The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Stephen Boyce: 4 Portraits

 Poem by Stephen Boyce, UK (Published in Issue 26)


Four Portraits

The Dutch Painter

His curls are the colour of articulate shale

in the open cupboard where he shows his work,

a memory of brushstrokes

in the dark background of a Rembrandt.

His eyes glisten with raw pigment,

red and blue like the flame

of a medieval lighthouse

dancing on the choppy midnight sea.

The Vietnamese Psychologist

Comfortable shoes

form a small dark plinth

beneath her linen skirt.

Her smile is straight

and her long plait falls

quite perpendicular to it.

Stillness is everything.

The African Architect

He enters, buttressed and braced,

but still a little wobbly,

a small tremor fading into time-gone-by.

In hands like succulents he holds the camera

as if it were a wounded bird,

still strong enough and determined to fly.

The Cuban Poet

These fingers are eloquent exhibitors

of all kinds of fruit and flowers,

delicate manipulators of leaves and roots.

He points, he palms, he pinches

to conjure scents and textures, juices and infusions.

He holds a cocoa pod, the yellow fruit split,

the slimy seed prolapsed.

He urges us to bite on the bitter nut inside.


Stephen Boyce lives in Winchester, Hampshire in the UK. He works as a consultant to arts and heritage bodies. His poetry has been published widely in magazines and anthologies in the UK and he has been a prizewinner in the Kent & Sussex, Leicester, Ledbury, Ware Poets and Plough Prize competitions. His full length collection Desire Lines (Arrowhead Press 2010) was described by Katherine Gallagher as “intelligent, sophisticated, formally assured… a truly exciting new voice”.