Message from the guest editor:
From whimsical to deeply serious, from protest to celebration, from surreal to firmly fact-based to philosophical, all styles, all resonating in my mind and heart: what a privilege to receive this cornucopia. Thanks to everyone who responded to the Yves Tanguy Challenge, and to everyone who joins in now, seeing and reading. Also, thanks to editor Lorette C. Luzajic, who honoured my desire to be surprised and chose this evocative piece of art for my stint as guest editor.
Note: Tanguy's second wife, Kay Sage, also an artist, haunts this group—as the real person she was and as fantasy "artist's wife." The Ekphrastic Review has featured Sage's paintings and the poems evoked by them. Click here to check them out.
When You’re Beside Yourself
We had been there all day, my friend
and I, and the dog. Had nattered
about the neighbours, whether Ingrid
should go on a diet, and tried to speculate
on the status of our mate Oscar
who just had had one of those ops
where they reduce the stomach size
or something like that. Eventually we figured
that this was a bad trend, judgmental.
Who had the right?
Well, the dog went to sleep,
and we got drunk. Slowly. Until we questioned
existence itself, becoming all philosophical
and deep. When my friend fell silent,
I checked that Vodka bottle.
And then I saw the small
Behind my closed eyelids,
I saw my friend disappear. Instead
of her upper body I could only see
an uneven opening in a square that might
have been a portrait painting. The washing
stood to attention, a couple of round objects
making holes into its fabric, the dog changed
into a being from another planet
and his hut appeared too small to contain him--
unless he stood on his hind legs, of course.
I became a tiny observer, buzzing
in place over the yellow flower
that would be my home.
And then the storm approached.
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.
Party for Two
Dad wanted a going away party. We
tried, but we do not eat, drink, dance,
or get jokes. Party Poopers! he said. We
do not poop either. But we yelled, Clink!
and wished him safe travel in 50 languages.
Every night we still toast Dad, our android
developer, even though he returned to Earth
183 days, 5 hours, 13 minutes, and 7 seconds ago.
We continue to transmit data, but suspect
our real mission was to keep Dad company.
He named us Floozie and Monk –
probably another joke we do not get.
Dad said if he had his laboratory here
Floozie would have red hair and we both
would have opposable thumbs. Human
vanity. We lack nothing.
At 1900 hours, we stop work. Clink!
I tell Floozie. Welcome home, Monk,
Alarie Tennille’s latest poetry book, Waking on the Moon, contains many poems first published by The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
“All Soundings Are Referred to High Water”
musing on the marriage/art of
Yves Tanguy and Kay Sage
De Chirico’s tableau electrified Yves—a rambling,
odd-job man, befriended by poets, artists. Untrained,
he plunged into paint. Kay married an Italian prince,
threw away a decade to the crows. No reason,
no purpose, nothing. A stagnant swamp. Unbridled
by de Chirico’s work, she converted from semi-abstraction
to Surrealism. The myth recounts her first sight
of Yves’ art, his canvas cry, "I’m Waiting for You.”
How she knew its call was meant for her—this strange
realm of objects neither flora nor fauna in an extra-
terrestrial world meticulously formed. She stepped
through the doorway. But let us not romanticize
this chance encounter, this match birthed from Surrealism,
this pushing aside the known to delve the subconscious.
In paint, Yves asked for a “Reply to Red.” But
what answer for those organic images—a red egg,
a red ball dangling from a steel rod, a red “body” flattened
behind a torn canvas? Their tempestuous pairing?
The knife he wielded when drunk, her passivity?
Booze, paint, love?
After his sudden death, she painted her own quest
through an eerie, dread-filled world, no reply to red,
rather “The World of Why” and “Tomorrow Is Never.”
Her suicide note, he’s waiting for me again—I’m on my way.
(Title taken from a 1947 painting by Kay Sage)
Sandi Stromberg has become an addict of The Ekphrastic Review’s biweekly challenges. In the past few years, she has brought poets together in the two anthologies she edited, Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston (Mutabilis Press, 2015) and Echoes of the Cordillera (ekphrastic poems in response to the photography of Jim Bones; Museum of the Big Bend, 2018). Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, read on NPR, translated into Dutch, and published in many literary journals and anthologies.
