A teenager, I was a poster
Christ crucified in a sky
above a cove
and dried blue tac
on my bedroom wall
fall at one edge.
I was a swan reflecting elephants
the need for it to be other
my fingers mirrored rocks.
I was a spoon on crutches,
anything but me.
Paul Brookes has performed in poetry performance group "Rats for Love" and is included in their "Rats for Love: The Book" Bristol Broadsides, 1989. His first chapbook "The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley" by Dearne Community Arts, 1993. He has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol and had a creative writing workshop for sixth formers broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live.
On Goya’s “The Submerged Dog”
52 inches of pallid yellow
Pouring down vertically - its incessant
Visual silence invites screaming. Its
Formlessness defies definition. Is
It a sprawling, sick sallow sky? Or a
Massive mountain, bearing no footholds? Your
Eyes pan down, down. 52 inches might
As well be eternity. Its horrors
Height and simplicity – un-scalable,
Insurmountable - its pathos pervades
Your crevices. Then suddenly. Just. Stops.
Abruptly, you now confront an up-arced brown form.
Is this Earth? Is it quicksand? Murky sea?
An illusory refuge promising
Sanctuary? And then you notice it.
A flash of broad black brush stroke, it bisects
Up and down, sky and ground: an agent of
Between-ness. Suspended below yellow,
Submerged in brown: it’s the solitary
Head of a dog. Wide with fear (or despair),
Its white-flecked eyes gaze imploringly out
Beyond the interminable up-ness
To some hypothetical salvation.
Is its torso petrified within that
Swathe of earth-brown oil? Or do its unseen
Legs flurry to keep it afloat? Is this
Wasted wanting in sure defeat’s face? No –
To keep desire’s vessel - the head – abreast,
However absent the body or vast
The abyss – we can aspire no higher than this.
Mindy Watson is a DC/Northern Virginia-based creative nonfiction writer and federal writer/editor. She holds an MA in Writing (Nonfiction) from The Johns Hopkins University and a BA in English for Illinois Wesleyan University. Her nonfiction has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Ars Medica and Thread: A Literary Journal; her poetry has appeared in The Quarterday Review.
Wine and Art
I write a column at Good Food Revolution on wine and art. In may 2014, I was fortunate enough to view a special collection of works, including Leonard Cohen's art, during a wine tasting. Click here to read about it.
Sisters, Hear Me
Men write our myths. Watch out
Only Helios himself believed
he was the sun. I was never blinded
by his light. He abducted me. The dry air
chafed my skin. It was easy to slip
back into the sea, stay hidden.
Time let his lies die. Not many people
talk of sirens or water nymphs these days.
We still flourish in the ocean’s womb.
Fishermen sometimes catch
a glimpse, swear we have tails
like porpoises. Men lie.
Like Pandora, like Eve, like you,
I have curiosity. I think for myself.
Men hate that. Blame you
for their failings.
This poem was written as part of the 20 Poem Challenge.
Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She became fascinated by fine art at an early age, even though she had to go to the World Book Encyclopedia to find it. Today she visits museums everywhere she travels and spends time at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, where her husband is a volunteer guide. Alarie’s poetry book, Running Counterclockwise, contains many ekphrastic poems. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
The Old Oak
People with places to go
don’t look back
The artist the only observer
of this wild landscape
Travel through quickly
on horse or foot
Escape from it
to the security and warmth
of town, of other people.
Now look forward
Even that artist-observer
couldn’t imagine today
Wilderness, peaceful, cherished
Small patches to linger
Escape to it
from the city’s heat and noise
from too many other people
The track now marked for bushwalking
The road a six lane highway
Dr Virginia Lowe has had poems published in seven anthologies as well as Silver Birch Press and Australian Children’s Poetry and various other journals as well as books for children. She is a prize winner in the Melbourne Poets’ Union competition. Her book is Stories, Pictures and Reality (Routledge) and she has published extensively on children’s literature. She has been a university lecturer, a librarian, and for the last twenty years has run a manuscript assessment agency http://www.createakidsbook.com.au/.
We practice moving our hands.
We hope to get it right later (it will be like this, we say).
What is there in a watercolour painting of weeds and grass?
German speedwell, hound’s-tongue, and yarrow.
We study to improve our grasp on what is real.
Creeping bent-grass, smooth meadow-grass.
They sprout from mud.
Dandelion, greater plantain, cock’s foot.
Every thing has a name.
Adam Pollak is an MFA candidate and College Writing Instructor at American University, where he also serves as the poetry editor for FOLIO. His poems have most recently appeared in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Little Patuxent Review, The Allegheny Review, and Prairie Margins. He lives—quite happily—outside of Washington, D.C. with his wife and dog.
Her music seems to understand
that it is the simplest of C major progressions
which can show us the valley beyond the bridge,
that songs without medicine might soothe if not heal,
that only old-fashioned tonality might unlock
the gates of Theresienstadt,
that farewells are best phrased like blown kisses,
concise gestures from railway cattle-trucks,
that it is the womb-rocking of Wiegenlieder
returning us to long-forgotten sleep
that is most needed when children are praying
beneath pesticide showers.
Poet's note: Ilse Weber (1903-44) was a Jewish poet, children’s writer, broadcaster, producer and musician. Along with her husband and second son, she was sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942, where she nursed sick Jewish children in the infirmary, and continued writing songs and poems. Eventually, she was voluntarily deported with many of her patients to Auschwitz, where she, her son and the children were gassed on arrival.
Jonathan Taylor's books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), the memoir Take Me Home: Parkinson's, My Father, Myself (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester in the UK. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.
Four Round Bales. Photo by Todd Klassy. To see more of Todd's rural photography, visit www.toddklassy.com.
He squints from under a John Deere cap
even when there is no sun. It's late fall now,
the hay—enough this year—baled
for January feeding if the pickup makes it
to the herd—huddled, wooly, steamy breath
to match his own, pitch fork separating clouds
of gold, strewing it like loaves and fishes--
that kind of pride, though pride's a wobbly perch
when drought and blight's the norm, when the pickup
needs a fuel pump, barn needs shingles.
But this morning, the sky's wide and blue
and bare, and Waylon's singing Ramblin' Man
while he hums along. Bernice'll have coffee
scalding hot at the cafe, and prices were up
on the farm report this morning. Folks and steers
ain't so different, he reckons, herd gathering,
keeping with their kind.
Sarah Russell has returned to her first love after a career teaching, writing and editing academic prose. Her poetry has appeared in Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, The Houseboat, Shot Glass Journal, Bijou Poetry Review and Poppy Road Review, among others. Her poem “Denouement” won the GR poetry contest in February, 2014. Follow her work at www.SarahRussellPoetry.com.
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