Banvard's Folly


"Does anyone still want to go with me into a panorama?"
                                                —Max Brod

The sun floats down river

Resting from a long day.

As Banvard draws love


Birds in the sand.

She tries to explain

How his deformity angers her.


Unable, she leaves him

On the other side of the shore.

Banvard becomes a traveling salesman,


A campfire fiddler,

A drunk, a painter of shores.

Yearning for her—


He turns her into the Mississippi shore.

Riding the long river, floating

On a brush, he paints her portrait.


Huge bolts of love

The canvas sags from longing

Immense wood contraption


(Gears-pulleys crank machinery)

Three miles of canvas.

An uninterrupted portrait.


The papers publish the spectacle

"The hunch back painter and his panorama!"

He builds a wooden stage


Winds up river then down.

The lines are long, (.50 cents.)

They wait for hours . . .


He sits in the middle

Of hungry brush stroke

Up river


Down. Up river down

Eyes straining—

To find her.

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