Portrait of the Artist

if in the art of being human... the palette is the heart...

where do we begin to draw the line?

and if we are assuming... that the end can be a start...

is it too much to be asking for a sign?

... 

I can accept the subtle nuance... of a sad song sung as seance

I can see you smiling through this vale of tears...

there's a portrait in my mind's eye... of you silhouetted against a sunset sky...

and it's all I've got... to see me through the years...

...

the canvas stands on the easel... they still canvass for the sails;

they say a seaman's songs are written on the wind...

rope of hemp and sisal... a hull battered by the gales...

hungry hearts... hope to see home port again.

...

the pleasures of the harbour... echo in my mind...

my memory clouds, like the morning mist...

friends and neighbours gather... wondering how life can be so unkind...

still, knowing you... has made mine blessed...

...

in essence, I guess it's selfish... like some sort of penny-ante well wish;

but there's a hole in my heart that you used to fill...

and this 'portrait of the artist'... just a thumbnail sketch with a cruel twist...

vivid enough, to make the time stand still.

if in the art of being human, the palette is the heart...

can you see this song... etched blood red as wine....

   ...this song came to me all of a piece, as fast as I could write it down, many years ago one morning when I had been asked to sing a tune or two at an art exhibit opening at the AGP (Art Gallery of Peterborough) ; posthumous for Michael Behnan (for whom this song was written) but also for his longtime companion Lynda Lapeer, also some years deceased as of this writing. I 'petitioned the vapours' and was presented with this song, which I gladly presented some hours later. Michael was a true renaissance man, a powerful visual artist (specializing in 'monoprints', a process by which he would coat a sheet of glass with ink, and subtract from that with Q-tips, more often than not. The image would then be printed to a sheet of heavy paper, one copy only.

    Michael was also a talented singer/songwriter (with two strong albums of original material utilizing the talents of local musicians such as JP Hovercraft (bass, of course), Jim Leslie (drums) George Bertok (keyboards). Michael gigged regularly in a duo format with Marty Hepburn in a more acoustic setting. He was a huge fan and solid interpreter of the songs of American singer Phil Ochs, hence the references to 'Pleasures of the Harbour'; arguably Och's masterpiece.

   The title is also a tip of the hat to Irish author James Joyce, Apparently book and song titles are not subject to copyright  limitations. This song came to mind when a picture of Jim Joyce appeared on FB today, cradling a lovely little guitar that I mooned over (under glass at Joyce's former tower residence south of Dublin) many years ago when I was a young man, transparent self portrait looking back at me, with James' guitar underneath. I've read somewhere that Joyce was a fine tenor, and also somewhere else that there was never an Irish tenor not destined for hell. (see ya there, J.J.)...

 

 

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