‘Queer Canvas’: Portrait Poems

As we continue distance learning, students at Taft Freshman Academy continue to generate beautiful poems!  How would we describe ourselves to another? What are the myriad of possibilities we hold inside of us and how do we go about making a new classic? This week’s poems are inspired by Billy Collin’s  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 we actually inhabit, in all its vital, messy, beautiful, tragic reality. Mar 10, 2020, The Washington Post.

Ms. Taylor, Period 1
8th Grade

Standing on a map
By Alessia O.

My eyes should be still,
not unlike a plastic animal

Paint me with a boy and arrow,
slung across my back

The size of the canvas should be vast,
however you interpret that,
I then will be small
in the large world we live in

There should be animals and cars,
trees and roads

Show me with a toy tiger beside me,
and a toy falcon
perched on my arm

Make me tiny,
on one of those street carpets
that kids play on

My head is not perfect,
but not an oval

There must be a train
going in the background

Don’t paint my feet,
hide them behind matchbox cars

Paint birds flying,
planets above,
the galaxy on the ceiling,
I am in my childhood

Creating a Masterpiece
By Connor S.

My body, should be small,
As it’s not the feature on the average canvas.
It should be placed on the left side of the image,
So the background can be showcased on the latter.

My head must be drawn to identical scale,
And the expression should be alluring,
So one could compare it to that of
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

On top of it, should be my hair,
Flowing freely in the calm breeze,
So it can show off it’s natural color.

The background should be calm,
Like mountains sitting in an imperfect row.
I recommend including a bike,
Rising up over the moon.

Finally, around my neck should a small necklace
Containing a cross,
And the masterpiece should be signed in a location that it’s showcased
Yet still away from the main focus of the image.

My Body in Your Eyes
By Emma D.

My eyes should be round and look like grass in an open field.
One should be bigger than the other like a toddler and its mother.
They can be anywhere on my face.

The background should be a solid color.
Preferably black like space
so you can show contrast with my distorted body.

The size of the canvas should be medium.
I can’t always put myself out there
I can’t be with big groups of people.
Sometimes I can be the most vocal in the group.
Medium is a perfect size.
Not too out there but not too to myself.

My feet should be small compared to the rest of my body.
They can be attached or detached to my body,
that’s all up to you.

My hair can be anything.
A square, a triangle, a circle,
anything your mind can come up with.

My face should be long,
almost droopy.

My eyelashes should be black,
just like I like them.
Preferably long like my dream lashes
but any size can be okay.

The perfect portrait
By Jeremy E.

My eyes should be a dark brown color
glistening in the sun.
I should be focused on something else
as if nobody was ever painting me.

Let there be as much detail
on my face as possible.
the hair on my head,
the indents on my face,
the lighting, include it all.

The background should display
the unique features of downtown Chicago.
Let the detail be specific yet simple
so they can see how unique the city really is.

My body should be
the silhouette of Squidward’s body,
but the detail on every crevice should be exquisite.
Every foot of mine should have
Spongebob’s shoe on.

Some final recommendations:
Use as many colors on your palette as you want
so that the portrait will look super specific.
Sign the painting in a large cursive font on the bottom left
so that the portrait will have a feature like no other.

Ms. Taylor, Period Two
9th Grade

Sunflower field
By Olivia S.

Please make my body appear to be floating above a sunflower field in a T pose
My eyes should be very large and exaggerated traced with two different sized buttons With the color being a crystal blue as if you can see right through them

Make my head a very large circle traced with a red solo cup and add many freckles that Will remind you of the stars in a Texas night sky with long flowy lavender hair that Reminds you of fluffy 80’s hair

Make my mouth to be with my tongue out, very long and curvy which will fade into a Playground slide with children sliding down with streams of tears that look like water
I would like my outfit to be a long white flowy dress that fades into my scenery

The elephants in my sunflower field will be the color of a diluted purple with pink polka Dots placed ever so randomly

The giraffes should be black so they dont blend into the sunflowers
Their tongues should be sticking out of their mouth, their tongues will be white so they Look like shooting stars in outter space

Id like the clouds should be very fluffy looking, with faces in them and very large
I want the sky to be a sunset of pink, yellow and orange

I want the grass to be a bright green with very noticeable grass strands that look ever so Soft

Remote Learning
By Joseph K.

The size of my head is large.
My head should be bigger than my body
Looking like a big balloon ready to pop.

Don’t worry about drawing my eyes.
Use dark glasses to cover them.
This will protect them from the light of the background.

The canvas does not have to be large.
Not as small as an Ipad or phone
It should be the size of a computer screen.

My nose is very small and round.
To make my nose just trace a button.
Make sure it has 4 holes in it.

My body should look small compared to my head.
My muscles should stick up like trees.

You can make my hair red like a stop sign.
My hair should be sticking up like a porcupine.
There should be nothing neat about it.

Outer Space
By Gisel L.

