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Color + the Body
New Poems for Deanna Sirlin's Exhibition Wavelength

Elevate  Atlanta at Chastain Gallery of the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Atlanta, Georgia
October 1, 2022

The Poets
Sharrif Simmons, E.Hughes, Melba Joyce Boyd, Charleen McClure, Andrea Jurjević and Opal Moore

Any Day Now

by Sharrif Simmons


What sound is thrumming in these colors,

Something urgent,

I hear through my eyes

A synesthesia,

Inspired by blue strokes,

Imagining moments to come,

Anticipating the next layer,

The warm yellow,

Streaking across the middle,

Like a slow melody,

Moving my fingers over steel strings.

The static image resonates with music,

A sound I know.


Orange arrives like new sunlight,

At the base of the frame,

A sudden horizon,

Rising through dark lines, reappearing at its peak, completing a cycle of days.


What we don't see is all there,

Just out of sight,

A palette of colors,

Wet brushes, dipped in acrylic, moving across blank spaces,

Illustrating urgent marks, placed perfectly where they belong.

It all feels pressing, a warning in bright colors,

Arriving as melody on my guitar.


What is her warning?

Maybe  the weather

Maybe the economy

Maybe the collapse of democracy,

The stolen legacies, the war, the racism, the inequality.

Or maybe, it’s the hope change will arrive,

Any Day Now.

sharriff edited.jpg

Sharrif Simmons with Any Day Now, 2022, Acrylic on canvas,14 x 11 inches

Sirlin_ Any Day Now, 2022_14 x 11 _edite

Deanna Sirlin, Any Day Now, 2022,Acrylic on canvas,14 x 11 inches

We Have Made a Bed of This Landscape—

Ekphrasis of Long For, 2020

by E. Hughes


The colors of our bodies—red, Klein blue sinking

into black. This is every bed peopled by the weight

of love, sagging in the middle, submitting to the will

of time. It doesn’t matter if we were here or not—

we attain no speech in this desire. Instead, we burst

like black at sunrise. Light’s golden will—a stroke of

god—is not the prosody of night, is not what we have

come to this bed to achieve.


                           Look at me—


through this imperfect line of passion. I am gone

in the weight of your body. I am gone in the mouth

of your violet touch. This sequence is all I can manage

of love—the failure of my body to reach you in this

horizon. My desire the vertical ghost interrupting this

pattern of color.


                           In this bed—


we are a sermon forgone of speech. We are this

landscape forgone of distinction. What are we

if the mountains disappear? If the trees walk

happily into unmeaning? If we call every sound

we make in this bed ocean?

E Hughes with  Long For, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Deanna Sirlin, Long For, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Deanna Sirlin, Hello Hello, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Wavelengths Inside Sunsets on Lake Huron

 by Melba Joyce Boyd


Red brightens,

blue cools,

yellow highlights

moods defining

and contouring

colors of Black space

enveloping a planet,

oscillating within

a spectrum of

light and sight.


Violets peek

between leaves.

dandelion blooms

intervene between

blades of grass,

revolting against

human control

of green space,


the black valence

of lambda,

reflections of

a sunset sinking

beneath the

water line of

Lake Huron as

the planet

rotates indefinitely

within time

indifferent to

man’s ignorance

as space frames

the moon refracting

rainbows while

owls perch

inside night

to hunt prey,

as we huddle

around fire,


small spaces,

to protect our


without colors

that shape

and define

life invisible

in the dark.


Red bleeds

into blue,

purple fractures

into lilac,

and green springs

into trees,

confirming our

belief in rebirth

and renewal

when yellow light

returns at sunrise

to assure and

to affirm us. 

melba edited.jpg

Melba Joyce Boyd with  Hello Hello , 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Homeland, Iridescent


Andrea Jurjević



Each color is a wave, a language, the totality of them—the ever-

            rising and falling bariolage of tongues—is an ocean.


And what’s there but to swim—propel the body through

            the reticent waters of teal, the chanting of chartreuse,


the prattle of purple and the professions of saffron,

            the vesper of the burning sunset and the midnight moan.


Swim that communion of color and thousandword,

            where you end and I begin in an ever-shifting ripple.


Color inscribes itself. It’s like this: we made blue love

            on a blue bed to a blue song in a roomful of blue.


And beyond the swaying bluegrass bloomed a blue cloud.

            The sea holly spiked and the muscadine swelled into speech.  


The Red Sea and the Black Sea folded into themselves, one blue

            wave into another. The sea willed the blue, so much blue:


mouthfuls of mussels, heartblue seabirds, the ransom of rain.

            Roadside chicory rayed a fiesta of blue petals and the unbent irises


stuck their blue tongues out and harmonized: azul, modrý, goluboy,

            γαλάζιο, σκούρο μπλε. Even the limestone turned blue.


And tomorrow, under the sky full of weather, we’ll dive off

            the cragged turquoise, bathe in the clear opal.

Andrea .jpg

Andrea Jurjević with Language, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches


Deanna Sirlin, Language, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

Riders on the Storm


Charleen McClure


I was drawn, I suppose,

by touch, which had no color

but pulse

             and shadow beneath each stroke

             the river pulled through my hand.


my gaze drifted

toward the hills, loosely gathered

like strangers—lilac, cerulean, violet;

looking pass their shoulders, I watch them

thinking of birds on a shore,

waiting for a thought in the wind

to break them apart

to lift them up all at once.

Charleen McClure with Hello Hello  2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Deanna Sirlin, Riders on the Storm, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Once, Upon

For Deanna Sirlin’s To Be and Been To

(a poem in two parts)


Opal Moore




My first painting teacher was color blind. All his canvases were green.

Made this Chicago girl think of landscapes I’d never seen, or ever would see

yet I saw his endless meadows full of grasses waving this way, that way.


could his spectrum-robbed eyes see in all that green-apple green, his yellow

waves of grain and fruited plains—no poke salad or collard—no

black soil hid beneath, unseen—no seedling Eve unfurling, apple


her virgin seed of arsenic fermenting. I don’t wonder if my artist-

teacher can see me through his color-blind eyes, see green girl dreams of

a she even she’s never seen—might ever see—a paintbox


yet unexplored, poured onto the floor of her lithe mind where

her bright footmarks make conjure of light, make conjure

of the body, colors christened after the sounds of her laughter


One day I would hear of a girl named Khalo—and re-name the color red.

I failed ‘color wheel’. My world is one continent shook loose into



Bintu is a name for the fragmented African

who went from village to London NY California Chicago.


If you Bintu the world is a painted meadow

of green, money-green green.


Color of got to. Color of made it.

Color of forgetful spring and all new things.


But if you Bintu, blue is body. Memory of all we did not afford

your blue body is archive hitched to moon tide


to bird that sings midnight like a clock strikes a blues-blue,

a black-blue water music of goodbye, your hello.


You will look one day for the color blue, for the path that spirit travels

back to banyan. I look, and all our shores are the inside-pink


of abandoned seashells, shores windswept green as meadow

in spring, a brand-new thing, waves of grain leaning this way and that

             as far as the eye can sing.

Opal Moore with To Be, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Deanna Sirlin, To Be, 2020,  Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches

Sirlin Been To_2022_14 x 11.jpg

Deanna Sirlin, Been To, 2022,  Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

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