Poem – The Fiction of Art (By Lee Marc Stein)


The Fiction of Art


Captive on canvas, a gray-haired man stands,

palms outstretched, shoulders in deep shrug,

pleading with a woman bone-thin with rage

who aims an arthritic finger at him.

An orange cat cowers under a corner table.

How long has she been mad at him,

this man who plays husband — minutes, decades?


The couple the artist depicts are her parents.

Mr. Ridge exits the painting, walks to the kitchen,

returns to the living room with a tray

that holds tea, scones, a bowl of milk

for the white cat on Mrs. Ridge’s lap.

She smiles you’re always so very kind.


When they first saw the work in Mystic gallery,

they were stunned into stone.  He cried

Why would Riva do a thing like this?

She screamed How often did she see me

angry with you?… we never had an orange cat.


Hours driving back, they dive into their daughter’s psyche.

Verge of her breaking down? Condemnation from

Riva’s own child for mythic battles fought

with a variety of lovers? Revenge for not endorsing

her leaving the money game to take up painting?


Returning from the gallery visit, he picked up his iPad,

sat down next to his wife, Googled “Riva Ridge.”


Lee Marc Stein


Lee Marc Stein

Lee Marc Stein is a retired direct marketing consultant living in East Setauket, New York. His poems have been published in Blast Furnace, Blue & Yellow Dog, Blue Lake Review, Message in a Bottle, Miller’s Pond Poetry, River Poets Journal, Slow Trains Journal, Still Crazy, Subliminal Interiors, Write Place at the Write Time and The Write Room. His first book of poetry, Whispers in the Galleries, features ekphrastic poems.


Lee has had short stories published in Bartleby Snopes, nicollsroad, Write Place at the Write Time, Cynic Online, and Down in the Dirt. He leads workshops at Stony Brook University’s Lifelong Learning program on modern masters of the novel.