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by Sam Barbee

A colourful picture of a painted portrait with black background.
Image credit: Canva

Hoping for love’s colorful brush,

I begin a self-portrait to capture a real me.

Skylight contrast fades toward midnight.

Streetlight ambiance yellows my mood.

I slide onto my stool, unsure which paint

to dab. Mirror propped on my right, palette

left flush with propositions rather than reflection.

I adorn a background: a black pitcher, a dried spice,

a wall sconce and candle, bruised fruit.

The beveled edge argues to remain austere –

its false-silver content with anonymity.

My muse advises loosen grip, deepen wrinkles.

Lies become choice, not coincidence.

Stroke awry, white hair a wiry resemblance.

No murmurs endorse efforts before me.

Stubborn, I vow a second attempt – concoct

more colorful tints. Scramble tabletop baubles:

add books, a confusion of empty bowls and vases –

any element of affection to compose a canvass

framing a halo of whispers arrayed to love me back.


A black and white photo of the author, Sam Barbee.
Sam Barbee

Sam Barbee has a new poetry collection, Apertures of Voluptuous Force (2022, Redhawk Publishing). He has three previous collections, including That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. Also, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag) which chronicles family travels in England. His poems have appeared recently in Poetry South, Salvation South, The Ekfrastic Review and upcoming in Cave Wall, among others; plus on-line journals Dead Mule School of Literature, Streetlight Magazine, American Diversity Report, Grand Little Things, and Medusa’s Kitchen.

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