Unrealized Potential

After L’Arlesienne by Van Gogh


The crumpled pages of the open book seem

ready to take flight from the mossy table

like a paper kite from a meadow,

but the brown-skinned woman,

not old, but old enough to know,

whose tired but sensitive hands

have thumbed them into perpetual

memory, does not look down

at the familiar pages, but off

into mustard-lit space, not

at the kite skipping along the ground,

but at the sky it’s aimed for,

not at the inadequate words

but at the ideas they might

have expressed, were such

things possible at all. Her

other book, the red one,

lies there closed; of it,

she’s had enough already,

its story ignoring hers.


Note: My result from a workshop session on ekphrastic poetry led by Mark Wagenaar and Mary Moore.

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

A Second Look

Vincent van Gogh - Boats at Saintes-Marie wate...

Vincent van Gogh – Boats at Saintes-Marie watercolour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Boats at Saintes-Marie

by Vincent Van Gogh:

I’ve always liked it,

multi-colored boats,

white sand, blue water–

summer day at beach,

joy of sun and surf.


Viewing it again,

though, I’m struck by how

lonely the scene seems–

sun, sea, boats, but not

a single human

to enjoy the view.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper