When Benjamin West went East

who was left to save America?

Before the Wyatts

could tame the rough and craggy land

Christina or Helga might live and die there

in dignity

but not Benjamin West.

The Garden of Eden?

Was it a garden of delight?

Did he leave or was he expelled?

There Barbarians did not breathe

the sacred air of justice and mercy.

Benjamin West went east

to breathe that sacred air.

They followed him.

The Copleys the Stuarts the Peales the Trumbulls.

Some loyalists

Some revolutionaries

Some stayed

Some returned

to teach us what?

That even Barbarians

like pretty things.

It took a hundred years

from when West went east

for the national reckoning.

At last, there was a chance again

perhaps one in a million

to return to the garden

and there bury all the furies

that made him have to go.


The Benjamin West went south.

One day it was up

the next day down.

I wrote the NGA

Where is the Benjamin West today?

“The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden”

Their response would cause my sinews to harden.

Here’s the deal…

replaced by a Peale

“That is unreal.”

I called the curator and tried to reach her

Sometimes a student should replace a teacher.

“The Peale is important too”

At least that was her point of view

but the work taken down

was America’s history.

After the Benjamin West went south

What is left to save me?

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