Verse of April

1 AGK nocturne stained glass

2 AGK nocturne glass whistler

3 AGK nocturne glass whistler

4 Whistler Nocturne_in_black_and_gold

Name: Alison Grace Koehler

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Current city: Paris, France

Occupation: Stained Glass Poet

Age: 31


What does poetry mean to you? 

I seek poetry in stained glass, in all worlds of paint and expression. I try to enter poems like rainbow canvas swimming pools. Poetry at its best is immersive, nourishingly reflexive, life into art into the elements and back, and again.


What is your favorite poem and why? 

“Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler was one of my favorite paintings before I discovered the poem by Mark Doty. The poem was shown to me by a close friend, who had fallen for the poem and thought I would too, who had never seen an image of Whistler’s painting, who didn’t know my affinity for it. I fell for the words, the sky, and the synchronicity.

I made a small stained glass window in its honor, as well as a mashup of glass, poem, painting, a gesture towards the infinite.


“Nocturne in Black and Gold”

by Mark Doty


Shadow is the queen of colors.

-St. Augustine


Tonight the harbor’s

one lustrous wall, the air a warm gray

-mourning dove, moleskin, gabardine-


blurring the bay’s black unguent.

And, gradually, a few light patches

-boats, ghosts of lamps


where the pier ends?

The memory of lamps?

In Whistler’s “Nocturnes”


you can barely see

the objects of perception

or rather there are no solids,


only fields of shimmer,

fitful integers of a gleam,

traces of a rocket’s shatter,


light troubling a shiver of light.

Fogged channels, a phantom glow

on the face of this harbor,


midway between form and void,

without edges, hypnagogic.

Listen, I carry myself


like a cigarette lighter

wrapped between hands in the dark

and so feel at home in the huge


indefinition of fog, the same

sort of billowing I am: charcoal, black on black,

matte on velveteen, a hurrying sheen


on gleaming docks.  Keats: If a sparrow

                come before my Window

                                I take part in its existence


and pick about the Gravel.

If we’re the only volatile essence,

permeable, leaking out,


pouring into any vessel bright enough

to lure us, why be afraid?

having been a thousand things,


why not be endless?

Act II, Die Zauberflöte:

the Queen of the Night


ascends her lunar glissando,

soprano cascading upward

until you’d swear


this isn’t a voice at all;

she’s becoming an instrument,

an instant’s pure


erasure, essence slipped

into this florid scatter:

rhinestones shivering


on a tray lacquered black

with the coldest ozone.  Königin,

                                 Königin der Nacht:


chill shine, icy traces . . .

Here, at wharf’s end,

the trawlers’ winking candles


all undone, phantom girandoles

nearly extinguished

by the cool salve


of fog.  Haven’t we wanted,

all along, to try on boundlessness,

like mutable, starry clothes?


Isn’t it a pleasure,

finally, to be vaporous,

to be cloudy flares


like these blurred lamps,

ready to shift or disperse

or thin to a glaze of atmosphere


sheer, rarefied, without limit?

Königin der Nacht: that dizzying pour

in a voice becoming no one’s,


one empty glove

brushing like the evening’s cold cheek

like the clear exhalation


of a star.  Against the firmament’s

gleaming patent,

the Queen’s voice


no longer even human:

a gilt thread raveling

in the dark.  How lucky,


vanishing, to become that,

at once evanescent,

and indelible.  Love,


little pilot flame, flickering,

listen: I’ve been no one

so many times I’m not the least afraid.


Doesn’t everything rush

to be something else?

Won’t it be like this,


where you’re going: shore and bay,

harbor and heaven one continuum

sans coast or margins?


No one’s here,

or hardly anyone, and how strangely

free and fine it is


to be laved and extended, furthered

in darkness, while shadows

give way to other shadows,


and the bay murmurs

its claim:  You’re a rippling,

                                that quick, and you long to be


loose as the air again, unfettered

                freshness, atmosphere

                                and aria, an aspect of fog,


manifest, and then dissolving,

                which you could regret

                                no more than fog.


A brave candling theory

I’m making for you,

little lamplight, believe,


and ripple out free

as shimmer is.  Go.

Don’t go.  Go.



Gallery: Image 1, 2, & 3 are the stained glass poems of Alison Grace Koehler. Image 4 is “Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler; Year: circa 1872–77; Medium: Oil on canvas; Dimensions: 60.3 cm × 46.6 cm (23.7 in × 18.3 in); Location: Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s