Friday, May 23, 2014

One of Those Perfect Poems for Me and My Peeps (especially Denise)

Open Window at Collioure
Henri Matisse

French Chocolates

If you have your health, you have everything
is something that’s said to cheer you up
when you come home early and find your lover
arched over a stranger in a scarlet thong.

Or it could be you lose your job at Happy Nails
because you can’t stop smudging the stars
on those ten teeny American flags.

I don’t begrudge you your extravagant vitality.
May it blossom like a cherry tree. May the petals
of your cardiovascular excellence
and the accordion polka of your lungs
sweeten the mornings of your loneliness.

But for the ill, for you with nerves that fire
like a rusted-out burner on an old barbecue,
with bones brittle as spun sugar,
with a migraine hammering like a blacksmith

in the flaming forge of your skull,
may you be spared from friends who say,
God doesn’t give you more than you can handle
and ask what gifts being sick has brought you.

May they just keep their mouths shut
and give you French chocolates and daffodils
and maybe a small, original Matisse,
say, Open Window, Collioure, so you can look out
at the boats floating on the dappled pink water.
Ellen Bass


  1. It is a perfect poem. Thank you.

  2. Oh. Yes. Thanks you.

  3. That. Wow. Perfect. Thanks for sharing and thank you for being. Just you.

  4. yes yes yes. I used to do writing workshops with Ellen when I lived in Santa Cruz. Her writing is amazing.

  5. Perfect and yes, yes, and more yes.
    And the picture! Ah. I wish Matisse had come to Cozumel.

  6. Yes this poem is perfect. Thank you!

  7. finally a poem that supports me instead of trying to educate me. Thanks!

  8. A poem for your peeps and a painting for me .... Ahhh ... Matisse

  9. That painting is so freaking gorgeous! I must seek out more poems by this poet - this one is so perfect.

  10. What a great poem! A perfect expression of a complex truth.



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