Saffron Honey Hugs
For behold, blood cometh from every pore,
so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness
and the abominations of his people.
He hugs me.
And oh, I’m home.
He drapes me around his body. I spread myself across his shoulder, shying off of his elbow.
I’m a crimson red: symbolic.
Similar to the colour of his blood. Sticky strings scrape his chafed skin creating streaks of ribbon
Leeching sacred drops of saffron honey,
His skin still gleams white
White and righteous
Ton-heavy with sorrow.
His sclera rolls back
Syrian Christ Thorns dig- dig and dig
Finding spaces in the flesh of his scalp
A scream, a yell, a cry for help
Yet the sole answer he receives
Comes suffocated with leather,
Their endless tails haul metal spheres in silt
The crack of a whip
The sound of brutality
Voice of humiliation
Each step: the equivalent to balls of lead
He stares at the sky, soggy with tears
He knows His plan.
Knows His truth
His sternum vibrates against his dermis,
Shaking me too,
And though I wrinkle
He never seizes me with disgust.
His eyes swell with empathy: adoration
Towards me, for me
Sagging in his arms,
He carries me,
As he carries your sins
Bleeding from every pore
Living your sorrows and afflictions
Each of his shoulders serving each of your legs
They call it
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
Amrutha Obulasetty is a freshman at Utah State University, majoring in Psychology and English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, and she is a recently published author for the University magazine, Sink Hollow. Amrutha lives in Chandler, Arizona and is a proud member of the Utah State Speech and Debate team, the Leadership Society of Arizona, and a grateful volunteer for ASSERT and Teen Lifeline.
Dali’s Invisible Man at Home
Truth is a sword that slices along
two edges—for mercy, for justice;
lovely as spring blossoms, yet
able to cut. It’s certainly not
what he says, what he does,
deceiving innocents at a river bank
usually near dusk; not who he says
he is in the dark where he fails
to see any difference. Because tonight,
as truth sharpens at least one edge,
he scrambles for the invisible
cloak of Father reading to his child
a bedtime story of rainbow promises
in skies now clear of storms;
the invisible ware of Husband
trying to resuscitate his coding
marriage—brush of skin, vintage
wine under early evening stars.
How surprising when all to him
seems like wrapping arthritic knees
in silken bands against the threat
of gale-force winds.
Because tonight, he sees
the yellow clouds shaping his hair;
ruins scattered across barren landscape
forming his upper torso, the panic
striking face and lash-less eyes;
waterfalls creating the legs that carried
him to and from a secret rendezvous
where he broke it off with a little red
dress, tongue-ring clicking against
her teeth. Arm roping her shoulders,
he sold the shapely, short-lived lie
of love that doesn’t last. She bought it,
only to end up with lean fingers in a lion’s
clutch at nothing by the lapping waves.
Stuns him, though, when her tears
haunted his trek home … where now
he wades the disquieting
end of trying to hide from a tyranny
of conscience not the Father nor
the Husband ever knew he had.
Olga Dugan is a Cave Canem poet from Philadelphia, PA. Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes, her award-winning poems appear in The Southern Quarterly, Virga, Kweli, E-Verse Radio, The Sunlight Press, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal, Origins, Cave Canem: XIII, The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, Tipton Poetry, and other publications. Articles on poetry and culture appear in The Journal of African American History, The North Star, and Emory University's “Meet the Fellows.”
To Joaquin Torres Garcia Regarding Pintura As Your Call To Constructivism Was Nearing...
Your fleeting dream -- art undefined
by label someone else designed --
I daresay you had here achieved
in Paris real and yet perceived
as absent depth in flattened view
with somber, planar beings who
appear collaged to stagnant scene,
each by the others never seen,
of flesh and clothing indistinct
unclearly to your purpose linked
unless, perhaps, to have us see
that urban anonymity
is, rather than the blessing, curse
of being polar and diverse.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
The Longings of a Separate Self
Leaving the tabac
from an innocuous errand
taken up at perhaps an odd hour.
Who can predict when ordinary needs
for a stamp,
a smoke, a lotto ticket,
a magazine, or even
a small candy, will strike.
