Self-Portrait at 38 BY JENNIFER TONGE

There are lots of ways in which I can relate to the speaker of this poem who thinks that Courbet ‘might capture’ her. I’d like to think he’d paint me as ‘L’origine du Monde’:A scandalous gift for someone important to keep hidden behind a green curtain.


An unused portion of ‘L’origine du Monde’ by Gustav Courbet

Hair still Titian,
but Botticelli’s grip has loosened—

not now Rubenesque,
and probably never;

Ingres approaches,
but Courbet might capture me.

Could I be surreal?
It seems almost likely—

bells in my ears
and fortresses under;

cones have been set on my eyes.
My spring is gone

and summer’s upon me,
rude in its ripening.

I’m espaliered, strung wide and tied,
pinioned, and thus can I fly.


Time Machine


I made the time machine from some bits I found in the kitchen,
Like an old blender that I hooked up to a computer.
It’s whir was like a purr.

“Where do you want to go with me?” I asked.
“Forwards or backwards?”

I knew you’d enjoy either.

“How about we freeze time?” you said.
“IMAGINE that…”

And I could
And then my time machine exploded.


The Potter


Throw the clay roughly to your potter’s wheel.
Watch it spin between your legs as you stroke it gently,
Play with it,
Make it wet.

Press thumbs into it, fingers,
Quicker, deeper and with more urgency
As sticky clay opens up and rises to meet you
Threatening at any moment to lose form,
Collapse in on itself: An inverted whirlpool
Of a million possibilities

Stay firm, leather hard and resolute to your task.
Run the dripping clay through your hands
So that you feel every curve and swell,
Hollow and lip of your creation
Slide and slip beneath your godly potter’s touch

Until it comes finally, with kiln and fire, to life.