There they were
in the middle
of the city streets
neon lights flashing
in the midnight sun
and it was 1981.
June Paul has been a closet poet for years. Encouraged by local writers and artists to begin submitting works, she's been published in The Poet by Day, Blue Heron Review, Haikuniverse and Last Day Poems (Your Daily Poems). She is in the process of compiling a chapbook for publication.
Light at the End of the Century
I sense you in the shards
Of November twilight
Cascading across from Ypres
Another day set to rest
When I feel your monologue
In dulcet tones
Proffering your gratitude
To we lions led by donkeys
For our bravery, for our courage
In an ecstasy of fighting
Though horror of laying down lives
By me and my comrades
From all over the Empire
Across many oceans
To the futility of the Great War
A conflict bellicose
Too obscure, too confusing
To mortals like us
Enlisted and conscripted
Carried into heinous conflict
To a war to end all wars
Battles to be remembered, for
We were due home by Christmas
If not before
I believe you when you cry
Of the carnage, the travesty
As we lie here in front of you
Near twelve thousand young men
Taken on Passchendaele ridge
Now next cottages of Tyne
A microcosm of the millions
Gone well before our time
Yet I no longer smell cordite
No longer ingest mustard agent
No longer feel pain, then
You must have achieved peace
In our time
In your time too
When cruelty to brothers, to sisters
Has been eradicated
Vanquished from our globe
Though your shake of the head
In despair, in realisation
Suggests that the folly
Of the Great War has been lost
On politicians of power
Those embers of great men
As I wander through your psyche
To domains I don’t know
Where conflict is constant
In life beyond horizons
To mortals like us
While I wonder if you’re my descendent
And if not
Why you care
With history casting shadows
Over years following on
For a century has passed
And your friends were our foes
Then I sense your departure
After November twilight
In the direction of Ypres
And another site ticked.
Dedicated to the brave sons of the British Commonwealth
taken during the Great War of 1914-18 and
buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders
Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions in Europe and North America. His poems have featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He is particularly inspired by ekphrastic challenges.
The Song of the Lark Ascending
One day I found you:
on another day Bill Murray did too.
My head was shaved at the time.
It was cold;
Chicago in April.
I just wanted to sit
So I rolled my metallically frozen Chicago-Bean-of-a-head into the Chicago Art Institute.
The Impressionists were well courted:
I moved as a shy planet
orbiting quietly away from the parasouled social centre.
I spun rightrightright-
until I was pulled into a
small square of Space.
I didn’t see you at first.
I saw pink-
no I felt pink-
no not pink-
pinkorangered radiated into my skin.
You were there
barefoot and singing the world into being.
I wondered why Bill Murray
came to you:
he has money
to fuel his own pinkorangered sun
to keep him warm from Chicago winters.
But maybe both of our baldish heads,
in the dark Chicago April
and just wanted the wide
soft palm of a
to warm us, to re-centre our
Ginny M. Schneider is a human person living in a beigey suburb in Southern California with zero cats, but 6 roommates (which is comparable). She is trying to live out the West Coast Millennial dream by having a podcast and hoping her part time job pays her rent. Not to be romanticized, the state she loves remains on fire.
Along a country road he stopped to paint it, where the road runs
through tall grass, yellowed by late summer, toward a cod-belly sky
flushed with marine light.
The road is empty as our short journey between crib and coffin.
The neon shadow of American loneliness reaches even here. And it’s
1944. There’s a war on, though far away. Though far away, there’s a
On the right, a steep roofed, no-nonsense white cottage lacks any sign
of life. Three gaunt evergreens stand between the cottage and the
road. A fourth stands apart from the rest. The tall grass is
undisturbed around the cottage.
There are countless places we hurry past which catch our attention for
a breath-span. And then the scene is gone forever. But it was here
someone said: This is the place. And built a white cottage.
Was it a man alone or with a family? Why did he or they move away --
too much solitude or did the tide of war take him?
