picasso might have drunken stroked
If he had worked in stone instead of Prague;
Oh, why just two when three would do? Yes, why
When with impressionistic peen is ’voked
A mythic Grecian dog?

The limnèd hair which graces A. O.’s brow
Does likewise summon a Medusic tale—
For more like shrub than tress, I do allow,
The spikes and straggles wildly, freely trail.
The brow itself is fashioned as a cliff
Which shelters said en-orbèd sockets three—
O! lidless, vacant, somehow wall-eyed still.
Below these vigils slants a nose as stiff
As bourbon straight (no chaser), you’d agree—
Or bacon off the grill.

Yes, pork—the pith and lover of my soul!
Ah! smoked, and pulled, enslabbed and marbled thick!
Please, slather not with sauces sweet nor bold
But baste it slow with smoke—now, there’s the trick:
For proper ribs are art as much as prose,
And bacon flexible as pastry crust
That any Gallic chef prepared for feast.
“Cailles en Sarcophage” is one of those
As A. O. Scott himself would know, I trust—
Or suspect, at the least.

Alas! I fear I digress more than most
When musing on this critic/artist’s bust.
So let me not forget in least to toast
The sculptor’s treatment of Scott’s mouth: it’s just
As long and wide and deep as any piece
Of winded, winding, wowsy essay writ
By any wag who ever thought to think.
By Jove! the merit of that orifice!
Do not let any critic call it [rhyme],
Or warn you from the stink.

But to the point: ’tis true that Scott is right.
The world, or rather what we represent,
Is too much with us, blocking—mocking—sight:
This sculpted Scott is less ideal than bent;
But which more real? Prolific, verbal Scott,
Or A. O.’s granite, metaphoric head?
Or poet’s rambling homage to the rock?
They all are known, and products of proud thought;
All blithely bleat where angels fear to bed,
Or whisper. Much less talk.

About Greg Wright

I have worn many hats as a writer and editor over the years. Unlike my scholarly and journalistic work from the "old days" at Hollywood Jesus, Past the Popcorn, or SeaTac Blog, the writing here is of a more overtly personal and spiritual nature. I hope it provokes you as much as it provokes me.
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