Monday, July 18, 2016


An excerpt from my newsletter of July 17, 2016

Dear Art Friends, 

I’ve had a difficult few days. The Nice tragedy has really upset me. It has disturbed my equilibrium.

Nice was my home for almost 8 years.

These last days have had me scanning every French news report I can find as, slowly, the victims names are released. I have spent hours trying to figure out the current ages of friends’ children. I study the posted photographs, wondering how my neighbours would look now. Were they there, in this picture, or in that one.   

When I lived in Nice I was directly above the Promenade, between Gambetta & Congress, right where the truck finally stopped. I would walk my dogs every day on the Promenade, a ten minute walk from my apartment. Would I have been there on that night had I stayed? Certainly the entire city was made up of gregarious folk who enjoyed a stroll after a good dinner. Would friends have dragged me out? The girls, my golden retrievers, would have stayed at home; they firmly believed that any fireworks  announced the commencement of the end of time. Last Thursday they would have been right.

I am heartsick.

Memories that I prefer to let lie, like sleeping dogs, have stormed my brain. Nice changed my life. From betrayed, loving and loyal wife, I willed myself, forced myself, to refocus my psyche completely on my art. I showed my work in Paris, as well an Monaco, and other places; lectured at the home/museum of the Baroness Beatrice Rothschild, Le Musée Ile-de-France; discovered my intense love of research; founded The Tevlin Perspective: art history from an artist’s point of view; lectured up and down the Côte d’Azur; worked as a volunteer at the Hôpital L’Archet, in the children’s ward, and promised myself never to let another person become more central to my existence than myself. (Other than my mother of course ;-)))

It was hard work.

For me Nice was a city of betrayal, and a place of regeneration. My art changed completely. I took chances I hadn’t even considered before. I now only had myself to please. It was in Nice that I did all of my triptychs, the small ones as well as the large. Most of the triptychs are still there. The French buy a lot of art. 

The reports of tragedy are so common now that we tend to forget, or have no way of realizing, the simple humanity of the people who have been destroyed, and the families that have been ripped asunder. All of the French tragedies have made me search for old friends. These survivors, my friends, les Nicoises, les Parisiennes, must be thinking, “Have we been forgotten? Why have we been forsaken?”

I have not forgotten how to pray.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Paris Idyll

October 8, 2015

Fore clouds
Mid clouds
Back clouds
The Parisian Cycle
Of light and shade
Lulls me out of sadness
And into the day.

Giant barges parting
The grey chopping waters
Of my Parisian
Tempting me to work
To paint
To dream away
Another day.

My left foot hurts.
I count the steps
As it stiffens
And pulses.
I sit and look-
My city before me-
Paris at my feet-
My poor throbbing feet.

Monday, August 31, 2015



The darkness
Small siren sound
Mosquito touches down.

My arm a landing field
For night flying low tech vampires
Fairy winged bloodsuckers
Piercing sleepy flesh.

Again the darkness.

I see not.

Not arm
Not silenced drone
Not tiny smear
A blotchy spot of blood.

I miss

Sunday, August 30, 2015

At Dawn

The night
Dark against the blind
The blind
Catching pale glints
Of moonlight
Soft through the open door.

Such a long year it’s been
Towering in its
Bewildering ache
Listless at times
As it slowly plodded on
November to May
April to today.

Loneliness is something
I don’t allow
It may not enter
My psyche
My thoughts

The long restless nights
Are mine alone
To wrestle into silence
To castigate ‘til
Slumber comes

At dawn.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Getting Mother Into Heaven (A Poetry Cycle)

Getting Mother Into Heaven (A Poetry Cycle)
By Suzanne Tevlin

“There’s a thunderstorm
In my head.”
Mother says, lifting
Her transparent hands
To her hair knotted
From days of lying
In pain
And vomit.

Her fingers trembling
The rings jangle like bells
The wrinkled wrap
Of her muscles hanging
In drapes of crepey
Diaphanous skin
Cell-linked stubbornly
For how much longer?

Don’t leave me!
I’ll sing for you
We need to talk

To Mom - Four Days Gone

Oh my dear,
Every night at 9:00
I think of you
As I reach for the phone.
"I know your ring"
You'd say,
Trying to beat me
To the opening line of
Hello My Honey.

I long for your laugh
Your hope
Your delight in
All things silly and bright
And your pride
And need
Of me

The flowers I chose for thee 
All day long
The day before
Were white, and blue and wild and kempt.
I found golden rod,
And Queen Anne’s Lace
Flowering Rosemary
And red choke-berry vine
(in my back yard – which is a tiff).

