Study for Portrait (Man in a Blue Box)  1949-1.jpg


I had a shadow once

Before the lights went out

When rising sun would come and go


Stretching long—

My breath

In and out

Steady and slow.



When I sat inside

A box of my own making

Mildewed with sweat and

The time it took

To bind my hands behind my back

With words

Dripping and shaking

Down the side of my mouth

Between my fingers


Melted phrases lingered

In puddles of regret.



As any dripping is destined to do

It stopped—

The words and the attempts

The lies and the threats and

The twisting what I knew

Into some odious stew

Congealing at my wrists now

Tying tight

Where veins once pumped

With infiltrating light

Despite my neatly buttoned cuffs.



The moisture in my box of one

Slithered with a life of its own

Not sharing its breeding

With lips from which its seething

Origins had come—

Popping in fits of spasms

My words touched,


Held the necks of those

The ones

Whose orgasms quietly signaled

They had come

And bitterly screamed

A dying sigh in the wake of

The height of life

Only to fall into a gathering pool

Once more—

A swampland of need

Filled with eloquent letters

And with greed for

Passion spent

Magic lent from the mind of one—

Of me—

Who let colloquy

Writhe for too long.



In my demise

I forgot the soul behind my eyes

And arrogance circled around

My dilated pupils

Making me blind and

I laughed in the absence of perception

Held my tongue out

For others to see

Licked the breasts of the ones

Who fell into my reverie—

My tongue,

That member of the living

That wags when it wants to be heard

And brushes against sacred places

When it wants to taste the hearts

Pulsating within

The living disturbed—

And I laughed


The one who told the stories

Sold them for free

Except for ultimate recompense:

One psyche at a time.



My box was erected in safety

Constructed to save me

While I pulled the strings

That gave the illusion of

Being free

And all the time I hid

I was hiding

Hiding, not even trying

To truly be seen.



My time in the box

Was marvelous


I felt the spit loosen and

Roll down my tweed-covered hill—

As I said once before

What used to be

Turned into no more

And I like a man frozen in time

Felt death approach

Cloaked in the air of my

Long-winded crime.



I opened my mouth

Wide and dark

Tied a noose to my memory

Jumped from hope

Felt the squeeze of life

Shrivel, impart

But I did not die

Would never know why

My shadow slipped through the cracks

Then I was alone with an eternal groan

Stripped of even a whisper—

Only ashes of freedom

No chance to atone.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by Francis Bacon’s piece entitled, Study for Portrait (Man in a Blue Box), 1949.