Some of my favorite paintings at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris were by Toulouse Lautrec. Though born into a wealthy family, Toulouse chose to live with members of the Paris underclass. His usual subjects were show girls and prostitutes. Indeed, he lived, for much of his life, in a brothel.
Toulouse's body was misshapen and his stature was dwarfed. I suppose his physical disabilities must have given him an appreciation of and sympathy with others who were social 'misfits' and outcasts.
Many of his paintings were done on brown cardboard.
DANCING FOR TOULOUSE LAUTREC
She's over ripe and one hot mess
Been ridden hard and put up wet
Blowzy, bloated, painted face
A floozy that's seen better days
Breasts as soft as feather beds
Flop near as wide as her short legs
As in the gassy heat of lamps
She pirouettes in child like dance
A shy old whore, with bashful laugh
Still innocent, despite her past
Innocent of love's sharp thorns
Guiltless as a babe just born
Convent or brothel?
She had to choose one
When she was a colt of a girl so young
For was she not cursed with the heart of a nun
Destined to comfort the souls others shun?
I hesitated to publish this poem, but my husband, who is a REAL writer and whose criticism I respect, liked this one. And so, I toss it out into the world not knowing where it will go or whom it may (or may not) please.
Be well and good luck,