Self-Portrait on Cigarette Foil I

by Craig Blais


The size of an island skyline postcard, Lee Joong Seop’s “Family” at the Leeum Museum in Seoul looks like
Picasso’s “Guernica” in miniature. But I didn’t know why, with his mother on the other side of enemy lines

And a wife and kids seeking asylum in Japan, he would choose to imitate a work of art barely ten years old
And hanging in another meridian, until I realized it wasn’t that at all: the locked limbs and heads flat

Against the ground like boulders weren’t brothers bent on killing each other in the hills around Madrid
Or, like a fling in The Mirror Room of a love motel, an orgy of synchronized lovers. The figures

Are always the same two, replicated out of poverty and an intense desire for a lover’s body,
Until the room was populated with four wives, and an equal number of the artist to lie next to them.

On a volcanic island, drunk and days away from death by starvation, how ecstatic it must have felt
To be suddenly not alone, to have in his hands the other world of the aluminum cigarette foil.


Read Craig Blais’s Robert Frost in the Slaughter House and The Rise of Communism

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