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Poetic License: In Memoriam Hollis Jeffcoat

By Staff | Jun 13, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED “Grande Meduse III,” by 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.)

“Jellyfish Blues”

“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

Joe Pacheco

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.


“Jellyfish Float”

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

but only