sketching on Portobello Road//the clock// is body-less

i, sketching on portobello road

i, sketching on portobello road

time’s measured in a thin line on a cat’s back
we sit on the floor//sketching on location

“what’s the difference?” she asks
“you could take a photo, draw at home–”

“it is not the same” he says
“on the street you’re in the middle of emotions, touch
temperature/the energy& tiredness,
& you will sense it later in the sketch–”

grapes of people in the midday heat
hunting between market stalls
fresh cooked food
from different nations, fruit and vegetables
we put ink to paper
spilling color washes from a box placed
on the lap/floor,

time stands still

tick //TocK//tiCk

some curious little kids check on our sketchbooks
“can i take a photo?” asks a chinese guy
we’re chasing lines//laughing//joking
with traders

later we will cross
tower bridge into the night
searching for cracks on boardwalks

toward midnight i walk up a plushy stairway
in an old house in the very heart of things
and cannot find my door
the cat grins

“i can’t remember” i say
&she purrs, a friendly smile upon her face
i try the first //psssshhh
second // a blond, russian girl appears
“sorry” i say “i can’t find my room”
“oh, it’s this one– round the corner”
she points sleepily

&that is where i lie
half-awake all night,
listening to the music//voices on the streets
the city’s scent
the waitress’ smile with meth-foul teeth,
my bridge

tick //TocK//tick
&time stands still
a stranger in the corner
with a piece of minty chocolate
on her lips


Mary has us writing “time” at dVerse today…
& i take it as a chance to share a bit of my trip to oxford and london last week as well…smiles

by the way – Sherry interviewed me for Poets United over HERE –  so in case you wanna get to know me a bit better…


42 responses to “sketching on Portobello Road//the clock// is body-less

  1. O hello there …nice pic and nice to meet you, C … smiles … this is how it goes, when u in the city at summer time … especially a city you feel comfortable enough in to finally let down your guard for a minute or so … mine is Victoria, British Colombia … omg … the inner harbour in the evening … so good for the soul …

  2. Love the pic and the experience of catching all of the senses and moods in a water color sketch. On location is apparently where it’s at in poetry too, despite Wordsworth’s catechism “emotion recalled in tranquility.” You can go days and nights with ,ore stimulation than tranquility.

  3. while I’m not (in anyway shape or form) an artist, I complete agree that there is something to be said for being in the moment when creating…I suppose it’s the poet in me that feels the connection.

  4. I LOVE this poem, which puts us right there on the sidewalk with you, breathing in all the energy. Love the photo too and wish I had it for the interview! Terrific photo of you and you look happy, doing your sketching on Portobello Road. How cool is that for an adventure?!

  5. Time is so fluid and I love how you play with it. It is fun to chase words across a clean surface and how vivid an image to end with “a stranger in the corner with a piece of minty chocolate on her lips.”
    I enjoyed the interview which added to the dimensions that come across in your work. Unfortunately, for some reason, the site would not accept my attempts to comment.

  6. What a lovely experience – although in the middle of Portobello Road you must have felt very self-conscious… I like the reference to the Cheshire cat and the feeling of being slightly lost… Hope it was a good, productive trip to England – you certainly picked the right weather for it!

  7. You know, Claudia, I think this is my new favorite of your poetry – as you have made your sketching experience come so alive. Really interesting how you said that it is different to sketch in the environment rather than taking a photo and sketching at home. I CAN see how this might make a difference in the feeling put into the sketch. And I also understand how TIME can stand still as you sketch…as it does sometime with anything one is thoroughly engrossed in. From hearing you (and now Gabriella) talk about sketching as you do, and seeing the results, it really makes me want to try it! But I wonder where I would find the TIME!! (Oh, and great photo of you as well! Smiles.)

  8. Taking in all around on the sidewalk, you sure can gawk lol Portobello road always reminds me of the Bedknobs and Broomsticks movie

  9. I love this poem, Claudia, and can relate to what you write. I can be rather self-conscious and thus do not sketch on location but I hope I still convey what I observed and absorbed when I was there since I use photos of places that I find inspiring. The episode about not finding your room made me smile.

  10. Beautiful poem Claudia. I feel like I was with you as time stood on the corner with minty chocolate on her lips. (Hope she shared.) Clearly, you had a wonderful experience, doing what you do, which is to observe and in one artistic form or other you record time.

  11. I am so envious of you. First of all, you catch the moment, the whole feel of writing/painting en plein air, even if in a city–a poem that creates the experience for us. I have begun dabbling in art again. It’s such a joy..I look forward to getting a peek at the sketches!

  12. Wow, we all sat beside you, shared your bottled water, opened up our sketch pads, and watercolor pods, & captured what our filters allowed to flow onto the paper; not entirely different than taking mental notes, people watching, prepping, researching for the next poem. Liked your lines /later we cross/tower bridge into the night/searching for cracks on boardwalks/leading/somewhere/.

  13. I would have to agree that it must be very different sketching with all that bustling around you than from a photograph. I love when you have a sketch that you have done along with your poetry…it’s like double the pleasure. Always enjoy your “sketch” of life writing too, Claudia!

  14. What I love about your poetry is that its so rich and very story-telling that I feel like I’m in your head watching a movie of all the abstract beautiful imagery that you make. I am loving this piece by you. 🙂

  15. …you know this is something i love to do, too, especially plopping down on sight anywhere and deciding what first to sketch, and then languidly starting in. Time does seem to stand still when in a creative mode. You look so content in this photo – it all agrees with you, even the feeling of being a stranger in a city with ”it’s own scent”…and ‘your’ bridge…smiles

  16. Well I never knew that but it makes sense to be where you are sketching or painting or writing…to listen to the sounds, music, voices & city’s scents ~

    Hey, you are looking relaxed & happy ~

  17. I love how ‘now’ time gradually seeps onto your canvas of lines and color…inspiring moment of creation….and what a cool photo Claudia !!!

  18. Claudia – it is exactly the immediacy of your poems that always enchant and intrigue me – each a beautiful sketch – and the cluster of grape people – made me laugh! always love your writing – K

  19. So good to see you again my friend…even if only a photo…another delightful write…it brought smiles as I thought of the Chinese man asking to take a photo.

  20. I always love the ending to your poems. You use brilliant imagery and structure in your poetry. I love this:

    “ater we will cross
    tower bridge into the night
    searching for cracks on boardwalks

  21. Nothing like plein air painting and this poem has that “immediate” feel to it as well. I will hop on over to your interview tomorrow AND your flicker sight with your sketches/paintings. 😉

  22. i like how you weave conversations into poetry! and your interview was lovely, Sherry has her ways! 🙂 good to know more about you

  23. Oh, time flies for me! Commenting so late….here you did it! you stopped the clock – I can feel the moment of your creation, with photo too! wow…thanks

  24. smiles…it is very different…capturing what you see there in the moment…in those moments i want to take it all in…and taste it…touch it…great opening line in this…its good to be back…smiles…safe travels on your trip…

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