The Photo Poems are now available as separate posts! No more scrolling down a page for the most recent poems. As before, you can always use the link in the menu at the top of the page to see the latest offering from last year’s adventure in writing a poem each weekday inspired by the photographs on The Guardian‘s website. Here is the re-posted collection of my first trio of poems. Each week I will add a new trio of images and poems for your deepening pleasure! Enjoy! The original post follows.
As an exercise in stoking the fires of creativity, last year I challenged myself (and my poetry students) to compose a poem each day of the work week that drew its inspiration from the photographs published six days a week on The Guardian’s website. The results were a mix of humorous reflections, introspective moments, and a simple meditation on the beauty, pain, and conflicts of our time. Below, you’ll find a selection of some of my favorite moments from last year’s poetic journey. Be sure to follow the links back to the original post to enjoy the images at a higher resolution, complete with original captions.
Resurrecting Van Gogh
He caught and sang the sun in flower
over a century past
immortalizing in one still life
every stage of life
in full spectrum of cadmium yellow.
Safe in climate-controlled rooms
aficionados savor the misunderstood genius
the troubled hands
that emblazoned the canvas
with dynamic strokes of bold color.
Now this nervous hand
rests on the impasto
delicately brushing life
into the aging sunflower
doomed like all flowers to fade.
I hold my breath
and imagine myself at the dawn
of sunflowers in the Yellow House.
How easy it would be,
letting the latent revolutionary flame
spark into life,
to turn (nonchalantly) the chute
of this Champion snow blower
towards the formidable
snow-capped bust of Vladimir Lenin.
Just a few turns of this crank
and then a straight march
towards that implacable face,
bathing it in the unyielding, icy discharge
until the snow blinded the eyes,
blew up the mustached nose,
and froze over the pursed lips.
Then, ever so obediently again,
to turn resolutely
and carve another path
through the thick snow
just outside St. Petersburg.
Meditation at the Terazza del Pincio
Soap bubble sunset in the Eternal City.
Silhouetted by day’s dyings embers,
I stand upon the ancient foundation
of an empire without end.
I am one of those passing through
like these multifarious rainbowed orbs,
complexity of minimal surface:
eternity encased in fragile film of flesh.