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The Gift of Art

Jen Selinsky

Copyright © 2006 by Jen Selinsky

All rights reserved by the author. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the copyright holder.

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Cover Art Copyright © 1992 by Jen Selinsky and 2013 by Travis Potts

ISBN: 9781370436675

*Not every poem included in this book is dated in chronological order. This is not an oversight on my part. Rather, I have made changes and substitutions over the years.


Unmarked and unnamed—

Is this what I’m supposed to see

And feel all the time when

I am away?

These beings can have no power

Because I am the one who decides

My own fate.


That’s all the luxury

I’ve been able to have,

Living in such a small space

That has disabled my breathing.



And the smile on my face

Tells you a lie—

Appearing to be happy

When I am less than pleased

To see the likes of you.

Today is not one of those days

When I want to extend my fake



At last, we have the unveiling,

And I finally get to meet this individual—

He who has intrigued me

And showed me a brand, new life

And also made me wish that

I was intelligent.

Seething with jealousy and complete

Adulation, sometimes I don’t know

When to feel which.

Your youth, your brains, your casual

Good looks have created such a stir

Within my body and within my soul;

I want a list of your compilation.


As another day comes to a close,

I can see the sun setting—

Going down on your life.

Could I have been wrong all

This time?

Out sitting on the rooftops—

Staring into the sky.

I am alone, but am I really lonely?

Outside in the dark, even though

It’s not cold, thinking and wondering

About the half being that I am.

Charitable, yet selfish

Beautiful, but heinous.

Knowledgeable, yet ignorant.

What is in place of my heart

That makes it so heavily weighed?

I do not know what I have thought

In the past, but I know that I am still here,

Waiting to see what tomorrow will hold,

While staring into the universe.


Ah, I am back in the environment

That calls my name and has

Missed me for several months.

I was at the call of duty,

And, now my duty’s here.

Some things still feel the same,

But I must have placed myself

On a pedestal of some kind because

I had a taste of prestige.

Pomposity cannot overshadow—

No, it will not overshadow

While I am still here.

Infallible, no man can ever achieve

Perfection, so I am stuck doing the

Best that I can.

The best I shall never be because

The one who holds that label

Gets farther and farther away.

I am still here, so I do know my restraints.



This I cannot lose.

For every tear I’ve cried,

For every word I’ve written,

I deserve some recognition.

The worst punishment

Would be to have it all removed.

The very breath of my life,

Which allows me to wake each day,

Is what keeps my spirit alive.


Worlds away

Lies the comfort I desire

Worlds away, my weary eyes

Are resting.

Oh, this shift in time is going

To take some getting used to

Because I am not quite myself.

Stuck in the conscious period,

With few naps in between.


I wonder what would happen

If I could count all the stars

Before they fell from the sky—

If I could define eternity in one,

Short word.

Life would be so much more optimistic

If I actually knew what I was doing.

Sometimes, all this feeling is too

Overwhelming, and I find myself

Lost in the mist.

Do not let me become the embodiment

Of my fear; rather, let me live enough

To have some kind of clue.

Fear and frustration—

Rid me of these false fronts!


My patience is wearing thin

Because my mind is growing weary—

Weary of this mediocrity and all its

Limited opportunities.

I did not figure this would happen today,

But I knew this conflict would arise sometime.

And, now, I fear that my patience will run out

Before the end of the week.

That I do not need, even though this is

No picture of paradise.


Enlist me in the endless battle—

On earth, the endless fight.

Trying to win the favor of humanity—

Guiding these misled souls,

Who have no idea that they are lost—

Back to the peace of our Creator.


Memories of You

I don’t know what brought

You to mind.

Perhaps, it came when I

Looked outside on this

Cloudy Thursday. I could

Recall all the fun we had,

Taking those long walks and

Basking in each other’s company.

Didn’t it feel like eternity

Could be ours?

But, here come the bitter memories

On how your mind could explode

With insanity.

Those moments were too intense,

And your grace was not forgiving.

If only we clicked—if only things could have

Been made so that we would last together

Forlorn, I knew how tragic we were,

But at least we were allowed

To live our separate lives.

You, remembering me in a gray moment

And the pompous part of me wanting

To show off what I have newly acquired.

You’ve moved on, so have I

How does it make you feel, knowing that you

Scared me, sometimes nearly to death!

Why did you always worry about fidelity?

I was never with any other.

At least I saved you initial embarrassment,

Even though you were eventually jilted,

It was better for both of us.

We have to move forward, never to be involved

With each other again, but our minds can always

Hold on to these memories, good and bad,

To add to our emotional experiences.


Old acquaintances

Mixed in my company

In this dark atmosphere.

Mouths spouting brief greetings,

While we wait for our tasks

To be fulfilled.

What do we have in common,

Nothing much else.