Would we have the inner resources to hold out here? We can’t answer.
We don’t have to. We’re mere voyeurs playing the what-if game,
flicking our cape at a bull with no horn.
We who are always passing by on the way to elsewhere. Because we can.
Mike Dillon lives in Indianola, Washington, a small town on Puget Sound northwest of Seattle. He is the author of four books of poetry and three books of haiku. Several of his haiku were included in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, from W.W. Norton (2013). Departures, a book of poetry and prose about the forced removal of Bainbridge Island’s Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor will be published by Unsolicited Press in April 2019.
Sun and Shadows
Saffron sun blinds eyes
walking easterly forenoon.
Under a building’s
shadow, I briefly pause, don
overblown, Jackie O shades.
Trees casting shadows
and a hammock invite me
to lie down in peace.
An intrusive sun invades
through insouciant branches.
Is heaven framed by
golden sunlight? I wonder
if Satan’s shadow
sneaks beyond St. Peter’s gate?
No. Shadowy figures banned.
You, a sun god, when
I fell love-crazy for your
sparkle. But alas,
the mythic hero I sensed,
just a sadistic shadow.
Peter Pan’s shadow
detached on television.
In childhood, it shocked.
Mary Martin’s radiance
calmed. Her face, beams of sunshine.
Davidson Garrett is a native of Louisiana and lives in New York City. He trained for the theatre
at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and graduated from The City College of New York.
He is a member of Actors Equity and SAG/AFTRA and has worked in television, film, and theatre
since 1973. His poetry has been published in The New York Times, The Episcopal New Yorker,
Sensations Magazine, First Literary Review East, Xavier Review from New Orleans, and in Podium:
the online literary journal of the 92nd Street Y. Davidson is the author of the poetry collection, King Lear of the Taxi, and most recently the chapbook, What Happened To The Man Who Taught Me Beowulf? and Other Poems. For over 40 years, Davidson has driven a yellow taxi to help subsidize his artistic pursuits. www.adventpurplepress.com
How to Look at a Painting
Start with the jungle greenness of her sleeve.
Beneath its sun-splashed canopy
sweep up and down the lushness of its canyons.
Next, cross her crimson robe knee-deep,
like Dante, in a viscous bloody pool.
Emerge, slide up her neck to alpenglow,
then slip along her flawless cheek to meet
her oscillating forehead veil:
now creamy streaks, now gossamer transparency.
Fathom down, sound each abyss of sorrow:
her pupils' downcast symmetry.
Rope-up to hike the high white ridge between,
you'll intersect the subtle twenty pinks
conjoined into the sweetness of her lips.
Now scan the plump peach child top to bottom,
his little toes will point to where you started:
the sheens and green perfusions of her tunic.
Go back around, surprise yourself,
find unobserved new tints, a niche to ponder.
Then step away, allow the parts to fuse –
behold a perfect Raphael Madonna.
Kenneth Lee is a pathologist, practicing in Boston. He is the author of four books of poetry, the latest: Late Revelations, 2017.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge
Thank you to everyone who participated in our last writing challenge for Rainy Night at Etaples, by William Edouard Scott, which ends today. Accepted responses for the Rainy Night challenge will be published on December 21, 2018.
The prompt this time is Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus, by Guido Reni. Deadline is December 28, 2018. PLEASE NOTE: In order to better organize submissions, we have a new email for challenge submissions:firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone can participate! Try something new if you've never written from visual art before and discover why there are so many of us devotees. Ekphrastic writing helps artists and lovers of art to look more carefully, from different angles or mindsets, at visual art. And it helps writers discover new ways of approaching their work, their experiences, and writing itself.
The rules are simple.
1. Use this visual art prompt as a springboard for your writing. It can be a poem or short prose (fiction or nonfiction.) You can research the painting or artist and use your discoveries to fuel your writing, or you can let the image alone provoke your imagination.
