Poetic License: In Memoriam Hollis Jeffcoat
(Internationally acclaimed artist and painter Hollis Jeffcoat passed away on April 30. A fifth generation Floridian, Jeffcoat was born in Fort Myers and lived on Sanibel. In 2011, as a member of ArtPoems, I had the honor of collaborating with Jeffcoat and chose her painting “Grande Meduse III” as the inspiration for the ArtPoem “Jellyfish Blues.” I was so overwhelmed by the collaboration that I wrote “Jellyfish Float,” a “shaped” poem I presented to her as an aperitif or gift. Jeffcoat may be gone, but her memory will live on in her paintings and the art she inspired.)
“I aint got no body, aint got a spine,
Take me out of water, aint worth a dime,
But let me jellyfish float in the blue-green sea
And what an amazing creature I can suddenly be.”
What can you say about a blob like me?
I have no body, I lack a spine,
I can’t stand up or look you in the eye – I have no eyes,
I can’t cross a room and kiss you because
I can only move up and down and I have no lips.
It’s easy to see right through me and know
I must always go with the flow,
I’m gooey and slimy and wash up on beaches
Looking like an overused plastic bag.
Or you can say I’m the ultimate minimalist life form,
The first to feed, procreate and protect itself
Without hard feelings or lust for a body,
The first to live forever, bloom and thrive
In the rotting toilet men are making of the sea.
Look at me now in this painting:
In my jellyfish float and fetal position,
Drifting along with the current, you can see
Tentacles huddled together tightly
To protect me from the sea horse stallions
And Poseidon, God of the sea in Greek mythology
Who gave me the name Medusa, said my hair
Was full of snakes and I could turn men into stone
With one dirty look. But don’t be afraid.
Look now at the northeast part of me. Can you see the Indian head
Of the Buffalo Nickel? Keep looking at me, looking at me,
At gelatinous, chameleon, bioluminescent me,
I’m mostly blues and greens but tonight I will glow
Like a phosphorescent moon in the sky of the sea,
Singing my jellyfish blues to any star that will listen.
I love the way
Hollis nursed the light
from the breast of her brush
onto her canvas: She’s whipped
me into a shake of aqua greens
and blues laced with splashes
of vanilla and tropical tapioca,
a float in the gently flowing
cup of an impasto
sea. Drink me
if you wish