Image-ine Poetry: “Girl in Street” by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave

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


Pure as Sarin

The milkweed pods scattered
when the moon split. The sky
smoked, rust-rubbed; clouds,
cottony cockleburs, stout with
the seed that is the last thing
the girl in the street saw fall.

It was black rain that came,
no warning from the belly
of the bomber.

You don’t get time to be more
than the victim with no name.
You run in whatever you have
on, a too-hot blue-paved street
quieting behind every foot fall.


All the Information We Have

That girl in the street could
have been making snow
cones. I seen her once, back
when Carnival come to town,

working hard to keep straight
all the orders. She was pretty
in her clean aqua shirtwaist,
banded sleeves all puffy, a row

of French pearl buttons running
down the front (she said they
lengthened her frame). Got her
a pair of hips, that one; ample,

always attracted the lookers.
Don’t know why she’s bare
-footed in this picture, on her
side; not one visible mark on

her peach-painted skin, no
penciled brow I could see
to clue me in, just her lyin’
there like she needed a nap

real bad and couldn’t wait
till she got home. Who lies
on the pavement like that.
I got nothing on her at all.

Like: how far she is from that
fishing pier where the sheriff
found two kids a week ago
Sunday. Like: who would put

big black Lab bones inside two
white plastic garbage bags
inside a box marked Attn:
and no return-receipt address.

All the information we have is
what we have to go on. Please
check back for regular updates.
Know something? Say something!

Write a poem of your own based on Lisa’s image “Girl in Street” 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 last 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: “Girl in Street.” (oil on canvas, 11 x 11, 1990) by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave. Used with permission. Poem by Maureen Doallas, author of Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems.


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  1. says

    Just because

    we all know her voice,
    mother, daughter, sister, friend.

    Some times it’s too far away to hear a scream,
    or there isn’t one;

    nevertheless, we shake
    our heads at the news,

    or someone ushers us
    out of the room from the floor,

    where we were playing
    and fear rises from a memory—

    a hand rescued from a hot stove
    when we felt the touch of fear.

    When the dress is too familiar,
    and the hair resembles…

    we turn the dead bolt twice
    and pull the door against it after.

    When the dress is small and blue,
    the architecture of the houses too familiar,

    we walk to switches in our halls,
    we slice the darkness with an open door,

    and let our hearts still for the small
    breaths sleeping where the lights fall.

  2. says

    Rereading Pure as Sarin, your first stanza reminds me of the opening scene in Un Chien Andalou by Luis Buñuel, when clouds “split” the full moon, just before the razor and the woman’s eye. Did you have that in mind at all?

  3. says


    After a winter wears a soul
    Right down to the marrow
    It’s a wonder really
    This ole bag of bones
    Got any life left in her insides
    Cold sears every ounce of flesh
    Like white hot coals cook that
    Raw meet in the summa time
    Making a check board pattern
    All pretty

    When Spring came
    Hope blew in on the backs
    Of the bees dumpn pollen
    Here there
    On both sides of that Alabama
    County road

    It’s where he left me
    All used up and worn slap out
    By love
    Thought I’d met my man

    But after these tears done dried up
    I’m gonna get back up
    Start over in love again

    I ain’t gonna let em see my blue eye
    Black too
    Peace like a river attends my soul

    This ain’t nothin but
    A little casual

    Down by the creek
    That’s where you’ll find me
    Washing off
    What’s left of love

  4. says

    Maureen very exquisite, this first poem. Would you consider submitting it :) it is perfectly haunting. So much energy, movement and life spun in a tightly woven piece. Reading multiple times. I think im infatuated with it.

  5. says

    Threads of Blue

    Although prone
    To histrionics and
    And having a wicked sense
    Of comedic timing

    She was now
    At a loss
    For words
    Struck by the tragedy
    Of the turn of events

    And so she simply
    Laid down
    Tangled up in
    Washed in a sea of
    The blues

    What else could she do
    Being a girl
    Prone to exaggeration
    Tangled in a web
    Of her own
    Woven in threads of
    And in the end

    • says

      Elizabeth, this is a sad portrayal of the dark ladder down. I like the poetry of the weaving of events and her personnel perceptions. The structure is done well in the loom of your creation, the line breaks, the repetition.

  6. Marcy says

    Mine is very different so hang on to your seats.

    Bet she was chasing the moonlight,
    Knowing her Mother didn’t approve.
    She looks a bit like “Snow White,”
    But she’s wearing baby blue.
    Her skin reflects the moon
    Like a single cream color pearl.
    Yet no breath escapes her mouth,
    They appear to be turning blue.
    Bet she’s a size 8 and shirtwaist
    Dresses are all the rage.
    Did that just escape my lips?
    Oh my, but who in the world
    Got here first and stole her shoes,
    And designer purse I’m sure?
    Now no name or number to be found,
    Most likely it was a sick minded
    Designer looking for a pair of new shoes
    And a bag.
    Remind me to always go out looking like
    a hag.

    • says

      I don’t know, Marcy, if I agree with replacing the last word. “Hag” worked for me.

      To me this is a brave poem. It is always a risk to reflect the times in which one lives, if the times are less than graceful. This begs for a title, either on point or counterpoint. I like the way the narrator injects her(him)self into a poem describing observations that are void of expected reactions to a girl lying in the street, maybe dead, maybe unconscious. Like Elizabeth’s poem this is a brave presentation, in my opinion.

  7. Marcy says

    Your right Richard and I did mean to look like a “hag” so I wouldn’t end up being attacked for my shoes and purse. I looked at the wrong sentence at the time thinking bag was hag. I really enjoyed your comments and what you thought, that means a lot for me. Having been an Art Student it’s funny how the eye’s look at things. I spent a bit of time looking and thinking on that one, at one point I really wanted to take her blue dress home. Followed by “Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress, Devil with the blue dress on. My poor husband doesn’t “Get” poetry at all and for him to even listen to what I write is really a waste of his time. Thankful for friends here and on face book who do.


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