portrait of a paternal figure

2011/07/31 § Leave a comment

The Curator

Here we have a contemporary piece by an unknown artist, donated just recently.  Notice the use of lighting and shadows to produce a mellow, golden tone that permeates through the canvas.  The colours are perhaps a few hues darker than seen on the typical palette, but this only serves to bring out the lighter tints of blue and green in the eyes.  They are, of course, the centrepiece of the painting.  If you step closer, you may see how carefully the lines at their corners are done.  Combined with the depth and shadow of the actual eye, they produce a kind of life within the face that is at the epitome of all great portraits.

As a child he showered me with his unbounded affection, until my still half-grown back could no longer carry the burden of so much care.  He was never at a loss for words when I was in the room, words that shaped and molded me into adulthood.

The Psychiatrist:

The rigid posture clearly suggests sterness and formality with a hint of discomfort.  This was a man who knew exactly what he wanted and how to achieve it.  There is stubborness in the set of the jaw.  That slight jutting out of the chin could be either arrogance or defiance, or perhaps a mixture of both.  There are quite a few lines around the eyes, likely the result of too many worries and cares.  The eyes themselves show a great deal of worldly sorrow.  This man has clearly seen things in his life, things that could not be repeated around the dinner table.

His eyes are what I remember the most.  In their oceany depths, a man could gaze in and see his own reflection peering closely back at him from the abyss.  Transparency was what they called it, at once terrible and exhilarating.

The Sculptor:

Now there’s a head I’d like to set in marble!  The profile is exquisite; aesthetically pleasing, but with jsut enough flaws to still appear approachable.  The nose, in particular, is a fine speciman.  The asymmetry of the brow gives an aura of mystery to the entire piece without being too overt about it.  The jawline is slightly problematic – too much tension there – but that could turn out to be an advantage, if treated with the right care.  The same goes for the mouth, which will take time to depict properly.  Still, those high, aristocratic cheekbones will more than make up for it.

He was a quiet man, always secretive and folded within himself like a paper crane.  That he was a wonderful man, I do not deny.

The Poet:

My words fall flat.  It would take someone with a far greater mastery of verse to do full justice to such a masterpiece.  The Bard himself would find it nigh impossible to pen phrases fair enough to clothe such a just and mighty countenance.  Such grace, unrivaled even by the Sun’s daily dance across the skies.  A complex nature, one that sways as the willow in the breeze, but stands firm and unmovable as the ancient oak in the storm.  And that is only the calm, unbroken surface.  One can only imagine what unchartered waters lie beneath.

Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.


2011/04/04 § Leave a comment


                emerald orbs beneath paintbrush lashes
                crystal gazers shrouded fairytale tellers
                mermaid fins cut deep iridescent waters

see:  her eyes


                bellbird’s first song fractures velvet rosebuds
                melody phrases flown from olympian fogs
                curvature undulates dim echoes of silence

see:  her voice


                newborn blossoms through clarity diffuse
                oils and alcohols caressing unbounded exotica
                bouquets flaunt fragrances at pagan windgods

see:  her aura


                veneer silk draped across model perfection
                trace modular elliptic curves to fermat’s last
                pearl shells sweep out worlds beyond universe

see:  her grace


                tangy bursts of succulent gooseberry delight
                jumpstart fireworks under pressurized girders
                lap up pools of wine from tinted quartz flutes

see:  her skin


                little shards of stained windows lodged bone deep
                penned speech bubbles floating hydrogen light
                brown paper parcels threaded with frayed twine


anatomy of a heart

2011/04/03 § 2 Comments

Drops of Indian summer sun

Incarcerated and chained to flaccid gold beaten daisies

In August’s dying throes, to flit in apathy betwixt and between

Days of mundane seasons.  Crisp, wintry and flagrant charms

Dangling on fragile threads of gossamer talc and diamond, easily



Train tracks to the infinite.

Iron, rust and oxidation carve shallow chasms into the ethereal

Lea.  From A to B, the straight line distance is an inch of red ink

Dispersing dusty grey, with smudged, blackened splotches along

The way resembling road signs directing faceless masses beyond



Eight thousand seven hundred sixty

Hours.  In a year where she pushes, he pulls, both wrench bare,

Then tumble comically comme des enfants to crack and gut wide

Hard malformed skullcaps against harder meticulous brickwalls,

And cling to arms and legs and wet, shining mouths without



Silver and grey saccharine memories

Are poignant truths that pierce cotton and azure, yearning to

Rise to new heights.  They obscure French windows with shades

Of mist laden silk and dry, watery streams of moonless, starless

Crepe that coil in ringlets to frame handblown glass and skin with a



Arced lines and straight curves

Pulse colour into sound into colour into dear, cherished, worthless life.

