When Love Becomes Still-Life


painting by Seana Monaghan Gallagher

When Love Becomes Still-Life


Nothing is louder than a heart unforgiven,

Screaming in the afternoon

Among an oil colored room of flowers and drapes

While loneliness distills sunlight into a white paste.

Without wind to move petals or linens

Or of reaching hands across a wooden table

Toward a bowl of red apples without taste,

Even the serpent is through with me.

No footsteps arriving or heels departing

Just the meter noise of a reckless beat

When love becomes still-life

Long after Cezanne left the kitchen,

Nothing is louder than a heart unforgiven.


Even a condemned man has a priest

Saying prayers while walking together.

An electric chair would feel like life,

Forgiveness, and relief for soul but not heart.

A hum to drown out the noise of each beat

Is far better than this still-life grief

Shouting from this squalor canvass

Downsized and ripped apart

As the rich sun begins to depart.


So you confess to the night,

Curse the moon, picked fruit

And the world that does not think twice.

You cause havoc among the stars

Shatter ceramic bowls into jagged pieces.


Hear the awkward rolls of red apples

Thumping off the wooden table,

Falling from Paradise

When love becomes still-life.

Nothing is louder than a heart unforgiven

So you let go,

And allow Van Gogh into your kitchen.


Categories: Poetry

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. OMG! You should be BOMBARDED by comments about this! You captured it… Nailed it spot on and I am slayed by the sheer ease and grace of your talent in the poetry arena. Simply breathtaking.

    My damn cell isn’t letting me copy/paste but the section beginning with “while loneliness distills….” is especially potent.

    But that last line! Oh my, yes yes YES!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul, this poem is deeply touching and strikes a universal chord of aching loss and the need for forgiveness–which we all have. Every human who has ever walked the earth needs forgiveness for something–many things–and we also need to forgive others for the wrongs done to us. Therein lies the rub. Forgiveness is nigh unto impossible to give and to get. Despite what Dr. Phil or anyone else might say, most grudges–including the worst of all, the ones we hold against ourselves–are never forgiven. We humans and our feelings are stubborn that way. Forgiveness is one of the greatest things we can give and receive in this life, but, alas, it’s like looking for an oasis in a desert. On another note, I’ve said this before but it needs repeating: you are an excellent poet and writer, with a unique voice of deep and intelligent insight–a voice that should be heard. Examples: The title of your poem–When Love Becomes Still-Life–is brilliant. As are lines like Nothing is louder than a heart unforgiven. So you let go. And allow Van Gogh into your kitchen.
    Switching gears again, I’m sending you a You Tube song that is one of the most uplifting soul-stirring things I’ve ever heard: an a cappella version of I Believe by the 82nd Airborne Chorus. I think it would make Cezanne turn around and come back in. Even the crickets would shut up and listen. Big Manly Hug, Bob

    Liked by 1 person

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