Near the window, the sun crowns her
brown hair with dust. She sings now,
when his brush seems unsteady.

Why can’t you take a picture,
and paint that? She was terribly bored
of sitting. Because it’s not the same,

a response, he thought indomitable.
The blondes never complained,
but they were easily flattered.

Some of his women didn’t even stay
for him to finish the painting. Those faces
emerged like sparks, the kindling of memory.

His spare room and bedroom filled
with painted women, against the walls
and under the bed, piled like tombstones.

It was usually their idea to take off their clothes,
and he never objected. Easier to mix flesh
than figure out fabrics. Only one picture

hangs on the wall. It was his favorite.
He painted her in mid-wink.
She knew something the others didn’t.

She hung above the window where others sat,
under sunlight or stars. He played
indie rock and jazz while he painted.

He despised classical music. One day
his world of colors faded to white noise,
when he saw a new portrait of his favorite girl.

Black and white, under the bold, large font
of a headline: Slain girl found in park.
He never read the article. He kept the picture,

people look frail in black and white,
Slowly, he stopped painting during the day.
His girls became serious, wore dark make-up

and black clothes. They looked like ghosts
under the artificial moonlight on the canvas.
He wanted to paint a corpse. Maybe

it’s like painting the eyes of the blind.
He found a blind girl and took off her glasses.
Windows to the soul, he thought,

does that make the blind monsters?
He asked what she heard when he painted.
A record player, an eternal needle scratching

the surface, moments before the music.
This was painting to her, hints of static
trembling before the percussion section.

His filled his life and his easel with the blind,
For the blind, eyes are mirrors, and they
hasten to cover them, before we see ourselves

reflected. After a while, it was the smile
that captured his attention most. A blind
smile, unassuming, lips forming in a vacuum

sequestered by the imagination. The last
blind girl was painted only from the chin
to the lips. He wondered where to get her

eyes. He thought nature was geometry,
so he found a deaf girl. Her eyes beamed.
He sewed together these two girls. One

without vision, one without sound.
The Rembrandt Frankenstein, a puzzle
of flesh. After it was done, so was he.

He painted himself in the old style.
He lived through a mirror for a week
before he finished capturing himself

in glass and fabric, color and light
He took his old, dead goddess off the wall,
and placed his collage in its place,

it was the only piece with a name,


He only hoped if the girls ever saw it,
or touched it in some distant future place,
a synapse within them would fire,

as they realize we’d all been painted
in sinister, savage strokes, filling the void
of a womb with light, and while a blind woman

listens for footsteps a deaf girl watches
for a creeping shadow under the front door,
a man hangs his self portrait next to a woman

he can never love, and saunters outside
with a hammer, a hundred nails,
and a hundred women, ripped from their frames.

He spent the day in the park,
nailing his women to the trees. Nobody
asks questions. Concern is the measure

of the size of a city. They must have thought
it some obscure artistic endeavor.
His women watched the sunset, unmolested

by the stir of insects. Sun streaks
scythe into their open eyes on a Saturday,
the joggers take notice of their company.

News anchors arrive to document
the dozens of anonymous art pieces,
followed swiftly by reporters, and revelers.

Beautiful faces flooded the news stands,
the papers wanted to know the mystery
artist. Rewards were offered, velvet ropes

erected. A great many boys fell in love.
While a lonely man sat in a dark room,
thinking, when the skies opened,
and poured their turpentine, his girls
would make the most colorful puddles.