Self-Portrait in Pastels

Self-Portrait in Pastels

A Poem by Sel Whiteley


I want to be myself,
that person you dream I can be,
not your neophyte, your disciple.

I remember the knotwork
of ten thousand stitches on a loom
in a crowded, musty room in Tunisia,
where you never went.


I wished my cranial nerves
would form the perfect tapestry
not this tangled mess of rich pastels,
Aurora Borealis of beautiful tragedy.

Thoughts would glide down canals
of veins to escape my mouth

like a magician’s infinite ribbons
And you'd be proud of me then.

© 2012 Sel Whiteley

Author's Note

Sel Whiteley
written to explore the theme of inner-self. A poem about how those with SpLDs are so easily used.

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Extraordinary mind. I have been rendered awestruck. You need no validation in long winded floral linguistic. Enlightened...teacher...I want to learn. This is awash in deliberate paradox....congratulations on so impressive a display of mental acumen...did you ever consider using the word "acolyte" rather than "disciple"?

Posted 7 Years Ago

Sel I have read your poetry for some years. After two years I am visiting this poem for the second time.This poem seems to look away from entanglement, "I don't want to be your disciple". Many of us have shared the experience of emotional entanglement. Trust and want dims our self-preserving instincts as we enjoy the journey of confusion. The sun is bright the colors are wonderful but the edges are frayed. Only our desire to believe, or perhaps to 'not believe' keeps our soft little world in stasis. How much better it is to see life beyond the perfect little canvas of emotional entanglement.

This poem is wonderfully written and touches me.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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i really like the flow, the imagery, how the words are pieced together so eloquently, I don't understand it completely, but it felt good to read...

Posted 9 Years Ago

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Oh Sel, how I fear you are no longer here after reading the date of this last glorious post.
The concept of making oneselves, as a loom weaves material into a new form.__perhaps to entertwine through yMaybe he could learn about what you hold in your head out mouth; this woud somehow make him proud of you. If you want to go ahead.@

Posted 10 Years Ago

I really loved your imagery. It was clear and precise and contributed greatly to the power of the piece. Great poem :)

Posted 10 Years Ago


Posted 10 Years Ago

A truly amazing write. Aurora Borealis of beautiful tragedy! It gets me everytime. Thanks so much for sharing this.,

Posted 10 Years Ago

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you are an amazing writer and person

Posted 10 Years Ago

Wow. Wow.

So much here. First off the irony of the first stanza is shocking - Wanting to be yourself but that self is based on what another thinks about you...adding that to the final line..."and you'd be proud of me then"... Irony drips from the setting.

The use of language to describe the function of mind. Knotwork - stitches - nerves - tapestry - veins - channels --- describing the process using concrete forms lends itself to writing and poetry especially.

I spent some early years suffering from self-induced schizophrenia (not the same as SpLd I realize. But I refer to my own process of making sense of things). I vividly recall 'fighting' my way out of the labyrinth by almost physically re-routing my mental processes. Many's the time I ran the hallways and crashed the doors inside my mind looking for the true light. Your poem took me back there in a healthy beneficial way.

Bless you for continuing your journey Sel. Bless you for sharing it with us.

Posted 10 Years Ago

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15 Reviews
Added on October 3, 2012
Last Updated on October 6, 2012


Sel Whiteley
Sel Whiteley

Toulouse, France

Peace activist and development worker more..


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