Invisible Arts

by Thomas Reed Willemain

In middle school we learned all
art began with “long sketchy lines”
and after that we were
boys on our own unskilled

unless you count stick men the
universal paleolithic alphabet of
visual expression among the
unschooled and ungifted.

Later we accepted that lack as
one of so many we never
mastered as we never mastered
Italian or women or what to say at wakes

though in time we were able to
conjure arts not taught in school by
bored teachers or in parked
cars by eager girls.

We invented arts out of nothing we
painted bedtime stories in the quiet
colors of sleepy grandchildren, sang
good mornings to the cautious

fluttering eyelids of waking wives,
invented invisible arts out of
nothing but air.


His poetry has appeared in Sheila-Na-Gig, Two Thirds North, Closed Eye Open, Dillydoun Review Poetry and elsewhere. He holds degrees from Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A native of western Massachusetts, he lives with his wife and son near the Mohawk River in upstate New York.