September 29, 2021

Brass & Blue Plexiglass

On Seeing the Donald Judd Show at MoMA During the Pandemic

No one ever thinks outside the box, unless it’s an oblong box,
or a sculpture designed in one mind but fabricated by others.
So much is fabricated by others. Is America a good idea
poorly executed, or a bad idea brought to brilliance?
Often, the voice that says, I’m putting you inside a box
but you won’t know you’re inside the box until I close the lid

is also the Voice of America. Ah, the power of a work
named Untitled. How are we to talk you into your place
if you refuse a name? Names are power, less & less.
Power is power. Power is the hand that shapes the shape
of things to come, of things to forget. Inside, out, the box
could contain anything at all, nameless or not, an open
casket, say, in the window of an unsigned storefront,
its soft satin lining in a stasis of quiet expectation,
emptiness. Is a box ever anything but emptiness,
even when filled? Is the promise half-full or half-empty?
Is the promise a casket, or a mysterious work of art
that the eye acknowledges & slides away from, at right
angles from the light that falls on it & fills it with half-light?
Is there a ballot at the bottom? Can you see into it?
Is the color of its sides the blue of a bruising, falling night?

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