“Getting Tough with John Ruskin” by Ron Koertge

Ron Koertge

GETTING TOUGH WITH JOHN RUSKIN

The lady at the reference desk just called
to say that Seven Lamps of Architecture
finally came in, so even though it’s raining
I have to put on my turquoise polo because
picking up a new book is a little like
meeting someone for the first time, though
I certainly don’t want Ruskin lighting my
cigarette and asking where I found a shirt
that so perfectly matched my eyes, the way
Oscar Wilde did last week.

I wouldn’t even read Ruskin if I didn’t have
to. He was the jerk who thought all naked
women were going to look like the marble
statues in museums. So when Effie Gray
turned out to have pubic hair he was horrified
and the marriage was never consummated.

Well, I’ll tell you what, Johnny. I’ll drive
over to the library and pick up your book,
but if I don’t like what I see muy rapido
it’s back where you came from. And if
you thought industrial England in 1862
was ugly, wait’ll you see the bottom
of a book drop on a day like this!

from Rattle #13, Summer 2000