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Munch, on Dagny Juell*

after the lithograph, Jealousy II, by Edvard Munch, 1896
Everything about her is irresistible:
her long black hair that falls into my face
when we make love,
her red lips the color of blood flower.
And what's more, she loves me too
even though she is the wife of my close friend
and risks her marriage to meet me afternoons
in my studio in the backstreets of Berlin.
Her husband is outraged but she claims
he does not know her as well as I do
or the other men at the Cafe zum schwarzen Ferkel.
Yes, she has been with a few of them too
but she says I am her most passionate lover,
when I gaze into her eyes I see her soul
and there is nothing she can hide.
In truth, she says, I can never belong to any man,
I am too weak, and then she says,
we are too weak, Edvard, that is why
we will never stay together
and why we need each other so much
we embrace like this in the afternoon light--
surely all of Berlin can see. 

* - published in The Girl Eating Oysters, by Stewart Florsheim, 2River Chapbook Series, 2004

Rembrandt, Petulant

after the etching, Self-Portrait, Frowning, by Rembrandt, 1630
Perhaps the men from the guild decided
not to buy the Rembrandt after all
and chose a Lastman instead, 
or Saskia complained once too often
about how cold it is in his Leiden flat
and wouldn't life be better if he had
a proper house in Amsterdam, 
so Rembrandt goes into his study and etches his image
into the wax: brows furrowed, lips sealed
to prevent him from saying what he should. 
But he was never very good with words, 
they always got him into trouble like this morning
when the green grocer tried to sell him
an overripe banana and Rembrandt called him a klotzak
so now he won't be able to go in there for days
and Saskia will have to extend his apologies. 
Rembrandt continues etching the lines of his forehead, 
each one for another man from the guild, 
may they all end up at the bottom of a canal.

Stewart Florsheim has poetry in DoubleTake, Seattle Review and Slipstream. His poetry is also included in the anthologies Unsettling America: Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary American Poetry, Bittersweet Legacy, and And What Rough Beast.

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