‘Heaven’s Gates:’ Portrait-Inspired Poems

As we continue distance instruction, students at Taft Freshman Academy continue to generate beautiful poems!  This week’s poems are inspired by Billy Collins’ poem, Instructions to the Artist.

Lesson Note: ‘In a time of crisis, poetry can help focus our fears and transform ‘noise into music’ … In effect, poetry “aims in every possible way to reaffirm the world that we actually inhabit, in all its vital, messy, beautiful, tragic reality. Mar 10, 2020, The Washington Post

Ms.Munoz, 9th Grade
Period One

The wonders of Ariana L.
By Ariana L.

My eyes should be as brown as leaves falling off a tree in autumn.
The background… should be as wide and blue as the pretty sky.
The size of the canvas… should be as big as Picasso’s Sistine chapel.
Also, there should be little dino´s above me like there floating in the sky.
There should be a Starbucks cup in my hand to show how much i love Starbucks.
There should be red highlights in my hair to show how my hair stands out.
There should be a cold home with a desperate need of love in it.
Draw me holding, together, my life and my brother with barely a thread.
Draw me with a home who let me in and let me fill the love I needed when I was down.
Therefore at the end, i got the love me and my brother have wished for our entire lives and we were put back together once again.

The Picture
By Arianna A.

My eyes should be glazing at the picture of the ocean
The background colors bring out the best of me
The size of the canvas fit perfectly on my favorite side of the wall
The colors on the canvas are all my feelings brought to life and just things i dream of in one
The feeling bringing me happiness something i’ve never felt before
The thought of painting your feelings away or putting it on display makes you feel better bringing what you feel to life
The weight it brings in my heart feels good and warm
My feelings towards this picture took a lot of thought and patience and i felt free
What I see, not everyone else can, people might just see it as a regular picture but if it’s something you put your feelings in it means a lot more
It means my bottled feelings are flowing away like the ocean and sundown. It’s just letting everything go and feeling relaxed and okay for once.

Ms. Munoz, 7th Grade
Period Two

By Carolyn F.

My head should be the side of a small plate,
The size of the canvas should be the size of printer paper
With eyes like those of a quarter with a dime inside
My nose is upside-down 7,
My mouth is so simple it doesn’t draw any attention

I want to look like I was just a figure of imagination

My body is just thin lines,
just like a stick figure
Make my body appear like it is floating in outer space,
flying over the moon.

The background is outer space
add some shooting stars for fun,
and some rocket ships too,
to show my love for adventure

I don’t care what it looks like,
As long as you made it
The final part,
Sign the painting twice for my Eyebrows

By Daniel P.

The background a desert
Empty noting but sand
Australia land of the roos

Canvas small
smaller than a paper map
Bigger than a pamphlet

Sitting on a chair
With Wear and tear
black small

Heaven’s Gates
By Evan B.

Make my face have a smile on it
And have my eyes be wide like i’ve seen something amazing
Make me open my mouth in excitement

Make me reach I my hand to him
Make my body glow yellow like the light of a candle
Make my wings look very detailed in the color yellow
Make my hands reach out to him

Make the background pop with bright colors
White fluffy clouds
Light blue sky
And have big yellow gates sit on one cloud

Have his arms reach out to me
Have my arms reach out to him
Have the gates open
And have him act like he is going to pull me into Heavens Gates

The Portrait with One Face
By Filip Z.

The background should be colorful and vibrant.
The beautiful summer sky taking the spotlight.
The grass enriching the place up like fertilizer to plants.
The trees adding an amazing sight like waves on a beach.
The sun should be brighter of all the backgrounds, like the star in a concert.

My head should be round oval-like all heads should be.
My eyes should be shining bright just like yours
My nose should be not too wide and not too tall
My mouth shouldn’t be like a pufferfish, flat and small

My body should be human like all of us
It should have a nice posture like a giraffe
It should have a little muscle just like you
I should look like you in the portrait

By Russell P.

I wish to have a long face
Painted with long and deliberate strokes
Pretend my face is an oddly shaped cereal bowl
With my features floating around as if they are in milk

Let your primary color be a grey-blue
Not that I want it to be sad
I think it looks cool

Have my hair connected to my head,
But free-flowing
As if underwater

Yet the background will be hills and a blue sky
Painted with strokes so lackluster it will be almost impossible to tell
The house in the background

Ms. Munoz, 7th Grade
Period Five

Volcanic Peril
By Alex B.

