Poem/Painting #2: “Deception”

3/28/09, 12″ x 12″ x 2 1/4″, mixed media.


The days still bulge
with a heat
thick as wool

too wet
for even the night
to pierce.

The weight of the air
pushes, as if it
won’t release

its long, moist tongue
for months –
and yet

the blurring litany
of the cicadas
augurs toward

what cannot
be missed
in passing through

the woods
in search
of shadows,

beyond the drooping
and the parched faces

of black-eyed susans:
the peeling sycamore,
its leaves already

piling, brown,
released insistently
toward eager


stuccoing the earth,
insensitive to our sadnesses,
their deciduous

by time’s seasons

and not the heart
that wraps itself around

desires we claim
as reason.

– Ori Soltes

About the Poem/Paintings Series
When I want to begin a new body of work, I begin to think in terms of a series. In 2008 I decided I would like to find a group of poems which would be strongly visual like the poems of Wallace Stevens. I asked Ori if he knew any poets because his work touches me in two ways: he teaches art, but he is also a scholar in Jewish history and texts. He suggested that he himself had written a series of poems over the years, which he then sent me. I saw that they could be very visually stimulating, so it began . . .

About Ori Soltes
He is a Goldman Professorial lecturer in Theology and Art at Georgetown University. He has written nearly 250 books, articles, and catalog essays.

He currently teaches theology, philosophy and art history at Georgetown University. He has also taught across diverse disciplines for many years at The Johns Hopkins University, Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Siegel College in Cleveland, and other colleges and universities.