Tag Archives: poem about the death of an artist

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
ourselves
at night,

trying to be close,
but so often
divided

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.”