Why We Paint

Sure we think we see properly


we’re inverting every scene seen

the mirrors in our eyes

turning the soul on its ear

the view we think we hear

all at the sake of liberty

here a canvass has lost its sheer

white to the painter’s demanding hand

and soon it looks a lot like what was in the painter’s head

but not quite

not exactly

and the painter looks like the painting

but not quite

not exactly

the painter looks a bit more abstract

looking at his self portrait

he sees himself trying to hide

behind a frenzy of acyrlic

he knows most people are too afraid to see beyond the white

and he knows “I don’t know” and “I don’t get it”

are the most common responses to what he paints and writes

so when he hangs his abstract soul on the gallery wall

he hangs it upside down

knowing our eyes will turn it right side up.

4 thoughts on “Why We Paint

  1. Betty Hayes Albright

    A most original poem! The painter hanging his art upside down, “knowing our eyes will turn it right side up”… makes me wonder what else (besides the images in the eye) that our brains correct, that we might not be aware of… which leads me to wonder: what of those perceptions of reality that the brain isn’t correcting? Cool to ponder this – I love the poem!

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      Thank you Betty! I was a terrible student of science but I remember the day I learned how the eye inverts images and I’ve felt upside down ever since.

  2. granbee

    Wonderful parallels drawn here between abstract self-portrait and inverted word pictures that required “hearing” of the verses. The ear of the soul: I really, really like this affect, Peter. I would SO enjoy reading more lines expanding upon the listening soul that is best viewed hung upside down. We are so accustomed to viewing you in reverse by now, Peter!

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      Rose! I am very grateful you can get me from all sides. And if you want more lines about the listening soul, simply close your eyes in a quiet room. You will hear your soul listening.


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