Archives for posts with tag: painting

Old life adieu
by Mark Andrew Heathcote

When I was 9 yrs old, we moved house, upped sticks
Leaving the city for the countryside
I was brought along like the candlesticks
Unwanted baggage, I was petrified.

With nervous excitement I said goodbye —
“Old life” and welcomed a new beginning.
I’m going to climb huge oak trees and pry —
Into nests, my insides were now grinning.

With heart pumping, jumping out of my vest
I’ll chase brown butterflies and dragonflies
And like Huckleberry Finn I’ll digest
The stars the streams the forest as it sighs.

Wasn’t this going to be an Adventure—?
On arrival, it was my dreams come true
No parents or dumb teachers could censor
Old life adieu — off to the fields I flew.

IMAGE: “Dew Drenched Forest [England]” by John Everett Millais (1890).



Well, I was born in Withington, Manchester, one of three children; I was the eldest and the only boy. We lived in a three-bed terrace house with no bathroom or indoor toilet. I lived there until the age of nine and was a quiet and unhappy child, but that changed when the family moved to the countryside, where I then had the freedom to explore nature at first-hand. I spent much of my free time climbing trees and swimming in lakes and rivers, making rope swings, stuff like that. I was looked on as a kind of Tarzan figure, that’s how all other kids saw me. I was never academic and was years behind all the other children at school. I struggled badly in high school and didn’t learn a great deal. I left school at age 16, taking dead-end jobs on local farms and then in factories. I left home at age 17 —  by then, there had been a messy divorce and relationships weren’t good all round and haven’t improved all that much since. So I moved back to Manchester, where I’m still residing now and have done ever since. I’m a father of five and for the past 14 years I’ve be employed as a learning disability support worker. I write a lot of poetry in my free time and enjoy music and gardening.

The Last Muse
by Jacqueline Kirkpatrick

Pablo met Jacqueline when she was 27 and he was 72.
Though Picasso was known for having many mistresses, he only      married two women.
Jacqueline was the second.
In their 20-year relationship he created more than 400 paintings of her.

Down Chris’ right arm is my nickname, “Que.”
On the inside of Jon’s right arm is “Jack” in a heart.
He also has the sign of Cancer (my astrological sign) on his back.
He also has the date of our anniversary on his inner left arm.
Though he later covered it, Robert had the sign of Cancer on his      sternum.

An ex once wrote a song for me. It was simply titled, “I’m F-ing Your      Girlfriend.”
Another ex wrote a song about my name. It was called “Jacky.”

He called to tell me he felt like he was dying and that I had to come over to help him. I skipped class. I rushed over. He was kneeling in only a
t-shirt over the Bible opened in the middle. He had painted my face on one side and a bloody fetus on the other. He apologized, wiping acrylic paint down my arms, and told me that he couldn’t live without me.
I forget who I am.
I often look at myself through the eyes of those who look at me.
I don’t know where I am.
I don’t know how I got here.

And then they come
And I have purpose.
And then they leave
And I am alone.

IMAGE: “Jacqueline with Flowers” by Pablo Picasso (1954).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was named after Jackie O. but I never identified with her or even considered her as someone I’d ever relate to. At 13 I watched a special about Pablo Picasso, and I was introduced to the woman who inspired hundreds of his works — Jacqueline Roque. Since that documentary, I have had an obsession with the woman who became, but, more importantly, stayed Picasso’s muse until his death. To have that power to inspire is quiet a beautiful, striking thing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacqueline Kirkpatrick is a MFA graduate from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. She has recently published in Creative NonfictionThought Catalog, and The Rumpus. Follow her on Twitter @thebeatenpoet or at

bathing-woman miro
Same Name — Sort Of
Joan Miró and Me
by Joan Leotta

As a child
when introduced to Miró’s work,
I thought he was a woman.
After all, his name was Joan.
My name.
I did not reckon with the Catalan
spelling of the Spanish, “Juan.”
As an adult, learning of
my mistake
invoked laughter and a study
of Miró at various DC museums.
I felt a bond with this
Catalan nationalist artist
through our almost-same names.

On a recent mother-daughter
jaunt to Turkey
my daughter booked for us—
writing, as always,
Joan Leotta, as her travel mate.
When we arrived at the hotel,
obviously mother and daughter,
our hotelier was visibly embarrassed.
“We made up a double bed,”
he mumbled.
We laughed at the mistake.
It’s ok, Mom and I can share,” she told him.
I agreed.
By the time we reached our room,
I realized what had happened.
Miro had taken his revenge!
On seeing the name, Joan
The hotelier,
More a fan of art than U.S. spelling,
The clerk had thought me, male!
Jennie and I chuckled.
Miró had taken his time,
but the great artist, so thinly related to me by name,
surely now was enjoying the last laugh!