2. Write as many poems and stories as you like.
3. Have fun.
4. Send only your best results to email@example.com.
5. Include CHRISTMAS WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line in all caps please. Please use this email only for challenge submissions. Continue to use the regular email for regular submissions and correspondence.
6. Include your name and a brief bio. If you do not include your bio, it will not be included with your work, if accepted. Even if you have already written for The Ekphrastic Review or submitted other works and your bio is "on file" you must include it in your challenge submission. Do not send it after acceptance or later; it will not be added to your poem. We are sorry about these technicalities, but have found that following up, requesting, adding, and changing later takes too much time and is very confusing.
7. Late submissions will be discarded. Sorry.
8. Deadline is December 28, 2018.
9. Please do not send revisions, corrections, or changes to your poetry or your biography after the fact. If it's not ready yet, hang on to it until it is.
10. Selected submissions will be published together, with the prompt, one week after the deadline.
11. Rinse and repeat with upcoming ekphrastic writing challenges!
Please note, next year we are going to have some special guest editors judging some of the challenges! We're hoping this will inspire in unexpected ways, add new flavours and perspectives to the journal, and foster community. When a challenge has a guest editor, it will be announced in advance as well as in this space the day the prompt is posted. We're excited about this and about having a whole year of challenges, now that we've found an ekphrastic prompt system that is working out in terms of consistency and longevity. Many great poems will be written in the year ahead!
Remembering Breughel’s Massacre of the Innocents
I should have known it hung there, in Vienna. But home
was the place for warnings of strangeness, of not
taking rides, or candy. With me now
even wieners from butcher shop owners were safe.
Together now we were climbing palatial
marble steps, the guidebook having said
nothing of archways twice
as high as our house, completely studded
with colour, real gold-covered crossbeams,
a ceiling of painted-on seasons of glory: each hair
on each head (as my father would say) so precise
you could see it, assuming you could get close
as the artists had, hanging there day after day
for months, their dangers of falling so far removed
from our journey past sculptures on landings
to canvas in far-off rooms.
I would have stared upward longer but you
were obsessed with the head of Medusa in What’s-
his-name’s hand, my memory not
so needed as saying it’s really all make-believe.
No one could ever have snakes for hair, no one
cut off her head although maybe
he would have, had she been real.
What’s true is I didn’t avoid when I could have
that room with fifteen original Breughels, the first
I had ever seen not in a book.
The Tower of Babel. Peasant Dance. The other
I couldn’t draw you away from, could only
respond: those soldiers lived too far back
to remember, they must have been following orders,
their leaders must have been mean. More
I could have said and still not enough.
So much you already knew of betrayals and still
you returned again and again from rooms of Rembrandt and Reubens,
Cranach’s Adam and Eve and hundreds of Christs on the cross,
you returned to take in details no one could
forget: the mothers pleading, the children
lying in blood, in snow, in a huge commotion of lances,
hooves, dogs, the wails of the children, the mothers
helpless with blood on their laps, on their hands,
their eyes turned back from Heaven.
Erin, no one forgives such things.
Nor do I know why we stayed until closing, hurrying out
with our postcards and parcels into the late May drizzle.
Why I sat on a park bench while you tried finding
pleasure in dancing like pigeons, hiding from me
again and again behind the base of Maria Theresa’s statue,
knowing I knew where you were, insisting
I couldn’t find you, anywhere.
This poem was first published in Ingrid Wendt's book, Moving the House (BOA Editions, 1980).
Ingrid Wendt’s first book, Moving the House, was selected by William Stafford for the New Poets of American Series, published by BOA Editions (1980). Her next three books received the Oregon Book Award (1987), the Yellowglen Award and the Editions prize from WordTech Editions (2003 and 2004). She is co-editor of the anthology In Her Own Image: Women Working in the Arts (1980) and the Oregon poetry anthology From Here We Speak (1993). Her most recent book, Evensong, is available from Truman State University Press (2011). She has taught poetry writing for over thirty years, at all educational levels, most recently as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the University of Freiburg, Germany. She lives in Eugene, Oregon. www.ingridwendt.com
To Wrestle With the Irresistible
Holy Angels Chapel of Saint-Sulpice, Paris
It’s daybreak in the painting that Delacroix took twelve years
to complete. In the foreground, near two immense trees,
Jacob, who is turned away from us, wrestles with the angel,
resolute with his wings. Nearby, on the ground, a heap of clothes
Jacob has cast off for the hand-to-hand agon that’s lasted all night.
To the right, Jacob’s continuous caravan of sheep, shepherds...
gifts for Esau to appease his anger. One horse turns back,
the only one to notice these two, locked in furious embrace.
The angel’s hand, visible on Jacob’s thigh. The other hand,
clasping Jacob’s and raised high in the air. Disappearing
beyond a bend, a faraway woman holds a jar on her head.
We think we hear the angel say Let me go, for day is breaking.
Jacob, straining against him, wounded and taut, will refuse.
Not until you bless me. The imminence of the blessing.
Bonnie Naradzay leads poetry workshops at the Department of Corrections, at a day shelter for homeless people, and at a retirement centre, all in Washington DC. Poems have appeared in New Letters, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, Poet Lore, JAMA, Anglican Theological Review, Split This Rock, The Ekphrastic Review, The Northern Virginia Review, The Seminary Ridge Review, Pinch, and others. In 2010, she was awarded the New Orleans MFA Program’s Poetry Prize: a month’s stay in Ezra Pound’s daughter’s castle in Dorf Tyrol (northern Italy). She earned an MA from Harvard in 1969, an MFA in poetry from the University of Southern Maine in 2010, and an MA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College (Annapolis) in 2017.
A Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind
"Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." Matthew 15:14
There is a pale square of eggshell white, an empty space where Bruegel used to be.
It has been removed from the museum, just as many statues, books, speakers, and other artworks have been toppled or torn, ripped from the roots, from city squares or libraries or galleries. The patrons of the historical sites of Naples must learn that their education and edification cannot come at the cost of anyone's hurt feelings.
The image of umbrage is The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind, a five century old work by the Flemish artist, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. His inspiration was from the gospel of Matthew, when the good Lord warned us about following the dictates of those who didn't know the truth, or weren't even looking for it. The source alone is objectionable to many!
In the painting, assorted men stumble each after one another, grasping and falling on their way. Their eyes are sick or glassy, or not there at all, as if plucked clean by crows, concave sockets, sight hollowed from heads with a cantaloupe baller.
The painting is offensive to people who are blind, or who otherwise identify that way, who might not approve the parallels implied about seeing, the pitfalls of spiritual sightlessness and its insinuated struggles. Peasants and farmers are also furious: this classist assault on the poor and their allies must be erased from memory. Hindus or Jews might be upset by work depicting the New Testament, and the atheists, too, are sick and tired of being force fed life lessons from fairy tale books. Human rights activist groups have asked that all opprobrious religious artwork be removed from the galleries, and curators have their work cut out for them ahead, as forklifts must be brought in to remove countless tons of artefacts from all over the world. All ancient Indian art, all African ritual art, all European Christian art must be tossed onto a bonfire so that aggressions, both micro and intended, can burn in hell. There will surely be some suitably secular moral illustrations from the last two decades that can fill in for the more than ten millennia that human creativity was tainted with faithful delusions.
Some sources report that women are also upset by the piece and have asked to have it destroyed- it looks like the work might have been painted by a man.
In an interview with the Washington Post, the museum director shared her perspective. "At first, we considered replacing this dangerous work with an appropriate painting from the era or from local contemporary talents. This proved difficult as a staggering number of submissions and backroom stock were equally offensive, if not more so. We thought leaving the blank space was a wonderful statement. And when we overheard a patron expressing how moved she was by the empty wall, we decided to leave it blank with nothing to see. With nothing to look at and nothing to see, it's a safe space for everyone."
