Portrait of Alexis [?] On a painting by Louis Tocqué

Poem by

Though a Tiepolo commands the hall

(Nobility and Virtue, big as sin)

and nude Pomona drew me to this wall,

it’s your averted gaze that draws me in.

Faced wrong-ways from her bounty, your displeasure

rakes door and docent both in equal measure.


But you were always good at misdirection.

Though patrons here would neither know nor care,

your plays were masterpieces of deception,

yours was the wit that flayed the famed Voltaire

so cleverly he sometimes missed its chafe,

and so condemned you always, to be safe.


No characters of yours are who they seem,

your dramas prize illusion, the false clue;

identities get cast off in midstream.

I check the name again; so, is this you?

Down to the question mark, that’s Piron, pure,

to let us know we shouldn’t be too sure.





American Arts Quarterly, Fall 2016, Volume 33, Number 4