IMAGE: “Bathing Woman” by Joan Miró (1925).

Jennie and Joan Leotta in Ephesus, Turkey, 2015

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I thought and thought about famous folks with my name. Sadly, I do not feel much of a connection with my patron saint — I have not been toasted for any cause. I was not named for Joan Crawford. Then I recalled that for sooooo many years, even after learning Spanish, I had thought Miro to be a woman! Not a fan of abstracts, I did not bother to investigate very much — for many years. It was not until I lived in Washington, DC, and visited several exhibitions of his work that I realized his spelling was the Catalan version of the Spanish “Juan” and that his most abstract works were a form of social protest. So, I came not only to know about him, but to love and appreciate his work — all because of our “shared” same name. And, truth be told, this past spring in Istanbul, I did truly wonder if the great artist was “tweaking me” for all the years I had thought him to be a woman.

PHOTO: The author (left) and daughter Jennie in May 2015 during their mother-daughter trip to Turkey.

joan leotta2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 poets. She has published or has work forthcoming in Red Wolf, A Quiet Courage, Eastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch Press, and Postcard Poems and Prose. Joan also performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She lives in Calabash, North Carolina, where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies, and memories.  Visit her at and on Facebook.

A Great Passive Thrust of Creativity (Dream Poem #8)
by Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike

Someone once told me that I look exactly like
Saskia von Ulenbarch. She lived in the 1600s
Rembrandt married and painted her despite snubs
From her family; a sordid tale of money and lust

Few understand as the years advance how it is
Our species relies less upon written and spoken
Language. We must learn to be somehow more
Responsible about what we say, and to whom

Why do we drive the long way around to get home?
I argue with a director over singing with a non-singer
In the catacombs we struggle to meet dreadful quotas
We snap and snarl. Upstairs we make angelic theatre

I go through a daily cycle of work then throw myself
At last, exhausted, in even greater abandon, onstage
Following a visit from a dead friend in a blue sweater
I get deserted in the Bronx at an institutional hotel

There are mirrors in the bathroom stalls; doors don’t close
I’m given a dungeon-like room with a spongy mattress
’40s decor, dusty, tatty, sweet. I unwind on the Hudson
Visit a penthouse with my therapist to see his panorama

Back home in Manhattan, cockroaches besiege my apartment
My sub-letter fills my kitchen with an inch-deep coat of water
The floor becomes an electrified grid; roaches the size of rats
And rats as big as dogs sizzle, scream and die. Silence.

I strain to maintain balance while yearning to be subsumed
Forbidden spoons watch casually from an adjacent room
I swim sideways through a sewer in a death and life struggle
Emerge with a sense of things being—well, not so bad

Gazing through plate-glass windows overlooking a luculent
Forest, I see a homicidal killer posing as a plainclothes cop
His lovemaking bears an uncanny likeness to grooming
Water rituals set me afloat without maritime coordinates

I climb a mountain to seek relief; wind induces astral travel
In the stratosphere, people decide to don their parachutes
In dichromatic grief they wail over the great Julian Beck,
Dressed in a modest burial suit. He holds a single blue rose

A ripe friend in an old age home flirts brazenly with
A buxom nurse. He promises to pay for my pandemic
Dental work. Why has he taken such a prurient interest in
My mouth? He likes what I say and wants to keep it clean

A little girl in an oxygen tent, incontinent, soiled but clad
Richly, apologizes as we lower her fever to clean her up
Who is this child? She looks like Saskia von Ulenbarch
Dead at age 29, manipulating Rembrandt from her grave

I look at the child-Saskia closely. She does look like me
My guides tell me I am being squeezed back into my body
Before I’ve quite returned, I dream of an erstwhile lover
Standing in the doorway laughing, seductive, confident

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike is a writer, actor, singer, director, activist, and caregiver. Joanie’s writing appears in At the Edge,, Daily Jewish Forward, Dissident Voice, International Worker, Maintenant, NYArts, Silver Birch Summer Anthology, The Great Gatsby Anthology, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, and Womannews. Her most recent play, RelationShifts, was read at Dixon Place and TheaterLab in New York City. Her poetry collection, An Alphabet of Love, is to be published by Barncott Press (London). Joanie is a veteran member of the legendary Living Theater, actor/director with the dada/surrealist theater company DADAnewyork, and co-founder/co-director of Action Racket Theatre. She lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Manchester, New Jersey.

by Jennifer Lagier

She tilts her head,
gazes through invisible frame,
candlestick visible above one shoulder,
just a hint of brass bed.

