The Sunday Poem: Jessica Lopez and Christian Drake... Frida & Diego

A poem written by two people is pretty unusual, and here Lopez and Drake tackle one of the most complicated and passionate relationships that ever existed: that of Frida Kahloe and Diego Rivera. What an incredibly rich piece! Perhaps the only thing better than reading it would be watching them perform a video of them doing just that follows. Wow.

Christian Drake is a six-time National Poetry Slam team member, including the Albuquerque 2009 & 2010 Teams. He has been featured at hundreds of venues across the country and Canada. Jessica Helen Lopez is a Poetry and Creative Writing Teacher/NM History Instructor at Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School. She is a former member of 2006 and 2007 City of Albuquerque Slam Team and the 2008 National Champion UNM Lobo Slam Team.

Frida & Diego

Love was the mistress in our bed
a house I painted from the bedroom out
and I from the boulevard in
the canvas was the front window
where our paintbrushes met like lips

She was my little Chinese New Year,
Frida, my elegant stalk of lightning
in a peasant skirt, picking oranges at market

My little Diego, swollen
belly with a hankering for
the flesh of women,
blue agave lips and
low-lidded eyes

I loved her color, how like a parrot
with her breastbone jangling with gold.
A parrot, but nude she was colored like a dove
in a clay church, so I called her mi paloma
in public, to keep her naked to me.

We painted one another into mortality

I painted her leading the guns and shovels.
I painted him like a emperor's bust in adobe,
her red skirt as the new flag of Mexico.
paper doll Frida with firm breasts,
bird bones held up by a tree of blood
spine like a thin paintbrush.
We painted each other:
In bed, I left a bloody fingerprint on his
thigh the shade of Scarlett #5
stroke by color-wet stroke

We were corazones sagrados
with one valve like a rubber bottle spewing flames
The heat between us set an ocean on fire
a pyre of linseed oil-soaked paintings.
It made such a crash, the world turned its head

a marriage that couldn’t be kept
in the perfect circle of a wedding band.
Some paints don’t mix.
There was always the seduction of revolution,
another man,
another woman,
another woman.
We were an imperfect, blood-tinged portrait
the smoke in the kitchen when the bread burns,
and the afterbirth of the same
child I miscarried over and over

his unspoken child,

I am not an easy-built woman,
but I stitched myself together by my own paint,
cross-dressed lover to myself
decadent and wing-clad

And he painted vast walls,
mansions with the proletariat at the gates,
farmers of rifles, flower-sellers in revolt,

I painted self-portraits as violent as the akward angles of sex,
Watching the world in the window of her mirror

I painted girls with universe bodies, round arms.
I painted him painted on my forehead.
I painted rich wives reclining on jaguars.
I painted her little sister.
I did not paint my Frida.
but s/he was always there;
she was the great bundle of lilies.
A man in the shape of a coffin

We toppled like a city burnt down by dawn.

Do not call us a love story
we were sacrifices, burning altars
to one another
our art
We had the love of the broken dish
on the floor, the wine bottle stolen
and taken to bed. There is no revolution
that didn't start with an angry love,
no art in a perfect marriage.
Love is a subversive thing,
and every righteous movement in the world
was born in radical hearts that loved
like four-chambered guns.
Love was the mistress in our bed
it was our bed in a strange house
the tireless farmwork of lovers
the endless conversation of paintbrushes
two hands drawing each other
more than a gallery of portraits in Paris
it was the room we shared painting each other quietly
after a fight
after making love,
that room,
that was our masterpiece.

--Jessica Lopez and Christian Drake

The following video was taken at their Church of Beethoven performance July 4, 2010 in Albuquerque.

Poetry submissions are welcome. Email

Views: 435

Comment by Dee Cohen on October 24, 2010 at 8:08am
I saw this performed a few months back at the Blackbird Buvette.
Comment by Krista on October 24, 2010 at 1:06pm
Comment by Margaret Randall on October 25, 2010 at 4:52am
The Ditchrider is going multimedia, with a video to accompany the written poem! Terrific! Frida's and Diego's are among the great loves, and this poem does that love justice. But I will look for a chance to see it performed, as Jessica's performances have thrilled me in the past. Jessica, we missed you yesterday at Poets Against War. Once again, Ditchrider, thanks for lighting up our Sunday mornings with good poetry!
Comment by Alicia Lueras Maldonado on October 25, 2010 at 9:48am
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on October 25, 2010 at 9:49am
I had the pleasure of experiencing both of these performers at last year's Poetry Slam Finals. Incredible talents. (a shout out to Aries Sweet for introducing me to slam poetry! <3 ). If you ever get the chance to see either or both perform live, do not miss it!
Comment by JeSais on October 25, 2010 at 12:15pm


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