Kenneth Chamlee

Photograph of Bierstadt in His New Bedford Studio

Three bearded followers in formal clothes attend the artist
while he adds ocherish touches to deer
turned toward a coming storm. One monitor
is bald; another braces the wall behind a silk-hatted man
sitting stove-piped and stiff as an antler. But a fourth
flops a leg onto a footstool, crosses his
right boot over and isn’t even watching
the assiduous painter but gazes into the studio opposite

at my unshowered, finger-combed head
bowed to a Levenger pad and a favorite Mont Blanc
with which I scribble this morning’s notes and wish
the gravel-spreader working the dirt lane beyond our yard
would come back this afternoon so it could
out-ruckus the next-door dogs as they ritually
unglue at 2:10 when our neighbor arrives with her
three pre-school wards, one of whom is
shrieking raw vermilion rips before they reach the front door.


Kenneth Chamlee is a 2022 Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the North Carolina Poetry Society. His poems have appeared in The North Carolina Literary Review, Worcester Review, Ekphrasis, and many others, including seven editions of Kakalak: An Anthology of Carolina Poets. He has written a poetic biography of 19th century American landscape painter Albert Bierstadt, and his new book of poems, If Not These Things, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in 2022. Check him out at and @kenchamlee on Twitter.