Her mouth gives nothing away.
Flat, parted hair, strong jaw,
long nose, narrow lips,
my doppelganger twin.

The fickle mirror reflects
my squinty, off-kilter eyes,
Modigliani neck, now wrinkled,
the same elongated face.

A forceful woman who
impatiently ploughs through obstacles,
pursues what moves her,
time on earth running out.

I determinedly wade into battle,
lead with my chin,
know death is coming,
won’t give an inch.

PAINTING: “Hanka Zborowska with a Candlestick” by Amedeo Modigliani (1919).

PHOTO: Selfie by the author.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Amedeo Modigliani’s portraits of women bear a strong resemblance to my own facial characteristics as enumerated in my poem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published ten books of poetry and internationally in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her latest book, Where We Grew Up, was just issued by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal, misfit magazine and helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Website:


by Jari Thymian

Can you believe –
          that clever witch called
          me a hussy and a charlatan?

Under my turban
          and Victorian dress
          a shy seventeen-year old,

a bookworm who’d never
          thrown my voice from any stage
          up to the high school balcony.

Before opening night, I didn’t know
          how intoxicating to spin drunk,
          to soothsay, to swallow the drug

of hatching heinous schemes to applause.
          The silly romance I tried to foil
          ended in a kiss and a curtain call.

Now, I am trapped on a white page
          void of script by the real witch
          whose lead role hex

lets me command only your brief gaze.

PAINTING: “Portrait of an Unknown Woman” by Karl Bryullov (1830).

PHOTO: The author in 2015 wearing a turban. Photo by Greg Fischer.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I found this painting of woman with a turban, I instantly felt the weight of the turban I wore for the senior class play in high school over 40 years ago. Being on stage with an audience was a rush I’d never experienced before. I had so much fun being someone else totally different — loud, brash, drunk, and dastardly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jari Thymian’s poetry has appeared in both print and online publications including tinywords, FRiGG, Skylark, Cattails, KYSO Flash, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Bamboo Hut. She has poems anthologized in the Stories of Music from Timbre Press and in 2015 Haiku from Modern Haiku.

In recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest in ekphrastic poetry, which (according to the Poetry Foundation) is a “vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.” Read more about ekphrasis at Aficionados of this form may wish to check out a recent Silver Birch Press publication — Dual Impressions by John Brantingham and Jeffrey Graessley.

All this is a buildup to our latest call for submissions: THAT LOOKS LIKE ME EKPHRASTIC POETRY SERIES. Find a portrait that looks like you (at any age) by a well-known artist and write a poem about the painting — put yourself into the story. Basically, the poem should be about the work of art and about you. (As regular followers of our series know, all our calls for submissions focus on personal narratives.)

PROMPT: Find a painting that looks like you — reality or wishful thinking, or a combination — by a well-known artist. Write an ekphrastic poem based on the painting — put yourself into the picture in some way. Find a painting by searching google images for “famous painting man” or “famous painting woman.” You may also wish to visit and browse through this visual art encyclopedia.

WHAT: Submissions can be original or previously published poems. You retain all rights to your work and give Silver Birch Press permission to publish on social media and in a potential print edition.

WHEN: We’ll feature the poems during the Silver Birch Press THAT LOOKS LIKE ME EKPHRASTIC POETRY Series starting in November or December (actual date to be determined, based on number of submissions).

HOW TO SUBMIT: Email one poem To as an MSWord attachment — and in the same file include your name, contact info (including email address), one-paragraph author’s bio (written in third person), and any notes about your creative process or thoughts about your piece. Please put all this information in one MSWord document and title the file with your last name (and only your last name). Write”LOOKS LIKE ME” in subject line of email. Please send a photo of yourself — at any age — in a separate jpg file to accompany the poem, and provide a caption for the photo (when, where). Send a jpg of the painting or a link to it. Please cite your source (title of painting, artist, year created). It would be ideal if you could find a photo of yourself that resembles the painting you choose — but this is not a requirement, as it may be difficult to match up the images in this way. Our intention is less literal and more impressionistic…


To help everyone understand our submission requirements, we’ve prepared the following checklist.

1. Send ONE MS Word document TITLED WITH YOUR LAST NAME (e.g. Smith.doc or Jones.docx).

2. In the same MS Word document, include your contact information (name, mailing address, email address).

3. In the same MS Word document, include an author’s bio, written in the third person (e.g., Erin O’Brien has been writing since age ten…”).

