contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Friday, October 14, 2011

Painting Poetry

Another Night
Leslie Avon Miller 

In response to a poem by David Whyte

Poetry is just the evidence of life.

If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.

~Leonard Cohen


Under the weight of air
her flesh forms valleys
and mountains.
Mushrooms sprout
on the surface of her skin.
A mouse sneezes in her left lung
and behind green eyes
John Henry wields his hammer.

The earth whirls
the ground tips, totters
her glasses lost, she fumbles.
In her pocket awaits a key
but where is the lock?

Her heart in its nest sings foolishly.

~Suki Poet

Last line is from Linda Gregg's poem Alma in the Dark.

In response to a poem by dawoo

Hardly Noticed Moment
Leslie Avon Miller

In response to a poem by David Whyte

i believe that poetry at its best is found rather than written. traditionally, and for many people even today, poems have been admired chiefly for their craftsmanship and musicality, the handsomeness of language and the abundance of similes, along with the patterning and rhymes. 

i respect and enjoy all that, but i would not have worked so hard and so long at my poetry if it were primarily the production of well-made objects, just as i would not have sacrificed so much for love if love were mostly about pleasure. what matters to me even more than the shapeliness and the dance of language is what the poem discovers deeper down than gracefulness and pleasures in figures of speech. i respond most to what is found out about the heart and spirit, what we can hear through the language. 

best of all, of course, is when the language and other means of poetry combine with the meaning to make us experience what we understand. we are most likely to find this union by starting with the insides of the poem rather than with its surface, with the content rather than with the packaging. 

too often in workshops and classrooms there is a concentration on the poem’s garments instead of its life’s blood. it may be that the major art in poetry is the art of finding this shining—this luminosity. it is the difference between a publishable poem and one that matters.

Linda Gregg

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.

~David Carradine

For me, making a piece of art is about the moments of life; being aware of them and being grateful for them. My collage paintings reflect some moment that otherwise might fly by while I am thinking ahead or behind.

I experience poetry in much the same way. Poetry I read and am taken in by is often a window into the life experience of another person. I can resonate with that moment. I think that’s why I like haiku so much.

When I write a moment rather than paint it, I don’t worry about rules, or shoulds, or making something pretty. I try to capture a moment so I can look at it in contemplation.

Here is one of my poems. Although it has a sadness, it also reflects love and honoring the moment, at least in my eye.

last rites

standing beside my mother’s nursing home bed
i stroked her once strong hands
into my memory.

in a few days I would wash her hands
for the last time.

as i gently brushed soft sheer skin,
she looked down
and said “boney old bones”.

~Leslie Avon Miller

More poetry at The Poetry Center


  1. Thank you to Suki and Mayako who allowed me to share their works here.

    You can follow the links to read the inspirational poetry for these works.

    Some days I paint, some days I write. Same, same.

  2. love the poem inspired paintings, Leslie. And yes, I love the writing, painting crossover too. great Leonard Cohen quote.

  3. Lovely. Thought-provoking. Visual poetry.

  4. Love David Carradine's quote. Your work, Leslie, is like poetry for the eyes!

  5. Leslie, I feel honored to have my poem included here on your beautiful post. I love the Linda Gregg quote so much. And the paintings...gorgeous as always. blessings, suki

  6. great pictures and words,
    loooove this post!

  7. Love your artwork, Leslie! And the poetry, too! It's so refreshing for me— I've been painting a kind of "chaos", the profusion of life in nature scenes— as kind of a mirror of the world. Your work inspires me to "lighten up".

  8. How true..... "i respond most to what is found out about the heart and spirit".... which is probably why I am so drawn to Hardly Noticed Moment. So many of your paintings have that effect on me Leslie.

  9. yes....yes!
    oh yes.
    thank you for heart
    just smiles and nods "yes".

  10. Such beautiful poetry... in all instances... and so well described in your work.

  11. Leslie,

    Thank you so much for including my painting in this wonderful post.

    Your poetry is simple, but complicated at the same time, similar to your paintings!


  12. A fascinating and thought-provoking post Leslie. Your final poem touched me deeply and will soon have a home on my wall.

  13. I have told you several times that there is a lyrical, musical aspect to your collages.. now I know why.. your love of poetry.. and you have chosen some wonderful examples here.

  14. I am so glad you added your beautiful poem about your mom's hands. It touches me deeply. I remember that moment..... washing her hands for the last time.

  15. LAM- there are so many ways in which we are inspired - but I love the idea of responding artistically to the emotions and images a poem evokes. Thanks for sharing the poem about your mother - not sad at all - a beautiful celebration of the link between you. Go well. B

  16. Hi Leslie,
    "Another Night" now gets a much more perspective for me, after I know what poems mean to you.
    and Your words about mothers hands are so ....deep...just wonderful
    wonderful post, thank you .

  17. i adore this post .. know exactly what you mean and your art flows so beautifully with the verses!~! blessings poet!

  18. I have to go away and let that seep in

  19. Lovely combining of words and oasis of the heart.
    Our mothers are usually the first ones to hold our hands on our first day of life and not surprising we would be there to hold their hands on their last days. Thank you for sharing your precious moments.

  20. Hi Leslie, I loved your post. Your pieces are lovely and they look like visual poetry. Your poem about your mother touched me deeply, as I have recently lost my mother. Whenever I have written poetry, I leave it raw. I don't try to refine it, make it pretty, or follow poetry rules. I want to capture the moment in time, like a blurred photograph, or improve jazz....

  21. So beautiful, Leslie.

    You and your mother, co-creators in one poem called Life, another word for Love i think.

    thanks for sharing your beauty.

  22. you had me at "standing beside my mother's"

    yes, poetry is "the evidence of life" lived fully, and your collages extend that further...

  23. I love it all, everything here,,and especially your "Hardly Noticed Moment" (great title)
    and your poem for your Mother.
    I was excited seeing Suki's wonderful poem here,,,,,hers always have a way of moving me.
    And one of my favorite Cohen quotes to boot.
    Super post, Leslie!

  24. sometimes a single falling leaf
    is the poem
    that says it all

    boney old bones....something about that.

  25. A fabulos and moving post. Thankyou.

  26. Leslie... This reached right in and tugged at my heart... You truly live poetry.

  27. Your blog is a treasury of words and images.

  28. Hi Leslie,
    I am happy to come over and visit your blog. It's been awhile! Enjoying your work, as always.
    If I had known you lived near Sequim, I may have tried to meet you for a cup o' tea!

  29. Leslie, you have such a gift for sharing thoughts in a most poetic, nurturing way. Last Rites just urged me to call my mother and made me wish I could hold her hand.

  30. I love how you describe your moments and paint your feelings through poetry and art. Whatever creative outlet we use I think they are most meaningful when they're drawn from personal experiences - both good and bad. Thank you for sharing the poem; I can almost see the moment.

  31. thank your blogs and wandered (I call it taking a detour) through's great to be inspired by your words and visuals, theirs too...I've done art of one kind or another all my life...and continue to do so, having found myself at 66....hhtp://


Thank you for stopping by! Please sign the guest book and let me know what you think. Join the conversation. It's fun!