The Art of Charles Pilkey
THE GALLERY of BABYLON
In Babylon stands a gallery whose innumerable chambers and vast halls stretch into unknown
spans of time and space. Every work of art made by human hand and every work
not yet made are housed within its vast confines.
Once in the Postmodern section of the Gallery of Babylon, I chanced upon a room filled with a
strange species of bird-men. Standing on human legs, but with heads exactly like parrots, first one, then another of these bizarre creatures strutted across the floor with great pomp and self-importance, shouting mysterious phrases like
deconstruction! or signifier! Thereupon the rest would puff their chests, nod their beaks vigorously and repeat the same strange utterances. So great their cacophony was that I covered my ears and ran for the exit.

"Doubtless," I thought. "There must be other rooms worth visiting."
A youth raced through the crowds
And flung his paintings furiously
In rage of great indignation.
I accosted him thus,
"Young man,
Why throw away your work in such wanton abandon?"
He caught his breath and exclaimed,
"The world is a place of sorrow
And abominable injustice.
"My works are utopian visions
That will transform this world's baseness
Into beauty and love."
"You must know," I countered.
"That art cannot possibly ...."
"You lie!" He cried.
And ran on,
Leaving behind a broken trail
Of discarded canvas.
A fool and a sage discoursed importantly
About the nature of time and space.
"History," said one.
"Is a three-legged tortoise
Crawling crookedly in circles
Across the sands of time
Toward a vacant horizon."
"Wrong!" Thundered the other.
"History is a half-blind blacksnake
Slithering from a dark hole
Toward the glorious sunlight above."
A crowd had gathered
And applauded loudly
At such elegant erudition.
But I left uncertain.
Who was wise
And who was the fool?
In the confused halls of modernity
One day lost.
I met Rembrandt
Walking quietly
Back to his studio.
We talked awhile
Of beauty and eternal truth
And the bitter vision
Of honest expression.
Suddenly we came upon
A naked man squatting,
Legs apart,
Defecating loudly on canvas.
"What ...?"
"He seeks the new." I explained.
"But the smell!"
"Yes." I agreed.
"That would be
The sweet stench of novelty."

In the shadows of First Friday
Just beyond the Gallery walls,
Like a forgotten bag of potatoes,
Crumpled,
War Child stretches
Disfigured fingers,
Dirty with hope,
Toward the promenade
Of important artists and bankers
Passing in great ceremony
On their way to the next
Significant exhibition.