(Unpublished) #Poem: “Sabbatical”

I wrote this poem in 2012 after seeing an exhibit of paintings by Lois Mailou Jones (1905 – 1998) at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. I had taken my creative writing students to see the exhibit as part of an ekphrastic writing exercise and wrote this poem of my own.


The colors of Lois Mailou Jones grab and clutch
at shape and at me, and the sign on the wall explains
that she took a sabbatical to Paris, out of Howard
in Atlanta, to live free of color and make art,
and I am standing in Montgomery, looking at
those colors and shapes, wishing I was on sabbatical,
in Paris, in a café on the Seine, instead of looking
at these colors in a place where color matters,
and I can marvel at the “Mob Victim” whose up-looking
prayerful face seems to me as peace and quiet
in a museum with my students, all of us safe
from harm, safe from the rain outside, safe
from feeling anything, and the strange gods
of Lois Mailou Jones become Southern
archetypes around the corner— and then Paris again,
and I am gone away again, knowing not to pause
at the nudes since my students will giggle and tease,
and that sabbatical is calling me to be free
of these students, free of the South, free of color,
just plain free.

About ten years ago, I all but quit submitting poems to literary magazines and began sharing a few here. To read previous (Unpublished) #Poem posts, each with its own mini-introduction, click on the title below:

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Southern Soil”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “I Know”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Common”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Zero”

(Unpublished) #Poem: [Untitled]

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Reading Kenko”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Five or Six”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Curb Market, Saturday Morning”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Cycle”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “The Greatest Unknown”

(Unpublished) #Poem: “Prairie Mud”


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