Renee Gherity

My Father Was A Painter, To Mark Strand, In The Catalogue: Renee Gherity

my father was a painter

for vincent

it was two in the morning
the high-rise’s electrical buzz
was loud in the aftermath
the bookcase lay on the floor
with its oversized books
strewn across the room
some open to glossy photos
van gogh, picasso, rothko
so many missing
pollock, rembrandt, dekooning
he’d taken them just across the hall
opened the metal door
and dropped them down the chute
i can almost hear the air whistle
the thud when they hit the bottom
i can almost smell the updraft
burning paper and rotting garbage
she sat on the couch, inhaled
and pushed the cigarette smoke
through her lips, your father said,
they kept him from painting


to mark strand

regarding the dreadful has already happened

and that’s the point
you don’t really think the dreadful has already happened
you think it continues
and it does
from the moment you broke that little leg
and each time you answer the phone it happens
the truth is
god’s been splitting babies for thousands of years
it’s always just around the corner
it doesn’t have to be macabre
it can be simple
a little girl in a tin washtub
cooling in tepid water
alone until the man walks by
stares at her naked chest
and she is everything
but a child of god


in the catalogue

for vincent

the smell of turpentine hadn’t dissipated
the ochre red he brushed
beside the cobalt blue
wasn’t completely dry
the day he died

he painted
sixty years
to paint

surreal paintings
black outlines of noses, mouths, and ears
on an 8 x 8 white canvass

mono prints
wide brush strokes looped and swirled
purple-black with hints of red and blue

abstract oils
earthy-browns and greens on a 10 x 12
held together with rabbit skin glue

hundreds of works
painted away
ripped apart
tossed in the dump

every thought he had
every book he read
every note he heard
splayed across his canvass
kept sacred
for all to see
for none to see

an anomaly of his genius
his untitled work
in an exhibition
with a de kooning and a degas
no photo
no slide
to prove it
just his name
and theirs

Renee Gherity moved from Minnesota to the Washington, DC area after graduating from Mitchell-Hamline School of Law. Her writing focus has changed from briefs to poetry. Her work has appeared in Poet Lore, Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Adanna Literary Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, and other journals. She was a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee. She is an original member of the Surrey Street Poets who are working on their second anthology. She is a co-director for the Café Muse Literary Salon and Guest Editor for Beltway Poetry Quarterly.