if you are Chagall

Keith Flynn Click to

Keith Flynn (www.keithflynn.net) is the author of seven books, including five collections of poetry. His most recent titles include The Golden Ratio (2007), Colony Collapse Disorder (Wings Press, 2013) and a collection of essays entitled The Rhythm Method, Razznatazz and Memory: How to Make Your Poetry Swing (Writer’s Digest Books).  Flynn is founder and managing editor of The Asheville Poetry Review.

[audio:http://shenandoahliterary.org/612/files/2011/08/If-You-are-Chagall.mp3|titles=If You are Chagall]

                                                                 Vitebsk, Belarus

 If you are Chagall

then you believe that

fish can thresh wheat.

If you are Rodin,

the gods are your

playthings and their

hands are perfect.


The total work of art

is achieved through the

soul’s inner necessity,

the way music persuades

without argument.


In this world the horses

want to stand on their

back feet and walk

like a man, towering

over the human who

has infuriated them.


All the chimneys become

holy relics and the hills

raise their skirts and

cancan, with the trees

for legs and blue feet

built from pools of water,


kicking their heels as high

as the light will allow.

From the shore the boats

are dwarfed, meager vessels

whose eager travel is

blown to molecules, notes


of the sky that prompt

the boiling ocean to pound

all attempts to tame it.

Gravity has long been

banished from this kingdom,

where the moon is the


only law and the horses

walk upright into the waves.

Their riders trail like birds

in the barking wake.

Every horse is secretly,

romantically, involved with


the sea and when they

sleep they dream of

whales flying unimpeded

through the deep music.

(Fish pity the cities).