PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


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Last updated:
May 2009


Joseph Millar, author of two poetry collections, Overtime and Fortune, spent twenty-five years in the San Francisco Bay area and the Northwest before settling in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2002, he was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2008 his work won a Pushcart prize. He is also the recipient of grants from the Montalvo Center for the Arts and Oregon Literary Arts, and has held teaching positions at Mount Hood Community College, Vancouver School of Arts, Oregon State University and Pacific University. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Poetry International, and Prairie Schooner. For a closer look at this author, please see the Folios  section.


Poem for Rembrandt

It must have hurt you that winter morning
when the creditors in their stiff wool
descended like so many vultures

clucking and nodding, auctioning off
the paintings and etchings:  Dürer
Rubens, Brueghel, Holbein,

then the helmets, visors, and breastplates,
antique stage props and costume finery,
your African masks, the Carpathian saddle,

Javanese shadow puppets, zithers
and gongs, even the flayed human arm
and hand afloat in a tank of gold fluid.

You buried two wives and three children
and wandered the levees in plague time,
sketchbook under one arm, past the linens

of the newly dead soaked in vinegar and
laid out to dry, while the prodigal world
kept offering itself, a blotched, aging mistress

you never abandoned.  You loved what was tattered
and breaking down, the herring pier's pilings
eaten away, worn through by seaworms and ice,

or the rash corroding a soldier's cheek, paint
scabbed over, chapped by the wind:  Jeremiah
musing on Zion's wreckage or St. Paul entranced

by fatigue, his sleeve mottled with lampblack.
In this late self-portrait one hooked vein throbs
below your relentless left eye.

From: Fortune, Eastern Washington University Press, 2007

Rembrandt Van Rijn  “Self Portrait” 1660