My eyes should be…
The background…
The size of the canvas…
Outer space
Is probably 8ichs
I will be over the moon
I look so small
I am floating
I see the american flag

Ms. Taylor, Period Four
8th Grade

By Audrey G.

My eyes should be tired, empty, and staring off into the distance, looking as though it’s been a long day at work when really i’ve been staring at my computer for hours.

The background… would be exactly where I want to be right now… an endless grass field early in the morning, when the sky is a light blue and the air is fresh and clean

The size of the canvas… would be no smaller than the average book and I would be positioned in the middle

My body would be thin and frail, with an awkward posture from slumping in my chair all day

My clothes would be casual, probably an old t-shirt and ripped jeans from the clearance section at goodwill

My hair would be straight and dented from keeping it in a bun, black and slightly brown in the light

My skin would be soft and plump. The color of coffee with a splash of creamer, and glowing in the yellow light from the sun

My eyes should be tired, empty, and staring off into the distance, looking as though it’s been a long day at work when really i’ve been staring at my computer for hours.

The background… would be exactly where I want to be right now… an endless grass field early in the morning, when the sky is a light blue and the air is fresh and clean

The size of the canvas… would be no smaller than the average book and I would be positioned in the middle

My body would be thin and frail, with an awkward posture from slumping in my chair all day

My clothes would be casual, probably an old t-shirt and ripped jeans from the clearance section at goodwill

My hair would be straight and dented from keeping it in a bun, black and slightly brown in the light

My skin would be soft and plump. The color of coffee with a splash of creamer, and glowing in the yellow light from the sun

Drawing the perfect portrait
By Chloe T.

The canvas:
16 regular tissue boxes
with 4 tissue boxes on each side as a square.
Use Kleenex tissue boxes please, the regular rectangular ones.

The background:
a simple, but elegant black mahogany chair
a perfect, circular light-walnut table slightly curling up its feet.
A wall with at least 2 floating oak square bookcases
and 3 paintings of lots of places around the world and family.
Spotless clean room with
a rectangular window right above the table,
looking down at a tree with
red, orange, and yellow hues
overseeing a small bakery of your choice with jack-o-lanterns outside.

On my lap is a little toddler,
standing to my height,
pointing eagerly at the window.
The rest of the space is up to you.
But if you want a filled table, I advise you to ensure
that there is one small potted plant.
If you want, pretend you are creating a plant shop,
with various different exotic and normal, different sized different colored plants
––as if I took part of the amazon rainforest with me.

From the view of the window
also contains animal plushies in a playground
we can see to the side nearby,
Such as koalas, red and giant pandas, sloths,
river dolphins, an orca, a whale, and seals;
alluding to our deep longing to travel around the world.
Our many plants alludes to wanting to venture out and see the amazon rain forest.

If I must be doing something,
then it should be mandatory
that I’ll be drinking a matcha green tea latte
in a white mug
with a cartoon picture of a pug.

For when you draw my eyes:
I would like for you to use an almond or grain of rice.
I’ll leave it up to you, but ½ of an eye is more than enough,
just add a little snow-white twinkle.
My eyes are a dark coffee brown,
relaxed with a little lift at the corners if seen.
This shall be executed with tremendous detail, as if you’re
a surgeon working on one of the most difficult and dangerous surgeries,
such as a septal myotomy.

My face, if seen, shall be a light coffee brown.
My smile shall be a small grin (not teethed),
content but strained as I’m holding the toddler back from the window,
who’s eager to go outside. My face shall not be too small proportional to the drawing. Add any jewelry of your liking to my face or hands, but no makeup please. If you want nail polish, add nail polish––no greys or pink please. Make sure if you don’t include my face to add a clear painting portrait of my face with immense detail as if you’re the person who’s assembling Google Maps for the entire U.S.A..

My head is turned, gazing at the window.
My full face has a chin as an upside-down triangle

but with the point for my chin rounded
and the sides of my chin rounded, half of a thin oval.
The upper half of my face shall be an oval,
use a madeleine if you want.
If you want, my full body shall be seen in a painting of me
in your drawing, a big painting but not as large as my body you drew.

My hair, a midnight black.
My hair shall be like Mulan’s,
sleek and shiny and in a bun. No hats.
I recommend a fabric green ribbon for my bun.
If I were to have a Halloween Costume,
I would recommend that I be Mulan.

My body shall be sitting down on the chair, clothing of your choice.
Such as casual or superhero clothing, or a Halloween costume; it’s your choice.
No masks please.
If I were to be a superhero,
And no greys or pinks.

Your signature, it’s your choice.
If you want, you can sign twice as my eyebrows,
or once if you draw only one eyebrow,
always a part of me.

A Boy in a Dress
By Claudi C.

Paint me as if I were a boy in a dress
With short brown hair and frills.
Like a doll used in dress up games.

Illustrate me as if I were something out of the ordinary
A lamb in a field of goats.

Fragile, you will make my body
With soft smooth lines
And make me do a klutzy dance.
Subtle pearls and jewels will scatter the fields
The nature must be present and comforting,
Cluttering the area around me.

