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The King of the High Chaparral

Shuffling brushes like a clenched mikado,
mixing the ingredients for paint;

earth and iris, and horse-piss,
spring water, whiskey, potash and salt,
pestled stamens like virgin’s sleep,
and arsenic
for old time’s sake.

The painter lines up the motley
pack of models on the baize;

The King of space under trampolines, the Queen
of curd and rock-quartz, the Jack of hearts,
the Jack of gall bladders,
the Ace in Breughel’s sleeve, the  Queen of dirt,
the Queen of fruit trees.

The King of the high chaparral,

The Ace of all expressions ever pulled.

The artist as croupier, one hand on the table,
neat little garter rolled up to the elbow,
The artist as seer, nestled in sable,
adding a finer truth to the tarot.

By Mattias Thomas

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