“Hopper’s Dories” by Donald Wheelock

—after Edward Hopper’s The Dories, Ogunquit, 1914 (public domain)
Whitney Museum of American Art

Attentive to the forces of the tide,
they point up into open ocean breeze
like hungry pets anticipating food.
They feel the breeze enliven what they see.
A distant shore encloses open sea.

A view of coast as crisp and deep as life
itself, before the smudges of mankind
applied a slick to every shore and reef;
even the clouds are swept clean by the wind.

Feathery skies of sun-made summer choose
a clear-eyed, optimistic morning view
to paint the cove profusions of its blues.

The froth of distant ocean surf and light
explodes into the dory-sides as white.

Donald Wheelock spent forty years writing formal poetry before reaching the stage of submitting his favorites for publication. Formal poetry, once relegated to second fiddle in a career of writing chamber, vocal and orchestral music, has now demanded equal time. Indeed, it has taken over his life. He has published a chapbook, In the Sea of Dreams, with Gallery of Readers Press, and placed poems in Blue UnicornEkphrasis, EquinoxLinea, The Lyric, and elsewhere. He is trying to place two full-length books of his poems. He lives with his wife Anne in an old house at the edge of a hayfield in Whately, Massachusetts.

Selections from “The Woman in an Imaginary Painting” by Tom Montag

No, you do not
know who she is.
And you do not

know how you know
her. She is not
of common face.

She has no fame
other than her
loveliness. Yet

somehow you still
recognize the weight
of this moment

and you cannot
turn from her,
you cannot turn.

There are no
in her world:

The idea
of table
is the table
she rests against.

The idea
of window
is the window
in her wall.

The idea
of breast
is her breasts,
their loveliness.

Breath and spirit
lend beauty
to her silence.

The woman
in the painting
wears the air

like wet silk.
Nakedness is not
her only promise.

She does not
show pain. Her

strength revels
in other light.

She can hold this
pose forever.

We can’t see it:
we can only

the happiness,

the anticipation
as she waits

for the moment
the posing is done

and she can be
the woman she wants.

Tom Montag‘s books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Imagination’s Place; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. His poem “Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain” has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.