Madder-Dot by Molly & By the Hand of Django

Madder Dot

Madder Dot, © Molly Herman
2010, oil on canvas, 12 x 12″
Used With Permission

I first met my good friend Molly Herman in middle school. We were both destined to be artists as adults. A few years ago I heard of a way to write a poem based on an abstract image, and could think of no better artist to try it out with than Molly. The poem below is the result. Thank you, Molly.

The exercise I used went something like this:

  1. Write ten words that describe the image.
  2. Write ten sentences, using one of the words in each sentence.
  3. Arrange the sentences into a poem.
  4. Edit, revise as needed

With each step, get further and further from the artwork, but don’t lose complete sight of it. My ten words for Madder Dot were: dots, drips, scarlet, lime, sieve, optical illusion, spent dandelions, dense, ripples, thin.


originally published at

I hold an entire bottle of tequila and only one lime,
with a need to drink until there are too many dots to count.
I have been warned about going into the dense forest of addiction,
but today the liquid falls easily through my sieve.

Three hours later and you have confused this scarlet intellect.
While I balance on the thin line between present and future,
my stumbles ripple out to where your feet are planted.
As the rain drips from the moving window, its dimension an optical illusion to our world,
I notice the spent dandelions are fading away.

I went through the same exercise with her painting Django.

Django by Molly Herman, used with permission.

Django by Molly Herman, used with permission.

The only thing different in this case is I didn’t know who or what a django is, so I Googled the word. I got a lot of hits, but one that stood out for me was Jean “Django” Reinhardt, a Belgian guitarist and composer. I had him in mind as I worked further away from my ten words.

By The Hand of Django

Originally published by Referential Magazine

Such angular structures consume me–
my bird’s-eye view defines the lines of the landscape.
There is music to be made, guitar strings to behold and pluck
by a hand decrepit. But the warm colors of your chords are food
a bit too textured for my taste.

The stubborn immobility of this monument intrigues me.
Your subtle gypsy movements disturb me.

I look down at the yellow fields as they cry out
for harvest time. The western wall sits in the east,
where fallen tile exposes grout,
providing depth to the two-dimensional days that are woven
with your A-string into the earth’s soul like fingers of fabric.