Jonah and the Whale
Impasto roils the canvas and the sea
as Jonah flails in white-capped waves after he
is flung overboard to die. Inflicting his work
with tempera so thick that it will ooze, crack,
never dry, constantly painting over, Ryder
gives God angel wings that span the horizon.
Gesturing now, God looks aside while Jonah,
wild-eyed, about to go under, waves his arms.
The leviathan will soon engulf its prey.
During the long unfathomable journey
Jonah will repent, be thrown up on the shore.
Don’t we all express defiance, flee from God,
get swallowed up somehow, then beg to be saved?
Bonnie Naradzay leads poetry workshops in Washington DC at a day shelter for the homeless and at a retirement centre. Recent poems have appeared in New Letters (nominated for a Pushcart), RHINO, Tar River Poetry, EPOCH, Tampa Review, Poet Lore, Anglican Theological Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. While in graduate school at Harvard in the 1960s, she took a class with Robert Lowell: “The King James Bible as English Literature.” In 2010, she was awarded the New Orleans MFA Program’s Poetry Prize: a month’s stay in the castle of Ezra Pound’s daughter, Mary, in northern Italy, where she enjoyed having tea with Mary, hearing cuckoos call out, and hiking in the Dolomites. More recently, in 2017 she earned a master’s degree in liberal arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis.
Pair of Cranes
who had to feign illness
to escape your noble family
and become a painter,
shoulder to snowy shoulder,
a single stalk of bellflower,
how can we thank you?
Flutist-turned-poet Deborah Schmidt has self-published three chapbooks. In addition, her work has appeared in The Gathering and Blue Unicorn and has earned awards at the Dancing Poetry Festival, the Poets' Dinner, and the Coolbrith Circle Annual Contest. She also takes pleasure in writing memoir and family history.
Still Life With Onions
Van Gogh ate his paint
he was so sloppy
he couldn't wait to free his palette
cover his canvases thick
he couldn't wait for chrome-yellow love
infinite night-sky blue
he had to lick his light fresh.
as I cut onions into chunks--
never delicate, translucent slices
coming down hard at irregular angles
gouging the board
mixing wood splinters in
I think about the unusual way
I'm told I have with a knife.
I bet Vincent tore into his bread
left his teeth marks in wedges of cheese
completely neglected on countless occasions
to clean up after himself.
and what's wrong with big chunks of onion?
the savage charge of having to eat?
eyes burning, tears streaming
I see through it all--
the last temptation of light.
This poem was first published at Liberty Hill Poetry Review.
Peggy Landsman is the author of a poetry chapbook, To-wit To-woo (Foothills Publishing). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in many literary journals and anthologies, including The Muse Strikes Back (Story Line Press), Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes (C&R Press), and, most recently, Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology Of Subversive Verse(Lost Horse Press), SWWIM Every Day, and Mezzo Cammin. She currently lives in South Florida where she swims in the warm Atlantic Ocean every chance she gets. https://peggylandsman.wordpress.com/
Remedios Varo: Harmony
Many ceilings fly over
oaks and maples.
A form arrives in today’s mail.
Check one: male or female.
I open a red chest.
Brave today, I pull out
several former selves,
all ragged, some dead,
this chest their coffin.
I don’t know
my current self. I often wear
a self for a season or two
before I bury it in the chest.
Harmony puts a kettle on.
We drink tea
and feed the ceiling.
Kenneth Pobo has an ekphrastic book from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared or will appear in: North Dakota Quarterly, Summerset Review, Nimrod, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.
Let me tell you how it was
the night they killed the pig
squealing and screaming
beside the frozen river
while we waited to be counted.
The man on the sow
plunged and pulled back his blade,
the woman ready with her skillet
to catch the slide of blood.
Hot-iron smell coated our nostrils
and stuck in our throats.
Such a perfect piercing.
Such a fine pig.
We saw how the young girl
waited warm inside her cloak
while the donkey breathed beneath her
and the baby shifted in her womb.
This poem was first published in Orbis Quarterly International Literary Journal.