True to One’s Nature
The strong cannot help confronting;
the less strong cannot help evading,
whispers Julian Barnes writing
as Shostakovich. The strong grin
like bowed saws, while the weak
toss their hearts for points and gather
them back. The strong fancy themselves
much more than veneer, while the weak
harbour no such illusions. The strong remain
unconcerned by their lurid residue,
while the weak apologize for shadows.
Overhead, wires flense clouds
that whimper like small animals.
Currently, Devon Balwit is the little grey figure, tapping about on her crutch. Nevertheless, she casts a discernible shadow.
Look, Said the Painter's Wife
Look, said the painter’s wife,
this is what I made
from the leavings of your conversations,
the scraps that fell from your lover’s hands,
the bits and bats of unwanted affection.
I gathered and cleaned them,
picked them apart
and wove them into this.
When his thunder fell
she held up her creation as a shield
but the painter’s leavings were as light,
as inconsequential as thistledown,
as void of substance as a sycophant’s praise,
even though she had pulled the threads tight.
The thunder fell and split her in two.
She left him the stricken half
and flew away on unsuspected wings.
He would have broken them
had he known,
made a masterpiece
of their feathered glory
Jane Dougherty is Irish and lives in the middle of a meadow in southwest France. She writes novels, stories and poetry and has been published in journals and magazines including Ogham Stone, Hedgerow, Visual Verse, Eye to the Telescope and Lucent Dreaming. She blogs at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
You were bleeding silver
the night you stole
slurped it from my nostrils
through a paper straw
like the gray matter
of some dead Egyptian prince.
And that’s when I learned
souls are liquid beings,
thick as honey
but with none of the sweetness,
because your mouth spat,
You taste like windowsill dust--
the dead begging for beyond.
Vengeful, I trapped you in frames,
fruits of knowledge, and little homes
my misery thought could contain you,
but you had already taken
what tethered me to this reality,
so all my births
invaded the world
with a hollow scream.
Diane Callahan strives to capture her insignificant sliver of the universe through writing fantasy, non-fiction, and poetry. As a developmental editor and ghostplotter, she spends her days shaping stories. Her YouTube channel, Quotidian Writer, provides practical tips for aspiring authors.
It’s spring again, silvery buds on branches,
the garden violent with hydrangea sticks.
Grandma has wandered to her front-porch chair.
There, her toes barely touch the floor, her gown
screens her sighing knees, her newspaper masks
sink and cupboard undulating behind
her eyes. Apology’s necessary--
this is not her style: beyond the gate flash
lime and lemon groves along steep park lanes,
their peeled bone crash-glittering in her sleep.
D. R. James
D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 35 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, his latest of eight poetry collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press) and Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box), and a microchapbook All Her Jazz is free and downloadable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project. www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage
Reply as Red Sets to Blue
I’m at the shore with Mother on a windy day
on a bench along the promenade in Cape May,
before us a carriage that you pedal with awning
to shield the sun, a ride we don’t take until her 80s
and I pedal hard to make up for the all the metal
that starts with a rod in her back connected to both
artificial hips. She has a good doctor, calls the famous
orthopedic surgeon by his first name, trying to impress
like when she'd tell how she booked the first time
Ella Fitzgerald sang with Chick Webb--
Mother’s job just out of high school was in Curtis
Publishing’s entertainment division.
The beach umbrella’s down, blown by a wind
off waves that reach the farthest at high tide,
blown into the blue of Steger’s beach tents
not yet up for the season, just the frame.
Shadows come from different angles
as if time lapsed, or gulls flocked
for sandwich remains on an empty beach,
the day moving quickly to set.
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 in 2019. 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.
The Family Meal
signal lost antennae searching
in this surreal
oddly fluid solid world
table suspended spreads itself
airer hanging words to dry
lost in static metal
spats bounce between barriers
steel lips unmoving
yellow archer aims,
outstretched hands probing
blue sentry stiffens defends his corner
holes ripped in argument
coloured bombs collide
acid juices fuse
Kate Young lives in Kent with her husband and has been passionate about poetry and literature since childhood. After retiring, she has returned to writing and has had success with poems published in Great Britain and internationally. She is presently editing her work for an anthology and enjoying responding to ekphrastic challenges. Alongside poetry, Kate enjoys art, dance and playing her growing collection of guitars and ukuleles!
