Be my guest: Billy Collins: “Instructions to the Portrait Artist”

 
 

BE MY GUEST is a venue for others to share their art; I assemble between creators in my sitting room. Linear time and locality are not relevant.

Instructions to the Portrait Artist
by Billy Collins

from: Questions About Angels

I wish my head to appear perfectly round
and since the canvas should be of epic dimensions,
please trace the circle with a dinner plate
rather than a button or a dime.

 

My face should be painted with
an ant-like sense of detail;
pretend you are executing a street map
of Rome and that all citizens
can lift thirty times their own weight.

 

The result should be a strained
but self-satisfied expression,
as if I am lifting a Volkswagen with one foot.

 

The body is no great matter;
just draw some straight lines
with a pencil and ruler.
I will not be around to hear the voice
of posterity calling me Stickman.

 

The background I leave up to you
but if there is to be a house,
lines of smoke rising from the chimney
should be mandatory.
Never be ashamed of kindergarten–
it is the alphabet’s only temple.

 

Also, have several kangaroos grazing
and hopping around in the distance,
an allusion to my world travels.

 

Some final recommendations:
I should like to appear hatless.
Kindly limit your palette to a single
primary color, any one but red or blue.
Sign the painting on my upper lip
so your name will always be my mustache.

 

 

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