Michael Lythgoe

Muse in Red with Yellow Hair


(after Picasso’s The Red Armchair, 1931)



Picasso drew her lips

& eyes with what appears to be

an ink pen. Thin lines. Mistress

& model, the painter shows her

voluptuous curves & red

stripes in the red arm chair.

Round breast beckons, curvilinear.


She hangs at the Art Institute, Chicago.

She is now my muse, too. Nancy.

Older, equally blond, curvaceous,

in a red room. I watch her paint

her own lips, small, ideally

shaped, echo of Picasso.

Red lips lure me to her face,

beneath yellow hair. Her

brown eyes & hoop earrings

bemuse me. Two Chicago women.

Picasso’s muse does not smile.


My muse—Nancy—does, she

moves in a red dress, knit, lace.

She faces me, but also looks

away, double vision. Her profile-

portrait in oils seems ready

to leave; his mistress sees Picasso

off stage. Her lips part. Room dresses

in red hues, Nancy’s red lace

on an armchair. Artists obsess.

Michael H. Lythgoe was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. His chapbook, Brasss, won the Kinloch Rivers contest in 2006. His full collection, Holy Week, is available from B&N.com as an ebook. Lythgoe received an MFA from Bennington College after service as an Air Force officer. His essay on the obsessions of artists received a literary award from the Porter Fleming Foundation in 2011. He has recent work in Windhover, Slant, The Caribbean Writer, Spillway, Cairn, The Santa Fe Review, Verge, and Petigru Review. Mike lives in Aiken, SC.



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