Sarah Riggs


Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror

Skin to chair: he wears a collar, a spine

Red profile, hand blur: ink hisses at the tablet

Poured black under biceps and jaw: urge scratching

Desultory marks: all that flesh recedes mid-arm

Discus flies out of the mirror: top-to-top stool

Splits the man’s shoulder blades: present figure

Hunched fluent: wristless in the glass

Tendons bent at the prayer bar: absorbed

Back out: stains black and white

Crumpled consonants flung: animal surge, biblical growl

Writing anything but: the floor squares, comes at

Mustard circles hidden pubic : heart’s not in it


Van Gogh in a Landscape, 1957

Rounding the outscape: stick figure drop off

Near dusk: a bluish blind sort of Giverny

Spongy, earth-stroked: miniscule artist

Become a twig: his head splashed on

Dot of yellow, to the side of neck: afterthought

Seen from around the curve: last walk?

Last neighborhood: also greens, reeds

A huge hole: mire of glanced pigments

The edge is clear: a trunk warps to the left

Barely on the road: save for the blotch of sun

Or seeds or mind: he won’t get here

Not landscape: paints pain out in it


Corrida Study #2

Horns, hind, and spine condense: motion spatters in

Body and bull merge bare: afterhorns spin buttock lines

Draw the arena: the toreador turns, swivels

The flesh palette: muscle hurls paint

A pool of bled charcoal: black drop

Spanish ocher unripped: the cloak redless

A rage white: that extra horn trespasses, rounds

Slices the man chestless: screams heart

Halves the arena: a receding crowd, flattened in a door

Effaced circles: regard the features hurl back

A boxed bull’s eye watches: talons grip

Feed on that mass: wound contorts red into wound



Sarah Riggs will publish Word Sightings: Poetry and Visual Media in Stevens, Bishop and O’Hara in summer 2002 (Routledge). Her poetry also appears in this year’s New American Writing, and her abstract paintings are on display in Montreal ( in September.