Still Life with Cabbage and Clogs
Nights, the artist and the cook
dream the same dream of blooming roots
in simple vessels, of blood pudding,
pails of cool water, cold milk.
All winter the chirr of the artist’s scissors,
his pencil marks erased, mistakes
on creamy Ingres paper.
The cook wears handkerchiefs,
feathers of earliest birds too weak to fly.
When the sharpened cleaver meets
the groove between
stalk and flowering head
obsidian clouds thrust forth.
Small particles coat the frosty air.
The cook warms herself with brandy.
Her granite fingers sigh.
She closes the shutters, mutters
strains and tosses, peels potatoes,
then staggers fireside, serves with honey
and salt on baked clay platters.
She thrusts her feet into wooden clogs,
removes her tattered linen apron
and steps outside the doorframe.
Each evening she feeds scraps to hogs
crisscrosses cow paths
tousling tufts of onion grass.
She walks past the cottage on the heath
the meadow, the elm trees in the churchyard,
the barn with the thatched roof
while the artist studies how
layers peel, bones discard,
and patterns of fields appear in
the eggshell cabbage sprawled wide.
Elisabeth Weiss teaches writing at Salem State University in Salem, MA. She’s taught poetry in preschools, prisons, and nursing homes, as well as to the intellectually disabled. She’s worked in the editorial department at Harper & Row in New York and has an MFA from The University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She’s published poems in London’s Poetry Review, Porch, Crazyhorse, the Birmingham Poetry Review, the Paterson Literary Review and many other journals. Lis won the Talking Writing Hybrid Poetry Prize for 2016 and was a runner up in the 2013 Boston Review poetry contest. Her chapbook, The Caretaker’s Lament, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge
Join us for biweekly ekphrastic writing challenges. See why so many writers are hooked on ekphrastic! We feature some of the most accomplished influential poets writing today, and we also welcome emerging or first time writers and those who simply want to experience art in a deeper way or try something creative.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our last writing challenge featuring the work of Jenn Zed, and guest edited by Jordan Trethewey, which ends today at midnight. (Click here to see the Jenn Zed challenge.) Accepted responses for the Zed challenge will be published on April 26, 2019.
The prompt this time is Schwarze Frauen (Women in Black), by Marianne von Werefkin. Deadline is May 3, 2019.
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 artwork 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. Send only your best works or final draft, not everything.
3. Have fun.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY.
Send your work to email@example.com. Challenge submissions sent to the other inboxes will most likely be lost as those are read in chronological order of receipt, weeks or longer behind, and are not seen at all by guest editors. They will be discarded. Sorry.
5.Include MARIANNE VON WEREFKIN WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line in all caps please.
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. Guest editors may not be familiar with your bio or have access to archives. 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 midnight, May 3, 2019.
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!
We have been featuring occasional guest editors for the ekphrastic challenges.
We're hoping this will inspire us in unexpected ways, add new flavours and perspectives to the journal, foster community, and widen readership.
Upcoming guest editors include Kyle Laws and Joan Leotta.
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 in terms of consistency and longevity. Many great poems are about to be written!
The Paradox Within
You, Madame X, the woman of mystery and yet known to all,
have become the representation of a modern paradox.
You are traditionally noble and apparently fragile,
yet you are also strong and progressive.
You give us is nothing and you give us everything.
There are no wall decorations in your world,
no still-life props, no patterned floor-work.
You have deemed that your elegantly simple black dress
needs no accompaniment except an Empire table
that creates a subtle curve
which echoes your feminine shape.
Your contorted arm continues a line from one of the table legs.
It supports you as you prepare to assert your own space,
but this table is not defiant, it is not thinking about change
and the challenges that might lie ahead.
The stripped back setting might speak of frugality,
but your tiara hints at station.
Your pose is demure yet statuesque,
suggesting that you are
looking forward to a different future.
It retains and reveals at once.
You turn away but do not wither.
In fact, with your tightly fitting dress and exposed flesh,
your stance is unmistakably sexual,
even for Paris in the late 19th century.
Yet your confidence flows from the image.
You tell us to take you but as your face turns
as if to bathe in our admiring gaze,
in so many more ways you are unavailable.
Aware of yourself, you dare the world.
Henry Bladon is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Somerset in the UK. He has degrees in psychology and mental health policy and a PhD in literature and creative writing. His work can be seen in Potato Soup Journal, Forth Magazine, Mercurial Stories, thedrabble, Tuck Magazine and Spillwords Press, among other places.
They’re everywhere in the Book of Kells,
eating grapes with lions, perched on the heads
of snakes, contorted in roundels, crammed
inside letters: languidly draped on an H
or painfully squashed in a U. The pale host
appears on their tails instead of extravagant
blue/gold/red eyes. The monks thought their flesh
incorruptible, symbol of the resurrected Christ.
Sometimes their feet are twined in grapevines
growing from chalices. Sometimes, the cup’s
upside down, and flowing vines spill over.
Sometimes, we’re startled into beauty:
the flare of blue fire when they open their fans.
Once, driving back north from Florida,
the world returned to black and white,
we were forced off the interstate by an accident.
A foot of snow on the ground, and more still falling.
Suddenly, as if conjured, a peacock flew
across the road in front of us, its exclamation
of blue-green iridescence all the more startling
in this colourless world. Did we really just see that?
we asked each other, but then the road turned
and we were back on the highway,
safely delivered, on our way home.
This poem is from Barbara Crooker's recent book, The Book of Kells (Poeima Poetry, Cascade Books).
