Vincent, Not Alone
by Chris Waters

I.  My Early Days

My red shock of hair made you stare.
“They” say either I looked over
their heads, or glared into their eyes.
I was unsociable, unattractive,
so querulous and uncouth that
people laughed just looking at me.
Who’s “They”? It’s my father’s brother,
His Nibs, the Lord High Admiral.
I rubbed my hands madly, Uncle
Johannes said, when I was wrong.
I’d not have liked to meet myself.

II. Bookseller, Art Dealer

What’s wrong with always being right
is, victories aside, often being wrong.
But I was right, I was, I was.
Sell books I wouldn’t read myself?
Pictures I’d turn face to the wall?
I’d read too much and drew too well.
In the art store or the bookstore,
I’d get caught translating The Word:
In disbelief of disbelief,
hands rose. Spying trees and flowers
in my other notebook, it was
sniggling, whispering, ratting on me.
“Silly!” I still hear them, “Silly!”
A busy time for wretched art
is Christmas. To avoid abetting
such unholiness, I went home.
I can say I said adieu first.

III. My Women

In order may sound like disorder,
good luck like bad luck. The landlord
made the first beloved, who loved
me to my toes, give me up
for her fiancé. My father
did the next job, shooing away
the model who, with her child, stood
to jump social classes wildly.
(She did say my oils cost too much.)
Beautiful, lovely widow, four
conspirators, your and my parents,
how did you bear their crime to us?
Hilarious! My first great work,
peasants eating their potatoes,
the Pastor claimed it was I who
filled the filly’s belly! Methinks
he didst protest too much, banning
me from that poor house forever.
I never laid a hand on her,
a finger or two, maybe! But
as far as I went, the clap came
from elsewhere. Pastor, your pustules?
Speaking of blamelessness, the man
next to her, they say’s a Goya.
Goya who? Bless those who loved me.
Such good luck. Marriage, and I’d be
pushing love stories and post cards.
My ear would have no tales to tell.
Packingtown Review – Vol.6, Winter 2014/2015

Chris Waters is the author of Ghost Lighthouse: New and Selected Hatteras Poems (March Street Press, 2012).

  1. Doug Grosjean
    Untitled 2art