Mobile Photography / Art – Saturday Poetry – ‘Her Makeup Face’ by Garrett Hongo with Janis Brandenburg Lee


This weeks Saturday Poetry, matched with mobile photography/art is entitled ‘Her Makeup Face’ by Garrett Hongo. Japanese American poet, Hongo, was born in Volcano, Hawaii, on May 30, 1951. He attended Pomona College and the University of Michigan. He received his MFA in English from the University of California at Irvine.

His collections of poetry include Coral Road: Poems (Knopf, 2011); The River of Heaven (Knopf, 1988), which was the Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Yellow Light (Wesleyan University Press, 1982). He is also the author of The Mirror Diary: Selected Essays (University of Michigan Press, 2017) and Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai’i (Knopf, 1995), winner of the Oregon Book Award for nonfiction.

His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

He is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of Oregon at Eugene, where he directed the creative writing program from 1989 to 1993.

I have matched art work untitled by @janisbrandenburg – Janis Brandenburg Lee with this poem. You can view and follow her on Instagram here.


If you would like to be featured in our Saturday Poetry section, please ensure you include the hashtag #theappwhisperer to any images posted to Instagram. This will mean we will be able to consider it.

To view the others we have published in this section, go here.

Her Makeup Face by Garrett Hongo, 1951


There were years at her bedroom vanity, daubing on

makeup, fussing with clips and brushes, a clamp

for eyelashes, the phalanx of powder jars and perfume

bottles assembled like the glassy face of a wave standing

over a box of Kleenex. She’d paint on lipstick,

then blot the excess with a fold of pink tissue pressed

between her lips, pulling pins and a net from her hair,

grabbing up her purse and high-heeled shoes,

almost ready to step up the tiered flights of City Hall stairs

and the long day’s work bossing the typists and Clerk IIs.


How long was this her life, composed or grudging amidst

the clatter of machines, the pouches and memos

that swelled like a tide of incoming blather each day

she stood at her desk, commanding Stella Sue from Memphis,

Helena from Jalisco, and Kay (short for Keiko) from Boyle Heights?

How many times must she have thought of flowers floating in a tree,

archipelagos of plumeria buoyed on their branches


©Janis Brandenburg Lee

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