Patrick Caulfield

A poem by Fred Pollack


When Pop Art crossed
the pond, it paused –
perhaps from British phlegm
or self-doubt, or perhaps
they wondered: Need one celebrate
every aspect of commodity
fetishism; must one replicate
glut? And Caulfield posed
a hanging conical lamp by a lattice window,
placed a glass,
half-empty or -full, on ledges and sills.
Reality was disciplined
black outlines. After lunch,
a waiter leaned in them on a half-door
to a kitchen, no less weary
than six chipped oblongs were a ruin.
The chairs in vacant foyers
were as primary as their colors,
yachts on a blue bay
joyous beneath their bunting, which was gray.
I saw a future where the green lane bent.
I thought the rudimentary orange hermit
had everything one needed.
Later came thicker paint, a sculpted
tomb in Highgate playing
with the letters of the word “dead.”
Between lay the ever-rising sun
of Thatcher. What was it she said?
“There are no such things as rooms. There is only rent.”