Walking back home I see her,
at her usual night time sentry post,
woman in red, whore of the night,
One side of me sees her
as an expense my soul cannot afford,
yet, a part of me wants to stop
to discover the exotic
revel in her flame, bring
flash of colour into my drab life.
Only part of me wants this—I think--
at least for now.
Joan Leotta is a frequent contributer to The Ekphrastic Review. She loves writing ekphrastic poetry and other forms. She also writes essays, newspaper and magazine articles, short fiction, books, and even a play. Her blog, joanleottarecipes.com, offers recipes for dishes mentioned in the Inspector Montalbano mystery series. In addition, she performs tales of food, fmaily, and strong women. In the fall, she will debut her one woman show, Louisa May Alcott, Civil War Nurse.
Ten years before Tradition of the Abstract Man
he paints two men in contrast, one light, one dark,
a tobacco sign above, and a woman beside
the image of a pool parlor.
He’s in Paris, was in New York, and city life influences
a mind full of signs and symbols, arrows and buildings,
letters in Spanish with the simple title Painting
reserving complexity for handmade books,
taking commerce into art the way a banner of a bare
Coppertone behind is pulled by a twin-engine plane
along beaches over and over in poems
about my youth.
This painting is in motion, different than Nighthawks,
that scene of Edward Hopper that came later,
the tension of men and women created in a garden
brought to the city by a revolution industrial.
There is darkness under the streetlights.
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 Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
She is not quite refined
She is not quite a trollop
Unchaperoned she finds herself in a place she ought
not to be
The café has closed,
where will she go?
Carole Mertz has reviewed poetry collections at Main Street Rag, Eclectica, Copperfield Review, The Compulsive Reader, and elsewhere. She finds ekphrastics among the most enjoyable approaches. Carole plays piano, paints, and rides a bike in Parma, Ohio, where she resides with her husband.
Three Stanzas Standing on the Sidewalk
Contrasts begin this monochrome world.
A canvas: paint.
black man red woman white man
addicted to preconception
like the first man who counted his money
in hieroglyphics from beyond the grave
or the hand reaching in its pocket
A canvas: paint.
The woman waits.
The streetlamp is concrete, not giving
anything to the progression beneath
which is as natural as 6 following 5
in any nameless café or the insatiable need
to define with words and colours.
Emerging from the threshold
the white man’s eyes receive the street, his gaze
my gaze, a canvas painted,
his feet elevated, his coat armoured
against the wind in a way
the blankness cannot defend.
Wilson Taylor is a poet living in New York City. Most recently his work landed in The Merrimack Review; all of his writing can be found online at wilsontaylorwrites.wordpress.com.
So Close But So Far Away
Five before seven
most every Monday thru Friday
come wet or dry
cold or warm
in the dark or in light,
the lady in red
and the man in black
stand next me in line
awaiting to breakfast
at Café de Pintura.
We don’t say a word
avoiding eye to eye contact
observe passing traffic
and early morning joggers
as fluorescents glow white
while glancing at our watches
to listen for the door unlock
promptly on seven.
I don’t know the duo’s names
wouldn’t recognise them on the Metro
have no idea of their back stories
or the apartments they call home
though often wonder
who they are
where they work
whether they are in love
or if they have been hurt.
But for now we social distance
keeping so far apart
he wears a white face mask
she wraps round a silk scarf, red
as we order our breakfast
at Café de Pintura
with doors bolted shut for
“Only Window Service”
displayed in three tongues.
Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He particularly enjoys ekphrastic challenges. In 2019, he was a Featured Writer of the Federation of Writers Scotland.
broke through our dreams,
warned of early rising waters,
brown, shadowed, sent
damp- raw tobacco scents
to steam up the yellowing papered walls
in our rooms. The cafe’s windows, low, grey,
later framed us as we shelled cranberry and runner beans,
their pearly pigments pouring rich
over beige ceramic platters at our meagre,
common meals. There was the aromatic blend
of pecans, cinnamon, of car fumes and loud voices
drifting through each time the cafe’s front doors shifted.
Sometimes, a round of silences surrounding
the negative spaces and solitary streetlamp along our stretch
of the rue Saint-Honoré floated in. We snuck cupfuls
of blended orange aperitif, were warmed enough
to enlighten our shaded shadowed
sorrowful souls with the hope that we might again meet one day
another crested awning
in our beloved city. May that moment be
a promise of healing,
redemption, and not
a shifting perspective
from another dream.