Barbara Crooker is the author of eight books of poetry; The Book of Kells is the most recent. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. www.barbaracrooker.com
Poem after Yves Tanguy’s Je Vous Attends
to where the two ends
Ideas rise into air,
bodies still unselved, and
by their own spines,
form an architecture
above the ashy pit
to which all things are drawn.
From here, a vast procession
David Capps received his PhD in philosophy from University of Connecticut and an MFA in poetry from Southern Connecticut State University. Recently his poems have been featured in Peacock Journal, Mantra Review, Cagibi, among others. He lives in New Haven, CT.
When I Shout,
Freebird!! I’m really saying,
Make me feel
like I felt
when I felt
up Melissa’s shirt
back in ’98
when we were bouncing
around the back of Travis’
microbus, traveling to
a Memphis musicfest.
Sure, the song is overplayed,
but Goddamn when they hit
that first lick, the one that sounds
like tweety birds, man my eyes close
I fall back to the time I went down
on Melissa after the concert
in the woods by Horn Lake Cutoff. October
no mosquitoes, only the park ranger,
70 something — 10 years past
giving a fuck — so we were safe
and young and free, free
as a bird which is a line from Freebird which
was the song pouring out of the VW’s windows
like smoke in a Cheech and Chong movie. We
started laughing --
got up, naked,
--even did a little spin --
and the moon reflected off her teeth
and we were free, free as birds
and playing it pretty
pretty for Atlanta
The work of Pushcart Prize nominated poet Scott McDaniel has been featured in the San Pedro River Review, Deep South Magazine, Oberon Poetry Magazine, Common Ground Review and The New Guard. He has read throughout his home state of Arkansas as well as Manhattan and Castletowneroche, Ireland. Scott began writing poetry at an early age and was encouraged to do so by his cousin, award-winning inaugural poet Miller Williams. He lives and works in his hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas; a city outside of Memphis that is highly influenced by the culture of the Mississippi Delta. His writings reflect the unique hues, quirks and broken promises of the modern south.
Jeu de Paume
after Alfred Sisley, "Paysage aux Environs de Moret"
Yes, yes, I know this is Tucson,
downtown, the Old Pueblo.
But may I please have one moment,
just one, to pretend.
Let me imagine that it's Paris
the Jeu de Paume museum
my mother at my side
Michelin guide in her right hand
another book in her left,
a history of the impressionists.
As always, she teaches me.
As always, I listen.
Janet McMillan Rives
can be deemed art
when the artist
says it is.
Armed with pen
his fabled urinal,
and named it.
From that time on
for all artists
the self has reigned
de facto God.
Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly and Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry and interviews have appeared in literary journals internationally, including Nimrod, Florida English Journal, Cream City Review, Mandala Journal, Poetry Salzburg, Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Boston Poetry Magazine. He has published a travel book, Best Choices In Northern California, and his epic adventure Ballad of Billy the Kid is available on Amazon in both Kindle and print versions.
More Famous Than Andy Warhol
Crowned Miss Sweden in '61,
my mother-in-law won fame
with a shaving cream commercial.
In black & white, her platinum locks
tickle naked shoulders, bare
except for a pearl necklace.
Take it off, take it all off––
New York party-hopping in '67,
she held court with Andy Warhol,
It was no big deal meeting Andy Warhol,
I was a bigger star than Andy Warhol.
Off-camera she smoked endless
Virginia Slims, ordered Absolut
for lunch, Straight up in a pint glass!
Don't bother bringing water,
I don’t drink water because
fish fuck in it.
Warhol’s face in Time, hers in Life.
Warhol shot, meat of his heart massaged,
saved. Her postcard from a prison inmate,
Send me a Polaroid of you wearing
nothing but red pumps.
Willa Carroll is the author of Nerve Chorus, one of Entropy Magazine’s Best Poetry Books of 2018. A finalist for The Georgia Poetry Prize, she was the winner of Tupelo Quarterly’s TQ7 Poetry Prize and Narrative Magazine’s Third Annual Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, LARB Quarterly Journal, The Rumpus, Tin House, and elsewhere. Video readings of her poems were featured in Narrative Outloud. A former experimental dancer and actor, she has collaborated with numerous artists, including text-based projects with her filmmaker husband. She lives in NYC. willacarroll.com
The Crane, The Swan and The Ingénue
Waterbirds gather to gorge
on waste rice, every grain
guarded lest any fragment founder.
A hooded crane sits upon a nest
of yellowed moss and wilted peony,
a Chinese rose in sunken bog.
Spinning wheel sits idle; still,
Elle sait filer un fil
from clawfoot chair;
she claws at her latest bête noir.
Her confidante croons with
headdress as a black swan
taking flight from swirling waters;
ribbon tied beneath her throat
does not still the flutter
of her orange-red lips.
The parlour is a foraging patch
plush with myth--
Le drame bourgeois:
posturing, judgments weighty
and thick as Empire table.
The redhead’s curls are twisted up:
she is reserved, the scene stealer,
the one to remember leaning like
Empress Josephine veiled
in Directoire gown, or
Venus of woven wind’s breath.
She clutches shawl of spun
alexandrite against her
divine chest, unlike the old crane
with withered breasts down to
barren womb, who thinks herself
Privileged. Noble. Worthy of title.
The laurel swag makes a poor crown
as she preens the
cowardice from her perch.
Rebecca Weigold’s poetry has appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, The Tishman Review, BlazeVox, Winamop!, The Skinny Poetry Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, and other publications. She lives in Kentucky. We are grateful for Rebecca at The Ekphrastic Review because she generously donates her time to take care of growing our Twitter presence online.
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