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The Mona Fucking Lisa

After a single session,

I already regret my sign-up

for this ekphrastic poetry

course, cursing to you

the assignment I was given:


Mona Lisa, the fucking Mona

Lisa, like that hasn’t been done

a gazillion times


and yes, I won’t be able to fake it,

that everyone and their mailman

knows her visage,

are well-versed in da Vinci's flair,

and their lofty expectations

will be something I can’t deliver.


You ask me what our poet friend was given,

the one who always gets the lucky breaks,

and I tell you the Voice of Fire,

three lines of blue-red-blue,

vertically trite and prosaic,

that no one’s ever heard of Barnett

Newman because he sucks,

that I could have scrawled a sonnet

on my kindergarten days,

on a pair of simple colours,

how the Gallery

had been fleeced in ‘89,

caught up in the avant-garde,

how 1.8 million

could have gone to help the homeless,

paid for their chalets

and pedicures, covered

the cost and tip

for their tortellini

Bolognese;


but as it is,

I have to sleuth my way

behind that Delphic smile,

invent a tale of Giocondo,

that Leonardo

tried to paint her

minus mirth and maturation,

in 1499,

when his subject began to sob

from pent-up grief, reliving the death

of her baby daughter,

his Moaning Lisa a work of art

the Renaissance ignored

(bathing in their beam

of erudition), that even Machiavelli

said chin up, she needs a grin;


that when the time

arrived to try it all

again, da Vinci made a jest,

a side-splitter, that Lisa barely

smirked at his ill-timed droll,

that he hadn’t a clue

how it felt to love and lose,

consumed as he was with

innovation, invention,

his maps and magnum opus,


failing to heed

the red of blood and life,

her blue, blue mood.





Andreas Gripp

July 15, 2023


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