While working on the journal’s index this morning I noticed how many poems we have published over the years. We might go from one year to the next without any verse, but over nearly fifty years we have enough for a chapbook. Since the Blake blog is usually quiet on Fridays, I thought I could use the space to draw attention to some of these poems.

I tried to think of a snappy tag, on the lines of #marginaliamonday or #woodcutwednesday on Twitter, but couldn’t come up with a poetry-related word beginning with “f” to go with “friday.” The best I’ve thought of is #versefriday, which I know could be improved upon. Any suggestions welcome.

The poem I chose today is “Mrs. Blake Requests Her Portrait” by Paulette Roeske. It appeared in our spring 1991 issue (vol. 24, no. 4).

He keeps putting her off.
She, in her quiet way, insists.
Knowing he has a way with women,
romancing them in paint
the color of jewels, inventing
their most flattering features,
she expects he will exalt
her wifely figure,
the serviceable hips,
hair ripe with oil and smoke.
Over lunch he takes up
a dull lead stub and sketches
her profile: one miniature eye
downcast, half a mouth
and chin. Still chewing
the last bite of fish pie,
he adds a few squiggles for hair.
Pushing it across the table,
he trusts her to understand
that when he rendered Beatrice
crowned, Eve’s exquisite neck
and Bathsheba disrobed,
his vision was of Catherine.