"Even in your Zen heaven we shan’t meet."
Sylvia Plath, "Lesbos," 1962.
This is the first gate
that opens to my garden
that leads to my temple
Enter you will be offered tea
by the ghosts of the suicides
sitting in the plum trees
singing you’re late you’re late
but keep walking
There are many gates
of black and white
to study like a critic
or to pass through
In the museum of heaven
we may not meet
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Tricia Marcella Cimera is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Her work appears in many diverse places — from the Buddhist Poetry Review to the Origami Poems Project. Her poem ‘The Stag’ won first place honours in College of DuPage’s 2017 Writers Read: Emerging Voices contest. Tricia lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois / in a town called St. Charles / by a river named Fox / with a Poetry Box in her front yard.
Vawdavitch by Franz Kline
He knew where the dimensions meet,
where dark invades the light; had seen
the stark assault of harsh on soothing,
the offensive by powers beyond our control.
He had seen and he had rendered,
his vision translated into violent brush strokes,
put on canvas with ‘strident confidence’.
With his sharp and rapid attack on our comfortable
world, he forces us to reconsider
our blind. amoeba-like passing
through the contaminated waters
of our limited lives.
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of Tangents, a full-length poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the now defunct Goodreads monthly competition. Recent poetry collections: From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949 : A Child’s Journey, and Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back.
Forty-Thousand K Short
Note: as per Artsy.net, as of 2012, the record high auction for Franz Kline’s painting Vawdavitch was $40 million at Christie's.
A wise old owl once sat in a tree
where nobody noticed him winking at me
when he waved his right hand to attract my attention
(I know—it’s a wing; I inferred his intention)
and then with the other he stretched out a pinion
which swept left to right across all his dominion--
though now, it would seem that my mind wasn’t right
for in looking around there were no trees in sight;
just chairs filled with people, some raising a hand,
others nodding quite clearly, increasing demand
for this bird front and center, much wanted by all,
so intent on possession that none heard his call
when his deep, owlish voice cried out “Who will it be?”
If I’d had forty million, it would have been me.
Ken Gosse prefers writing light verse with traditional metre and rhyme filled with whimsy and humour. First published in The First Literary Review-East in November 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years, usually with a herd of cats and dogs underfoot.
Limp and lost in the vast Olympic night
Javelin seeks the heart of an enemy,
finds only limed collegiate grass.
Net screams foul when ball slaps it.
Kayak paddle captures racket,
shoots rapids on the Colorado.
Crampons secure, ropes tight, carabiners locked,
peak and crevasse compete for sky.
Afternoon shade splatters the field. Referees ponder:
First down? Touchdown? Ground round?
Ball rockets past hole, past green, past fairway,
city, state, universe. Par is beyond the course.
Violins ask to play through.
The game so fast hoops run down the court,
floor slats loosen, fly away, drive up
the price of free throws.
Booze, cigars, humiliation—dark swaths propel
the ball on the meat of Mantle’s bat, of Marris’ bat--
even the Babe’s.
Ref’s hand and arm chop violently behind his leg.
Slashing so mighty the puck hides, trembles in the net.
Skates shiny sharp as death.
Pitch askew, the goal is chaos. The foot of God,
not His hand, is required.
Breath in patches, jersey splashed with sweat,
the finish line is there, or there, or there, or there… .
Winning/losing, soft/shrill, black meets white
meets black meets white. One day it’s all gone.
We disappear into dark, into light,
not even a pebble remembers us.
Charles W. Brice
Charles W. Brice is a retired psychoanalyst and is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (forthcoming), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, SLAB, The Paterson Literary Review,Muddy River Poetry Review and elsewhere.
I need nothing
more than this
large housepainter’s brush
and a can of black paint
in this scarcity
bare as any saint’s
I discover freedom
each broad sweep of black
in these limits
the key to limitless
breaking and reshaping space
my arm like god’s
on the first day
pulling new worlds
out of the dark
Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work appearing in many print and online journals, and has an electronic chapbook, Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis magazine online.
Aggression muzzled can't be tamed.
The soul restrained remains inflamed.
The blunted blades of teeth denied
will sharpen gnawing deep inside,
becoming fiercely angled eye
and ears erect to hear the cry
that postured terror strikes in those
who fear the will it might impose
if ever loosed from reason's rein
to wreak what now it's forced to feign,
content to merely contemplate
the vengeance that would compensate
the liberty so long withheld
and by such brutal means compelled.
Portly Bard: Old man. Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
Headframe over a mine that could only be coal
from where I started in Pennsylvania and left
for a steel town in Colorado.
The line down a cable to where a woman
can scratch with pick in the hard earth,
gone the superstition that her blood brings death.
She digs for silver in Leadville before she becomes
Baby Doe Tabor. I combed tailings for gold in Victor.
Brutal work—when Dempsey swung fists in a nearby bar.
Walk up the bed of narrow gauge through Phantom Canyon
that brought coal from Florence to fuel cages
of men with yellow fever down the shaft.
Even hay fields of Kansas have the body of Vawdavitch,
the up and down bob of wells that pump oil
from the sturdy left side of the hoist.
Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press), and Wildwood (Lummox Press). Ride the Pink Horse is forthcoming from Spartan Press. With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
A Beautiful and Brutal World
The geese take off, wings whoosing
against the white afternoon - skyward
into the wind, dipping and alighting
in the field near the Chevrolet dealership,
blasting announcements for the Service
Department. This new place for cars
next to the traffic circle, expanding
on all sides, has SUVs that look like they
are smiling broadly. Near the intersection
a man is holding a sign for help: anything
will do in black letters scrawled big
enough to be read. Disguising the mess
of his life, he is grasping and reaching
into a landscape of cars with drivers
who gaze straight ahead. Meanwhile, one
of the geese, head up and seemingly
guarding the feeding flock, turns
his head, like he is pointing at the man,
his bicycle propped up against an orange cone.
Whoever we are, this abstract environment
expands us. We feel like the bicycle, like the geese,
like the idling cars waiting for admittance.
like an owl,
if harm would come
as drugs wore off,
day, money, phone,
could mean escape,
clean sheets, warm baths,
did not know
where she was
Cleone T. Graham
Naturalist, poet, and painter, Cleone Graham exuberantly explores the forests and coasts of Maine and New Hampshire.
Is this what it all boils down to? Even though you have stated it boldly in black and white, you have never intended to be understood. After all, being understood can be a risky business.
Not understood, you are then not held captive to any specific interpretation that may raise speculations of autobiographical references (if those are things you abhor) or any other inconvenient scrutiny bordering on loss of privacy. In the book, The Madman, Kahlil Gibran wisely pointed out that "those who understand us enslave something in us." Has this ever resonated with you? I often wondered.
Not understood, you can be at liberty to navigate between what you referred to as the positive negative spaces of your creation, your paintbrush responding with sweet authenticity to your secret ruminations, everything else being inconsequential.
You may have painted a series of riddles but it is impossible to overlook the aura of enigma you have painted about you during the course of your brief career. Your altar of abstractions know no lack of offerings and especially of late....some have been generous. This I have understood.
Ellen exchanged her corporate heels for paintbrushes in 2007 and had since embarked on a journey from Singapore toThailand as a self-taught artist. When she is not painting, Ellen enjoys going on solitary walks in woodlands and along beaches where Nature's treasure trove impels her to document her findings and impressions using the language of poetry.
My Black Spot
A treasure island mark on a palm
for which mam says she has blankets
in the airing cupboard.
For any metal crashes
we might hear from
the busy A one.
A grey metal bridge
over the spot
I trundle my Raleigh bike
to meet with crystal set Duncan,
bright as the guards
on his new bike.
An overgrown cottage
with walls like broken teeth
and shattered windscreen glass
meets me at the footbridge bottom.
There is no blood,
only what's left after the event.
On return footbridge
is now flyover, black spot removed.
folk fly by too fast.
My old home is a turn off.
into village quiet.
A place folk glance at
On the way elsewhere.
Paul Brookes is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His chapbooks are The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018) Forthcoming Stubborn Sod, illustrated by Marcel Herms (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018) Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews.
I pace the street
trace black lines around the block
like a Kline.my past stacks up,
chords through my mind.it’s
only when I feel ghosts breathing
do I do so myself.breathe.let the ghosts’
pasts complain.let me listen silent.it
all[the colour]fades into monochrome.the cracks
break&invade.or I invade them.sink
into a past, not-mine.where what I did is
irrelevant.when abandon meant a good thing.
the sidewalk pushes back up at me at the exact
weight I push down.we, like a team, encircle
squarely.it’s not until I feel the ghosts do I
feel the most settled into my awe.this city
layered two-by-two with pasts.poets.
artists.screaming do what you feel, damn
the torpedoes.damn sense.like termite trails,
pure creation traces these sidewalk lines—and I--
I’m with them.lock-step.trailing closely the urge.letting
my own history die within their favor.permission.I am
the mission.treat kindly the ghosts, a thing whispers.
let self sink into the hard concrete.let the simple
walking guide.be unto the city as it begot you.
I feel this response.approval by the street lights &
taxi screams.let this be my witnessing.
Darren Lyons is currently a creative writing MFA candidate at The New School. His poems have recently appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Chronogram, and The Inquisitive Eater. A poetry/painting project of his was featured on The Best American Poetry Blog. One of his short stories and another poem were published in the 2016 and 2017 editions, respectively, of Stonesthrow Review.
a cloudy day
ivory black geometry
I’m not done yet
a gash of metal
blue black childhood
what hangs could be
a father figure
a child’s crude game
or the knife’s gesture
as it kills
Jessica Purdy holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Recently her poems have appeared in The Plath Poetry Project, The Light Ekphrastic, The Wild Word, and Bluestem Magazine. Her chapbook, Learning the Names, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. Her books STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House were both released by Nixes Mate Books consecutively, in 2017 and 2018.
This is what remains
of the barn after the fire--
aroma of barbecued beef,
smell of spoiled milk.
A haphazard array left upright
citizens to bear witness
an electric act of natural cleansing.