My eyes should be round, outlined and traced by a quarter.
The background should be exhilarating, with a dinosaur and an erupting volcano, magma and lava flowing out; make sure you use a color that represents strength and a commanding acid.

The size of the canvas should be lengthy like a desktop with the width of a window; emotion should be largely conveyed through this piece of art. With these vast dimensions, focus on details. My body should be in motion, running away from the danger; as fast as a cheetah, and as graceful as a swan.

I should portray a sense of urgency considering the circumstances, the dinosaur’s teeth shining and glaring like the sun. My mouth should be gaping open, circular like a tire and shocked with fear.

There should be a helicopter flying above, ready to swoop down and rescue me to safety. Special effects should be used, providing the feeling of suspense and action.

My outfit should be dirty, with vibrant colors underneath, symbolizing the emergence of safety. I encourage you to add lightning, but the rest of the weather conditions are up to you. Lastly, sign your name in a corner, as I appreciate you.

In another realm
By Bridget B.

My eyes should be wide
and purple as though filled with magic
My blonde hair held back in a messy ponytail

The size of the canvas should be big
yet not too large,
something that would be displayed
in the grand hall of a castle

The background should be a forest
with trees of dark green leaves
as well as stars that glow
like fireflies

I wish to be painted as a warrior,
someone who knows what they are doing
I wish to be holding a book in my hands
symbolizing the characters I hope to represent

I wish my clothes to be simple
yet worn from the triumph of a battle
I wish a sincere smile to be resting upon my face
to signify the joy that I would feel

If one would like to add something to the background,
try a mythical creature of some sort
And lastly, I would wish one to sign the portrait in a corner,
whichever is preferred,
and to use a color that oneself finds to be their favorite.

By Edward S.

My eyes should be dark blue
The background should be a forest and mountains behind them
The size of the canvas and a really big canvas
Make sure you put a river

Make me tall and straight
Make pines over me
Make a dear look at me from a distance

Make it day
The background should also be bright with colors
Make me happy

Portray Me Please
By Evangelia B.

The background should be full of words,
as if it were a diary that had thought-filled pages
written in it every day.
It should only be written in a color as dark as the night.
Sign your name somewhere within the words.

I want my head to be the size of a half-dollar coin.
Since it is on a piece of paper the size of an ID card,
it should look big and full of thoughts.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly circular.

My eyes should be two circular shapes
that looks too large for my head.
They should be colored using all colors available.

My ears should be the size of half my head
since they are always listening.
They should be colored by multiple colors that you interpret
to be sound and information.

My mouth should be closed shut,
a small line running horizontally
since I don’t use it to say my words.
It should be barely visible to be a line.

Since you are born in 2010,
you should get my next request;
my hair should be as long as Rapunzel’s,
covering part of my face on the right side.
But it shouldn’t be blonde,
instead, it should be darkly-shaded.

Make my body anything you’d like,
as it doesn’t matter much.
The clothes on my body should be covering
and dully-colored.


Ms. Munoz, 9th Grade
Period Six

The Exploration Portrait
By Annika S.

Make my head a circle,
But freehand it because I’m not perfect
My face should be a pale peach color,
don’t leave it white,
But don’t make me too dark.

My eyes should be a nice deep ocean blue,
not too light like the sky,
but not too dark like midnight.

Make my body appear like im standing up,
Draw mw wearing a crazy outfit,
it can be mitch matched or just a bold color,
make me stand out wherever I go.

The background should appear as an exploration of some sort,
traveling the air or underwater,
on foot or in a vehicle,
any will do.

The size of the canvas should be bigger than both your hands,
like when you spread them out to give someone a high five.

Give me a pet,
any will do,
but make it an exotic pet,
one that most people don’t have.

Make sure to write your name on the pet’s foot,
so I know you’ll always be with me when I go out exploring.

The extraordinaire
By Carson L.

Make my body appear like it is floating in outer space, flying over the moon.
My eyes should be the color of amber, sitting on a tree.
The background dark, and spooky, like a haunted house during the night.

