Graphica 46/47: Tess Gallagher and Josie Gray

Poems from Paintings: A Collaboration

featuring poems by Tess Gallagher inspired from paintings by Josie Gray


Moons's Rainbow Body


Forbidden to travel by night,

you nonetheless arrive

at dawn. In Josie's portrait

I attend your birth moment,

accomplished in a swirl

of greens against a night sky

of green. Where did he

get you, green moon, and by what permission do you

make a birth out of

a seeming disintegration?


Like a thumb print

on a glass, you hover

in daylight, marking the sky

with a scar of midnight.

Suddenly my body leaps

with you into the immensity,

so gone the word gone

can't find a mouth

to say it. Each moon-lit.


arrival is like a gong 

without a temple

reverberating against

an unseen mountain.

The spider's mouth

unravels a silken bridge

across which the fly

belies it ever



Oil Spot

                                                                          for Josie Gray, March 23, 1924


A blue-black planet, it falls from

the chainsaw into rainwater

puddled where the earthquake

left its shoulders in the driveway,

the depression in gravel

reminding us we walk on waves,

could sink.


The droplet flings itslef down, radiates

like a jellyfish unfurling its

mantle--filtrating, rippling.

At its core, a violet eye,

magenta-lashed, its milky skirting



Josie goes into the house

for the camera to take its portrait.

The door to beauty always

stands open. days later he stares

at the photograph until he enters

him fully, just a spot of oil,

transforming his hand

with its paint brush

into an instrument of rainbow

approximates that begin to pale

the original.


Like a satellite moon

the eyelet center deeply shines.

Planet-Josie revolves over it, the light of his face

also entering as he works.

beauty passes through us

blackly shuddering, stabilizes

its revolution and, against

all expectation, begins to rise from undulating shape

on his page.


A heart like that

at eighty



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