Thursday, July 11, 2013

If Art Could Talk

Here's an awesome writing prompt I found at
 Think of a painting.  Any painting.  If the painting could come right out and speak to you, what would it say?  Write an entire dialogue between you and the painting.  

I chose to write a conversation between myself and this painting

I saw a painting in a museum once
Picasso’s “Old Guitarist.”
Inside was a man  in blue
Head bowed,
Clothes torn,
And bony fingers poised
On silent guitar strings.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.
He didn’t move.
“What’s the matter with you?”
He blinked.
“Are you sad?” 
Slowly, very slowly
He raised his sunken, lifeless eyes.
His skeleton hand fell limply across guitar strings,
The eerie chord penetrated the painted canvas.
I covered my ears.
His thin lips twisted in a sickly grin.

“What do you want?”  I asked.
“To die.”  He said

I could tell he had once been a handsome man
Proud and tall,
With high cheek bones
and a thick head of hair
Now he was bent.
Now he old.
Now he was
And broken,
And sad.

“Is there anything I can do?”  I asked.
Avoiding my eyes
He plucked the guitar strings
One by one.
“Nothing”  He said.
And cradling his guitar,
turned to face the wall.

I reached to put my hand on his shoulder,
But found only smooth paint
On rough canvas.
I turned away
From the sad, broken man
And moved to the next painting.

I'm dying to hear what other paintings inspire people to write.  If you like this prompt and decide to write on it, please share! I'd love to see what other people come up with! 

Also I could really use some title ideas for this poem.  I can't seem to find one that fits.  


  1. I'm, like, giddily excited to share this with you. I wrote it a year or two ago, but your poem reminded me that I did! :)


    I found myself within a pressing crowd:
    Flashbulbs bursting,
    chatter constant like the sea
    as we bobbed about her,
    our cameras held like periscopes
    above our unseeing eyes

    The painting was no bigger than a page,
    a muffled smile
    behind a buffer of roped barricades
    and layers of thick glass

    Having got the shot
    I turned around;
    just opposite the tiny woman was
    a painting the size of the wall:
    a feast, with dogs and drinking,
    and pillars as high as the room;
    Christ in the middle,
    silent among the crowd

    The clamoring behind—
    what was it for?
    Some seated woman,
    an armless goddess,
    or perhaps a dying slave?

    They may look at the standards
    and see something worth talking about;
    but awe only settles
    when the work itself
    inspires silence.

    1. Hilary this is beautiful! Is "the passover" the other painting you are referring to in this piece? I didn't realize it was in the same room as the Mona Lisa. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I've always wondered what it would be like to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and you have described it so well. I can just visualize the crowds, and cameras, and "unseeing eyes." I loved it.

  2. What a cool idea and what a beautiful, moving poem you wrote, Heather! Amazing!