Within a Frame

By Jeanine Stevens

            Photo of Jean Cocteau by Man Ray 1922


Skin shines over thin knuckles.

A young Jean peers through an empty frame.


Smart suit of clothes expertly tailored,

collar starched polar white, so bright it must be new.


Hair fluffed high with pomade, I detect

expensive cologne,

yet a solemn expression

perhaps to discount his idle nickname:

“The frivolous prince.”


On his left wrist, a twisted string,

one of those devices to remember which day it is,

which appointment to keep, when

other Bohemians, his coterie of friends,

will meet at his favorite bar,

Le Boeuf sur le Toit.


In the blurred background, bust on a pedestal,

nondescript, an unknown face

a prop?

Is everything in art intentional?


Perhaps shadow to his persona; hidden brilliance

creating a “beast house”

where door knockers grimace and latches grin.


I saw La Belle et la Bête around 1979.

Is this the same young man who designed

screaming keyholes, animated portraits?



Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

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