Ours was the house ahead,
grey shell, shadow of itself
alone in a corner on the edge
of this jaundiced landscape.
They say it’s terminal: it shows
in pain-etched face, eyes
weary of light, spent lungs
of rooms inside abandoned
core of a body that once echoed
life into underground roots -
until everything starved.
Nobody knows what drained
colour and left so little; spring-
summer air empty of flower-scent
infusion and insect hum;
unexplained absence of people,
pets, animals, trees - mystery
of where birds go to make
song. It draws me back to lie,
ear to the earth, and listen
for heartbeat, sensing one day
I will witness you, weather-beaten,
fall and break into crumbs, merge
into the endless ordinary.
Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming at Clear Poetry, Prole, The Open Mouse, Amaryllis, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Eunoia Review, Anapest, Reach Poetry, Rat’s Ass Review, Foxglove Journal and many others.
His blog is https://waringwords.wordpress.com
Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)
It reminds me of my family.
Only half the table spreads beneath
the window: glass of wine, pyramid
of plums, pottery bowl and creamer
arranged next to a basket of bread.
You’d expect the whole table.
And why does the blue striped cloth
fold toward us as peonies scatter
along the wallpaper like firecrackers?
My mother sits there
in the shadows while Father
slumps in a chair, his face turned
away toward the window.
He’s grown tired of domestic
detritus, the artillery of leaves,
claustrophobic battles of mothers
and daughters among china platters.
Beyond the narrow room stretches
the storm cloud of his nearing death.
Soon the table will tip and crumble.
Death’s hand hovers over pears.
Geraldine Connolly is a native of western Pennsylvania and the author of three poetry collections: Food for the Winter (Purdue), Province of Fire (Iris Press) and Hand of the Wind (Iris Press), as well as a chapbook, The Red Room (Heatherstone Press). She is the recipient of two N.E.A. creative writing fellowships in poetry, a Maryland Arts Council fellowship, and the W.B. Yeats Society of New York Poetry Prize. She was the Margaret Bridgman Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and has had residencies at Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and The Chautauqua Institute. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Cortland Review and Shenandoah. It has been featured on The Writers Almanac and anthologized in Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High School Students, Sweeping Beauty: Poems About Housework and The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide. She lives in Tucson, Arizona. Her website is http: www.geraldineconnolly.com
Her eyes focus downward
on the parsnip
as she peels
A faint smile
She loves to work by sunlight
from the window
late fall or winter
threaded through the grass
Somewhere else in the room
just returned from the cold air
must be a quiet man
hair smelling of wood smoke
Bending at the knee
he opens his palms
to the crackling fire
Ashley Mabbitt lives in Brooklyn, NY and works in international STM publishing. Her poems have appeared in South Florida Poetry Journal and Avocet Weekly, and she studies poetry in workshops at the 92nd Street Y. She also studied with Ruth Stone and Liz Rosenberg as an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Binghamton.
The Birth of Athena
Look at that spackled face. The starched curls. The lah-de-dah veiled hat. And that rose! That rose is a second entity, Athena sprung fully formed from Zeus’ head. That’s the way it is with roses. One second they’re as tiny as a baby’s puckered palm. But turn around to water the azalea, or admire a cardinal, and boom! There’s the rose already world-weary and reeking of perfume. Listen. Don’t admire the woman’s lace collar. Or her perfectly tailored jacket. Or the purse white-knuckled in her hand. Behold the blot of red that sits atop her lips like a bloated heart. There’s a smirk beneath that layer of paint. And it’s for you.
Tina Barry is the author of Mall Flower, poems and short fiction (Big Table Publishing, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2016, Drunken Boat, The Light Ekphrastic, and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, among other journals and anthologies. Barry lives with her husband and two cats in the village of High Falls, NY.
From the beginning you can glimpse the next. Do you remember, from the viewing platform, that climate called “all over,” a diaphanous layering and movement with no centre, no privileged area? In the darkness there, one person’s nightmare and the ocean’s tides are meshed, as is the bursting of a bubble and the clamor for a victim from the crowd, as it is in life. ‘Its colour parallels the picture plane, but does not of itself say which is forwards, what is backwards here.’But then I thought we saw an opening in whorls, which formed as when between the ceiling cracks a gap appears so when it rains a portion of your room gets wet as water in a river drifting on, the way that thoughts drift on -- only the idea of an idea, the clear symbolic rational gleaned from irrational thought, the seeming appearance of a vision--however, light is falling like fall leaves into a well and hence we can not see too well.
One can’t always tell, at first, but if you take, reformat this onto a smaller page, then would the line-breaks change, and if so is this therefore what’s called prose-poem—or would it then be only prose, a draft of criticism, section of a unit not yet optimized for oily apparatus?
