Philip Guston, Painting, Smoking, Eating

by Jerry Ratch

As far as I can tell, all he eats is wedges of cake

from the plate on top of his blanket as he

lies there in bed, smoking cigarettes and

staring up at the painting of a pile of shoes.


Or else this is a real pile of shoes

building up beside the bed, and he lies there

applying paint to them from the pots of paint

that are there in bed with him.


While a shade pull and a bare light bulb

with a gold pull chain hang down,

and a cloud of white smoke or white paint

obscures the top of the shoe pile.