The Master Painter

Linh Dinh


A so-called master painter
Painted with an invisible paint,
Super expensive, special ordered
From China, so all of his so-called
Masterpieces are invisible to you
And me, who are too stupid, anyway,
To appreciate them, were they visible.

Actually, he sucked, like the rest of them.
Skipping breakfast, lunch and dinner, he’d
Labor for many months on a single canvas,
Expending a heroic amount of mental
And physical energy, not to mention
Obscene amounts of invisible paint,
To produce a piece of innocuous or,
At best, fairly obnoxious garbage.

You can’t blame him. His eyesight was bad,
His motor coordination poor, his knowledge
Of art history rudimentary, his mind average,
His passion zero. Look at his wife’s wan smile.
In short, he was just an idiot with a palette knife,
Like the rest of them, but, boy, could he paint!


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Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), four books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006) and Jam Alerts (2007), with a novel, Love Like Hate, scheduled to be released in 2009 by Seven Stories Press. His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007 and Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, among many other places. He has also published widely in Vietnamese.
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Source. More about the poet. Illustration: Linda Murphy.

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