The Last Supper
Together we sit ever disparate,
desperate for the essence of a presence
to bring together the eclectic
of mind across matter
in silence, in respect
no matter creed or colour, the red
who have been, have been seen,
along with yellow and brown
with a multitude of hues gathered
next to the illusory table
for this this is the last supper
as our congregation exists
with voids through the infrastructure
for cracks shall appear next, then
the rusting, the rotting
corroding of our ethos, the meaning
of our being, our longing
for the tangible, those chattels,
our tenets challenged, frailties exposed,
betrayal identified then denied,
with feet washed we learn
amongst friends and not servants
in proffering love to each other
a thanks giving, then cry
a blessing of blood, of body,
at the start of a new beginning
after a rooster crow cries, thrice,
echoing through the ether
to dreams of a unified mankind, yet
together we sit ever disparate.
Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions in Europe and North America. His poems have featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He is particularly inspired by ekphrastic challenges.
To Yves Tanguy, Regarding Reply to Red
Adrift in your imagined sea,
the sun must now behind me be
that shadows on your dampened shore
what never was forevermore
now strung and strewn as if debris
yet proving as if prism glass
that red and blue and yellow pass
as trinity of endless means
to recreate or conjure scenes
to be replies of mind possessed
whose eye and hand are aptly blessed
to render as impression made
the dance of light to be replayed.
Motor City Agate
1. Once your parties meant mopping our minds off the floor in the morning. Our bodies were shells by then, mere scarecrows. And loud music, relentless drum and bass until dawn cracked the new day open. At your latest party, you motion for us to keep things down while you put the baby to bed, and I spend most of it in a corner, talking to a plumber.
2. Yeah, baby. We made it to middle age!
3. I was enjoying his company, truth be told. I liked how he talked about getting home to his wife, and to his job early the next day. I should always have had more respect for plumbers and electricians than I had for addicts and revolutionaries.
4. Your plumber friend had a strange kind of Bradburian beauty about him, overalls and all. All those worlds of submerged pipe mazes, nuts, bolts, twisting tunnels. The sheer efficacy of water works, the tumbling words about work that made him a poet at that party. He didn't mean it: he was like a deer in the headlights when I pointed out the way he found the phrases. He had never heard of Ray Bradbury.
5. Most of the party has absconded to your balcony to smoke. I have wistfully declined.
6. Flipping through a collection in one of your books on surrealist paintings, I see Yves Tanguy. It takes me away, to the moon, to Mars, to planets where books are banned and red twine holds together the limbs of aluminum men.
7. His paintings remind me of Detroit Agate, those seamless coils of colour, winding ripples at once natural and industrial.
8. When my name was Raggedy, I lived in New Orleans in a burned out plantation house with broken mirrors and the undead. At the local watering hole where we kept warm and drunk, there was a Deadhead chick with filthy feet and fingers and a gorgeous ring. I thought it was artificial agate, tie dyed stone, if you will. She said, no, this is Fordite. Motor City Agate. Other rocks are millions of years old, she said. This one is only thirty. The swirls of purple and neon were made of paint trash from cars; harvested from the layers of melted slag that accumulated on the skids. Spray paint, other toxins, fused forever. The process for Detroit Agate was the same as every other rock in history, she explained, only with modern manufacturing speed. I wanted that ring badly. I covet it to this day.
9. My father worked in that same factory for forty years. Had a few years off between retiring and dying from renal tumours and their scattered seeds all over his insides. Forty years of whirring machines, midnights, suffocating temperatures, poisonous chemicals, long shifts. He said he loved his job.
10. That night, I was home by ten and sleeping soon after. I dreamed of my father in heaven. He was surrounded by rivulets of toxic enamels, the same ones I use in my paintings. The seeping colours were changing to stone every which way he turned. He pushed his hands deep into the well, the melted mix of swirling colours, cupped them, raised them, told me, drink.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Lorette C. Luzajic is a visual artist, writer, and editor of The Ekphrastic Review. Her poems have appeared widely in hundreds of print and online publications.
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