By Louis O.

My eyes should be rounder ovals like the shape of a falling water drop

The background must be in the paradises of Puerto Rico, with beautiful culture and spice of people dancing and singing and playing in the sand.

The size of the canvas should be a medium size like a poster I can hang on my wall and admire every day

The hair should be of nice shiny blackness and messiness as well, like a little field of grass on top of my head

The torso should be strong and masculine but not too much

The smile should be legendary, a sort of grin and smile combined. Not forced. Not fake.

The sky should be a melting shiny light on a sunset

The ocean in the back should be filled with people playing and various activities happening all around but no to the point where it draws away from my face

The mood should be happy and relaxing of full of joy with a topping of obvious Puerto Rican culture and feeling of home

The people in the background should be all types of colors and shapes and sizes just like how my people really are

Queer Canvas
By Peighton B.

My face, my face
Eyes bright and doe-like
Blue shining like the night sky littered with stars
Beautiful earrings that twinkle with elegance,
Overloaded throughout the work

My back straight and tall
A little blue stool
Splattered my paint
From many a portrait before
Dried, as to not ruin my dress
Alluring, placid, and delightfully colored
A plain black mini-dress
My hair perfectly styled
Androgynously, and well

A canvas big enough to hide behind,
Cannot be left to determination
A large wall, yellow like the sun
Not bright, but very pale
Like the skin of my face
Intertwining vines, climbing
Up the trellis, up the wall
Where a lovely snowstorm
Whips into a frenzy
Not disturbing
The queer flags
In my hands
In my lap

Ms. Taylor, Period Six
8th Grade

How I wish my portrait to be painted
By Michelle B.

I like to see a story of how I wish to be
Beginning with a smile
Happy but not laughing

My eyes should appear wide
with sparkles of blue
white lights shining through
Looking but not staring

I wish my hair to be
golden curls of light
Waving down to my shoulders
Free but not wild.

In the background, there should be
A beautiful sunset
With streams of colorful hues
Pink, red and yellow over blue
Ending but not finished

My instructions
By Joseph G.

For my picture my eyes will be bright blue
They’ll be slightly large compared to my face
In place of something like an object in the background,
I will have a dog right beside me

The dog will be wearing sunglasses with it’s tongue hanging out
It will be wearing a raincoat
There will be no rain in the background
The only other thing in the background will be an empty notebook

It will represent how little I’ve got done
My cloths will be 1 size too big
They’ll be relatively dark cloths
As for the” atmosphere” my dog will be floating,

Almost like there’s no gravity
I on the other hand will be on the ground like normal
The frame of this picture will be simple
Black with silver edges

Instructions to the Painter
by Jerry M.

I wish my eyes to be as narrow as the crack under the door
and as blue as the sky on a sunny summer day
Please trace my eyes with an Easter basket
rather than a water bottle or a bucket hat.

The background should as blanks as a paper
straight from the package;
pretend that you are drawing the Mona Lisa
a beautiful work of art
drawn by one of the best artists of all time.

The result should a brightly colored
but pleasing expression,
as if I am surprised with my favorite food.

The body is a great matter;
draw perfect lines as described.
The shoulders broad as the horizon
and the arms should be as long as hockey sticks,
and as thick as the door frame.

The background is up to your choice
leave it as blank as the wall in the hallway
and as white as a piece of paper,
or make a wonderful sky
which matches the color of my eyes.
Never be ashamed of the clouds
as they are the sky’s only work of art.
Also, have a great shining sun
creating a reflection in the corner of my eye,
but making it look like so it’s not blinding me.

Some final recommendations:
I should like to appear wearing a hat.
Specifically, a black bucket hat
decorated with a thin, white, horizontal strip.
Kindly limit your color pallet to a single,
secondary color, any one but green or purple.
Sign the painting on my lower lip
so your name will always be my chin.

Not My Portrait
By Jaden G.

My eyes should be closed,
so you don’t feel as if I’m judging your every paint stroke

My mouth should be shut,
so I cannot persuade you to change anything.

My ears should be covered,
I’m too busy to hear your complaints making my head pound with each redo and design change.

My skin shall be warm,
an orange, or a tan.
Something that makes me staring out from the quiet, cold background

The background should be dark, because nothing else matters.
Maybe rain, because that always makes everything more dramatic.

I shall be painted with oils, so you may marvel at your handiwork.

I want you to paint me from the shoulders up.
Focusing on the varying tones and color harmonies.

I don’t want to be placed in a museum, I don’t want to be shown off.
Keep me.
Keep me locked up in your vault of half-filled sketchbooks and unfinished works.

When you come get me, you will give me a tour of your new workspace.

Ms. Taylor, Period Seven
9th Grade

Night and day
By Joseph R.

My eyes should be brown
The background is half the sun and half the moon
The size of the canvas is large

Make the moon and sun bright
Let there be grass moving in the wind
The clouds should look so light and soft










“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.