J. Adams Lagana
J. Adams Lagana’s poetry has previously appeared in Atlanta Review, Naugatuck River Review, the Paterson Literary Review, and others. She is the co-editor of River Heron Review and resides with her family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. jlagana.com
Meeting at Night
after Eavan Boland
A packet of cigarettes to sit snug in the pocket.
(This on a monochrome stroll towards that café.
In the Marais.)
She’s there, they see, under the awning. Burnt up.
A flare of paint.
Their talk turns to where they’re going. This trio. What
route they should take.
Her question is which of these two to trust, given
their black-or-whiteness. All’s even.
So go nowhere. Stay right here. Watch the night disappear
and speak rarely:
all buy drinks. An impasse. Laughter in the bars. And
in the past.
Michael Caines was longlisted for this year's National Poetry Competition and highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly competition for winter 2019
I. Dear Joaquin
Your building blocks of another world
Reflect my someone-else-ness
Would that I knew your Montevideo, Catalan,
shared visits through Barcelona,
that I could see what you have seen,
paint with words what colours speak.
II. Thank you
Simplified bare but not barren
I long for green, the verdant you left out.
Insistent hues wrap the world
like brown paper packages
tied up with pedestrian stares.
I feel your challenge to wander
the streets I once enjoyed.
III. Saludos, Goodbye
You tell me to move but let the eyes linger.
Stop among the billiards,
step out of the rain.
Dance the city but don’t let it show
We know you know,
you know we see
the places we would rather be.
K. M. Huber
K. M. Huber’s work is coloured by growing up in the USA’s Pacific Northwest, a decade in NYC, and many years living in South America. Her stories and poems have appeared in Earth Island Journal, Diner, McGuffin, Post Road, Pydras Review and ViceVersa among others. She has recently moved to Tennessee with her Peruvian husband and her novel of sixth-century Nazca is looking for a home.
In math terms
It is easy
Think of it
As a word problem
In this word problem
There is a 1926 DeSoto Sedan
The seating could happily seat
Three across the front
One of the three or
Each one of the three
Could take turns driving
Or, if it is a long journey,
One driving, one passenger front, one seated behind
Or at a passionate rest stop
Three across the back
If the journey
Is as long and as difficult
As love often is
There is room for
One or two
In the trunk
Remember some one
must drive the getaway
John Stickney is a poet and writer originally from Cleveland, Ohio, now living in the Wilmington NC area.
Three Cherita and Cherita Terbalik Poems in response to Joaquin Torres Garcia
1. Remember when we were
all coffee grounds
on a Saturday night
made more bitter
scatter spent by dawn?
2. She knew a door
for what it was–
not portal but promise.
In the street sign spotlight
her winning smile
(never mind fingers crossed).
3. Midnight puddles shine
solid gold cufflinks,
How I miss the simple
business of buttons
doing their duty!
Emily Reid Green
Emily Reid Green's poetry has appeared in various publications, including: Gravel, Khroma Magazine, 1932 Quarterly, Moon Magazine, and The Ekphrastic Review. Her first chapbook Still Speak was published earlier this year by Writing Knights Press. She has also been a sponsored poet with Tiferet Journal and their annual poem-a-thon. Emily lives in Toledo, Ohio with her family.
56 Café Lima, Peru
Lima. Gentle girls.
They find you.
Mi amor. Mi rey.
Want to be happy?
A tunnel would be leading
from Lima’s Plaza de Armas
down, down, baja,
straight to Bangkok,
to Pat Phong and the girl
who can blow
smoke rings down under.
Want to be happy?
In America everything
so big, no?
Oh my! H̄ıỵ̀ !
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and Tangents, a full-length poetry collection published in the UK in 2011, She’s three times winner of the 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. Her latest full-length poetry MS, The Rain Girl, will be published by Chaffinch Press in 2020.
The language of death
The language of dying
like a sword,
the inside bleeding,
the inside covered
the silence entombed
The language of deceased
is like shrouded bones--
to the remains--
the before of never.
