Skip to content

Michaels & Sulzenko – August 2019

Leah Michaels and JC Sulzenko traded art and words. Leah shared this image, titled “Mourning Dew,” with JC:

Writing as A. Garnett Weiss, the name she uses when writing cento poetry, JC shared this poem in response:

I must bury sorrow

(After a photograph by Leah Michaels of the
The Angel of Grief by William Wetmore Story)

You wanted a piece of marble
with the face of her, the eyes of her.
Nothing but beauty in a hand.

Were the woman that’s dead alive to hear
just when the birds sang all together
under a cover of a hundred wings,

well, it is earth with me. Silence resumes her reign.
Where we loved each other so,
a common grayness silvers everything.

Cento gloss: each line from a different poem by Robert Browning
Title: “A Woman’s Last Word”
Line 1: “Youth and Art”
Line 2: ”Time’s Revenges”
Line 3: “James Lee’s wife”
Line 4: “Too Late”
Line 5: “Garden Fancies”
Line 6: “Fra Lippo Lippi”
Line 7: “Abt Vogler”
Line 8: “A Lover’s Quarrel”
Line 9: “Andrea Del Sarto”

* * * * *

JC shared this poem with Leah:


Theirs was a daguerreotype marriage
its surface as silvered as mercury, bitter as iodine’s
stain, rough as the stippled walls of their home
on a boulevard of ash and elms felled by disease

That house, once a pleasing robin’s-egg blue
now asymmetrical, unroofed by the vagaries
of water, earth, air, the sun’s fire
Now as loveless as a foundling

It had not taken him long to bunk in elsewhere
She wandered, veiled in the ridiculous lace of a just-been
bride, her raiments turned to widow’s weeds soon after
oaths were sworn, vows exchanged with such ease

Until she paused, dragged dank air deep into her lungs, then
hovered above herself, saw his promises for what they were
Such vision begets a kind of peace, brought her acceptance
and relief he absconded with as little of her as a wasted year

In response, Leah made this image titled “Myths & Messages”: