A Turner For Our Time

        Maybe Turner, whose Napoleon was a bloody shadow
on a phantom horse, hovering over the death of his men,
could have abstracted Iraq into its true colors, substituted his oils and intuition
for the missing photographs, the lies.
        Popular before he veered from the pretty trees
and the soft lakes and the pastel skies, Turner took the cash,
like those pandering novelists whose pages turn of themselves,
went off to repent, and painted what he saw
        in his own name, braver, derided, finally forgotten
in his own time. Look twice, how his light lights the corpses, glints off the hooves
of their steeds, shines up the knives that gutted them. Their shapes destroyed,
their numbers can only be surmised.
        That Turner, whose smears are rust, whose red streaks could be
viscera or tanks stripped of nails and steel and left at the side of the road,
whose charcoal slashes outline ghosts, might be more ours than all the muted journalists, the banished cameras.