Lorette C. Luzajic
Lorette C. Luzajic is a visual artist, writer, and editor of The Ekphrastic Review.
Scroll down for writers, archive by month, and categories
(use search box above)
Sherry Barker Abaldo
Meghan Rose Allen
Maura Alia Badji
Mary Jo Balistreri
Karin Wraley Barbee
Janée J. Baugher
B. Elizabeth Beck
Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Karen G. Berry
Susan P. Blevins
Rose Mary Boehm
Charles M. Boyer
Marion Starling Boyer
Catherine A. Brereton
Charles W. Brice
David C. Brydges
Betsy Holleman Burke
Mary Lou Buschi
Danielle Nicole Byington
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Fern G. Z. Carr
Tricia Marcella Cimera
SuzAnne C. Cole
Gonzalinho da Costa
Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Faith M. Deruelle
John Scott Dewey
Marc Alan Di Martino
Catherine Ruffing Drotleff
Kari Ann Ebert
Suzanne E. Edison
Kurt Cole Eidsvig
Tara A. Elliott
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Ariel Rainer Fintushel
Jordan E. Franklin
Jen Stewart Fueston
Edward H. Garcia
Adam J. Gellings
Steven Wittenberg Gordon
Grace Marie Grafton
Emily Reid Green
Rebeca Ladrón de Guevara
Laura Quinn Guidry
Andrea L. Hackbarth
Matthew E. Henry
Judith Lee Herbert
A. J. Huffman
Pat Snyder Hurley
Arya F. Jenkins
Brandon D. Johnson
Crystal Condakes Karlberg
David M. Katz
Christopher T. Keaveney
Olivia J. Kiers
Loretta Collins Klobah
Kim Peter Kovac
Jean L. Kreiling
Stuart A. Kurtz
Tanmoy Das Lala
Fiona Tinwei Lam
John R. Lee
Clarissa Mae de Leon
David Ross Linklater
Gregory E. Lucas
Lorette C. Luzajic
M. L. Lyons
Ariel S. Maloney
John C. Mannone
Diane G. Martin
Mary C. McCarthy
Megan Denese Mealor
Patrick G. Metoyer
David P. Miller
Stacy Boe Miller
Mark J. Mitchell
Sharon Fish Mooney
Thomas R. Moore
Diane V. Mulligan
Mark A. Murphy
S. Jagathsimhan Nair
Heather M. Nelson
Casey Elizabeth Newbegin
James B. Nicola
Bruce W. Niedt
Kim Patrice Nunez
M. N. O'Brien
Pravat Kumar Padhy
Andrew K. Peterson
Laurel S. Peterson
Daniel J. Pizappi
Melissa Reeser Poulin
Rhonda C. Poynter
Marcia J. Pradzinski
Anita S. Pulier
Molly Nelson Regan
Amie E. Reilly
J. Stephen Rhodes
Jeannie E. Roberts
Ralph La Rosa
George W. Ross
Mary C. Rowin
Iain Lim Jun Rui
Mary Kay Rummell
Mary Harris Russell
Janet St. John
Lisa St. John
Brian A. Salmons
Kelly R. Samuels
Christy Sheffield Sanford
Pamela Joyce Shapiro
Courtney O'Banion Smith
Janice D. Soderling
Helen Leslie Sokolsky
David Allen Sullivan
Kim Cope Tait
Mary Stebbins Taitt
Mary Ellen Talley
Liza Nash Taylor
Memye Curtis Tucker
Janine Pommy Vega
David Joez Villaverde
Loretta Diane Walker
Sue Brannan Walker
Joanna M. Weston
Martin Willitts Jr
William Carlos Williams
Morgan Grayce Willow
Shannon Connor Winward
Amy Louise Wyatt
William Butler Yeats
Abigail Ardelle Zammit
Our primary objective is to promote writing, art and artists today and through history. All works of art are used with permission of the creator or publisher, OR under public domain, OR under fair use. If any works have been used or credited incorrectly, please alert us so we can fix it.