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Frida Kahlo Speaks of Diego Rivera

I first met him when I was twelve; he tells me I had fired eyes 
when I asked to watch him paint.
He came to my house and found me in a tree wearing overalls 
and whistling, "The International."
I wanted to bathe that pot-bellied man twice my age: I wanted 
his child-how I loved his mind. Of him I wrote:
"The earth does not suffer because of its rain."
The second time I married him I called him, "Buddha, Baby, 
Frog, Over-soul."
He had his great murals; I painted my woman's life in colored 
circles the shape of pain and tears.
Under the high cool roof of my house with its blue and yellow 
ceiling, I hated him and loved him in one consuming breath.
Soon I shall die, my ribs cracked. I ask for cremation; my 
ribbons and my man's suit will burn with my hair as it 
becomes a halo of fire, and he, who could be so cruel, will 
weep the loudest.

Coyocan, Mexico, City, December 10, 1953, my birthday, my last

Madame Roulin on Van Gogh

I got no gulden hid under my bed,
but a thick thatched roof over my head, and the painter, he 
visits; he's odd,
but his tongue is sweet. I know Vincent and Theo; the rest of 
his clan was rotten,
who think they're too good for me and my man.
They treat the lad like a cur so starved was he,
run hungry his brain.
His eyes drinking Arles.
Ablaze they see through my walls and windows.
He watch what move when he sat me to paint.
A lad too lost to know woman, afraid of kindness--
living with a slut. I'd give him my thighs for comfort, not for 
me, mind ye,
but to heal his heart, but he think me simple, paints my hand 
as if idle, my hair in a braid.
What can he know? But what I know is that when I am bone, 
and our kin
is ash, his name be cried in every town.

Arles, 1888

Elaine Starkman writes both poetry and prose, and is recently combining both forms. She's taught writing for 25 years in Contra Costa County (of the East Bay). Her work appears in eclectic journals, some on the Internet, others in Graywolf, Seal Press, Lucid Stone and Home Planet News. She has a new chapbook of poems available through her email address and a recent publication entitled A World of Suburban Tales at

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