Gladys Nilsson, Alan Michael Parker
Babies in Jail
watercolor, gouache, collage on paper
14" x  20"

Babies in Jail


In a portable crib in primary colors
in a striped jumper
pink from play

the baby goes down for a nap
with a blanket for a bed

watched over by someone paid
who stays to catch the news

when the phone rings later
when the day ends and people share
their best secrets from afar

he will be poked
to make pretty sounds

say hi to grandma
no don’t touch

monitored he is never alone
in the life he lives almost alone

the dog in a kennel
the fish in a bowl
the cereal sealed in a bag in a box
the cupboard door closed

upstairs a woman showers
while a man lies down to wait

and the ceiling fan trembles
and the curtains hide

two people ready
to make a baby or two
which is what two people do


            --Alan Michael Parker
                                                                 COLLABORATIVE STATEMENT
                                                   Artist Gladys Nilsson and Poet Alan Michael Parker

Gladys Nilsson and Alan Michael Parker shared their work, to familiarize the other with what their work
was about by emailing. Each enjoyed the other’s work so that once Nilsson “fell in love with
Babies in Jail,” it
became clear that this poem would be the focus of the work.

Nilsson states, “the collaborative effort between artist and poet is an interesting one, but complicated....
one of them deals with creating something on a paper, canvas, or clay/stone/wood etc...and the other is
putting thoughts together that form words and verbal messages on paper....hard to imagine the two
coming up with one sole piece of work. I knew that I wanted to put the actual poem into the work
somehow.....working with words is something I do not do, so that became a challenge as well as some kind
of interpretation of the poem itself.  It is fun to throw oneself a curve every now and again.”

Parker observed that the collaborative process required that he “re-jig my relationship to compositional
principles. With an image awaiting my text, I felt the need to coordinate the poem internally in conspicuous
fashion-and to do so in response to Gladys’ work. What a pleasure, and a challenge. The surprise, for me,
lay in Gladys’ decision to include the poem in her work, and how and where the words related directly to
the figures she so playfully elongates. I feel like the words change too, in this scene, as a result.”