portion of artwork for Alexandra Isacson's poems

The Dead Syphilitics’ Society
Alexandra Isacson

Gauguin shuffles spirit feet,
takes the dead people’s bus
to the dead model’s brothel.

The women gob on make-up,
tease hair, polish nails,
lace up corsets and boots.
They’re going to the Getty Museum for Vincent’s birthday.
The painters and models will lecture on:
“Coping with Syphilis in the Post Impressionist Deconstructionist Afterlife”
paid for by The National Endowment for the Arts.
The elders of the Dead Psychiatric Society will show:
Freud, Jung, and Adler.

On the way,
they pass around a bottle of absinthe that Lautrec stashed,
take turns drawing sketches of each other,
wear party hats and flash missing tooth smiles.
Gauguin brings up van Gogh’s ear,
“Now you can grow them on a mouse’s back.”
One of the whores says:
“You can do all sorts of things on your back,“
and rubs her hand up and down Lautrec’s leg.
“I was his Model Resting.”

The drunken Syphilitics’ Society lecture sitting down
beneath a bank of van Gogh’s Irises,
while munching appetizers and sipping drinks.
The Dead Psychiatric Society is whispering nasty things
about the painter’s escorts,
while discreetly snorting coke up their spirit noses,
taking copious notes.

Some whore is lasciviously licking frosting off Freud’s face
with her spirit tongue,
and brushes her velvet feather hat against Adler.
Freud clears his throat while
Jung talks about his paper he is preparing:
“Seven Sermons to the Dead in Denial.”
Adler talks about his progeny authors.
Freud gives out enough cocaine scripts to last until the next lecture.
After it’s all over, the dead shuffle out,
shake spirit hands and get on the bus.

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