Lakes have no centre, my rowing gets me lost.
My oars dowse for what I am owed or that
is what I do not tell myself and the boy facing me.
He cannot remember why we have come so far;
his withheld questions reply to my silence.
It began with a painting I have always known.
The simple geometric figures tell the story of a woman
tending an egg-shaped cradle. A young girl
leans over the baby, bestowing important gifts.
The gifts are secrets. The woman sews, threading
her needle between the infant and her giver,
linking them in their invisible act of confirmation.
A boy at the open doorway lets in light, but
the girls’ futures carry the younger diving into the lake,
a key like a jeweled crucifix around her neck.
Secrets held by two-ply thread are safe deposit
locks opened only by both keys at once.
The boy on my boat, who may or may not
be the boy of the light, visited the Louvre
twice. The first time to find what people seek
in her. A year later, he wandered from her cluster
of admirers, bored with what he could not understand:
Lisa’s face held in a moment between the day-to-day
and the something more. She is not even pretty or
slender. The kind of girl who might jump in the back
of someone’s pickup and head out to the river.
Her hands are familiar, the ones at visitations,
small brown wrens stilled by rat poison.
Eons of rocky landscapes, overzealous canvas
cleaners and physicians, too much solvent, the
wrong solvent, the woman is damaged, complex.
The water is deep here. Deep is where I expect
a key to rise up from its resting place, but
nothing happens. So I row back, the murkiness
giving way to sunlight contaminating night with the
gold and gilt glass gesture and fluidity of Chihuly.
Minnows tread water, fleeing the oars, my haste.
The teenage boy is with me; he is my son and
I love him. He has no idea what I am looking for,
hates the boat and puddle at our feet, wants a Sea-Doo.
I talk to him about my cousin’s life, expecting
something from him. Neither of us knows what.
When we reach the dock his friend asks what we caught,
but my son and I feel the same way about fishing.
This poem first appeared in Luanne Castle's book, Doll God (Aldrich Press, 2015.)
Luanne Castle's Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. A Pushcart nominee, she studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, Broad Street, Lunch Ticket, Grist, River Teeth, and other journals.
Portraits of Other Women: John Singer Sargent exhibit, AIC
Her russet hair is hidden in the dark folds
of window curtain; the long white neck
catches the sunlight streaming in below,
the deep blue dress velvets her shoulders,
waist, and spills upon the floor--
a carpet of Persian red and yellow:
Louise Lefevre, 30, in 1882.
Mrs. Hammersley, in carmine,
wasp-waisted even in heavy felt:
how was this portrait ever sold
within her lifetime? the slim silk slippers
peek out to ask.
Evelyn, Mrs. Marshall Field:
Before the divorce, before her eyes
sank more deeply into the slim face,
before late middle age saw her sit
with her small spaniel for other painters,
she was taken, almost a girl,
in charcoal: the angelic head
haloed in short blond waves--
Athena’s face, but more serene.
The soft gaze sees her future,
her left hand, foreground, firmly bent,
just touches her heart:
The good was never worn out of her.
Assured in worldliness from London
to Moscow, cheeks as pink as
her favorite chair, lips as firm and plush--
her eyes and sharply pointed coronet
forbid all gentle thought.
Mrs. Swinton, Elizabeth Ebsworth:
the cumulo-nimbus of her satin
seems more delicately beautiful
in the shading and tracery of the wall.
Lina Cavalieri is on her way
in black with silver fox:
She waves happily, late for a Winter tea;
you cannot catch her eye--
quick and light as the artist’s brushstrokes
on the canvas whose sisters
all became sails, taking their summers,
as Lina once, on the blue-white Sound.
La Carmencita, imperious in her gold
pearled dancing dress, the paint
as if impastoed by flamenco heels,
her chin, at five feet even
pointed above us all.
A russet sky, the whitened thistles
dance before their burning.
Gene Fendt is a poet and a professor of philosophy.