The language of gone
is a call without
a response, so loud
The language of absence
is on the other side--
no matter which
Kerfe Roig plays with words and images in her apartment in NYC. You can see the results on her blog https://kblog.blog/.
Memory of the Fleeing
I stroll past cafes and remember your
wide smile across a small table,
fit my feet between the stones of a
foreign street we once conquered together,
glimpse the palaces and plazas whose difficult
pronunciations I’ve replaced with your name
I feel the beach breeze of Montevideo,
I watch the moon rise behind Punta Ballena,
I remember the sight of your plane, shrinking
as it distanced –– enough for me to hide it
behind my thumb
I soak in the hot air of Uruguay nights,
I learn what it means to have come and gone,
I thank the South American wind for bringing us together;
I curse the promise of America for carrying you away.
Niko Malouf is a teenager living in Los Angeles. "I enjoy writing about the things that surround me, stimulate me, the events of my adolescence as well as the happenings of the world. I hope to share my experiences and perspective with others and inspire them to do the same."
La java des petits diables
Ils font la java devant le bar tabac
et tabassent les gars à qui la gueule leur déplaît,
et les filles faciles leur emboitent le pas.
Tu montes, chérie ?
Elle monte, ils montent, ils montent tous les trois
et n’amènent aucune nouvelle ni a Gand ni a Aix,
car la bête a deux dos, depuis la nuit des temps,
beugle toujours, connaît tout, blasée.
Tu montes, chérie ?
Et la rue remplie d’ombres du phare sur la mer,
appelle les marins et les marins d’eaux douce
de faire la java dans les chambres d’hôtels,
louées à l’heure, avec filles faciles,
qui guettent les clients depuis la porte,
étoiles fatiguées, du Bar du Port.
Un chat passe,
la nuit chante un hymne à l’amour,
sur un brin d’air marin et un parfum fade
et l’odeur rance de vieux mégots.
Lost Boys and Girls
They ruckus in front of the Bar du Port
beat up the kids whose faces don’t fit
and the painted girls sidle up close,
Tu montes, chérie?
So they gallop, she gallops, they gallop all three,
and they bring no good news not to Ghent nor Aix,
for the beast with two backs, since the dawn of time
knows it all, seen everything, yawns as it moans,
Tu montes, chérie?
And the lights of the port fill with shadows the streets,
a beacon draws sailors and landsmen the same,
to kick up a ruckus in hotel rooms,
let by the hour, with painted girls
who watch for trade from the bar tabac door,
red star-glitter of the Bar du Port.
A cat slopes past,
night sings a hymn
to love on the sea air of cheap perfume
and the stale reek of old dog ends.
Jane Dougherty lives and works in southwest France. Her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, Hedgerow Journal, Visual Verse, ink sweat and tears, Eye to the Telescope, Nightingale & Sparrow, the Drabble, Lucent Dreaming and The Ekphrastic Review. She has a well-stocked blog at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
Joaquín Torres-García’s Un Caballito
Childhood, terrain of nightmares,
old folktales about witches and demons
shapes and figures in the dark
behind the Iron Curtain
the land of your people
swoop across colours in grey
an old hag sitting on your cot while you sleep
a mare peeks from behind a door.
It slides down. Flies under the table. A big lump
play taking the Thanatos out of the Eros
white rocking horse,
wood put together with dowel and peg,
painted over rough texture, carved
and incised. Simple shape,
a red saddle, black pigments.
your father receives censored letters
aunts, uncles, and cousins
you’ve never met.
Muted amaranth pink
the sky in Earth’s shadow.
Ilona Martonfi is an editor, poet, curator, advocate and activist. Author of four poetry books, the most recent collection is Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna, 2021). Writes in journals, anthologies, and six chapbooks. Her poem “Dachau on a Rainy Day” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. Artistic director of Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. QWF 2010 Community Award.
Through the dark door
of the hidden underworld
a man and his shadow
slip beside the spoon-street-lamp
sneaking snuff into their pockets
outside a tobacco shop.
A lady of the night
curves a blood-orange dress
she hustles in the light
of a cafe window
where pool players shoot billiards.
I spied three cut-outs in a painted collage
looking out at me observing them
knowing that I knew what they did.
