Stephen Gibson

At the Frick Collection in New York City
November 22, 2021 Gibson Stephen

At The Frick Collection in New York City

Such a small work by Giambattista Tiepolo, Perseus and Andromeda
(ca. 1730-31), was actually a study for a Milan ceiling fresco—
the palace was bombed into rubble during the Second World War.
The Allies didn’t intend to destroy one of Italy’s great treasures,
a wedding gift, which now exists in black-and-white photos—
and this small study in the Frick collection, Perseus and Andromeda .
That can’t be said of all raids—in 1936-37, in Italian movie theaters
audiences cheered watching the dictator’s pilot-son, Bruno,
dropping gas bombs on villages in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.
Or Vonnegut’s Dresden—or John Hersey’s account in Hiroshima
of people vaporizing and leaving behind permanent shadows—
like a kid’s backpack, the size of this study, Perseus and Andromeda.
In 1945 Milan, women squat to piss into the mouth of the dictator—
who was then hung upside down with his mistress—there are photos—
the Duce’s end terrified Hitler in his bunker at the end of the war.

But here, in this celebration of love, Perseus slays the sea-monster
and flies off with Andromeda—cheered on by cupids as they go—
such a small work by Giambattista Tiepolo, Perseus and Andromeda,
a study for a palace bombed into rubble in the Second World War.

Stephen Gibson is the author of eight poetry collections: Frida Kahlo in Fort Lauderdale (2020 finalist, Able Muse Press book prize, forthcoming), Self-Portrait in a Door-Length Mirror (2017 Miller Williams Prize winner, University of Arkansas Press), The Garden of Earthly Delights Book of Ghazals (Texas Review Press), Rorschach Art Too (2014 Donald Justice Prize, Story Line Press; 2021, Story Line Press Legacy Title, Red Hen Press, forthcoming), Paradise (Miller Williams prize finalist, University of Arkansas Press), Frescoes (Lost Horse Press book prize), Masaccio’s Expulsion (MARGIE/IntuiT House book prize), and Rorschach Art (Red Hen Press). His poems have appeared in Able Muse, The American Journal of Poetry, Boulevard, Copper Nickel, Gargoyle, The Gettysburg Review, The Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, Notre Dame Review, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Plume, Poetry, Poetry East, The Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Southwest Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere.