Alabama Cotton Tenant Farmer’s Wife
This is no silk merchant’s wife slim
shoulders leaning against
dry clapboard her eyes
direct her head slightly
turned left ear exposed
ebony hair parted right
an enigmatic smile revealing
no lower lip, bones
of her neck protruding from
the V in her checkered blouse in
this black and white
photo she is centered and
she knows something we
After a long corporate career, Amy Phimister has returned to writing full time. She graduated from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame with a B.A. in Creative Writing. A member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, she is currently working on a chapbook of her poems.
Surprise Poetry Challenge!
Did you know? The Ekphrastic Review is based in Canada. July 1 this year marks our country's 150th year birthday.
To honour this landmark occasion, let's celebrate some Canadian art. Here is a surprise ekphrastic challenge, featuring visual art prompts for you to respond to in poetry. (Prose and short fiction also welcome.)
You have ten days! Dive into one piece for inspiration, choose a few, or try them all. Write!
Send only your best to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline is June 30.
We will consider late works, but please try to send them before Canada Day. On July 1 and throughout the month, to celebrate Canada's birthday with art, we'll post the best submissions.
Our hope is that you will discover more Canadian art and be inspired to delve beyond these images, too. Canadian art history is little known outside of our country, and sadly, sometimes inside of it, too. We have a shorter history than Europe or Africa in terms of visual art, and our numbers are small for such a large nation. We are also notoriously polite and quiet and haven't always promoted our creative wealth because most Canadians don't like to show off. But even so, we have a tremendously interesting variety of visual art, and it deserves more attention and a wider audience.
If you find a Canadian work not shown and want to use it as a prompt for this challenge, please do!
Disclaimer: Please note, this tiny selection does not pretend to be definitive in any way. There are glaring omissions; for example, contemporary art is grossly underrepresented, and no two samples could possibly do justice to the epic variety, imagination, and skill of the diverse First Nations arts with which we have been blessed. Nor are these works specifically the "best" or best known of the particular artist highlighted. I wanted to include many more works from underrated and hardly known painters who should be; I also left out works I love and replaced them with works I don't care for at all, because it's important to contemplate art we don't like, and for prompts for writing, it's important to have an interesting selection, not just a Greatest Hits list.
Jazz Fantasy of My Puberty*
Reality has always been too small for the human
imagination. We're always trying to transcend.
– Brenda Laurel
She leans against the wall of a jazz club,
strikes a pose under the spotlight of a streetlamp,
blows ovals of smoke like lassos to rope-in
all lust within sight of the Seine.
She wears a beret like those Beats
with their Van Dykes and goatees
seen through arches in the club’s caveau
as they dig Le Jazz Hot,
ostinato riffs of trumpet and clarinet,
jazzmen as silhouettes through another arch,
wide vibratos, unblushing roll of Lonesome Railroad Blues,
a trombone’s slide in a priapic rise to Mighty Lak A Rose.
Her eyes flash with every blast of brass.
She sways, in the groove.
She begins to dance.
She swoons, a cobra entranced
when I transcend the band
as I solo, when I play
*Inspired by the album cover and music of Le Jazz Hot, an LP recorded in 1957 by The Left Bank Bearcats, a group of American musicians who masqueraded as a French jazz band.
Jack Grady is a founding member of the Irish-based Ox Mountain Poets. His poetry has appeared online or in print in many literary journals and anthologies, including such publications as Crannóg; Live Encounters; The Galway Review; And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty-First Century Irish Poetry; North West Words; The Worcester Review; Poet Lore; A New Ulster, Mauvaise Graine; Algebra of Owls; The Irish Literary Times; Skylight 47, and others. He was the first Irish poet invited to read at the annual international poetry festival in Marrakesh, Morocco, where he appeared at its third edition, in April 2016.
To George Bellows on Riverfront No. 1
Is that Emma watching
In that trio on the right?
Just last year you painted her
- royal blue, white lace -
seated placidly at a piano
playing Schubert, perhaps, or Brahms
And now you’ve hauled her
to the river,
to fleshy merriment.
They take it all in -
arms and legs and butts -
Peeling off clothes, scraping, draping
Pulling onto piling and docks
Well out of the drawing room
And that blue-eyed vase.
And what about that blonde-haired boy -
Will he soon arch his back?
Rush headlong into New York City
As you did?
Pat Snyder Hurley
This poem first appeared in A Rustling and Waking Within: Poems inspired by the arts in Ohio, published by the Ohio Poetry Association.
Pat Snyder Hurley is a recovering attorney and long-time humour columnist from Columbus, Ohio, who recently began writing poetry. Her work has appeared in the literary journals Still Crazy and Common Threads, the Ohio Poetry Association’s ekphrastic poetry anthology A Rustling and Waking Within, and the online literary journal The MOON Magazine. A collaborative collection of her poems and those of her late husband Bill Hurley, Hard to Swallow, is scheduled for publication in January 2018 by Night Ballet Press.
The Oil Well
Let the bull wheel wind around
my legs and thighs
further tightening the loveless line.
Derrick-poised, arid figure of luck and charm,
I grew scales and wide-eyes.
For love of country, progress, mankind.
Bringing calm to elements enraged,
no man knew me to be anything other than
wooden, flesh-coloured, sacred and divine.
by the corroding drilling line,
I could’ve gone on like this forever.
Perfect skin now burnt and dry
from desert winds,
solitude and time.
Steel cable fraying scales
turning delicate toes
into five bent, rusted nails.
