They surround me, wall by wall,
so many I can’t name them all.
Paintings of people, things or beasts–
my eyes devour this visual feast.
I sleep beneath each rendered ghost,
the lives of painters caught in most.
A shapely leg with heel inclined–
the painter lying full-reclined
watching his cousin’s shapely wife
reach in the kitchen for a knife.
His teenage mind caught fast in love,
touches the leg and what’s above.
To its side, a fish is rendered.
Its face is human, vaguely gendered.
Does it think or does it dream
as it floats at rest in a somber stream?
The colors muted, it seems at peace.
As though from the world it seeks surcease.
More fish in a smaller frame
float in water that’s not the same.
There’s movement here. The head of one
floats bodyless beneath the sun
of inspiration far above.
Does it dream of art or dream of love?
Farther right, the queen of all.
A stately woman, four feet tall
with birds on shoulders, palms and head,
she’s stood for years above my bed
reminding me that I am free
to be whatever I want to be.
To her right, a tall bookcase
holds ones I love, face after face.
And to its right, a rabbit–eyes
wide open furnish a disguise
for those for whom it is the task
to sleep behind a wooden mask.
Beneath the rabbit, a monkey sits
in landscape full of fruit and pits.
Prosperity and monkeyshine
perhaps leak in as I recline
just feet from totems such as these
to take my nightly dose of ease.
Beneath these animals again
a wide-eyed fish comes swimming in.
Its face is staring nose-to-nose
at a man with eyes closed in repose.
Just the head of man and fish.
I wonder which is dreaming which?
An angel and ex votos four
hang beside my closet door.
One in wood, the others tin,
they simply fill the spare space in.
I keep them there behind my back.
Perhaps they fill in what I lack.
How strange as I’ve said what I see,
I’ve missed the art in front of me.
The Huichole piece painted with thread
with angels floating overhead.
A deer head peering down into
a cauldron of peyote stew.
A bird and man pinned to the wall
to the right, far over all.
Beneath, a woman hung by her heart,
reveals where I both end and start.
It is a sculpture made by me
Just one more wall I’ve saved till last–
the hardest one to try to cast
my mind against, for it is hung
with fifteen pieces so far unsung.
But time, I know, is running out.
You’ve other things to read, no doubt,
and yet I simply can’t resist
mentioning them in a list.
Two nudes, a Huichole painting and
ten retablos made by my hand.
An etching plate, painted and framed,
a Victorian child, unknown, unnamed.
These are the walls I’m centered by
as nightly in my bed I lie
and in the morning as I write,
they watch in horror or delight
as my word portraits are unfurled
to grace the walls of a wider world.
You can view images to go with this poem HERE
Note: I’ve actually written today to an earlier prompt Wall to Wall that asked that we write about what is on the walls of our houses and what it reveals about us. One friend joked that this could keep me busy for years! I was at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference at the time and hadn’t time to write about anything, let alone a whole house filled with paintings and art and since I woke up before today’s prompt was posted, I decided to fill in the time writing about the earlier prompt. Three hours later, I’ve only finished the task as it describes my bedroom walls, so perhaps I’ll continue at a later date, perhaps not. I still have today’s prompt to write about, but first…I’ll post this.