Perhaps, that’s why we do not

Engage in conversation very much.


Help me

By opening my eyes.

Help me

By guiding my hands

And steadying my mind.

I am so old, yet so young

I have seen much, but,

I have seen little.

This world does not know me

As well as it could, and I think

She knows it as well.

Help me

By giving me direction.


We know something is different,

But we don’t want to inform you

Of the change.

Now that I feel it’s not right,

You had best know that we

Do this for your own good.

Hidden and sheltered,

Those are the things that I used to be

You’re a small replica of me,

Which makes things all the scarier;

I can relate to being held back.


In the beginning,

We are filled with life’s breath,

Promise in our lungs.

This air is filling up

Our veins with blood.

Circulation and the beating heart;

I want to move around and explore

My physical life to the fullest.

Our souls are driven by these scars,

Which give us our physical being.


Canonized poet,

Renowned to the whole world.

Part of me does wonder

If you really did exist at all.

Oh, where are your physical remains?

I was told you had no formal education.

Dead on your day of birth, presumably,

I want to unravel your life’s mystery!

The works you left behind are exemplary—

Or the works that someone wrote

Under your name.

People who’ve lived have made it

Their greatest wish to equal or surpass

Your ability.

I cannot wish such a thing for myself

If I can’t even define my own.

First, we have to establish something important…

*dedicated to William Shakespeare


In Too Deep?

Some want to rush it,

And others want to slow it down.

This “romance” is getting to be

Too much to handle.

I try to cut off my emotions

To hide from something

That scares me to no end.

Oh, he seems so distant,

Even though his actions

Want to draw me closer—

Closer to his heart,

And further

Away from mine.

But this is enough

To keep me

Up at night.

He could be

My salvation

Or lead to my


If only I could

Raise him up,

Bring his confidence

To a point

Beyond mine.

It would help so

Much in the end.


Now I wonder

About a new experience,

Take me away—

Take me abroad.

I need something new

To redefine my soul

And return to the vivacity

Which was once mine.

It’s been far too long

Since I’ve had a positive thought

Because some part of me has been

Deprived all these days.

The last, few years

Have got me calling

For some kind of mystery

To deliver me from this drudgery.

The monotony has gotten to my brain,

Thus making me dull.

Time to answer the beckoning call,

Before fate has a chance to

Change its mind.


How much more of this

Do I have to take—

How many more forced smiles

Must I put on my face?

Give and take; I’m the victim

I’m not going to take this anymore!

Grunt labor,

Pure labor,

No matter what kind,

I hate it all!

Waste of time and talent,

I could be doing so much more

With my life.

I fit into THIS mentality of everything

Which makes me sick, and there is nothing

I can do at the time, spitting venom

On my comrades;

Protruding, ugly scales of green.

Best stay away from my exterior;

You do not want to get hurt.


Crushed between fingers

Oh, the humanity!

I feel my remains oozing out

Of every crevice into

A puddle of red slime—

Goes with the grime that is a result

Of this hate.

I’ve tried, yes, I’ve come strides

Since my beginning,

But there are times that make me

Want to explode with fury.

I still have to hold my tempter,

Or else I’ll be thrown into the streets!


God bless those who work

And keep everything in line.

God bless those who have to strive

With only their good intentions

(To help them through)

And the clothes on their backs.

These people, oh, we often

Forget their worth because they

Do the things that most of us refuse,

Because we hold ourselves above

Such a call of duty.

I can see them as they hold their

Heads up high and persevere

Through these horrible circumstances,

Brought on by desperation.

With a part of fortune for these

Individuals who give their all

And go through the day unknown.


What a relief,

To see your smiling face

And to witness your

Benevolent manner.

I’ve waited for the chance

To talk to you and reason things out.

Oh, I know that you will understand

Because you have always come through for me

In my moment of need.


Today, I might as well

Divide my thoughts

Between the present and the past—

Between the time when I knew

Things were here and when

Things started to disappear

From my life.

I should go back to my

Old mentality, but it’s

Not as easy at it sounds.



Some things are best kept to myself,

So how do I dare, how could I bear

With the fact that this knowledge was

Absorbed in his mind?

Now he knows every flow, every idiosyncrasy

That makes me ashamed to be myself.

My eyes fear to weep, my limbs fear to tremble;

My tongue fears to speak the emotions

On my mind.

The pain which threatens to become either of us

Will surely emerge if he is able to explore

Every crevice of my being.

In this case, ignorance truly is bliss.



A wound.

What could I have said

Or done this time

To allegedly make the

Situation worse?

My big fear, someday,

That I would disturb the peace

That both our minds tried

To create.

Holding on, my kindness has tried

To shine through all on the occasions

That we meet,

Unless our differences finally told us

That it’s time to go our separate ways,

But we still have some common thread.

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