Anne Symons: "I come from Cornwall and studied at the University of Wales, Swansea. I have worked in the UK, Sri Lanka and India, teaching poetry and drama to deaf children and adults."
A robin sings a man across a tightrope wire
as three crows try to knock him from the sky.
The cheerleader and the would-be assassins.
Note who’s outnumbered.
When Philippe Petit walked from one twin tower
to the other, onlookers cheered from the sidewalk.
Back and forth he strode—eight times--
before falling into the arms of arresting officers.
Here, too, a nameless crowd--
all eyes and open mouth, no safety net.
It would be nice to think they care
about this daredevil’s fate,
this man who chooses a balancing pole
over the solid grip of a ladder,
but perhaps they just want spectacle,
a shot of adrenaline to make them forget.
And who can blame them?
They have their own demons to dodge,
their own balancing acts to perform
just to make it home at night.
And waiting arms? They should be so lucky.
Certainly no applause.
Margaret DeRitter lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She was a winner of the 2018 Celery City Chapbook Contest, sponsored by Kalamazoo’s Friends of Poetry, and has a full-length poetry collection due out in 2020 from Unsolicited Press. She is the copy editor and poetry editor of Encore, a feature magazine for Southwest Michigan, and a former editor and reporter at the Kalamazoo Gazette. Her poetry has appeared in the 2018 anthology Surprised by Joy (Wising Up Press) and in a number of literary journals, including The 3288 Review, where one of her poems received a Pushcart Prize nomination.
Reaching for Jupiter
There are no answers
inside this throat
of muddled absence
and dust mote air,
nothing to refute antiquity
or the scars of a
slave girl gone deaf and mute.
But this time the
shackles can’t hold you,
the trapdoor can’t ensnare you.
Each sour cloud breaks apart
like shredded gossamer,
the sins strapped to your ankles
split free like the husks
of your discarded history
as you lean and reach upward
toward the fermented sky
where Jupiter’s moons
sway like a bejeweled gate,
awaiting your arrival,
telling the watchmen to
stand back, open the door
and let you in.
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and the author of four books, most recently the story collection, THIS IS WHY I NEED YOU, out now from Ravenna Press. You can find more of his writing at lenkuntz.blogspot.com
Caravaggio, The Incredulity of St. Thomas, 1601
My eyes were crimes. Curious as a maggot,
My cut-purse finger jabbed his wound.
It lifted the gash in his right side:
The knuckle fit the socket of a heavy-lidded eye,
Plucked out, but for that gore’s astonishment.
He was patient. Drawing back the shroud to show,
He said without wincing: “Because thou hast seen me,
Thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen,
And have believed.” I heard the words.
I stoop to plumb those wounds again.
Andrew Miller is a poet, critic and translator with over eighty publications to his name. His poems have appeared in such journals as The Massachussett’s Review, Iron Horse, Shenandoah, Spoon River Review, Ekphrastic Review, Laurel Review, Hunger Mountain, Rattle, New Orleans Review and Ekphrasis. In addition, he has had poems appear in such anthologies as How Much Earth, Anthology of Fresno Poets (2001) and The Way We Work: Contemporary Literature from the Workplace (2008). Finally, he is one of the co-editors of The Gazer Within, The Selected Prose of Larry Levis (2001) and the author of Poetry, Photography Ekphrasis: Lyrical Representations of Photography from the 19th Century to the Present (Liverpool University Press, 2015). Presently, Miller resides Copenhagen Denmark with this wife and daughters.
Triptych: an Elegy
author's note: Shortly after the death of my dear friend I found myself unable to describe the depth of this loss, unable to write much of anything. As I struggled to write an elegy, I knew that the best way for me to honour him was to imagine his stories as told through a mural. As a cultural journalist and artist-scholar, he lived a life full of stories that could be told through ekphrastic works. “Triptych” gave me a framework for circling into the poem.
When all of us wrote love poems you wrote about a city of angels, the view from a loft, a new city in the Mojave with its own angel dressed in blue.
You took every chance to bend the rules until you created small poems embedded in city maps or shaped like newspaper stories, or images with names that were poems unto themselves. Always the journalist and photographer. Always, why can’t it be done?
