Poem 327 ± April 26, 2016

Elizabeth Beck
Basquiat! Radiant child

Haitian-Puerto Rican son
spiritual descendant of the Dutch painter
sharing the same fate
birth after death of your brothers

Vincent signed his canvas
to mimic his brother’s gravestone
you, Jean-Michel, signed SAMO

lower Manhattan your canvas
before encoded text, cartography of your own kind
standing in paint-splattered Armani, brush in hand
resurrecting Nubian slaves as reminders of history (to white liberal feminists)
scraping Gray’s Anatomy collage images
gift from your mother insane inheritance
before heroin resurrected your soul

from legacy of colonial enterprise interwoven
text within your locks transformed into paintings
within the space of only eight years
member of 27 Club not solace enough

chasing the dragon in sunny Los Angeles
to the Ivory coast ending finally
on your ranch in Hawaii
Afro-Atlantic traditional art
not enough to sustain
beyond your friendship
with Andy tragically lost
to the decade
you sought to escape


Elizabeth BeckElizabeth Beck is the author of Interiors (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and insignificant white girl (Evening Street Press, 2013). Her work has appeared in Suisan Valley Review, Kudzu Magazine, Poetica Magazine, Her Limestone Blues Anthology, TRIVIA, Chaffey Review, Evening Street Review, Pluck!, Red River Review, Rusty Nail, and Harvard Education Press, among other journals. Elizabeth lives with her family on a pond in Lexington, Kentucky.

This poem, not previously published, is part of a manuscript of ekphrastic poems entitled Painted Daydreams.