I caught them in the act,
their button eyes startled
on a murky night in Uruguay
in black brown grey.
Tanya Adèle Koehnke
Tanya Adèle Koehnke is a member of the Scarborough Poetry Club. Tanya’s ekphrastic poems appear in The Canvas and Big Arts Book. Tanya taught critical writing about the visual arts at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU). Tanya also has a background in arts journalism.
In Paris, 1928
It was the year for roaring in Paris.
Smoky cafés for flapping, emancipating,
cabarets for toe-tapping. It was the year
of androgyny, rebellion, extravagance,
a stock-market bubble.
Iconoclastic artists—their brushes beastly
with colour—cubed the human body, lingered
over absinthe, late-night tête-à-têtes.
Contentious debates, like mental tugs-of-war,
pitted classical against avant-garde.
It was the year of Duesenbergs, Bugattis,
Peugeot Landaulets, hot cars swerving around
horses and carriages, madmen with new toys.
Flâneurs idly strolled the grands boulevards,
the chestnut shade of the Tuileries.
It was the year for high fashion, Coco Chanel,
pearl necklaces, wide lapels and cricket jackets,
white or black, the homburg, bowler,
cloche. Artists caught between reason and
feeling, figuration and abstraction.
It was the year for thoughts of the circle
and the square. For the grid. For the voice
of Joaquin Torres Garcia, artist,
For the mystical and the material.
Sandi Stromberg lived more than 20 years in Europe, but, alas, never in Paris. She would like to have experienced the City of Lights in 1928, but probably not in 1929!
She had always been able to see the corona around the head and had made her living that way for awhile, traveling from fair to fair reading auras and fortunes, telling people where there were breaks in the envelope around them and how to fix them, who to ask for help and where they could be found.
And while those days were long gone and she had a proper job and a mortgage again now, the ability to see still stood close by her throughout her days, like the patience of underlings waiting for attention so they might have a word.
She appreciated this of course. An underling herself, she knew something about waiting steadfast at the gate. So this sort of peace between them, her ability and her, this sort of agreement around energetic chalk marks where one began and the other ended, had become part of the measure of her days.
And if she noticed an aura, she took note of it for her own guidance but rarely remarked on it to its owner, knowing the low tolerance for this type of thing in the community she lived in now.
When the virus started to spread and the lockdowns began, she began to see things differently. At first, she noticed light glaring around the heads of those she encountered on the street and a few holes near the heart where their auras had been pierced and attacked. These encounters were few and at a recommended distance, so she couldn’t be completely sure of what she was seeing. She didn’t think too much about them really, having concerns of her own now over survival.
But soon this shifted along with the government’s warnings on the new iterations the virus was taking and further precautions that would be needed.
She had begun to volunteer at the food pantry and animal shelter preparing boxes of foods to fill the hundreds of cars on line for hours to receive them. There was no work now. Only need.
She and her coworkers were gloved and masked and mostly silent, though furiously busy. And while this made them a little harder to get to know, she could still read them.
The light around their heads began to recede and spill down the body as the weeks went on, forming shapes—the outline of a trumpet, a chandelier, a bell—instead of their typical egg shape. She herself could no longer tell where her own chalk lines began and ended. All she could do was see, and she knew patience was at its end and her ability had come forward to stay.
And so she watched as the bodies stretched out to fill their new light shapes. Faces elongated vertically looking like cornices at the top of buildings while the body below flared into the shape of a chalet or narrowed into a bassoon or kayak or any shape at all that revealed the present condition of the heart of its owner.
All these people shapes tumbled together as each day unfolded— like a kaleidoscope congregating then into patterns. Within each pattern she saw the sickled moon face of the virus and the domino path it planned to follow. And then she had to say it. Had to tell them what she saw. The geography of it—where plates rubbed and bucked against one another; where silt slowly dropped off the water’s edge floating down through to the bottom of the water; what was happening or going to happen inside them soon.
Eventually they would build her right into the town’s wall—an anchoress as their own personal gyroscope for the days ahead—and would feed her through her window, plaiting her white hair that reached her feet and bringing her sweet smelling cream to rub into her skin.