Even so, once we talked about what would happen if you wrote yourself into your work. I don’t know if you even could, but your poet-heart returned to Riverside whenever we talked. Someday when you were less busy, you said, you would write the story of a first kiss in the orange groves.
I will write your poem for you. No, I will make a mural - a triptych - and we will paint it in this desert that you loved.
The first panel: It will start outside your home as someone in the neighbourhood is fixing their car and your favourite music is playing. Your mother is cooking, your father is near. You are drawing in the living room, and everything is still a beginning.
The second panel: You find yourself in a grove of oranges under the stars. There is starlight on white blossoms so fragrant you are taken aback by the knowledge of leaving soon.
In the distance you see a skyline lit by the same stars, and there is more beauty than you can ever capture with your camera or pen. It’s then that you remember the grove.
The third panel: When the blossoms take hold the mural ends with you among rows of oranges everywhere, spilling to the ground. Such sweet abundance that the fruit on the boughs are too heavy for the trees to keep it all to themselves.
Angela M. Brommel
editor's note: The photograph shown was selected by the editor to illustrate the poem, which features an imagined artwork.
Angela M. Brommel, is a Nevada writer with Iowa roots. She is the author of the Plutonium & Platinum Blonde (Serving House Books, 2018), and her poetry has been featured in The Best American Poetry Blog, the North American Review, The Literary Review-TLR Share, and Sweet: A Literary Confection, among many other journals, anthologies, and art exhibitions. Her full-length poetry collection, Mojave in July, is forthcoming from Tolsun Books. She is the Executive Director of the Office of Arts & Culture, as well as part-time faculty in Humanities, at Nevada State College. You can also find her at The Citron Review as Editor-in-Chief.
"Cezanne's The Basket of Apples is full of what appear to be 'mistakes' but are actually artistic choices...." Quizlet: Art Chapter 4 Flash Cards
Nothing could be simpler or more enticing.
A nice snack set out on a wooden table:
a basket of apples, a bottle of wine,
a plate of cookies (or biscuits?) piled on
a plate. Of course, some apples have rolled
out of the basket, (tilted, you note,
balanced precariously on the table)
onto the tablecloth, which hangs over the edge of
the table you belatedly discover
is strangely made. (Are there apples on the floor?)
The wine is corked and there's no corkscrew-- not
one you can see. And how did those biscuits (or
cookies?) get stacked like that, with the top two
standing up, as if to rudely reprove
modern architecture. You start to see where
needful things are missing from the table
besides the corkscrew-- like a wineglass, a chair.
The fruit on the far right of the table
looks like a pear, not so round, more stable
than its cousins. But how could fruit have rolled
from the basket onto the table and come
to stud a cloth that sometimes hangs above them
in artfully chosen, orchestrated folds
like a sea of frozen whitecaps? And what keeps
the basket from sliding until it's flat on
the table? Someone has arranged this scene- and
not to invoke eating or drinking. One slight
motion would suffice to make the basket slide
down, knock over the full bottle which will smash
the biscuits, fall off the table, and crash
to the floor among stray apples, shattering
to shards like a glass bud: blood-dark wine will spill.
This table warns us like a trap: everything
is in balance until someone tries to move.
Lyn Coffin has published more than thirty volumes of poetry and prose, most notably The First Honeymoon (Iron Twine Press), a collection of her short fiction, and her poetic translation of Shota Rustaveli's 12th century epic (Poezia Press.) Lyn has twice been a Wordsworth Poet in Seattle. Her poetry has won an National Endowment for the Humanities award and a Michigan Council for the Arts grant. She has taught at several American Universities, (Michigan, Detroit, Washington), as well as in Malaysia and Georgia. Widely praised translations include Standing on Earth, by Mohsen Emadi, (PhonemeMedia Press), translated from Iranian, with the author’s collaboration (9/2016) and The Adventures of a Boy Named Piccolo (Salamura), by Archil Sulakauri, translated from Georgian with Veronica Muskheli.
The Ekphrastic Review
Join us on FB and Twitter!
Find a writer, artist, or poem, etc. by searching here: