Poems & Photographs: Ashen Venema

My Painter

The sound of a brazen bell
is slow to drop behind the wall
– stony silence – then
grind of gravel, measured steps,
his presence, and a slick turn
of the lock, ‘Aha – my copycat.’

I sit still, watch him thin the oil
and restore his long gone love
on canvas, standing in
as the young skin
by the window, sunlit among
lilies, fresh cut, and Persian rugs
casually flung across seats.

A blaze of light rims his white hair
from under his thick swirl of brows
black humour hides, and surprise;
his sudden smile darts at me,
raw prey am I to the whirling brush,
a glint of blue eye caught to dry.

Young in Sepia

from under the hood
of a coat my mother made
the dawn of a look
unruly curls –  see
the horn button glow
mysteriously from the dark

my arms hug the back
of a wooden chair
dimpled chin
in down-turned hands
my smile is framed for dad
the shutter clicks.

my first day at school
horizons curve
like rainbows
to half imagined
places in my mind

a trail far and close
in my twofold gaze
teachers probe
about my ilk and
what I’m to become.
I’m shy to say

but when we’re told
what to be – ashamed
of our country’s past –
I snatch back my dreams
and outrun the noose
at speed – with bare feet.


Ashen Venema used to work under another name as professional photographer based in Munich, including as still photographer for the German New Wave Film Makers during the 1970s. In the UK she worked for three decades as a transpersonal psychotherapist and a creative workshop leader, empowering others.

When it comes to her own work, she is an introvert. Nobody knows the troubles … she transforms experiences creatively through images and words. Her first novel, ‘Course of Mirrors’ was published via Troubador in spring 2017. She hopes to find a publisher/sponsor to bring out the sequel.

Check out Ashen’s blog www.courseofmirrors.wordpress.com with two-monthly posts. The keyword ‘poetry’ in the cloud connects to a thread of posts that contain poems or haiku. Other samples show up in the poetry page listed on the top bar.

The two poems here have not been published before. The sepia photo appeared once in this blog post: https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/mother-tongue-other-tongue/

A selection of images by Ashen can be found on 500px.com

Her twitter handle is @mushkilgusha



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