In the Interactive Museum

By: William Doreski

you can pluck a red poppy

fresh from a Monet landscape

or scoop a spoonful of ice cream

from a Woody Allen movie

about seducing adolescents.

You think this place is silly

with its three-D murals, odes

recited by Keats and Coleridge bots,

Laocoon’s serpent writhing

in a squirm of muscular coils,

Renoir nudes who roam among

the visitors with trays of drinks

and hors d’oeuvres. You worry

that art is lost in the novelty,

but consider how the innocent

regarded the first cave paintings,

flat yet dynamic depictions

of creatures they knew from life.

We wander through the galleries.

Gauguin invites us to stroke

his moustache, Jackson Pollack

flings paint in our faces, Mona

Lisa stops smiling and frowns.

We could wash our hands in green

water in a Canaletto scene,

but the Venice lagoon is fouled

with runoff from industrial art

by Charles Sheeler, whose smokestacks

cough real smoke into our lungs.

In the last gallery a Rothko looms

in brilliant yellow and gloomy red.

Without thinking we step inside it

and begin exchanging colors

we hadn’t known we possessed,

the painter’s suicidal grimace

neutered by our newfound joy.




William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson College, Goddard College, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are Water Music and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.