Goya, The Execution of the Third of May
"The world is charged with the guilt of god & country,"
that from the hanging judge is a quote
that skulks into mind with startling regularity.
In a moment freed of time, in that moment,
how dark must the sky be,
how subdued the distant buildings,
or real the wall ?
Oil on a ninety eight plus square foot canvas
stretched over two centuries
--carbon dating of the leftmost still bleeding corpse
confirms this --
At sixty eight Goya paints the belated evening news:
"Last night in response to local insurrection
the soldiers of the Emperor Napoleon
in swift and brutal reprisal
One's back spans a body's thigh;
a third is prone upon another's feet.
The living kneel beneath the guns' sights,
squint their aims down the guns' sights,
watch furtively or cover their eyes.
Generations later our weapons are automatic,
our cornfed drones remote controlled,
our John Deere’s, when we bother,
plant the dead.
"What do we make of a world,”
asks the hanging judge, “that breaks & decays?"
In your name we make guns and icons;
In your name, holes in the ground.
- Michael Mackin O'Mara