The roses and such,
Emerged pale and sylphlike
From a field of snowy-white.
Do you remember the hydrangeas?
(We called them snowballs.
You kept them at the foot of the stairs.)
Or the goldenrod from Brown's field?
And the Queen Anne's Lace along the railroad tracks?
Though these I bought at city prices.
No country discounts pour moi.

Stopped them from 
Being placed on the altar
To bring you joy and hope
and everlasting peace.

Placed them to the side
Like cast offs,
Though loved by you
And me.

I went to Notre Dame to light a candle.

Perhaps a baby priest
Listened to my story,
“Allez-y Madame.” whispered he,
Mes sincères condoléances.”
I slipped in the back door.
Arriving at the Vierge de Notre Dame
I wept.

A Japanese tourist.
Took my picture.
Tears streaming down my neck.
Then pushing me aside,
They focused on the candle
I had lit for thee.
And me.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
Taking their fiery stubborn stance
Atop their hand picked prisons
Columns of antiquated marble
Or thrones bricked round in stone.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
Shaking their fists at their faithless god.
Shouting their love
In defiance of the slights.
Waiting for their private miracle.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
In Byzantium of lore,
They shivered and shook in ecstasy.
Their manna dropped at their dirtied feet,
By soaring ravens dark with rage.
Still waiting for their private miracle.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
So I'll go see Christ in The Desert.
No kneeling wailing me.
But accepting the sights as gifts,
I’ll sit and contemplate the mountains there.
And wait for my private miracle.

Note: Christ in The Desert is a tiny abbey run by a few monks near Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Georgia O'Keeffe's old home. 

6:17am, November 19, 2014

The furnace purrs.
The dawn slips up my window pane.
The arctic vortex has arrived.
Another winter’s freeze ahead.

Is that the word?
Looms. Freezing forward
Surrounding my heart.
No sandwiches crunchy with frost.

Our chilly fingers.
Our jokes so deeply bad.

The snow flakes fall.
Wait. You farted.
The crisp frigid virginal air
Cracks with noxious gas.

Laughter almost knocks us over.

We’ll go in then?
Yes, we’ll have a lie down.
We’ll read the paper.
We’ll hang out.

Brrrrr….it’s cold.

The scent of burning
Dust to dust.
Souls fleet of foot
Dash in circles through
Arches dark with soot.

Flames deep red
A cadmium of blood
Sizzling within
The giant stone clad oven.

The quick rush of
Air exhaled
By bodies beautified
With plastic clays
To view for moments only.

The hair is different
Dead cells linked
One to t’other, but
Witchy in its silver finery.

The spirit darts past.
Touching cheek gingerly.
Trying not to howl
“I am gone, but where?
Don’t leave me dear.”

The triple headed 
Hound of nightmares
Cerberus, stands drooling,
(I can almost taste the putrid reak of his foul breath)
Snarling, spitting, at the portal of death.

No, wait!
It's Emma girl and Nellie
Yelping in joy,
Licking my darling's hand,
Come to protect their dear old friend
And lead her from the darkness 
Up the road to light.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch
3:55 am
March 28, 2015

Watching the stars
Loose their veils
Of day and
Nestle into the
Of the night.

From the glowing
Mountains dark,
Long eared deer
Patrol the realm
And venture near.

Spotted. Alone.
 In my sky blue chair
They stare at me,
And I at them.
The laughter of delight
Rumbles up my throat.
They disappear.

They’ll come again
I know.
As lighting day
The sun will rise.

They’ll look to me
And wonder.
As darkness settles slowly down.
When will we meet again?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pinched Nerve

Pinched Nerve

The first touch of fall
Pushes the leaves
Towards yellow
And gold.

A pinched nerve in hip
Arrests my gait
In its natural rhythm
Am I old?

Autumn is my favorite time
Spring’s over rated
Easily blemished
By an inconsiderate touch

Summer is overblown
Vulgaire in its extremes
Base in its green or blue
Lacking the sophisticate’s brush

And winter

Well winter is cold and old
A time to reconsider
And philosophize
And wait for that longed for breath
Of fragile spring.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


The twirlly bits are most thrilling
And frightening.

In a flash
I lose my sense of self

Of balance
Of adult hood
No longer the grown-up
I throw myself
Into the air

Hoping to end

But happy just to do it

The beat
The beat
Dance on the beat.

Dance on the head of a pin.

Angels watch me
Dancing together



In remembrance of the great poet Seamus Heaney

An old man dead
Or a dog that breathed a fetid stench
Irish both
But neither suited for the trenches

The old man glowers
With a 3 year old's jealousy
Of dead scholars
And poets
And soldiers
All past to dust
But having lived

Whilst he reconsiders
His dread of criticism
And sulks
To beat the band

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Cold metal
‘Gainst fragile bone

Clasped in mouth
Upside down

Subway platform

Everyone has a story.