The night condensed the dew upon the windows; the wind-blown twig-grown branches made a fading grid of scrapes, through which we only view the fog outside, where void and solid, human action and inertia are metamorphosed and refined to energy sustaining them, which is their commonest denominator. I remember what I wanted from you, I’ve given up, but still I wait, and at times the solitary spleen of grace escapes the right hand of fantasy, and the tissue of reality. Today it arced across the room, almost to the door, and mixed with the trace of paint spilled on the floor. Here forms and textures germinate and climax, coalesce, decline, dissolve across the surface with no space we recognize or sequence of known time except that seeming never ending present. Although we are not left spinning; a visualization of remorseless consolation is presented—in the end is the beginning.
Eric Fretz studied art history in Hampshire College and CUNY, was a National Health Service union rep in London, and now divides his time between Brooklyn and Beacon New York. He has written sporadically about both radical politics and contemporary art, and is the author of Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biography (2010, Greenwood Press).
The gown clings to the wearer’s shoulders
with vines, the first garden, ensorceling flesh,
the apples of the knowledge of good and evil
fanning a ruddy starburst over the mons,
Adam and Eve’s heads just above the invisible
knees, Eve’s hand reaching for the woman’s
bold enough to trod about (in this garment
in) the garden. Two serene deer observe,
omniscient, this perfect moment before
forever after, its shimmer of toile, God
turning away the better to pretend surprise
and ask, Where are you? Why do you hide?
Devon Balwit writes in Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements(Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); and The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry). More of her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Red Earth Review, The Inflectionist; Glass: A Journal of Poetry; Noble Gas Quarterly; Muse A/Journal, and more.
The Long Flight of Fancy
Ancient Egyptians sharpened branches
and looped strings of cotton to craft stockings
Muslims created silk cushion covers and gloves
in the round using pins
Servants of Queen Elizabeth I knitted
her silk stockings and fine woolens on coarse wires
Curved needles produced layered sweaters
that kept fisherman warm in harsh weather
in Ireland and Scotland
As they rode, Chinese caravan men
grabbed handfuls of hair from camels
to roll, twist and knit with sticks into foot warmers
American women followed Eleanor Roosevelt to war
armed with steel-stilettoed needles, gloves
and balaclavas for the home front
Today we knit with wings that carry us
high above earthly stress, grief or loneliness
Up here we fly free as the wearable art we create
We pull in the thick green fur of mountain trees
The sequin blue shimmer of lakes
White fleece like fog settling into them
Rayon sunsets of pink, purple and red
Bamboo ribbons of rolling hills
that offset the synthetic sheen of cities
Silk slippery as the seaweed of mermaids' hair
Each stitch a tick tenacious as ocean waves
And then, because we already own
at least fifteen such fashions
We wrap a loved one or perhaps a shopping stranger
in the warm saltwater constancy of our craft
This poem was first published at The Centrifugal Eye.
Ellaraine Lockie is a widely published and awarded poet, nonfiction book author and essayist. Her thirteenth chapbook, Tripping with the Top Down, was recently released from FootHills Publishing. Earlier collections have won the Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, the Poetry Forum Press Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest, the Aurorean Chapbook Choice Award and Best Individual Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.
Another surprise ekphrastic challenge!
The Christmas story has been told so many times over the past 2000 years.
We are so bombarded with carols, cards, and verses, year after year, that even the idea of looking for "the real meaning of Christmas" has itself become a cliche.
If we slow down and contemplate the various facets of the nativity story through visual art, could we find in that silence something that has been lost? What is the truth under our over-saturated sea of festive narrative?
Are there new discoveries to be made in old stories? Do we know the story by heart, or only think we do?
Consider each of these paintings and see what kind of poetry or prose you are inspired to write.
Send your best efforts to The Ekphrastic Review with "Christmas challenge" in the subject line, as soon as you can, and anytime before December 24.
Please share this with any writers, readers, or art lovers you know so they can participate too. Many thanks.
Reggie points at crooked lines on a piece of dirty paper.
spent a week casing Miller’s Hardware like a fox hitting a henhouse.
Chevis sit back, dumb as a bag of hammers, remembering
times with Black Jack’s boys chasing Villa round
Mexico with a finger faster than his head.
he pretends to know this caper’s take’ll make up
for Peoria when that smartass teller flipped a switch.
Black and Shug scan the room for folks paying
too much attention, or conspicuously unconcerned.
Mudflap burns a Cuban, studying a newspaper like a painting
eyes perusing pages like it was that picture above his head
like he’d see Jack Johnson knock Gentleman Jim out again.
smoke snakes under bowler brims, searching the felt for escape.
