Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Safe Menace

You may know that in addition to my poetry I also do art, posted on my blog Claudia McGill and Her Art World. For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

Safe Menace

Pass through that section of the woods,
the claw is going to reach out for you,
they say
the old man and his
stiff-armed reach and his talons
sharpened on a rock

the old bird
straggle feathers blowing in the stiff wind
he could warn you where
but I think he’s friends with the old man.
That’s what they say. Don’t trust him.
The bright blue sky laughs.

You run along the line of branchless leafless lifeless trees
long-dead roots in dark damp soil
trunks riddled with insect holes
the wind rising and when the gray clouds move in
the scene is set. You run.

There are other routes home but
this is always the one you take
There is something you like about the gamble
the taunting of the old man and the bird
the escaping this one more time

the safe menace
of the known unknown
that everyone knows and runs from
the known unknown
you run with.

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 30

7 thoughts on “Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Safe Menace

  1. I think I must be getting better at understanding the way your creative mind works because I looked at the artwork and immediately saw bare branches or talon marks and then both of those ideas were referenced in your poetry.

    • I try to go with what I see right away in the picture, and write it down at least in rough form. I am always surprised since I usually write the poems a long time after the picture is done and yet there is always something immediate that comes to me, lots of time I even remember what I thought when I did the picture…and that you saw the same things as I mentioned in the poem makes me feel the picture certainly speaks for itself. Which I think is good.

    • Yes, we do, and we kid ourselves why we are doing it, I think. Maybe we are brave or have defiance or are proving something, I don’t know, but is that really it. Lots of times for me I think it is something else. Sometimes even just inertia or inability to imagine another way?

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