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The Forger Paints before Her Jailors

For cops and art historians, I demonstrate. First the fleck technique. Then daub-then-dab. The more I lay it on, the lower falls the dollar value of the so-called lost originals they clamored for. I confess I found old stuff and overpainted it. I left it out in weather to distress. The scene unfolding now is fodder for a hundred future monographs. Then will come a clamoring to psychoanalyze my sour grapes and squalid youth. Exhibit A is the present humble scene. The roof is low and presses down. There is an awkward crowding in of hands. The viewer’s eye gets flustered by the dim and cramp, so many arms. I meant to make the watchers gasp. I meant to demonstrate that art expends, is wasteful, useless, crass. The flaws in my technique are coins I pay to mitigate the other harm. And when I’m done, I bless this hoax with outstretched hands until my torturers respond. I deliver myself into their hands.


Ann Keniston is the author of the 2020 poetry collection Somatic (Terrapin), as well as another full-length poetry collection, a chapbook, and several scholarly books on recent American poetry. A recipient of multiple fellowships from the Nevada Arts Council, she has recently published poems in third coast, Water- Stone, Yale Review, and Gettysburg Review. She is a professor of English at the University of Nevada and lives in Reno, NV.


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