Father too old to climb,
replace lightning rod blown
off during wild winter winds;
too prideful to ask
to get on top of things.
At any cost,
we should protect all mothers
bearing milk and immunities.
They bear the bounty--
nourishment of their species.
If struck down, we lose.
Yet my sisters and I stand here in Spring,
thankful for rebirth, and one less asset
to bear from an antiquated existence.
Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. His work has been featured in many online and print publications, and has been translated in Vietnamese and Farsi. To see more of his work go to: https://jordantretheweywriter.wordpress.com or https://openartsforum.com.
The door opens on its side
and closes on its side. You can
disagree, but there is no darkness
deeper than the self. A weapon
inexplicably cast at a right angle
only makes sense to the flesh
it pierces. I understand your fear,
Franz; portraiture is an opera
of glass, but even
the most abstract artist can be
identified by his hairline. When a bridge
is constructed from a pile
of branches be careful you aren’t looking
for hidden meanings in the cracks.
The light seeping through is nothing
more than a sequence of shapes.
Understanding gives way
under our feet like feathers.
The canvas is losing
its integrity, slashed
one too many times by the paint.
Crystal Condakes Karlberg
Crystal Condakes Karlberg is a middle School English teacher. She is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. Her writing has appeared in Mom Egg Review, The Compassion Anthology, Scary Mommy Teen, and her poem, "Winter Whale" was recently selected as the winner of Folded Word Press' Solstice Series 2018.
Overcome by Art
She really doesn’t get abstracts,
but this Kline froze her in her tracks.
Vawdavitch? What’s that? Sounds
like a place in Eastern Europe.
Menacing, full of misery, from the snow
she can feel under her thin shoes
to the charred fence with no sign of home.
So much violence in the brush strokes!
She imagines trains to Auschwitz
or Birkenau shuffling past this scene.
Remembers Daddy, who parachuted
into battle, but found liberating death
camps the worst horror of war.
She smells the stench of the cattle car,
sways back and forth, struggling
to keep her balance. A blinding light!
“Ma’am, Ma’am. You’re okay.
You just fainted,” says the medic
shining a flashlight in her eyes.
Alarie’s latest poetry book, Waking on the Moon, contains many poems first published by The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
Landing on the Other Side
My bones are
white under my skin
not bleached or hard--) and yet you
answer by asking
words, invoking crow--
once white too)--bearing omens,
consumed by riddles.
How far will,
then what?—the black bird,
unfeathered above waters
that drown the questions,
Spinning children of
the same skin--)
What light lays bare,
its absence enshrouds.
A resident of New York City, Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new. Follow her explorations on the blog she does with her friend Nina: https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/ and see more of her work on her website: http://kerferoig.com/
Up and across my monochrome cage
Runs the dull ache that darkens life’s rage
Competing with troubled thoughts
The pain of my past that jabs at my wrist
Is guided by fears that are part of the list
That voice the sound of despair
My memory is tinged with anger and rage
And something to do with being that age
Where you should not shed tears
I channel the cries of my former strife
As angular form that’s now part of my life
That repairs to the broken thoughts
Now that I know I have something to say
People will know that this is my way
To repair a damaged soul
Henry is a writer based in Somerset in the UK. He has a PhD in literature and creative writing and writes all types of fiction. His work can be seen in FridayFlashFiction, 50WordStories, thedrabble, ID Magazine and Writers’ Forum, among other places. He also runs a writing support group for people with mental health issues.
The Emotion of a Painting: The Final Test
Is this the text of a bold Japanese print maker? Or a drawing, perhaps, of a child of four gone magic-marker-wild, luxuriating in the strokes of his unpracticed hand? Marked by a child’s reckless glee? (I could show you my son’s paintings at four.)
No, this Vawdavitch hails from Kline of Wilkes Barre, a place mere miles from my old Pennsylvania homestead. What drew me to his abstract message? It was the awareness of his anger, and perhaps my own; a warning that this anger must be treated with care, lest it consume us. In his virile strokes I saw the touch of Pollock, his seeming randomness. I saw the foreboding: the deep-dark, coal blackness against the white, Kline’s life robbed of a father, later a mother, and then a wife.
While subways rumbled and smells of fresh rye bread pervaded the room, my friend’s Pollock hung in his foyer, at the end of a long kitchen. Haphazard, I’d have said in those days. But now I read more into these abstracts, Kline’s included. The premeditated strokes bespeak tumult, the chaotic artistic lives of New York’s 1960s, “flower” songs, Viet Nam, feminism, perverse sexual freedoms already erupting, the careless disregard for babies. In this Vawdavitch, the anger serves its purpose: the vindication for fatherless Kline, of all that wasn’t, but could have been.
Carole Mertz enjoys the lessons she receives from various artworks and the challenge of placing her reactions into comprehensible sentences. She has recent work at Dreamers Creative Writing, The Ekphrastic Review, Eclectica, Front Porch Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Mom Egg Review, Quill & Parchment, WPWT, and elsewhere. Born in Pennsylvania, she now resides with her husband in Parma, Ohio.
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