the woman who scissored masterpieces

They sit in the humblest of frames,
Faux wood-grained plastic grotesqueries
Purchased long ago from some doomed Grants or Bradlees,
Though one or two enjoy something nicer,
Left behind by some long-timer taking a buyout
Or a sympathetic youngster denied tenure
(She has, for the better part of three decades,
Cleaned up the detritus of middle-school children,
A bit stooped from the work,
Not to mention the burden
Of any number of she’s just or she’s only
Tossed like so much bric-a-brac in her direction.)
The approximations of old masters equally eclectic in origin:
One or two gallery-quality reproductions
Blithely abandoned by some haughty faculty matron
Mentoring children through noblesse oblige,
The odd promotional piece from a scholastic publisher,
Mostly things she has cut from magazines or discarded texts.
She studiously avoids pieces tending to the dark or muted,
No Stuart portraiture or pensive Vermeers;
She has a strong predilection for bold, boisterous Gaugins,
Mad cubist Picassos, lush Cezanne still-lifes,
Even the odd blocky Pollock.
If you pressed her to explain her fetish
For the brightest of the great masters,
She would likely be at a loss to explain,
Having no academic bent for such things
(Though she has been known to curse the shortcomings
Of lithographers and pressmen under her breath)
And, as she freely admits, I’m not much good with words.
There would be the uncharitable suggestion
That their purpose is to mask cracks and pockmarks in her walls
(She has, to be sure, lived in a long and undistinguished series of such places)
But she has never, consciously or otherwise,
Used them for such pedestrian and utilitarian purposes;
They are, to her, anyway, beautiful, and that is all they need be.


9 thoughts on “the woman who scissored masterpieces

    1. A reference to the notion that she probably had to cut some of these pictures out of books and magazines. I hemmed and hawed considerably on the title.

  1. I like this poem, then, mainly for its unusual subject matter. I have never read a poem like this. I’m interesting (you don’t have to answer, of course) in the inspiration behind her description. One of your best lines is ” mentoring children through noblesse oblige…” lovely sound to the last two words paired together.

  2. as always, you unerringly pierce to the delicate, yet strongly beating, heart of life beyond the klieg lights. we all should see so clearly and compassionately. ~

  3. there is something so wonderful about this poem, this woman as a subject, the way she makes worlds and happy ones at that with what she collects. i’ve seen her at the salvation army i think and together with my squirrel and raccoon friends, all of us rummaging through a dumpster.

      1. now if that were a bumper sticker “oh shit, honey we’re off the road and in come the singers singing “ditch out” and soon the whole damn world flies off its hinges i can’t wait.

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