Issue > Poetry
Rupert Fike

Rupert Fike

Rupert Fike was recently named Finalist as Georgia Author of the Year after the publication of his collection of poems, Lotus Buffet, (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2011). His work has appeared in Rosebud, The Georgetown Review, A&U America's AIDS Magazine, Natural Bridge, The Atlanta Review, storySouth, The Blue Fifth Review and others. He has a poem inscribed in a downtown Atlanta plaza, and his non-fiction Voices from The Farm, is now in its second printing with over 200 photographs.

Titian's Diana And Actaeon

Simply the most beautiful painting in the world.
—Lucien Freud
I've been alone with it (and the guard) for ten minutes
when the Docent's Talk for Big Donors shows up,
a suburban Medici loudly recalling
that smelly guide in Florence . . . or was it Venice.
They are an intrusion, yes, but their rakish guide's
first sentence is so playful my anger dissolves:
  "Here we have a 16th century Playboy spread,
   Titian giving King Phillip exactly what he wanted -
   bosoms and behinds under lapis lazuli skies."
It is a laugh-line that pulls a slim matron forward
(is she too old for henna-streaks?), closer to him,
to that quality my aunts would have called, dashing.
She has had some work done, yet it's endearing
because she has suffered for beauty. Plus she
(or someone) has spent mightily on the hand-bag
that now nudges the velour rope behind which
he's begun narrating the scene straight from Ovid,
Metamorphoses as the excuse for this girly show.
Diana is in her woods, stream-bathing with nymphs,
Actaeon, like a fool, stumbling in from the left,
   Sorry, ladies, I was just out chasing a deer and . . .
Too late. He knows. His dogs know. He has seen.
And who believes men's lame excuses anyway?
Certainly not the Gods for this is fate, their red meat.
Goddess of Chastity seen nude? Somebody's gonna pay.
We murmur at the bad luck, grieve for the poor mortal.
And I'm in greater grief for forgetting my Ovid,
for not really seeing the painting until they arrived,
for not being as at-ease as the pulled-tight woman
who's now laughing with two old queens attending her,
their joke shared in naughty Capote-soft rhythms.
And it's all enough to make me want scalp-implants,  
an Ovid CD, an Italian suit from Bloomie's
for I want their privilege, I want to access
his elan as he recites the dogs' Latin names,
those murderous bitches who hunted down, tore apart
Actaeon once he'd been morphed, turned into a stag,
justice of the Gods, the makeover nobody wants.

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