Wednesday, June 23, 2010



This piece is old,
from olden times old.
The King of Japan,
Emperor, we’ll call him,
used it to wash his lover’s
hair. This stamp on the base,
this gold character shaped
like a broken doorway,
tells us it was manufactured
in colonial times. It was
carried by horse-drawn
carriage at some point,
can’t you see the crack.
Only a fall from a horse
would create such a crack.
Or extreme thermal variance,
not the heat so much as
the humidity. The other clue
is the blue of the glaze,
quite sheer at the rim
and richer in the hollows.
Only seven factories in
this galaxy can produce
this hue, all of them near
a volcano. Most of them.
But the crack,
the glaze has pooled
in it here, indicating
it broke during the firing
process, you know,
in the kiln, silent-n,
the kill, if you will.
I am suspicious of
this faint fingerprint
here, quite suspicious
actually. This print
belongs to a lady,
you can tell by how
graceful and vulnerable
the arch is. I can tell
you this: you must insure
this piece for seven
times what it would fetch
at auction, and I would bid
should I see it, and would you
consider selling it to me now
or photographing it
from several angles?


  1. You recently wrote "every purchase is a solution, however small." Here the desire to solve the puzzle turns into Antiques Roadshow run amok - acquisition of stuff and information becomes hopelessly blurred.

    You always remind us that things are knowledge and knowledge is a thing.

  2. Really insightful comment from WIlliam. Love this line: things are knowledge and knowledge is a thing.

  3. Part of the appeal of antiques, even ones we are not particularly fond of, is the mystery of their origins and their creation. Who made them? When? What technique did they use? For what purpose was it made? For me, the aesthetic beauty wins out, but I love all antiques for the mystique. I love this poem, for all the different theories, but it is the object itself that piques the curiosity, and makes the appraiser want to own it, beyond its monetary value.


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