The Rainbow Is the Enemy of Envy
after Olafur Eliasson
Its generosity lies in its unexpected appearance
on a city corner or at the edge of the ocean,
the position of the sun, the humidity of the air
and the attention of our eyes perfectly aligned,
each one uniquely coddling a spectrum in red,
an orange, a green, a blue, an indigo and violet,
a momentary experiment like a kiss on an eyelid.
A rainbow is actually a circle and you would see it
whole if there were no horizon blocking the view
and you stood at its center in place of the earth.
Delaunay discovered his circles in just that way
by removing anything arrogant enough to compete
just to the side of where you have come to stand,
your own eyes freed of permanency and possession.
Bar Talk / Bartok
There are things you can’t say or do now
in the wrong environment or else
friendship may end at the door
after you blow a jar or two
of Talisker Ten
and the brown gray fur of your coat
gets hung as you implore a corner
to shake the rain from your bumble shoot
with one foot on the rail of the bar
and the other planted on its floor
just before the final word of your bar talk
makes a claim of cultural superiority
and planting your face softly breaks
your nose on the fist of gravity,
when a certain clarity comes.
No one shares your interests any more—
you can catch a cold before his name
rings a bell in this neon emporium.
Bartok he says, Bela Bartok, I can’t say
if I recall, I was born after he died
and nothing in New York lasts that long.
Michael Salcman – poet, physician and art historian – was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum. Poems appear in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, The Café Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti, The Enemy of Good is Better, Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing, A Prague Spring, Before & After, winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize, and Shades & Graces, inaugural winner of The Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020). Necessary Speech: New & Selected Poems was published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2022.