The Curious Painter – David Shook

cervantes final size

The Curious Painter

In Mexicali’s evening heat 
your boards thirst for gesso, 
acrylics dry in seconds, 
and no amount of Tramadol will dull the wicked sun. 

You find your models framed in motel doorways,
eye heels and legs in dingy lobbies, 
Oaxacan teens with kids back home, 
deported Cachanillas saving up to try again.

God must be an accomplished painter, Cervantes said
—or was it that the accomplished painter must be a god?

I wonder, is it painting them that makes you feel that power,
or the way they follow you back toward the bed where you’ll paint them, 
like they can smell the dollars in your wallet, 
or like it’s love? 

After‘Muestra su ingenio el que es pintor curioso…’

David Shook

About David Shook

David Shook studied endangered languages in Oklahoma and poetry at Oxford. His poems, translations and essays appear widely, in magazines like Ambit, Poetry, World Literature Today. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, where he is a contributing editor for the Unnamed Press, edits the online broadside Molossus and is the editorial director of Phoneme Media. His first book of poetry, Our Obsidian Tongues, was published by Eyewear Publishing.