The Argument Of His Painting – Julian Bishop

 

After Robert Herrick

 

I think of tainted saints, unseemly Madonnas,

Bacchus hung over, artichokes in butter,

dirt-caked soles, two mop-headed angels

coupling, Jesus and Cecco baring all.

 

I paint in bone-black, bloody vermillion,

backdrops of ochre and black, umbers that burn,

throw in hasty halos, Gentileschi’s feathers,

water-snakes and corpses hauled from the Tiber.

 

I picture Paul being floored, John’s head severed,

Matthew tethered, Lazarus resolutely dead

and Goliath, beheaded, gasping for air –

deft self-portraits of violent despair.

Painted or unpainted, in every picture

I’m a spectator, the spectre who’s always there.

 

This is one in a series of poems about the painter Caravaggio

 


Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who is a member of several London stanza groups. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition. He won the 2021 Poets And Players Competition judged by Sean Hewitt with his poem Sitting For Caravaggio.

He’s also had poems in The Morning Star, XR’s Rebel Talk, Riptide Journal, Finished Creatures Magazine and the first few issues of The Alchemy Spoon. He is one of four poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. Read more at https://www.julianbishoppoet.com.

Rose Tinted Glasses – Susan Richardson

 

The experts say my disease is genetic.

It spreads across families without discrimination

and taps randomly on the shoulders of children,

condemning them to a life of waiting for

the world to become shadows and pitch.

 

I stand alone with my dying retinas,

cocooned in the muslin of a fading canvas.

I have searched for a family connection,

a blood born comrade in a life of darkness,

but they tell me there is no one.

 

As the years pass and my vision

careens down a steep precipice, I

remember stories of a paternal grandfather

I never knew; a good dancer with sensitive eyes,

who always wore rose tinted glasses.

 

He was only 32 when he died, leaving

my grandmother to turn him into legend,

and my father to fend for himself

against the grief of a broken mother.

The secrets of his blood are caged in mystery.

 

Did my grandfather pass down the

genetic code that chains me to blindness?

Are my eyes a reflection of his own?

I hold desperately to the idea that he is the link,

but in my family, legends don’t go blind.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. Much of her work focuses on her experiences as a partially sighted woman in a sprawling urban environment. Her work has been published in Free Lunch, The Old Red Kimono, Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila–Na- Gig and Chantarelle’s Notebook. In addition to poetry and creative non-fiction, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”.