Caught in curiosity’s web, he dandies mildly
in the cafés and boulevards of the nineteenth century.
Like a learnèd finger skimming the pages of the city,
he will linger and jot, stroll on, and fondly
hoard his catch of thoughts to his studio and work
them into works. Not all were artists, and like today
many thrill to seem it and don the gray
of mind’s vocation. The ailing doctor, the thinker
of blurts, the stroller has returned to claim our age.
In biennials choked with thoughtless conceptuals,
they’ve risen to easy prominence. Erstwhile marginals
who mastered the humility of the gaze are now a scourge
of cleverness. Millions ape them on their phones
and laptops, scouring the nothingness that is their own.
Ricardo Pau-Llosa’s eighth book of poems will be released this fall by Carnegie Mellon, his longtime publisher. He has new work in Epoch, Plume, Blackbird, Burnside Review, Colorado Review, Ilanot Review, Hotel Amerika, and The Common.