Institutional Constitutional - Poem by Jan Sand
In the halls of the museum
Things are not what they seem.
Appearances can be most deceiving.
If visitors come walking out
With their heads turned round about,
They may be entering, not leaving.
They can slide along the walls
Muttering soft plaintive calls
For lost children, mothers, cousins, aunts.
Because their torn and worn suspenders
Make them mighty poor contenders,
They shuffle by in descending pants.
But no fear deters, inhibits
When they peer at the exhibits
Of neolithic unspecific tools,
Of diadems of molded plastic,
Varicolored bright, elastic
Mounted on a pair of stuffed mules.
The whimper as they stumble;
Underneath their breath they mumble
Of suppers back at home gone icy cold.
Their feet are throbbing painfully
While they gaze gainfully
At toilet bowls filagreed in gold.
The guards keep them all in lines
With pointed fingers, painted signs,
Educating masses in esoteric ways
So they can, with open candor,
Look upon a lunar lander,
A Grecian urn, A Roman vase,
And contemplate its finer points,
Where it’s stiff, or has its joints
And discuss aesthetics endlessly for days.
Meanwhile, sister, with a blister,
Wandered off before they missed her.
Although they looked, they searched for her in vain.
A cannibal tour ate her
When she looked for the curator,
But they did it kindly, without pain.
Although their meal was hasty,
They proclaimed her juicy, tasty,
And carefully folded garments and her shoes.
They arranged themselves on benches,
Both the men and all the wenches
And retired for a peaceful snooze.
The parents, panicked, frantic,
Bellowed in a frightful antic
At the section for the lost and found.
Emotions there were placated.
When an executive donated
A pocket watch he had freshly wound.
More useful than a naughty daughter,
Gratefully they thought it oughter
Be more economical to keep.
They admired its construction,
Ceased their noise, stopped their ruction
And left for home without another peep.
But the halls are milling still
That the eager minds can fill
With intelligence from special science.
Illustrate, in all its dramas,
Life on Earth in compliance and defiance.
Here’s a family of yeti
Munching down boiled spaghetti,
Herds of antelope on subway trains,
Gaily dressed wild raccoons
Playing baseball with baboons,
Giraffes with flutes tooting soft refrains.
Nor obscure theology
Is neglected in the halls of history.
A great wazir of King Tut’s,
A fussy old Egyptian putz,
Is portrayed in all his mystery.
He’s preparing several mummies
By inscribing on their tummies
Recipes for cookies and for fudge.
In the land of the dead
They will be sweetly fed.
He gives post mortal cuisine quite a nudge.
At the hall of dinosaurs
The kids, in glee, throw apple cores
To see if they can land them in the skull,
While the guards, high on pot,
Sometimes try a random shot
But mostly find the game deadly dull.
Meanwhile there’s a session
For a class in bone profession
To teach the average guy to make at home
From bottles, cans, and twisted wire
Shaped with glue and roaring fire,
Ingeniously adhered with plastic foam,
An articulated diplodoccus
To titillate and shock us
When it sips soup in our kitchen.
Culture due to arcane science
Requires strict, strange compliance
Allowing it to edify, enrichen.
At the planetarium
Enraptured people stiffly squat
Attentive to a tiny spot
Or several, when guides vary’em
To simulate celestial stars,
Sometimes Mercury or Mars,
Or, on occasion, if they goof,
A dot as brilliant as a laser
That certainly should be a quasar,
But pans out as a rainhole in the roof.
Now the closing time has come.
With a large brass band and drum
Lead the patrons out the front door.
Festooned with postcards, souvenirs,
And chewing gum stuck to their rears,
The crowds are stuffed up to the gills with lore.
They can discuss, without friction,
Themes and dreams of science fiction
And, at parties, be a monstrous bore.
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