Instructions to the Artist
by Billy Collins, from Questions About Angels
I wish my head to appear perfectly round
and since the canvas should be of epic dimensions,
please trace the circle with a dinner plate
rather than a button or a dime
My face should be painted with
an ant-like sense of detail;
pretend you are executing a street map
of Rome and that all citizens
can lift thirty times their own weight
The result should be a strained
but self-satisfied expression,
as if I am lifting a Volkswagen with one foot.
The body is no great matter;
just draw some straight lines
with a pencil and ruler.
I will not be around to hear the voice
of posterity calling me Stickman.
The background I leave up to you
but if there is to be a house,
lines of smoke rising from the chimney
should be mandatory.
Never be ashamed of kindergarten--
it is the alphabet's only temple.
Also, have several kangaroos grazing
and hopping around in the distance,
an allusion to my world travels.
Some final recommendations:
I should like to appear hatless.
Kindly limit your palette to a single
primary color, any one but red or blue.
Sign the painting on my upper lip
so your name will always be my mustache.