Charnita weaves through the bar slow collecting
eyes following her hips like the ball in a movie sing-a-long.
a feathered stole chokes the chill from her throat.
she give’em thick lips and long legs curving like a chair leg
her laying down red heels like blood puddles.
her blue coat won’t hide the bundle of butt she made
little effort to conceal, to reveal to the right man
but there ain’t none, cause she the kind of woman crooks shy
like sticky money, bad getaway cars and White Citizens.
Reggie’s eyes try to warn her away before
she get to the table, but every look is a come-on
a good reason for getting close to somebody.
this ain’t no time for social talk, but
Charnita ignores all signals and good sense.
the others don’t see her till she's too close not
to hear their plan. she looks at the table
the map of the store. they straighten up.
ten eyes work her body from leg to head
admiring, desiring, despising the interruption.
nothing moves, like the whole room’s holding its breath
except for a boa-feather falling through the smoke
bout to hit the ground loud as a shoe.
Brandon D. Johnson
Brandon D. Johnson is author of Love’s Skin, Man Burns Ant, The Strangers Between, and co-author of The Black Rooster Social Inn: This Is The Place. He is published in several journals and anthologies, including Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade and The Listening Ear: Cave Canem Poets Look South, and Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century. He is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow. He was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Born in Gary, Indiana, he received a BA from Wabash College and his JD from Antioch School of Law. He has also been a photographer for many years. Mr. Johnson lives with his wife and children in Washington, DC.
Eighty-year-old Woman Living in Squatter’s Camp, Bakersfield, CA
Her hair has thinned, her round glasses
low on her nose. I doubt she has many teeth
the way her mouth is set. Yet, she has advice:
“If you lose your pluck you lose
the most that is in you.”
She sits in a car. She is wearing a plaid dress
with cuffs and wide collar.
I would not want to tangle with her,
although the man beside her
probably has. He is in her shadow
and I didn’t see him at first.
I think of a long marriage,
that he’s learned to give in.
To live on the outskirts of town
in a shack of tin. What do the wrinkles
in this woman’s face reveal--
the death of a child,
illness or the constant counting of change
for bread and milk.
She has one hand on her forehead
shielding her eyes from the sun.
She wants to see clearly what is before her.
Gail Peck is the author of eight books of poetry. The Braided Light won the Leana Shull Contest for 2015. Poems and essays have appeared in Southern Review, Nimrod, Greensboro Review, Brevity, Connotation Press, Comstock, Stone Voices, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart, and her essay “Child Waiting” was cited as a notable forBest American Essays, 2013.
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Meghan Rose Allen
Mary Jo Balistreri
B. Elizabeth Beck
Karen G. Berry
Susan P. Blevins
Rose Mary Boehm
Charles M. Boyer
Catherine A. Brereton
Charles W. Brice
David C. Brydges
Mary Lou Buschi
Danielle Nicole Byington
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Fern G. Z. Carr
Tricia Marcella Cimera
SuzAnne C. Cole
John Scott Dewey
Suzanne E. Edison
Kurt Cole Eidsvig
Tara A. Elliott
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Ariel Rainer Fintushel
Edward H. Garcia
Adam J. Gellings
Grace Marie Grafton
Emily Reid Green
Rebeca Ladrón de Guevara
A. J. Huffman
Pat Snyder Hurley
Arya F. Jenkins
Brandon D. Johnson
Olivia J. Kiers
Loretta Collins Klobah
Kim Peter Kovac
Jean L. Kreiling
Stuart A. Kurtz
Tanmoy Das Lala
John R. Lee
Gregory E. Lucas
Lorette C. Luzajic
M. L. Lyons
Ariel S. Maloney
John C. Mannone
Mary C. McCarthy
Megan Denese Mealor
Patrick G. Metoyer
David P. Miller
Stacy Boe Miller
Mark J. Mitchell
Mark A. Murphy
S. Jagathsimhan Nair
Heather M. Nelson
James B. Nicola
Bruce W. Niedt
Kim Patrice Nunez
M. N. O'Brien
Pravat Kumar Padhy
Daniel J. Pizappi
Melissa Reeser Poulin
Rhonda C. Poynter
Marcia J. Pradzinski
Anita S. Pulier
Ralph La Rosa
Mary Kay Rummell
Janet St. John
Lisa St. John
Christy Sheffield Sanford
Janice D. Soderling
Mary Ellen Talley
Liza Nash Taylor
Janine Pommy Vega
Sue Brannan Walker
Martin Willitts Jr
William Carlos Williams
Morgan Grayce Willow
Shannon Connor Winward
William Butler Yeats
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