But first it was only wonder, blinking questions “Tell me my fortune.” “Will I?” “Is there?” “What can you see?” The mind being the box that it is and need, so much need, being insatiable and therefore, like an onion, without a core.
Some people did survive. She did. And while their aura was never truly rounded again, it was no longer as angular, the sickle shape of the virus having gone back to the moon after all while the sun, the glorious sun, radiated again round and ready shouting with life.
But for those who didn’t, who kept their odd geometry as they climbed back up to the moon, she raised her face at night in the window of her cell under the stars and recited their names and remembered for hours until moonlight spilled down and the earth was briefly quiet.
Kate is a Pittsburgh based writer who works for a large, urban school system by day and practices yoga, pottery, and improv comedy at night. She has been published previously in The Ekphrastic Review.
“There is always colour, it has yet to become light.” Pierre Bonnard
He liked white tables, their surfaces flat and square.
Objects of daily life moved into the painting randomly
like cats, choosing their own places.
Each cup or sugar bowl or mustard-coloured pitcher
with a line of green clovers around the lip
settled into the canvas as if it had forgotten
what it was, remembering only now the part of itself
that conversed with light, vibrating and humming
energies of ochre, blue, white, orange.
Around the room any available frame became willingly
a painting within a painting – window, door, mirror,
the yellow panel of a tablecloth on which a platter,
regally white and glowing, sat.
In these paintings his Marthe stood at the edge,
blending into a chair or partially hidden by a Japanese screen, or
behind a table quietly spooning food into a dish
for the small brown dachshund.
Earlier, there had been Marthe at her bath, violet and soft,
but in later years he began painting her bristling with hot colours
as she bent, in her quiet way, over a breakfast bowl.
The blue electric flowers from the wallpaper
reflected in her hair, the vibrations out of control.
When she was gone, the paintings grew furious,
steeped in wild reds. Windows became plunging vertical lines
and table legs refused perspective. The days
were hot colors, the thick lonely pleasure of viridian,
lemon cadmium, Venetian red, where tabletops
could not be contained except by their colour.
The wallpaper with its border of bold black stripes,
much like those on Marthe’s blouse
so long ago, constructed the only solid lines
in this part of his life, where wide platters might reflect
a hive of gold dashes at the window
behind the unused blue cup, the quiet white bowl.
Rebecca Ellis lives in southern Illinois. Her poems can be found in Bellevue Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Naugatuck River Review, Sugar Mule, Sweet, Prairie Schooner, Natural Bridge, Adanna, RHINO, and Crab Creek Review. She is a Master Naturalist through the University of Illinois Extension Service, and has learned to be equally at home with mallards and mergansers and poems.
Meiji Metal Vase
Isn’t this the way loneliness displays –
as old bronze under patinas, layered
metals that imitate the grain of hardwood,
a technique carried over from sword making?
A unicorn handle, one replaced
by a craftswoman in a small shop in the belly
of New York. This is not a vessel to scrub,
time-worn is its beauty as I come to see
that the birds will always hover, looking
at the bloom and gold leaves just
out of reach – and the mouth will always
open to the green stems of seasons.
Tricia Knoll lives alone in a Vermont woods. She loves horses and wishes for unicorns. Her work is widely available online and in anthologies. Website: triciaknoll.com
Madame Kupka Among Verticals
Madame Kupka’s torso emulsifies in a shower
of parti-coloured bands, blues and reds, purples and greens,
disappears like a Cheshire cat.
Her delicate face, tilted chin, and slightly parted lips
are the next to go. Half seen and unseen, her eyes are closed
either because she’s blind or dreaming.
From a position below her chin we watch the last of her dissolve,
red lips circled by green eye shadow, hair piled up in a cloud
beckoning a storm. Frank made this portrait of his wife
three years before the war to end all wars,
his announcement card for the end of mimesis
and the birth of modernity, turning his wife into a visual metaphor.
We see Eugenie slip beneath the choppy strips
like a body sliding into a pool, no arms to wave goodbye with,
not even legs to back away from the edge of becoming
an abstract being, not merely a verb, like abstraction from nature,
the old method by which even the ancients almost did the same thing
to the Venus of Willendorf
or those thundering herds on the walls of Lascaux.
Her portrait’s a noun, an object as abstract as a thought,
as real as a spoon, a woman hiding behind a shower curtain
like Joseph’s coat of many colours.
Select, distort and emphasize was the game the ancients played
and Picasso too before he stepped back from the brink
afraid of losing the last glimpse of a woman’s breast or a lover’s thigh.
That was not enough for Kupka who went all in on art as religion.
Soon nothing of the real remained of his wife
but coloured strokes up and down. He erased her from an old canvas
and she loved him enough to give away her arms
and shoulders to the future, like an astronaut on a space walk,
drifting away, a Venus who became one with the frame.
Michael Salcman is a retired physician and teacher of art history. He was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. He is a child of the Holocaust and a survivor of polio. His poems have appeared in Arts & Letters, Harvard Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. His books include The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises), nominated for The Poet’s Prize, The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises), Poetry in Medicine, a widely used anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness and healing (Persea Books, 2015), and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. Shades & Graces, forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil (2020) won the inaugural Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize. Many of the poems in his published collections are ekphrastic in nature (especially in The Clock made of Confetti).
I Explain the Art of Reading to an Alien
At night she folds herself into one, filmy,
shrinkwrapped and bound by things that
puncture the mind and sink under surface, dead-
bark and wood. At first the cover proves
unmalleable much like a globe but to press a
finger in and dig up pulls Algeria to Greenland,
oceans kneaded, nations overturned. At the
heart of it sidles up four walls on either side of her,
foreign, like the inner skin of ice when it tries to
flower. In the end only one clover remains
standing, its membrane of leaves threadbare, pushing
against light, the feeling of multiplying and rising
and fading all at once. At night she folds herself in,
can never get out. Dreaming in different colours
like religions, bowing to a single word.
Yejin Suh is a student from New Jersey whose work appears or is forthcoming in Prometheus Dreaming, Half Mystic, and Juke Joint Mag, among others.
The specific Giger work that inspired this poem is Sheet from Biomechanoiden in 1969. Click here to see it.
Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well
Tossed off perhaps by the great master
the small pen and brown ink drawing
Of Eliezer and Rebecca at the well.
Whimsical, or perhaps not, the traveler
sits while the comely Rebecca tilts
her pitcher to his lips.
His hair is carefully parted on the left,
wayfarers’ stock rests between his knees,
in the distance another traveler walks.
Whimsical, the background seems
almost doodling but on closer look
is alive with faces and detail.
What speaks most to lightheartedness
is Rebecca’s saucy wide brimmed hat,
a hat not fit for drawing water.
A taciturn face in background right is carefully
observant of events unfolding
and the great moment of the chance encounter.
Or was it chance? Eliezer began his journey
with a solemn oath to one who had lain
on a bundle of faggots at God’s command,
which is the back story to this encounter
not sketched by Rembrandt, Eliezer prayed
not to his own God, but to Abraham’s:
Oh, thou great choreographer, Thou
Stage manager of the theater
in which we humans play our lives,
who hides behind the thrown die,
be constrained by my master’s need
grant the success of my perilous journey.
“Drink and I will draw for your camels also”
will mark the discharge of our pact,
You will have met your word to Abraham.
The lightness of the drawing prefigures
the happy outcome of the eternal struggle
among accident, fate and purpose.
Lloyd A. Jacobs, M.D.
After undergraduate study at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Jacobs attended The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. After postdoctoral study at three institutions, he practiced Surgery for twenty years, becoming Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan. He was appointed President of The Medical College of Ohio in 2003 and became president of the combined institution when the Medical College merged into The University of Toledo. He served in this role until 2015. He recently resumed writing poetry, an art form he had not practiced for nearly forty years.
Monet’s Purple Poppies
drowned in an opiate of oils.
Lost in ferment--oriental fumes
and ambrosial poisons.
Ah, hydra plant of hypnotic tint,
toxic strain of violet,
mauve dirge of paradise
and close disaster.
Spiked fragrance sears,
Circe’s feverous perfume
obscures a blind assassin’s
sharp perse scent.
Exotic your lush petals stun,
long before a curved pod,
plump with unripe seeds,
might leak delirium.
