Poetry by Neil Ellman


(after the painting by Adolph Gottlieb)

Yellow circle on a pale white background

Adolph Gottlieb’s The Aftermath

After the aftermath

a yellow sun

a blister on the skin of time

when time itself caught fire

and simmered in its throes

before the end

the rattle of its destiny

from tongues of light

a quiver, a yowl

then afterwards the sun

without a past

or after after-here

yellow in its solitude.


Existing to be Touched

(after the monotype by Dana Schutz)

Dana Schutz' Existing to be Touched

Dana Schutz’s Existing to be Touched

To be touched is to exist.

To touch is to create your world.


To feel your hand upon my breast

is all I need.


I need to make you feel

as if there were nothing more.


Even your eyes touch, like lips,

the space between.


I will make you believe

that you are more.


Then I exist, I am

more than you can touch.


Green and Tangerine on Red

(after the painting by Mark Rothko)

Mark Rothko's Green and Tangerine on Red

Mark Rothko’s Green and Tangerine on Red

To solve the riddle

of green and tangerine on red

subtract the eyes

then nose

then any semblance of a face

that knows

that it knows

the reason it was green

not blue

tangerine not gray

and red

without the features of a cat

or man

alone and blinded by the sun

in a land he cannot see.

the solution will appear

as if it were always there

in a field of green and tangerine

on red

without a face to call its own

if ever it was something else.