It was then,
I felt your talons
bound by the same pulling line.
In our self-imposed restraint,
we wrapped the cable
tight around us
against the wheel.
Rebeca Ladrón de Guevara
Rebeca Ladrón de Guevara lives in Los Angeles, California. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Chapman University. Her fiction has previously appeared in Chicago Literati, Genre, Sonora Review and Badlands Literary Journal. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation grant for emerging writers.
Dillon H Fuller is a musician and photographer. He lives in Santa Ana, California.
The Family in the Red House
While walking through woods
Near a rambling river
I came upon a paint peeled red house
barn like in appearance,
` broken window panes,
tall grasses covering old cement steps
unattended for years.
Who inhabited this red house
and where are they now?
I entered cautiously through the front door,
looked around the open space.
Dishes with cobwebs adorned
the wooden kitchen table.
Shriveled food occupied the old refrigerator.
The scene appeared as though
a family simply disappeared.
Bedroom quilts covered most beds,
one bed remained unmade.
As I walked around
floorboards creaked like soft screams.
I slipped on a small throw rug;
moving the rug with my feet,
I discovered a trap door located in the floor.
Slowly, I lifted the rusty hinge.
There in the hollow space
were skeleton bodies.
The family stayed behind in the paint peeled red house.
Pat St. Pierre
Pat St. Pierre is a freelance writer for adults and children in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her third poetry book, Full Circle, was published by Kelsay Books. Some of her work can be viewed at: Black Poppy Road, A Long Story Short, Fiction 365, 50 words, Friday Flash Fiction, Kids Imagination Train, The Kids Ark, Silver Boomer Books, The Camel Saloon, etc. She is also a freelance photographer whose photos have been on the covers and included in such places: Gravel, Sediments, Our Day’s Encounter, Peacock Journal, Pacific Poetry, etc. www.pstpierre.wordpress.com.
The Girl I Was
Sunflower, taller than a man, brighter than the star
that warms earth, with broad leaves that pull
me close to its golden face—hypnotic eye with
steadfast stare—I am struck by its caress . . .
What happened to me
under this pocket of stars?
I feel weak, stepping into indigo shallows,
with my arms loose at my sides, my blouse
split open to my waist.
No wind to speak of, or a distant bonfire
with shadows dancing wild, I clench
my fist around the golden petal I stole
from the sunflower’s brow— proof, but
no one cares. I become an excuse for
carrying on. The moon anoints me with
its silky light, making me part of night’s
M.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. She has three full length poetry collections, most recently Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.
for Jenny Hart
For months, we could not work.
Then middlemen arrived one dry,
pale morning; while I made bread,
my heart unraveling, my mouth,
constrained, gave no sign. New
instructions: Malaysia, France.
The woman assigned a chord of
Russia stitched the most beautiful
purples, the colour saffron blooms,
before burning the work in her fire.
After turning the ashes, her portion
recreated was vermilion.
The day always cools. Momentarily,
my true work: satin and steil stitch.
Before my child weeps for milk, my
husband wails for supper, Hafiz
whispers counsel: with a sweet string
at hand, my friend, the world gravitates
from demolition to form.
Alicia Cole is a writer and artist in Huntsville, AL. She struggles with bipolar disorder. Her work is forthcoming in Star*Line and Anima. You can find more about her at her publishing press Priestess & Hierophant, www.priestessandhierophant.com, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/Aliciacolewriter.
Did you know?
Ekphrastic readers always get 25% off Lorette's Etsy artworks. You can support The Ekphrastic Review and own an original work like this brand new creation.
Use EKPHRASTIC25 at checkout for discount on all items purchased.
Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne
Apollo finally wearies of his lunging rush
at Daphne, whose slender fingertips even now
are changing into sprigs of laurel.
Why does she always have to run so fast?
And to have all her creamy skin covered
by that crust of bark, that always burns him up.
He’d just like to ask her out, so they might
sit together on his back porch in the twilight
and hold hands, or maybe a little more.
And Daphne, sometimes she’d like to turn on him
and dare the gorgeous fool: all right, let’s do it!
Right on the museum floor!
Just to let herself go a little
would be such a relief
after all these strenuous centuries.
She’s seen all the patrician women,
soi disant, stalking and turning
in slacks and sunglasses,
inspecting her with an envy that’s a little smug,
divining her marble beauty did nothing for her.
And all the gasping men, what good were they?
At last she’d just like a home to go to
where she could water the geraniums on the windowsill
and watch her neighbours in the street below.
Yes, she has to admit that the pose
she’s held for so long has been superb
and she’s glad to have had the job,
but finally any cramped apartment would do,
somewhere she could cook some fagioli-- wiping her hands
on a mildewed dishtowel, swatting at flies,
one kid hanging to her sweaty thigh,
and cheesy disco on the radio-- while she waits
for her husband the truck driver to finally come home.
Charles M. Boyer
Charles M. Boyer’s novel, History’s Child, was chosen by Mary Gaitskill as the winner of the AWP Award Series in the Novel and was published by New Issues Press in 2016. He also published poems and short stories in such places Abraxas, Literal Latte, The Larcom Review, The Atlanta Review, and other literary magazines. He received a grant for writing from the Wisconsin Arts Board and a Fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Charles Boyer graduated from Beloit College with a junior year at Harris-Manchester College, Oxford, and has an M.A. in fiction writing from the University of New Hampshire. He teaches English and Humanities at Montserrat College of Art and lives with his family near Boston.
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