Under Dali’s Agnostic Symbol the boy uses green for his sky;
the long handled spoon offering the mustard seed
sways not his brown clouds and yellow hills.
Crossed legged on the high gloss hardwood gallery floor,
he looks up to see the masked faces of Picasso’s Three Musicians
who are surreptitiously watching his every move.
Carnival costumed, they play a tune the boy can hear more easily now
because he has yet been instructed to color inside the lines,
not yet inveigled that God, like things, exists only in ideas,
that music, like painting and writing, too often submits to theory and science,
that pearls he’ll someday find in oysters will only be grains of sand.
His canvas has yet to be stretched and can still be anything:
a portrait, a landscape, a still life, an abstract, or a pair of shoes
to follow only those footprints laid down by his own imagination
and aspire to whatever life those musings inevitably manifest.

Dean Johnson's work has been published in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, Star-Ledger, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, Chronogram, The Fourth River, among many others. He is currently a blogger for, one of New Jersey’s largest media outlets. His first novel, MOONDREAMS, and a collection of essays. CONFESSIONS OF A FRUITCAKE CONVERT, are available as an ebook on Kindle.  Dean is an administrator and teacher of English at Camden Academy Charter High School in Camden, NJ and is an adjunct professor of writing at Rowan University and Camden County College. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and five children. And currently blogs  at

Most years I purchase family membership to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  We generally explore one gallery per visit so we can really experience the art rather than browse it.  Often, we'll bring with us drawing tablets, pencils, crayons.  At times, we'll sit in a room for an hour or so.  I'll tell my kids to draw what they see, or something related to how the paintings make them feel, or whatever they feel like drawing.  While they draw, I watch them, the people, the paintings, and write.  This particular moment wanted to be a poem.




Copyright 2009