Image-ine Poetry: “Plywood Archer #1” by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave

image-ine lisa hess hesselgrave plywood archer 1

Writing poetry from art ignites creativity and helps you become a better writer. Join Maureen Doallas in this Image-ine exercise based on Lisa Hess Hesselgrave‘s “Plywood Archer #1.”



The tall beauty comes armed
for the kill, always on the hunt,

her cloak loose about shoulders
to leave free the hand that pulls

no errant arrow of sudden death.
She targets with a fury, birthing

and dying her twins held fast in
wrathful sight. Beneath a crescent

moon she worships with a passion,
favors the beasts and fowl — stag

and boar, hound and hawk, the four
golden-horned deer now harnessed

to her chariot of gold. Witness her
bow and swear oaths of allegiance;

bestow the amaranth that does not
soon fade, the garlands of asphodel

that shade the underworld in grey.
Artemis, immortal midwife, she-

bear and virgin, patron of the wild,
takes her stance, readies her shoot.

Write a poem of your own based on Lisa’s image “Plywood Archer #1,” or choose a line from Maureen’s poem as a starting place. Post on your blog and link to us (we love that), or just drop your poems here in the comment box.

This is the fourth in a series of Image-ine Poetry posts based on Lisa Hess Hesselgrave‘s paintings.


See the first Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

See the second Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

See the third Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

See the fourth Image-ine Poetry post in this series.

Explore other Image-ine Poetry exercises.

Painting: “Plywood Archer #1.” (charcoal on plywood, 2013) by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave. Used with permission. Poem by Maureen Doallas, author of Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems.


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    • says

      Maureen I am wild about this series. I don’t want it to end. I am discovering more deeply the connection between art and words, painting and poetry for sparking the imagination. Releasing creativity. Thank you for your brilliant lead in this word play.

      I hope we are nearing the ends. I love to discover your poetry written from the visual prompt.

      No errant arrow of sudden death…love the illiteration of it and how it rolls of the tongue. :)

      • says

        Thank you, Elizabeth; I very much appreciate your generous comments.

        The story of Artemis is, of course, ancient; I tried to introduce some elements of that story into my more contemporary take. I have an original artwork titled “Artemis”. I’ve had it for years and always find it wonderful to look at.

        I think I wrote one other, or, I should say, three different poems for another of Lisa’s works; the shortest is the one I like best. Perhaps that will be posted, too.

  1. says

    Cross-bow In Sepia

    She dreamed of pulling back, taut and tight
    Left eye closed
    To enhance the vision of the right
    Squarely hitting her target
    After days and weeks of practice
    Under the cloak of night

    Movement by day
    And dreams by night
    Blurred in browns and creams
    Pinks and tans of her sepia colored world

    She never meant to harm
    Her heart was simply
    Set on love

    As she awoke
    To a slow brightening
    Asleep no longer
    drowning in her dreams

    Color floods her world
    Drowning out the shades of
    Her chocolate colored
    Of love, of him

    Her bow no longer needed
    She lays it down
    Her love

    In shades of sepia

    • says

      I like that opening “She dreamed of pulling back”; it could lead the poem (release it) anywhere.

      I also like your choice of the word “sepia”; Lisa’s “Archer” has those reddish-brown tints. (I’m always curious about word derivations, and learned that this word comes from the Gk for cuttlefish, which releases its ink into water. )

  2. says

    she takes a stance, readies her shoot
    zing! arrow flies
    rotation slight because
    she dragged release
    damn this skirt. she rips
    it off, bottom upward
    long hair flies
    as the jagged Xena the warrior
    princess skirt brushes toned
    her indian friend, the one
    with red hair, taught her
    how to hold her recurve bow; she even
    showed the proper
    form, stances, and skills. would the expert
    at this moment caught
    as a charcoal shadow
    dusted across target’s backstop of
    or would she rally because miss darlene
    busted free of standing rule shackles
    and squatted?
    she takes a stance, readies her shoot
    zing! arrow flies
    straight. no sin this

    (as a fairly newbie archer, iLike this prompt a whole lot. i, too shoot a recurve bow. in the image, the archer is left-handed. and the way her arms flow, one into the other, like a wide arrow, amazing.)


      • says

        Miss Maureen – I don’t know much about art and its terms and lingo, but I see great beauty in her pieces. Wow. Her lack of detail allows the viewer to fill in intricacies with a varying perspective, depending on their current mood. So clever.

        Thanks for that link.


        • says

          You’ve hit on one of the things that makes her works narratives. The art is minimalist yet full of story, and the story may be told in as many different ways as there are viewers. I think that’s a reason I was able to write so many poems for this series; every time I looked at one of her artworks, I saw a story that simply had to be translated into words.

          And don’t worry about art terms or lingo. Art only requires that we be willing to look and see and, if so moved, to respond. And not responding is ok, too.

          Thank you. Glad you had a moment to look at her other pieces in the “Archer” group.

  3. says

    I thought I’d share this; it’s today’s poem by Witter Bynner and fits well with “Archer”:

    At the Touch of You
    by Witter Bynner

    As the touch of you,
    As if you were an archer with your swift hand at the bow,
    The arrows of delight shot through my body.

    You were spring,
    And I the edge of a cliff,
    And a shining waterfall rushed over me.
    (In Public Domain)

    I like its simplicity and yet depth, and how Bynner translates that arrow’s meaning.


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