4. In the same MS Word document, include a note about your poem or creative process (this is optional).

5. In the same MS Word document, include a caption for your photo (including where, when and/or date taken).

6. Send a photo of yourself at any age as a SEPARATE jpg attachment (not in the MS Word document). Title the photo with your last name (e.g., Jones.jpg).

7. Send a jpg of or link to the painting that inspired your poem — along with citation (title of painting, artist, and year created). You can include the link and citation in the MSWord under your poem.

8. Email to — and put LOOKS LIKE ME in the subject line.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Sunday, November 15, 2015

IMAGES: “Self-Portrait” by Vincent van Gogh (1889); photo of Irish actor Michael Fassbender.

by Elaine Mintzer

Monet in his garden pressed his cataract vision against the blues and greens, broke each leaf and lily pad, each flower and petal into components to reveal their cellular designs, to render by paint and brush lattice and ladder, macro and micro in the same lens, general and specific, so when a woman came to visit, and passed other nameless visitors, and saw the shape of the place with the clarity of her own eyes, she was at once apart and part of the landscape, a mote of dust on the water’s surface.

IMAGE: “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet (1915).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d always thought of Monet’s paintings as examples of nature run rampant. In reality, he had his crews dust foliage as well as the surface of the water. It is that sense of wildness I think we attempt in poetry, all the while controlling for the “dust” we edit away.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elaine Mintzer has a BA from UCLA in Creative Writing and an MS in Education from USC. She has written poetry for Ballet Randolph in Miami Beach, has been published in print journals and online, and was anthologized in 13 Los Angeles Poets. Elaine’s first collection, Natural Selections, was published by Bombshelter Press in 2005.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author in Giverny, France (June 2010).

by Susan Mahan

Blue skies
Swimming in Pleasure Bay
Roller skating
Playing marbles
Sunday band concerts in Big Park
Sledding down The Devil’s Run
Walks out Castle Island
Ice cream cones from Kelley’s Landing

My days in South Boston were La Belle Époque

My mother’s death in 1965 was World War I

PHOTO: “Dorchester Monument” (South Boston, Massachusetts) by Gordon Boozer. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was a history major in college in my thirties, and when we studied the origins of World War I, my professor used the contrasting ideas of before the war (La Belle Époch) when life seemed really good, and how the war changed people’s view of the world. I immediately thought of the time before . . . and after my mother died.

Sledding at Aquarium Hill

IMAGE: “Aquarium Hill” (sledding hill off Farragut Road, South Boston) watercolor on paper by Dan McCole, reprinted by permission of the artist.  A copy of this painting hangs in the author’s home as a reminder of the good days.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Mahan has been writing poetry since her husband died in 1997. A frequent reader at poetry venues, including the Boston Public Library, she has self-published four chapbooks, including Missing Mum (2005) and World View (2009). In 2002, she joined the editorial staff of The South Boston Literary Gazette. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies — including Kiss Me Goodnight, Solace in So Many Words, and Living Lessons — as well as in several online journals.  For the past three years, her poems have appeared in poetry exhibits at Boston City Hall.

by Kathy Buckert

I’ve waited for the possibility I’d change, not for me but for you.
I know who I am, I accept it.
But I also know who you are and you don’t.
Now, I am waiting for you to see I am divinely created.
I am waiting for you to see I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am waiting for you to see past my ugliness,
the madness that creeps into your healthy mind.
I am waiting for the infinite possibilities of my moods to
stop raging against your black and white reality.
I am waiting for the deepness of my despair to
stop leading you to your booze and video games.
I am waiting for my mania and moments of exultation
to stop creeping into the center of your utmost fear,
simply because you cannot control it.
I am waiting for you to see the beautiful me, not on the outside
like a trophy on the mantle to admire or to have on your
arm admired by your friends.
I am waiting for the fulfillment of my lingering desires, an anticipation
constantly postponed because I am lost in the chasm of your longings, not mine.
I know who I am. Now, I am waiting for you to see the prettiness of my soul.
To be the man who took me for better or for worse.
To stand by my side when the storm rages inside me.
To love the moments when I am rapturous.
To pull me up out of the depths of my despondency.
Now I am waiting for you to change, not me.

IMAGE: “The Hesitation Waltz” by René Magritte (1950)/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathy Buckert holds a Master’s Degree in Education from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. She also holds an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Goddard College’s low residency program in Plainfield, Vermont. Her work has appeared in Stories: The Magazine, The Barefoot Review, Riverlit, The Blue Hour, Black Mirror Magazine, Electric Rather, and other publications. She is an adjunct assistant professor at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York.