Dan MacIsaac, a trial lawyer, served for ten years as a director on the Environmental Law Centre board at the University of Victoria. In 2017, Brick Books published his collection of poetry, Cries from the Ark. His poetry, fiction and verse translations have been published in a wide variety of literary magazines, including Stand, The Malahat Review, Arc, and The American Journal of Poetry. His poetry has received awards including the Foley Prize from America Magazine. Dan MacIsaac’s work has been short-listed for the Walrus Poetry Prize and the CBC Short Story Prize. His website, which includes links to his poetry published in online journals, is www.danmacisaac.com.
Why I love writing poetry becomes clear working on this 1,500 piece picture puzzle of Breugel’s painting, Dutch Proverbs.
In week two of social distancing to curb the effect of the Covid 19 pandemic, to tear ourselves away from computers, zoom chatrooms and overdoses of email containing libraries of information and media, we start a puzzle. A one thousand, five-hundred piece puzzle. What fun to enter Breugel’s world of 1559 and find how he hides over 100 Dutch proverbs!
Forms, colours spill on the dining room table— you can see from the picture…Let’s start with blue: just three places large enough to put more than three pieces together: 1) the famous blue cloak, the lady in red (sin) puts on her husband front and centre, (meaning she is cheating on him) 2) the upper left corner of blue sea and sky, where the blind lead the blind, (hence, both will fall into the ditch) and another man struggles against the current (uphill battle), 3) middle sky, where a man in a red jerkin sits on a chimney waving a black cape (hang your coat in the wind, i.e. going with the flow of the current opinion.)
Ah… but then, blue is also in tiny patches! Don’t confuse the two blue orbs, or the mottled blues and greens of a man crouched as if on our planet. That prince in the pink cape is “spinning him on his thumb.” What fools we are… like the pillar biter, with turquoise sleeves.
You will note the ochres, yellows and oranges will provide you hours of contemplation about walls — some not needed at all… some needing repair, as well as thoughts about straw rooves, sandy banks where no houses should be built, and pigs— ah yes! Pigs trampling in fields of wheat… pigs on the knees of butchers waiting to be slaughtered (as opposed to a sheep, which can be sheared, hence a more lasting and lucrative activity), pigs roaming behind the man banging his head against a wall… which bring us to the problem of differentiating bricks!
All those shades of brown, some sliding into maroons and russets, squaring off into bricks--making things such as the pillar in a pond with the man trying to catch fish with his hands, or an oven in front of which a man is yawning or a very high tower from which a man casts feathers to the wind (another fairly useless activity.)
Last night, I had a dream of working on the puzzle, placing the same piece over and over again in different possible spots, as a song kept repeating, “all will turn to stone”. And yet, I do not regret taking time to put together pieces that paint proverbs of human folly, our foibles, and life as luck of the draw. In so many ways, it is the same as writing, penning the words, placing, replacing, trying to make order out of a mass of confusion.
We are but passing ships in the night, but the proverbs give me the hope that I am not alone, listening to the distant voice in the darkness, the slow shuffle of oars.
This gives details of images illustrating 25 of the almost 100 proverbs!
Also entitled The Blue Cloak or The Topsy Turvy World, this painting contains a literal illustration of idioms and aphorisms of 16th century Flemish life. Whereas some of the idioms have been lost to history, others are still relevant and in use today. Although other artists and authors had produced paintings and books on proverbs, this painting is considered to be the first large-scale rendition of the theme. The proverbs, of which there are over 100, as well as the early titles, are meant to illustrate human stupidity and foolishness. The painting was so popular that Pieter Brueghel the Younger reproduced up to twenty copies of it, many of which included various renditions on the proverbs.
2. It took a close up picture to see the man in the window is actually “taking a crap on the world” (i.e. despise everything); note, the Cross is underneath the orb, instead of on top.
Kitty Jospé has authored many books and her work has appeared in numerous local and national journals. Bilingual in French/English, (MA French Literature, NYU; worked in Belgium for the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) she retired from teaching French in 2006 to pursue an MFA (Pacific University, OR). She gives tours in both languages as docent at the Memorial Art Gallery; lectures on language and art as tools for deeper understanding and offers weekly poetry appreciation courses at the public library since February 2008.
The Ekphrastic Review
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