Harvest for the taxman

Posted: April 21, 2012 in Poetry, urban poems

1) This is in response to this week’s poetic prompt on ‘taxes, duties, obligations etc’ at http://dversepoets.com/this-is-us/

2) At the Tate Modern’s Paul Gauguin exhibition was a painting ‘Harvest Le Pouldu’ that had the following note: Accepted by HM Government in lieu of tax and allocated to Tate Gallery’

The Brittany sea is not blue, not really.
Peer close and you see brush strokes
in its surface. A multitude of strokes and
colours. Not just hues of blues, but a pallet
embracing purple and lavender that
flow out from the headland at Le Pouldu.

Blocks of colour; sombre deep greens and
bolshie browns jut out from the land and only
then do you catch a glimpse of black-masted
yachts lost at sea. But it’s the heart of the scene
that steals the show, sweeping its way across
the canvas, a swathe of yellow to root the eye.

A harvest of brush strokes nudging
the coastline, ripe for reaping. And as
a blue clad figure toils away going about
their business, Gaugin’s red fox looks at
you looking in on this corner of France.

The brush-stroked colours ebb and flow, but
it’s the note on the gallery wall that steals
my eye and raises a question. Did you beggar
yourself before handing this over to the taxman?

Please don’t tell me there was a roof over your head,
a car in the garage, food in your fridge, before
you parted with this window on Brittany.

Tell me you were destitute.

Tell me that tears of blue, purple, lavender and yellow
tumbled down your face as it was packed away.

Tell me your begging bowl was empty as you sat on
the street, as your final harvest was gathered in.

  1. claudia says:

    whew…you are fast…smiles… love how you describe the painting..and then the painter…so many artists are fighting so hard to survive..i’ve heard that van gogh tried to sell his sunflower painting for about 120 dollar and now it’s worth millions….really like your take on the prompt…and the tate modern is still a place i have to visit

  2. brian miller says:

    in lieu of tax…ack…i guess if it is all you have to barter, though a painting must be of greater worth than money when you put your soul into it…really fine job on the description of the painting…i am glad you did not post a pic as i rather like what i came up with mentally from your words…

  3. Shawna says:

    Ugh. That’s a sock in the gut … the things we have to tear ourselves away from to pay the tax man and keep things in order. This is my favorite part:

    “but it’s the note on the gallery wall that steals
    my eye and raises a question. Did you beggar
    yourself before handing this over to the taxman?”

  4. zongrik says:

    great analysis of the colors!

    duty to challenge

  5. This is stunning! What a deep and searching write, exploring both the art and the artist. And it flows brilliantly. Very nice piece of work!

  6. ManicDdaily says:

    I just adore this. Seriously. Well, I like Gauguin and there is something particularly ironic about HIS painting being used to pay taxes. But you describe the painting so well, and your feeling of the angst that should have been involved in the payment is just terrific. Just wonderful. This has really made me feel wonderful about this prompt. Thanks much. K.

  7. hobgoblin2011 says:

    Really cool write. I love that “Did you beggar yourself?” just such a cool way of saying that. Very nice job. Loved the piece. Thanks

  8. joanbarrettroberts says:


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