Poem of the Week | The Art of Circles by John Grey


by John Grey


He taught me how to draw

by starting everything with circles.

To him, the world was built on roundness.

As long as the ends join, he’d say,

then everything’s complete.


The circle’s much older than the earth he reckoned,

on a par with the universe itself.

When the big bang sent things sprawling,

raging, colliding, jarring,

nothing took hold until a circle formed.


I’d sketch one on clean paper.

It was empty. It was still.

Unchanging diameter, radius –

what else was so unfailing?


It could be a face.

It could be a vehicle or a building.

It was the mother of all things possible.

Such a delicate but inflexible curve.


For all my efforts, I was no artist.

My figures were not people.

My landscapes couldn’t get off the ground.

I gave it up as a lost cause

and began to write instead.


But even a failed painter begins with a circle.

Poetry. Short stories. A play or two.

There is a roundness that takes me

back to the beginning.

Most often, you will find me there.

Headstuff is now open for poetry submissions for our spring Poem of the Week series. Submission window is open until the 31st of March 2020. Check our submissions page for guidelines. 

Photo by Monika Pejkovska on Unsplash