For George: Parade Street (East)
Canvas, blank, hung at eye height
a whitewashed mirror, mirror
on the wall, reflecting everything
and nothing, what you see
in your mind’s eye, a swirl
of possibility, potential, creativity
who’s fairest, rarest, do we darest?
carry on, acrylic, oil, pastel, pencil
every colour medium
in small and large and extra large
a trumpet sounds, we charge, imagined
battle lines now drawn and sketched
as brushes dip, allow the paint to dry
and tell me what you see, and why
in mirror, mirror, on the canvas
wall, in gentle daubs and slashing strokes
conductor in the pit, a parry-thrust baton
our rainbow orchestra ignites, excites
the sensory, to stimulate like saturday tv
and crazy, crazy tunes in technicolour runes
hurled like thunderbolts from thor, electric
art, eclectic start and finish, finish
every time, again I challenge why, once
that gets answered, every how is nothing more than detail
Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Dromomaniaand Gone Viking. His poetry, articles and reviews are published in Canada, US, UK, Europe and Asia. Bill’s column Poetry Beat is published by the League of Canadian Poets and the Federation of BC Writers.
The Burghers of Calais in Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
Not even the Hirshhorn Garden’s
small reflecting pond
was salvation from
humidity’s heavy hand
Sun poured heat relentlessly
From cloudless skies. I moved
Closer to Rodin’s
Burghers of Calais,
to visit with the bronze man
among them whom I most admire--
He is cast looking down
head in hand, anguish deep
at leaving home and hearth for duty
I see him as a man despairing
of these futile duties,
yet mired permanently in bronze,
unable to move himself or his city.
I peek up, into his face,
My eyes tear up at his
well-sculpted agony, then
Rivulets of sweat run down
his cheeks as well mine.
I shake my head—is this illusion?
An empty plastic water bottle
lies next to the statue.
Someone has tossed a saving bit
of water onto the face of my Burgher.
His tears are waste
Mine are simply wasted.
Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer who has loved playing with words on page and stage since childhood. She is especially intrigued with the beauty of the ordinary and with finding alternative realities for visual art and sculpture
The world is full of bunnies.
Some of them just happen to be knitted.
It’s also full of roses and other flowers,
but don’t make the mistake
of thinking that makes me happy.
I’m allowed to be irascible.
In fact, I have 63 reasons for that,
and most of them come into my library every day.
My students scribble endless tripe
so I tell them to stop tinkering at the edges
and write something from the heart.
The world is full of bunnies,
but real happiness
is a world of perfect prose.
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.
Looking Back at Monet's Water Lilies
a river from nowhere to nowhere fills up the body
of the frame, makes its way through weeping
willow, reeds, irises. red, yellow and pink accents
sit shyly atop lily pads like a bunch of ladies trying
outrageous hats on a weekday afternoon at a store.
unlike the reticent brightness, the blue is brave
and limitless here. the blue of the sky and the blue
of the water are one, the way there is no one answer
I can point to as the source of my unsolidified
sadness. on the back of this postcard a lover has dotted
his many I's as an afterthought, each point a hat tip to haste
or to the brink of forgetting. it matters how we make
our points. Monet, for example, just with little brilliant spots
births entire lilies. only in the presence of the numberless water
lilies, like tiny misgivings of numerous lovers, do we realize
that this scape is a reflection. understand that he planted
an actual garden, diverted a river, before he painted it. that this
is the moment in which I swim through all your features that I sowed
in my memory-bed: the birthmark behind your ear, the note
you sing too high, the sureness of your right hand around the line
of my waist and turn them into blurred impressions. I observe
every big and every little idea of us and carve it into shadow.
Preeti Vangani is an Indian poet & essayist. Her work has been published in BOAAT, Buzzfeed, Noble/Gas Qtrly, Threepenny Review among other journals. She is the winner of the RL Poetry Award 2017 and her debut book of poems titled Mother Tongue Apologize was published by RLFPA Editions in February 2019. She owes her MFA to the University of San Francisco.
