Tag Archives: poem about the death of an artist

Haynaku for NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 10 (Kitten on the Keys)

Kitten on the Keys

months gone
or maybe more

she hears
a closing door

it’s him
walking the floor

all is empty
space and time

kisses fond
or words sublime

are but
creak and groan

lies here
listening all alone

on the 
roof top rafter

in type
the morning after

a wife
no regrets sold

doesn’t know
the story told

paws heed
no man’s barriers

the perfect
love note carriers


This is a true story. Today while cleaning and organizing my art studio, I found a bag with old notes from my husband in it. Included was this message found typed out on my computer a few months after he died. The kittens loved to walk over the keys and I had heard Talulah or Annie do so the night before. What came out was gobbledygook with “once a wife no regrets sold.” typed out in the middle of it. For nineteen years, I’ve been trying to figure out what the “sold” was about unless it was that we’d put our house up for sale and bought one in Mexico three weeks before my husband died. This message was received as I lay on the floor on an inflatable mattress in the bedroom of the house we would have shared in Mexico. Nope. No regrets, ever, concerning the move to Mexico, but it took me 8 years to stop feeling married.
This is Annie about 16 years later, perhaps remembering her one successful message on those keys she walked over so many times in the 19 years she shared here with me. She was just a kitten in the time period this poem describes.


The day 10 prompt for NaPoWriMo is to write a haynaku. Six word stanzas with lines of 1, then 2, then 3 words.

Portrait of the Artist

My husband was an artist and so it seemed fitting to write a profile/portrait of him that described him primarily in terms of color.

Portrait of the Artist

The artist in you
understood color so well.
And yet, even as you layered on
red and green,
so much of you was blue.

Your white hair,
loosened from the pony tail

and streaming down your back
in your wild man look,
prompted strangers to ask
if you were a shaman,
or declare you to be one.

But there was
that black in you
that altered it,
that shade created
by the blend
of white and black
you knew so well.

The red that flamed out from your work,
subtly put there even in places
where it had no logical purpose for being,

that red tried to make things right.

Yet all of us
who knew you well

knew the blue.
It was the background color
of all of your days.

It was the blanket
in which we wrapped
at night,

trying to be close,
but so often

by it.

For fifteen years, I tried
to paint you yellow.
There were splashes of it, surely,

throughout our lives together.
You on the stage, reading your heart,
me in the audience, recognizing
all the colors caught within you.

Finding the pictures you had taken of me
studying your work at the art show,

those pictures you had snapped surreptitiously
even before we  met,

I discovered, after your passing,
that you had recognized
me even then, when I thought
I was the only one
angling for a meeting—
sure of my need to know
those secret parts of you

that I will never know
now that you have given yourself
to whatever color your ever-after
has delivered you to.

A new life later,
I am suffused
by my own canvas
of memories of you—
every other pigment
splashed against
a vivid background
of yellow.


The dVerse Poetics prompt is to create a profile or self-profile in verse. Go HERE to read additional poems written to this prompt by others.

You Have Become the Art You Lived For

You Have Become the Art You Lived For

The caustic smell of metal in your sweat
that by the end could fill the room,
as though the bronzes you had formed
had now invaded you
and filled you, blood and fiber.
Art can’t hurt you,
declared your favorite T-shirt,
colorful and now the final irony
of your life.

My dear,
art brought about your ending
as surely as it made your life,
yet you would have loved the bittersweet joke
as your kids and I
dressed you in that T-Shirt
for your final viewing.

You surround me even now—
brought two thousand miles
from Northern California
to middle Mexico.
The life you hoped to live, I live with those
who know you only through
your spiral lamp of stone and liana and paper,
Chi Wara standing feathered, bronze and tall,
the nude I posed for, on her side
with sticks for head and feet and cassowary feathers
hanging down from them,
the spirit sled of beaten copper, rawhide and willow—
all of them as exotic as you
never felt yourself to be.

They were beautiful and rare
and loved as you were.
How maddening
that you could not be
convinced of it.

That is why, when I think of you
now, so many years after,
the air grows pungent
with your memory.

(click on first photo to enlarge all)



To see more of Bob’s art and read another poem about him, go HERE.


The prompt today is “pungent.”