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Poetry: 'Alternative Glossary of Art Terms'

Written by Julia Biggs

Abrasion: you remove my surface (deliberate scratches)

Bricolage: I improvise (do-it-yourself desire) 

Complementary colours: our red-green love (wheeling opposites)

Decalcomania: I press, wet, against you (intimate transfer technique)

Etching: you bite into my skin (intricate incisions)  

Frottage: we rub over each other’s flesh (exciting chance effects)

Gestural: you like sweeping strokes (drip, smear and splash)

Highlight: you find my bright spot (intense emphasis)

Impasto: our textured longing (thickly laid on sensuality)

Juxtaposition: we come side by side (pleasure compared and contrasted)

Kinetic sculpture: you move me (rotation and vibration)

Lithography: I want oil-based eroticism (greasy imagery)

Muse: you are salty inspiration (creativity, lick by lick)

Narrative art: we tell transgressive tales (explicit stories)

Op art: our optical illusions stimulate (pulsating and swelling)

Patina: I trace your distinctive finish (mellowing beneath palms)

Quilting: you stitch through our layered bodies (suggestive needlework)

Relief: I am raised, wall-mounted (obscene projection)

Sfumato: we melt into soft-focus seduction (contours hazily caressed)

Thixotropy: I flow at your touch (stirred to fluid perversity)

Unity: our wholeness (repeated completion)

Vanishing point: our yearning lines meet (craving on the horizon)

Watercolour: I am transparent, luminous in lust (wanton washes)

X-radiography: you penetrate, detect every change (a sensitive conservator)

Yellowing: I accumulate dirty urges (discoloured decadence) 

Zackenstil: our sharp hunger zigzags (jagged folds and hooked fingers)

About the Author

Julia Biggs is a poet, writer and freelance art historian.  She lives in Cambridge, UK.  Her work has appeared in various print and online literary journals, including Streetcake Magazine and Green Ink Poetry.  Her current research explores haunting seascapes and the excesses of the Gothic mode.  Find her via her website:

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