Chapped knees and bent lips pray hymns to the earless deities above,

Stripping hope with each dew-dropped typhoon rolling madly forth

Into blunt, phrase edges; frail veils behind which paradoxical nuances


tinted synecdoche

2011/04/03 § Leave a comment

Once upon a time, you told me that a rainbow was the story of our lives, played out in Technicolor.  Richard of York gave battle in vain.  A mnemonic to remind us of times we had, memories we couldn’t make, days still in the dim silvers and greys of the future.  An atlas, an album, a shoebox of threads; broken and reattached with knots, some loose, some dead ends, but all there, every colour.

Here’s what I think.

Red is for the burnished peel that snapped and burst forth crisp and spicy sweetness when you pressed your nose to the bite marks on the skin.  You never savoured anything so wonderfully pure and virginal as that first apple in a orchard of millions, when the day was still fresh and the tangy smell of the promise of play and general silliness still hung in the morning air.  You were young and I was younger, unsure of where to pick and where to let Nature linger and finish her work.  You carved your initials in that first apple’s tree, and I added the date when what I should have done – and longed to do – was to add mine own beside them.

Orange is for the glow of warmth that spread from your hand to mine, and then flowed everywhere and seeped through us into the ground, so that the beans and dandelions poked out their noses from the icy dirt and wondered if spring had come early.  We were campfires and bonfires and hearth fires all at once; prancing, arrogant, and defiant against blizzard and sun alike.  I picked embers and placed them in your cupped hand.  You held them gently, whispered to them the way you whispered to the injured pigeon you found under last year’s leaves, and stirred to life with your murmurs of love.

Yellow is for taxis and buses, planes and submarines that we hitchhiked on with all the splendours and follies of youth.  I wrote you letters and you wrote me maps, and we read without knowledge of what we read, or understanding of what we meant, or were meant to mean, but still we read.  Where words were foreign and symbols, illegible, and no signs of dictionaries in sight, we filled in the blanks with our own and made a topsy-turvy mess of it all.  You boarded a train, I ran, and the cabman was left hanging for his fare, listening for static across a silent channel.

Green is for the prickling of grass on soft skin, between the bare gaps left by denim and cotton.  I wondered if the blades scratched your knee, but you swore an oath that you didn’t feel a thing.  You wrenched the lid off in your haste.  The silver tumbled into the weeds and we had to scramble to find it before it fell into the possession of a frog or a magpie.  You never asked and I never answered, but we knew.  Months later, we danced over the same grass, but a different green.  They stood in a circle, put off by the squirrels quarrelling as they cracked not yet ripe nuts, or so we heard, three summers later.

Blue is for the shingles and shutters of the fairy castle that no fairy ever inhabited.  You painted the walls and ceilings to match, and I papered and sketched and emulated the great artists of old until the rooms sagged under the weight of so much expectation and blushed to hear their praises.  We lived in a veritable cloud and glided so far into the sky that we forgot we were ever any different.  The cast off parachutes tumbled and fluttered back to the pocket handkerchief lawn without us.  We spread wings and aimed for the sun, which tried to melt us into humility, but we were real and not legends.  Wings and feathers were always there, yet only then, in that haze of azure and cobalt, did we learn to flap them.

Indigo is for the plunge from the sky into dirt and ocean, so unexpected that we spent years struggling to keep afloat, treading water and keeping the sharks at bay.  Day did not exist and night was all bitterness and resent, a laughably crude imitation of what reality had been.  When we were finally washed ashore, the inky jets of despair settled into the softer hues of the weather-beaten castle.  This was the unsteady state, the isotope prone to decay, yet still most abundant.  Ruins emerged from the siege and we started again, firmly planted to the ground but not above the more than occasional jaunt back into the world of blues.

Violet is for the shine of satin ribbon, the kind they cut with new scissors and christen with cobwebby wine, or the one strung across the finish line, just beyond that last hurdle.  The ribbon wrapped around the birthday present you never opened holds a different hue, more sombre and subdued, or maybe it’s just my sentimentalism staining through.  Violet is also for the flowers you used to give me, in vases and in bouquets and in packets of seeds, seeds that I poured over you because it was your favourite flower and the colour of my eyes.  When the snow melted, they peeped out in ones and twos and threes, in tens and hundreds, with petals that were soft and warmed by the sun until they felt just like you.

Once upon a time, you gave me a rainbow, a life in Technicolor.  An atlas with no borders, an album that always had more empty pages to fill.  A shoebox of threads so knotted and tangled that it was impossible to trace your fingers along from start to finish, but it didn’t matter, because you made sure that every colour would be in every skein and I would never miss a single one.