Poetry,  Published Submissions

A Visit to the British Museum, by J. Kontozissi

one thing the olive branch must learn
is that people love paintings.
they love to breathe asthmatic breaths and clutch their pasty hands,
staring at paintings of papaya and blue.
people love a museum: a zoo display
where they cage up paintings to watch them in hostage
and scrape the paint from marble statues, create a little
country from an archaeological daydream,
rig them up high, high, higher, lift that side there,
higher north the elgins until they are heavenly white
fantasied past, a mythical justification
they want to stain their church windows
with the face of olympus
and bend to pluck the olive branch
until it grows apples.
a chandelier was hung in the palace of versailles,
a statue erected in columbus’ name.
here a country was born: here
we pray that god lets us be
and thank our ancestors for our paintings.
here the office of an artist, foreclosed on a sunday.
the ex-owner drives a car on rolled up pennies
and gets callouses from counting singles.
here the heiress hangs the ex-owner’s painting in the den and then
spits on the door of the soup kitchen.
a portrait of dr. martin luther king junior,
a mural, a banner
and a cacophony of radio silence
to the riots of the present— higher north the elgin marbles, heavenly white.
the british empire lives on inside a museum,
a tango of gold coins, exotic fruit
and a splotch of dirt on the face of the immigrant
kicked by a professor in world history.
we thank you ancient gods for our paintings
the statues you so graciously, and unknowingly,
let us adjust for inflation,
and we hope your descendants keep within this white line.
we bend to pluck this olive girl
until she grows apples
and know there is no way to be the two things at once: american
and not.

J. Kontozissi

J. Kontozissi is a poet from Danbury, CT. They have received multiple awards for their work, such as in the CT Student Writers Magazine and in Danbury contests. In their writing, they hope to illustrate the human experience in its rawest form—even when it isn’t beautiful.