Flowers in a Crystal Vase by Les Bares

3rd place winner of the Streetlight 2015 Poetry Contest.

Flowers in a Crystal Vase – Manet, 1882


At the members only showing
of flower paintings, we old folks
dress for comfort. Women in flats
and boutique slacks, light sweaters,
conservative colors, but still
striving for a sense of style.
We men—not so much.
A leather jacket seems to be
the best we can do. As if somewhere
in the back of our memory, a whisper
tells us this makes us debonair,
perhaps a little dangerous, walking
among still-life flower arrangements.

The young guards herd us along,
keep us from getting too close
to the art. I am warned
to put my pen away. Apparently
I am the type that might attack
a white carnation, trace blue lines
around its petals—Perhaps

we retirees are dangerous
glued to our smart phones pretending
to listen to the wi-fi podcast
on the evolution of floral composition,
when we are really secretly planning
the heist of a Manet. A lovely still-life
to adorn our graves. Clusters
of bright white light dazzling
the eye sight of the living.

Les Bares
Les Bares is a retired high school English teacher who lives in Richmond, Virginia. His poems have appeared in The Cream City Review, Spillway, Slipstream, Stand Magazine (U.K.), San Pedro River Review, Red Earth Review, Temenos, THAT Literary Review, The Foliate Oak, and other literary journals.

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