Outside the Lines

Photo and Poem by Tom Hooten

She struggles, squinting, tongue twisting,
tiny fingers inexpertly on a crayon.
Make it stay in the lines.
But the colors flow from
imagination as yet unrestrained,
bubbling up from evolution’s workshop,
straying every which way,
creating beauty unrecognized.

She cries. I can’t make it pretty.
Tears wash the waxy images,
blurring the fleeting magic -
magic that wanes in a childhood
devoid of praise and pride.

Can her imagination live beyond
its brief childish innocence,
to create with paint, marble, words, music -
to power a life outside the lines?


Just pay attention.
Kiss away the tears and shout,
I love how you color all round the lines.
That’s the prettiest picture there ever was!

She will smile,
a smile empowering blossoming fantasies
laughing as they cross the lines.
Maybe, she’ll glow and grow,
not limited to up...

TOM HOOTEN received his Master’s Degree in Physiological Psychology from Auburn University, was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force (retired), and had a second career as a Human Resources Director. He has published two scientific research papers (co-authored), a science fiction novel, Hollytime, an essay, "The Physics of Fidget Energy," and several poems. He is in sunny Florida working on Alicetime, the sequel to Hollytime.


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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.