At Tango there’s a half-full bucket under the urinal
yet no one wants to talk about Piss Christ at the
dinner table. It’s the eve of Christmas Eve and
you tell me my family is your family. I don’t
want to eat the bucatini anymore. The short
rib in grease is a clog the whipped ricotta
is trying to lubricate down my gullet.
We don’t want dessert at Grandpa’s. The
cookies are rolling stones and I can’t
mention Piss Christ. Everyone sits in
a circle and talks accomplishments.
The architect, the dancer, the lawyer.
My name is in the credits of a movie.
Who cares? No one can talk about
Everyone talks about wanting Yang Ming,
but it shut down. Because of the rats and
flies and spider webs and black mold
and uncovered fruit and the workers not
washing their hands after trips to the toilet.
I want to go, too. Seems like a great place
to talk about Piss Christ.
On Christmas morning we open presents
and Liz mentions a chef from China she
wants to reconnect with, but his restaurant
closed. She’s not sure what part of China
he’s from, or even the spelling of the place.
This spurs talks of other defunct restaurants,
which returns us to Yang Ming. Michael
mentions the urinal at Tango with the half-
empty bucket beneath. Of course I snapped
a photograph. Of course I show everyone.
Mathew says this reminds me– what’s that
piece of art? And I respond Piss Christ!
But everyone’s thinking of Duchamp’s
Fountain, and we all take another bite
of the home-fried bacon and golden
scrambled eggs, seeped in a tradition
that will seemingly last forever.
(originally published in Harbinger Asylum, Spring 2020)