Sunday, 8 February 2015

Seeing and Sight

Photographs and paintings - as well as sight in general, including vision and imagination - have intrigued many poets, storytellers, and novelists in Canada and elsewhere. Please choose two (or more) poems or fictional texts that focus on the seen world in some way or another and comment on them in detail.

If you prefer, you can write a poem or short story yourself instead (or in addition) in which sight plays an important role and publish it as comment.

Image from:


  1. The Painting of a Vase of Sunflowers Above My Bed
    —Steps Away (John Clegg)

    Sand-coloured corn and eggshell flowers blend
    together on their
    prairie-farm, floating away
    into glacial peaks.
    The fence of the farm meanders
    unevenly, and haphazardly, around the land,
    as if the farmer knew that
    serenity was ever-lasting.

    Three emerald green leaves lay
    strewn about the garbage bin,
    the clippings one sees in the archaic
    florists of Paris.
    Bins filled to the penultimate point
    with clippings of stems and leaves, and they smell
    of water and northern country--among
    the bins of clippings, content homeless rest, in Paris.

    Three bowing geishas stretch
    out their arms for balance,
    seconds prior to their muscles tightening, halting
    forward motion.
    Heads down in subordination,
    the fragility of mind matters not,
    for the cunning geishas know
    of their affect.

    A club coming down
    towards your head,
    and splintering on collision
    with your temple.

  2. Untitled (Observation that came out as a poorly structured poem) - Amber T

    They're looking at each other.
    The two people in the photo.
    He looks nonchalant, she looks oblivious.
    She looks happy, he looks distant.

    Perhaps, if she looked closer,
    She would've seen more, feel more, listen more.
    She would have heard the words she couldn't hear,
    the sights she could not see

    the feelings she could not understand.

    They're looking at each other.
    The two people in the photo.

    He looks happy, she looks distant.

  3. A rather experimental work-in-progress; the idea came to me when I was looking at a First Nations sewing project I did in elementary school as part of the special day where we explored Native culture.

    An old blanket.

    The banquet hall door opens its arms and
    Gives an embrace before the dancers
    Come, a-swayin' –
    Red weaves into Black,
    Black twirls over Red,
    And White dances above their heads.

    There's Raven,
    Cackling to no one and anyone
    Who'd lend an ear.
    Mouth sharp, dress preened and nails in th' air,
    It waltzes on the corners of the cloth.

    There is no sky.
    Only a sea of Black and a field of Red and
    All entwine around an' across the swinging Raven,
    Like a necklace, a noose,
    And then a forlorn – Caw! – as the banquet hall door
    Closes its arms.

    Wings flap into the cloth but it's not

    Goodnight, Raven.


  4. This poem came about while printing out black and white photos for my room—very rough draft, but hey, why not put it here?
    The Black and White Effect
    Set to black and white:
    Make the moment look
    Timeless. You don’t even remember
    Taking the photograph
    With trembling hands and the fear of lightning
    Striking the pole near where she stood.
    Edit her figure—make her seem less
    Blurry than her image reflected her to be.
    Focus. You have to focus
    The camera, lower your exposure to light
    To recognize the distorted smile on her lips.
    There stood the girl of your childhood dreams,
    Draped in a crimson red cape—she was engulfed by shadows
    In black and white, waiting
    For a fairytale—for the wolf’s call to send her running
    Across those thick patches
    Of trees that stood behind her, back to the arms of
    The man you called a thief—the villain of your tale.
    You wish you had learned earlier not to cry wolf
    When the dark presented you a mirror of yourself.
    Then, you would have known better
    And the girl in the photograph
    Wouldn’t need to be a ghost of what if’s
    That never were.

  5. Orange peels, orange Crush
    Ketchup, Tabasco,
    Last night’s dinner
    Crusting on a porcelain china plate
    Last week’s kombucha (hiding last month’s)
    2 pairs of sizzors (mine and my roomates)
    A roll of tape, canary yellow
    312 chinese flascards, filled with words I don’t yet know
    Tissues covered in lipstick, snot, (sometimes both)
    Computer still whirring,
    Playing soft piano and loud drums
    My desk is as busy as I am
    I look
    And all I see
    Trash trash
    Deadline deadline

  6. Time is starting to move a lot faster
    I can feel myself approaching death
    Like looking towards the horizon and knowing there a wolf waiting for you
    A little too far to be seen
    Sitting right where the world curves
    Just patiently anticipating your arrival
    His fur is matted in large clumps that make you think of a life hardly lived
    or maybe just a hard life
    The sun is setting behind the scene
    The orange and red hues overcast the line to the edge of the earth
    to the edge of my world
    But death is waiting under the golden haze
    Casting a shadow in your direction
    An you are moving closer and closer to it
    One foot after another
    He's still over the horizon
    He's still out of view
    But he's waiting