21 Days/21 Poems: Sunflowers by Pamela Mordecai

Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh (1889)

The theme for today’s 21 Days/21 Poems is flowers.


Vincent Van Gogh, the sunflower man
cut off his ear when Paul Gaugin
wouldn’t stay to paint with him
in southern France.

I burnt my veil and wedding dress
scarred both my cheeks
tattooed rosettes
along my arms with cigarettes.

We both needed a man to stay.

You think it was
loneliness? I don’t
think so. Madness
has always been my guess.

©Pamela Mordecai

Source: Pamela Mordecai @ Jahworld 

It’s not really about flowers :).  We know that Vincent van Gogh suffered from mental illness.  There are indications that he was already a self-harmer before the incident with his left ear.  There has been much speculation, like this poem, as to exactly why van Gogh cut of his ear.  This article at Times Online provides some insight into the issue.

Pamela Mordecai (born in 1942) is a Jamaican writer and poet.  She has authored over thirty books, including books for childen.  She lives in Toronto, Canada.



  1. Hi Kinna.

    Thanks for this, and the affirmation! Belated, it’s true, but no less keenly meant.

    These days, I am haphazardly in cyberspace –
    These days I pretty much am haphazardly

    For fun, here it is in French, battered out by Retjoun of Poéfrika (I’m sure you know him!) and me. There’s a Spanish translation too, but that’s copyrighted.

    I am trying to mash it up… I am very interested in mashups these days.

    Hope you find this!




    Vincent Van Gogh, l’homme des tournesols
    s’est coupé l’oreille quand Paul Gauguin
    ne voulut rester avec lui pour peindre
    au sud de La France.

    J’ai brulé ma voile et ma robe de mariée
    je m’ai marqué des cicatrices les joues
    j’ai tatué rosettes
    au long de mes bras avec des cigarettes.

    Nous deux avions besoin qu’un homme restât.

    Tu crois que c’était
    solitude? Je ne
    le crois pas. Toujours
    j’avais pensé qu’il doit être la folie.


  2. The first time I am hearing this. Writers/Artistes, after digging deep into the creative well, always find it more difficult to handle life. Lovely poem. Thought it was on sunflowers only to be deceived.


    • Sneaky of me, I know. A poem about obsession and mental health masquerading as a poem on flowers. Mordecai is a wonderful poet.


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