One worries about the smell.
Disrupting the tempo of lives.

Warm water


Everyone has a story


Finish the story.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Red leaves were favored.
Pressed between waxen sheets.
Burned fingers
"Et voila."

Better pressed in books.
'Till found a century gone.

"We did that you know.
I remember the day,
With Lulu and Belle.
Oh mon dieu,
We were so gai."

Monday, October 03, 2011

Summer's Leaving

Summer's leaving
Me, with fastness,
I've never known.

Rain drips down,
Continuum to the
Drone of time erasing,
Time erasing ever,
Everlasting time,
Again, never.

Finality surrounds,
Last rush of warm,
Its deluge wet
And burning,
Rouses a last...hope.
No. Summer's gone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I couldn't bring myself to post this last May, I was too sad, but now I feel I can. It's an excerpt from my journal.

May 1, 2011

This afternoon I heard that my closest childhood friend had cancer; things did not look good.

Now, a few hours later, I find myself imagining my way through her wake. Burying her before she’s had a chance to heal, to survive, to vanquish that SOB cancer.

Too much death. Not you too Maire.

We are not close. Have not been close since those early prepubescent years. Yet, she’s the one I think of when those awkward, babyfat days come to mind. Not my brothers, always mean, or crying, or dirty diapered. They were legion. They outnumbered me four to one. And sisterless, I sought  out Maire.

May 2, 2011

Dear Maire,
Well, I've been thinking about you. My most positive, warm, hopeful thoughts are with you right now. But I'm sure you know that everyone in this crazy Tevlin family feels as I do, everyone wants you up and around, the sooner the better.

But, enough of that, let me tell you what I've really been thinking about. It's not the middle aged gal that I no longer know very well, and haven't seen in a dog's age who's been on my mind, but that little brown haired version of me....skinny, scary, full of questions, afraid of boys, dogs, and fish touching small white feet whilst swimming in the good ol' Gatineau River. She, like me, is surrounded by younger siblings, has a beautiful mother, and a father who sings....that's what I'm thinking about....the singing girls....

Last night I fell asleep thinking about the evenings we used to spend singing with our 2 Dads. I've never really analysed those evenings but they were magical, the 2 of us, high girlish sopranos, and our 2 fathers, Irish tenors, sweet and sheer. Such simple perfect....and so natural we thought nothing of it....just sang what we were told and taught to sing.....lovely days they were my dear Maire.....such fragile delicate memories. We did well with Moonlight you remember? And as we grew, and times changed, we adapted the words to modern times. Funny eh? Are we that old?

Get better Mary, you're the closest thing I ever had to a sister.

Much love,


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Write To Understand - The Final

It has been four months now. The pain is lessening, though the mystery remains.

What interests me most is the way he seems to have been thrown away, discarded, ignored, by everyone, the whole world. He was swept up and shuffled under the carpet. He ceased to exist.

Christmas came, and not a soul lamented his passing, my loss, or the difficulties of modern life.

T drew a line under his life the week before Christmas, and even my closest relative, the person I thought to be my dearest friend, did not remember me, or him, or my loss of him that Noel. I too was left alone. Alone.

T’s decision to end his life has changed my world in the most subtle way. No longer will I maintain relationships that are deleterious to my self-esteem. If those I love do not love me then they must leave me to my work, my art and my own ways.

I suppose I will never understand why people refuse to acknowledge a suicide. And I hope never again to need the support of people who will not give it. But, these people - do they not realize that those who are left, those who have been violently, physically rejected, by death, need to understand, need to talk, need to mourn. They cannot discard those they loved as easily as may be wished.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Write To Understand - Part 3

The others chat amongst themselves. People whom I have never met, but know so much about. I know their foibles, their attitudes, the good and the bad. When had confessor become part of my job description? And for a priest. Why is theology such a strict, and forbidding mistress? Why couldn’t he break free from those early days of shame and punishment?

My eyes are drawn to his face, his cheeks. I search for scratches. Search to find evidence of a last minute change of heart. Other than that I can’t bring myself to form the vision of his final tremors.

But his preparation, that I wonder about. How did he arrange his final morning? Did he play that African song he loved? Did he have a cup of the tea that hung like an albatross around his now marked neck?

And ritual.

In what self-anointing ritual did he steep himself that dawn? Ritual was a great love and comfort to him. I laughed on more than one occasion, telling him his love of ritual could easily qualify him as an honourary Roman Catholic. But this lost Calvinist minister would only become more intense in his observation of the rite, be it tea brewing or discussion.

And then gone, as though he'd quit the inner sanctum before the offering had been accepted.

Or had he simply realized that he was to be the sacrificial lamb?