I looked at a picture painted white with a dot
White, with that black dot and I thought
Why bother painting that black dot in the middle
With the white all around it, makes it so little
Just a little black dot all surrounded by white
And I look at this painting and think that I might
Punch a hole through that painting with the fist of my hand
And show that white painting that I was a man
And it looked like it was made by a child
Who was given a paintbrush and told to go wild
But the child was retarded, only managed to poke
The canvass with the brush with the black with a stroke.
And I was going to do it when the artist walked by
Looked at my fist, the painting, asked why
I would want to destroy the black dot made of paint
Saying, “It’s so essential, an essentially quaint
Expression of essential potential in all
Of the people who have a potentially small
Dot of their own painted on their soul;
You see, in the white, there was a small hole
So I covered the hole with paint that was black.”
And then he turned away while I turned back.
I stared, stared, stared til the janitor came ‘long
He saw me, stopped mopping, stopped whistling a song
Stopped to ask me, “Hey sonny, been here long, you okay?”
“This is rubbish, this painting, just rubbish, I say!
I talked to the artist. Didn’t help in the least.
So I stared for a while but my anger increased.
This isn’t art, this white paint and black dot
Oh, it’s a picture of a dot, but art, it is not.”
The janitor nodded his head up and down
And cleared his throat and uttered a sound
That was like an agreement, but more like a laugh
And said, “Sonny, you’ve looked at this more than I have
But whenever I look, I don’t see the white
And with that he leaned over and turned off the light.
And with the light off, the dot grew and grew
Til it covered the canvass and he said, “Who knew
That in the dark every painting looks exactly the same,
Same portrait, same landscape, same romance, same shame,
Could be reddish or yellowed or purpley or blue
Or anything, ’cause, sonny, that’s what the dot turns into.”
He went off and he mopped and he whistled his tune
And I left and walked out and looked up at the moon
Which looked vaguely and oddly familiar that night,
So familiar—a black canvass with a dot that is white.