Benjamin Goluboff

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Culture Clash at the Sausage Factory

Ever since we installed the spectators’ gallery
things haven’t been the same here.

Our suppliers have grown circumspect,
and arrive now only in darkness.

Citing pangs of conscience,
some of our best hands have given notice.

Efficiency is down; workplace accidents are up,
and a certain esprit de corps has been lost.

There is no question:
transparency has been bad for business.

Mr. Peale’s Illustrious Sons

Rubens went in with Rembrandt
on the Baltimore place, 
sold it to Barnum in the ‘37 panic. 
Rubens thought himself
the least of the Peales:
a maker of workman-like landscapes. 
Rembrandt's portrait of Rubens, 
posed with a geranium
and wearing the family spectacles,
suggests a spirit inward and irresolute. 

Titian, the youngest,
saw the Rockies in 1819,
as assistant to Say
on Long's Yellowstone trek. 
Illustrator for Say's Entomology
and Bonaparte's Birds,
author of a treatise
on the preservation of natural
history collections,
Titian was the Peale
of the Peale box; 
in thousands of these
he left the Academy
his butterflies and moths. 

Raphael, who appears
with the four-year-old Titian
in their father's Staircase Group,
excelled at trompe l'oeil,
and died at 51 either
(there is controversy)
from madness and drink,
or exposure to the arsenic and mercury
with which he prepared
his taxidermic specimens.
Raphael played five musical instruments,
invented a mechanical process
for drawing silhouettes,
restored an heirloom mount
of the Lewisburg bison (shot 1801),
then turned, in his last terrible years,
to still-lives and miniatures. 

Rembrandt was all fluency and dash,
restless with a comprehensive eye. 
To London after West,
Paris after David, 
then chased for twenty years
the standard likeness of Pater Patriae.
When Brady photographed him in 1859
Rembrandt was the only living painter
to have seen Washington.  


Benjamin Goluboff teaches English at Lake Forest College. Aside from a modest list of
scholarly publications, he has placed imaginative work -- poetry, fiction, and essays -- in numerous small-press journals, most recently The Fourth River, Bird’s Thumb, and War Literature and the Arts. His collection Ho Chi Minh: A Speculative Life in Verse, and Other Poems is forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press in 2017. Some of his work can be read at