Traitor, hypocrite, informant, fraud -
Confined to Hell’s Ninth Circle,
A reminder the heart is deceitful above all else
And desperately wicked.
Your name suggests a dad
Well-versed in Holy texts,
A mother’s hope for her son.
You were the South’s sole disciple,
Isolated from the start,
By His love, His parables, His feats,
Perhaps performing miracles yourself -
The lame could walk, the mute could talk,
And the dead could burst from their graves.
But afterwards you became disillusioned;
Your heart hardened like the aspen wood
On which He would be nailed.
You could not grasp
He would not saddle a white horse for conquest
But would save the world through
on Golgotha’s Hill.
Alas, you negotiated a deal, struck a bargain,
And with kisses you sold your soul and the Saviour
For thirty pieces of silver,
A price foretold.
Then with blood on your hands,
You discarded the shekels in the temple
And hung yourself on a tree,
A fitting reminder your sins would find you out.
Judas, you walked with God
And knew what could have been.
Now your bones dry in Potter’s Field,
To await the final judgement,
And we honour you
In the tradition of Cain.
Jo Taylor is a retired English teacher from Georgia who enjoys writing poetry on faith and family. "Judas" came about during Holy Week shortly after an in-depth study of John's gospel.
Dear Faithful Readers, Writers, Supporters, and Friends,
The Ekphrastic Review is temporarily closed for regular submissions until June 15, 2019. We have a massive backlog, plus I have been away and I will be unable to read for most of May.
Don't worry, the challenges will continue and we are not going anywhere- just a temporary rest. We are generally open around the calendar for submissions and don't have restrictions on number or frequency; we don't charge reading fees; all of this means that we are overflowing and we need some time to catch up.
There will be lots of poetry and prose continuing to post multiple times a week so keep on reading as we catch up with our stuffed inbox!
Villanelle on a Pennsylvania Dutch Landscape
Naked branches praise the winter sky divine,
just as light echoes against blank spaces –
the empty canvas tells us something more than lines.
Bolts of black lightning come apart like frayed twine
In fractal patterns across heaven’s traces.
Naked branches praise the winter sky divine.
We tell the children their work is unrefined
before crayon fills their pages,
but their empty canvas tells us something more than lines.
Once you told me about your saddest times:
Sundays in spring when blooming leaves fill the spaces
where naked branches once praised winter sky.
Outside, in the sun’s final hour, sublime
light strokes long shadows across weary faces.
The empty canvas tells us something more than lines.
We drive home past green valleys, fruit budding on vines,
pastel dresses hung to dry. My mind retraces
blank spaces: naked branches where winter sky’s
empty canvas tells us something more than lines.
Ben Weakley lives in Tennessee with his wife and children. He writes poetry and enjoys hiking in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Glass of Wine
Girls learn to sit very well
held by the frame of their bones
in the frame of the bones of the dress
but muscles tire
so she slumps onto the hard chairback.
The table so warmly covered,
the floor a checkerboard
of cold tile.
Every edge but the cushion’s
Oh for Breughel’s wedding dance--
The men’s excitement clearly rising
between their legs
The music a reedy cry of delight
not the cold thread of wine
down her throat,
this man’s intentions hidden
beneath his elegant cloak,
He tries to impress
with the jangle of his imperfect cittern
plucking that she smiles through,
pretending not to be bored.
Ann Quinn’s poetry was selected by Stanley Plumly as first place winner in the 2015 Bethesda Literary Arts Festival poetry contest, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work is published in Potomac Review, Little Patuxent Review, Broadkill Review, and other journals and is included in the anthology Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women. Ann lives in Catonsville with her family where she teaches reflective and creative writing and music and plays clarinet with the Columbia Orchestra. Her degrees are in music performance; she fell in love with poetry in mid-life. Her chapbook, Final Deployment, is published by Finishing Line Press. Please visit online at www.annquinn.net.
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