A Time for Poetry

Papercut Heart – inspired by the poem My Heart by Michael Martinez
Watercolor, 2018

I have a 13-year-old nephew named Michael Martinez that, like many boys his age, idolizes rappers, hip-hop artists and musicians that can drop rhymes without any effort. Unfortunately, many of the songs created by them, with the exception of Macklemore – whom I’ve come to really respect for this, focus on disrespecting other people, especially women. Listening to this music everyday lead Michael to treating young ladies his own age the same way, yet, in his heart there is a great depth of love and yearning for acceptance that is betrayed by his learned actions and responses. Where does rejection lead us but to isolation, and it’s there in that place that we become vulnerable to others with the worst of intentions for us.

So, I’ve been challenging Michael to open up to his true self – his poet’s heart. To rhyme about love, its benefits and pitfalls, about life and its joys and sorrows, and everything in between minus the disrespect or lowering of any other person to bring yourself higher by comparison.

It’s a culture change for him, but he’s trying and the results are evident.

MyHeart_PoemMy Heart, the poem that inspired Papercut Heart, Michael wrote on a whim one day. It was deceptively simple, so simple that after first reading it I didn’t really think much of it. However, I was immediately intrigued by the last line of the poem – it was so startlingly somber that it warranted more understanding. I reread the poem and, for myself, realized its emotional brilliance and I just wanted to capture that and frame it.


As for Papercut Heart, I decided to push my comfort barriers too. I have never used watercolors before, but a friend of mine at work, Megan Renteria, inspired me and gave me some to try, so I decided to put them to use for this project, an art piece for The River Shop Cafe’s The Color of Love exhibition.

I tried to have each line in Michael’s poem visualized as a layer in the piece, either with meaningful colors or with meaningful silhouettes. I learned a lot during this project about watercolors, their blending abilities, and difficulty in creating anything with detail – for a beginner, or rather for me. I love the color depth and vibrance though.

Naturally, inspiration did not stop at one piece of art, but also carried over into writing a new poem. I wrote The Colors of Love based on the exhibition and used it as inspiring words for others that may have wanted to participate in the exhibition, but needed a creative jumpstart.


“Sunset of Love” by Manuel Rubio-McMillon

As it turned out, it did the trick… my husband, Manuel, decided to participate and created a digital mixed-media piece for the exhibition as well, using my poem as part of his piece. Our relationship of complement and conflict was the basis for the poem, so it delights my heart that he was mused to create by it.


The Colors of Love

Love, like the sky, changes mood,
As dramatically as it does hues.
Ever present, ever there – taken for granted as we stare
It can feel – it can be – different to you, to me:

One horizon to the next, has a dizzying effect,
A pop of pink, a shade of red, a purple spread
Across us all, to the stars, the unknown – distant and far –
We become estranged, as we watch the sky change.

But, with you: it’s never that stark in the dark.
You watch purple fade to black, knowing it’ll crack
Giving way to new shades, each with more beautiful grades
Than in the sky that I see, the love inside me.

– Nolli



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