Kienholz installation “The Illegal Operation”, 1962
He regarded his viewers
by their garbage.
He fabricated material life
holding up a mirror to still eyes
in denial at the horror of truth
like a living photograph.
Burlap sack punched raw
laying like a burnt slab of molding meat
hoisted atop a shopping cart
that’s missing its cage.
Its wheels overused,
no longer able to move.
One can smell the rust and taste it
as though a child were in the seat
looped wires cradling
as it sucks on the handle
where mama’s hand had been.
Burlap sack sweat-stained
vomiting out its torn orifice,
split like cruel lips
of a motorcyclist
with a mouthful of cement.
Purging what poison that let grow
now dead, half covered in a pail;
a forgotten guilty conscious,
a redemption for shame,
existing only in
mother’s waking nightmares,
her cold perspiration against
the cool moon's stare; a reminder
of the surgical bright light
that casted a pallid yellow glow
on seemingly sickly skin.
Collecting together, many years
later, little knotted plastic black bags
holding the little bones of the
little ones, discarded
in the wasteland.