"Blue Song": a poem by Dannie Abse

Some things there always are,
some things a man must lose.
Picasso paints a guitar,
that way he sings the Blues.
Russian cows jump over the moon
(very strong is Russian booze)
but Chagall's cow never lands,
otherwise he'd sing the Blues.
O'Keeffe paints flowers close up
and critics look for Freudian clues.
Female genitalia. Vogeur!
No wonder the lady sings the Blues.
Is that a telephone or a lobster?
Surely Salvador is confused.
He says, Dial the phone and hear
the lobster trying to sing the Blues.
Rothko squares a mirror with blood
(there's blood in his every bruise),
paints his own reflection out
and soundlessly sings the Blues.
Pale moon-faced Francis Bacon
eerily shrieks and spews
humanoid freaks into a cage.
Odd way to sing the Blues.
Body-detective Lucian Freud
magnifies his sexless nudes -
the uglier the better.
That's how he sings the Blues.
The aloneness of the artist!
So Hockney paints his trees in twos
and Time, itself, in colours passing.
A covert way to sing the Blues.
Damien likes his sheep well pickled,
I prefer my meat in stews.
Let collectors shed their millions.
Soon they'll sing the Blues.
Is Tracey Emin's messy bed
pertinent British art? J'accuse.
Not for sexpence would I sleep in it
to stop her bawling out her Blues.
Do I wish to be a painter
acclaimed with buffs' reviews?
All I lack is talent,
that's why I sing the Blues.

This article first appeared in the 04 June 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The royal makeover