Just Slightly West of Eden

Planting a tree for a newborn child.
Both lives require great patience and trust.
There is the concern for its survival,
no matter how much care and attention
we give. No guarantees in this garden.

plant a tree

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

My poem’s title alludes to both John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden and his inspiration in the Bible’s book of Genesis (Chapter 4, verse 16) with the story of Cain and Abel:  “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod, on the east of Eden”

Still Lives

Cezanne apples

The Basket of Apples (1895) – Paul Cezanne


Arrangements of fruit, flowers, glasses, a violin, 

objects seemingly unconnected, not unlike my own

still lifes, unpainted, unsketched, preserved in words,

sharing a reflected surface, each a self-portrait.

Life is never still. But we try. 



Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball (1628) – Pieter Claesz


I first heard about Cezanne’s apples via a quote by Ernest Hemingway that sent me to the library to find the paintings. Cezanne brought back still lifes and made it a popular subject for Picasso, Matisse, Morandi, and Braque. I like that some objects (bottle, basket, fruits) are unbalanced. They are tilted and the whole composition is unlike the balanced and precise placements of earlier still lifes such as those from the Dutch Golden Age. Pieter Claesz was known for his vanitas or still lifes which contain symbols of death or change as a reminder of their inevitability. Shown here is his most famous painting which contains amongst the many objects a glass sphere which shows him at the painting at his easel.