Cyrus Cassells

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Cyrus Cassells

Finding America in Goya’s “Black Paintings”

Today, in the Prado’s lower gallery, I perceive
Our ailing country’s fast-galloping infamy

In Goya’s unflinching “Black Paintings.”
Our vaunted democracy floundering

Like the Iberian master’s sweet, beseeching
Mutt in a quicksand panic,

As Sir Insolvent Mountebank
Runs extravagantly amok—

& how many swastikas & hailstones?
How many catcalls & rapes per hour?—

Through the misted country’s spectral atmosphere,
Like Francisco’s sooty, scourging colossus—

Meanwhile, in a sorcerer’s nocturnal spell,
Señoritas Veracity & Sanity,

Those slandered & jettisoned sisters,
Slowly & fearfully lift, in jeopardy,

From accursed terra firma—hapless
Victims of the genius court painter’s

Blood-soaked trio of wing-hatted warlocks
Levitating in a feral frenzy—

Cyrus Cassells reads “Finding America in Goya’s ‘Black Paintings’”

Cyrus Cassells is the 2021 Texas Poet Laureate. Among his honors: a Guggenheim fellowship, a Lambda Literary Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. His 2018 volume, The Gospel According to Wild Indigo, was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. Still Life with Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas, translated from the Catalan, was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters’ Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translated Book of 2018 and 2019. His latest volume is The World That the Shooter Left Us (Four Way Books: Feb. 2022).