Spine of Dorian Gray

Stephen Pollock




                     my portrait

                   disfiguring canvas

              in its attic of vertebrae


               see how the frame

                    depends on cord


                                and oils

                                the oils

                     ooze out of nerves

            as if from collapsing tubes

                           ocher for ulcer

                                puce for boil

                                      caput mortuum

                 for whatever remains


                  the deepest stratum

        fibers writhing in a gesso sea


              my erstwhile crimes

                           those damaged lives

 now scars etched with palette knives


                archive the carnage

                       to settle accounts


    no doubt the picture’s hidden

         but wheelchair


                refute the fiction

                       of perfect beauty

                               perpetual youth


       slashing the canvas is moot


Stephen Pollock received the Rolfe Humphries Poetry Prize in his senior year at Amherst College.  His poem “Syringe” was shortlisted for the 2018 Live Canon International Poetry Prize, and his elegy “Leaves” was a semifinalist for the 2019 River Styx International Poetry Contest.  “Arachnidæa: Line Drawings” was awarded second place in the Poet’s Choice category of the Oregon Poetry Association’s 2020 competition.  Steve’s poems have appeared in Poeming Pigeon, Live Canon Anthology, Ink to Paper, Buddhist Poetry Review and Pinesong.