The size of the canvas that’s larger than your SHOES !!
My mouth should be like a football, that you play during recess with.
My nose is like a banana peel, that you eat this morning.

Me sitting down on the ground near a ginormous TREE, preferably a large Christmas tree.
Have my socks be like stockings that you put near your fireplace on Christmas EVE.
Give me a hat on top of my head, one that was worn by your dad on a Sunday morning.

My Dream
By Jack C.

My eyes should be sparkling like a shooting star across the dark blue sky.
My hair should be messy from the breeze.

The background is pastel pink and white cherry blossom leaves falling.
The size of the canvas is as tall as a whiteboard and as skinny as the front of a dresser.

I am wearing a baggy white shirt with black ripped jeans.
There is a black and red ladybug resting on my shoulder.

I want to Soar
By Angie B.

Make me Fly through the air
Any type of wing preferred

I want to be a mixture of a certain creature
But the pattern should be mainly showing

I would want glasses filled with the knowledge I have learned
And give me a weapon to show what my job or goal was in life

I want a mini pet, a polar bear would be preferred
but if you can top that please do so

It would be great if you could write your name on my pet
And add a hat to show the silliness that was with me

I want the background to be magical with more than just one color
Lastly, I want b night sky full of shiny stars to show the peace within me

Ms. Munoz, 7th Grade
Period Eight

In the Mountains
By Xavier D.

Make my body appear on a Mountain top.
You could make my body with just a few lines.
My head should be nice and round but not perfect.
My eyes should be perfectly round and brown.

The background should include more mountains and a clear sky.
The size of the canvas should be large enough to fit all of this.
Draw some rivers below the mountains.
Draw some birds in the sky.

Instructions to the Artist
By Sofia E.

My eyes should be round but thin,
a mix between olive green and brown,
My hair should be a burgundy-like color,
with small highlights of red every-so-often,
My expression should be like Monalisa,
a slight smile appearing on my feelingless face.

My body should be still,
as if all my limbs and muscles had fallen into an endless,
deep sleep,
My clothes should be subtle,
but not so much to the point where they’re forgotten.

I should be sat on a bench,
a dull piece of wood at the bottom of the canvas,
I should be colored slightly pale,
sort of hiding me amongst the background, but still visible,
I should be surrounded by a few spouting trees,
not too tall,
but tall enough so they slightly tower over my head.

The background should be bright and obnoxious,
slowly drawing the viewer’s attention to it,
but not fully,
And lastly,
The size of the canvas should be a perfect square,
so every component in which it contains is identical to the opposing side.

Choose The Side
By Rayteng S.

The Canvas in front of you
Shaped like a door
It’s just sitting there
Telling you to explore

The scene to be in,
Split half in half,
One with all the money,
One with all the laughs.

You’re set in the middle
Eyes glowing like a lake
The colorful and smooth side yells “family!”
The other, full of darkness and sharp edges
with all the money you can take

Portrait Instructions
By Nathan D.

Make my eyes appear slightly sad
but ready to get back up
and face the world

Make the background a cozy fireplace
with large Victorian walls.
Glowing bright brown against the fire.
Frosty windows glittering

The canvas-
Slightly larger than the norm
with room for lots of detail
but not to barrage the viewer.

Put a hat on me
I can never find the right
style of hair.

Dress me in a sweatshirt
make it loose-fitting.
Sweatpants shall also be worn-
but not baggy
make them tight.

Sit me in a leather chair
with wooden frames.

but still elegant.

A book shall be in my hands
no specific cover.
Telling the tale of my love of literature.
A cat shall also be on my lap-
its orange pelt glowing against the warmth of the fire.

Dark colors are preferred
but not required.
The fireplace would be done no justice
with its glow being stifled.

By Gabby P.

My face bears no expression
Make it look like it never has.
My eyes are shiny white lights
Like it was dark there,
Until a bright flash

I should look all rigid
Uncomfortable and pained
I am trying to be calm
And feel better
But my relaxation is only feigned

My clothes are dark and simple
But unpleasant colors to look at
They should almost blend in
To the rocking chair
I’m sat at

The shades of the background
I want them to contrast
To the shades of my clothes
But all of this
A viewer should look at last

Because in my hands
An open book
Which appears old and simple
Nothing is written in it, but
it’s the first place everyone will look




“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.