The painting is precise, photographic. It features industrial buildings with paned windows, a few propped open to release fetid air. It shows aluminium pipes and rivets, steel cables and junctions. The brickwork is meticulous. The perspective is definitive: five railroad tracks converge a third of the way up the picture - linking the world outside this painting to the dead centre of the canvas - and then they slip away into the bright indistinctness of the distance. This is a street in the heart of Detroit depicted in grey and sepia.
The people in the painting are almost invisible by virtue of both size and colour. One by one they emerge, three men heading away along the front of the building on the left hand side, two men lower down to the right - a white man glancing back at an African American man. Starting a conversation? Ending one? Staring blankly through him? And then there’s the man anyone would miss, high overhead in the centre of the painting, walking across a gantry.
The hatching on one of the steel cross members is detailed, the shadow of a window intricate, yet the people are indistinct pokes of a brush, almost incidental. This is the 1930s when Ford’s mechanisation of manufacture is king and men are ten a cent. While agricultural land decays into dust, this street in Detroit is pristine.
Imagine a woman coming into the bottom right hand of this picture, an African American woman in a place where even the men barely belong. Perhaps she is heading towards the African American man - his wife or sister? But she ignores him, as though he is invisible, and steps over each of the tracks with a flick of her heel. And just as we think she is going to speak to the man in white shirt, we are startled to discover a seventh man, one with only one leg and one arm protruding from behind a vertical iron girder, his face barely visible under the peak of his cap. He is painted from the same blend of grey oils as the girder he is half-concealed by, and now we have seen him we wonder how we could ever have missed him, for it is this man that the woman is staring at as she purposefully crosses from right to left.
“Frank.” The woman calls the name that she has used ever since the days when he delivered blocks of ice cut in winter from the great lakes and transported south by cart, by wagon, by train till they finally reached Plainfield. On the back stoop of Mrs Kennedy’s house she waited to watch as he took a saw to the dripping giant on the back of his truck, resting the off-cut on the wet piece of sackcloth slung over the shoulder of his leather vest.
“Hoo-whee,” he said. “It’s a hot one.” And he raised a hand to his forehead, pretending to let the ice block slip, winking as she reached forward to prevent the contrived catastrophe. “Would you like me to set this in the ice box for you, Hattie?”
In the painting the man doesn’t so much as smile, he glances around to see if any of the other men have noticed a woman in their midst, an African American woman at that, one who is now talking to him. He puffs out and then says, “Why you here?”
“Sorry, Mister Finch.” She shouldn’t have called him Frank just now. She realises that in this formal city the codes that were bent on a back stoop are as absolute as the iron work surrounding them. She knows how the rules of this painting work. She adjusts her glove, hoping he won’t notice where the thumb and forefinger have worn through, and whispers, “It’s concerning your brother, Mister Finch.”
And she searches the grey face shaded by the cap for a reaction, remembering when that face was sun-reddened, when the eyes reflected the blue sky and the cheek bones the white sun. She remembers the time before refrigerators reached Plainfield when ice came with a kiss and a tingle, when hands were held out of sight, the time when people had food in their ice boxes and stomachs. But the man won’t look at her.
“Ain’t he dead?” he says.
Hattie twitches her elbows to her sides, holding her purse firmly in her gloved hands, and notices the indent of a bristle across his forehead which speaks of guilt. He hasn’t written to his family back in Plainfield, not since who knows when. Now Hattie is here she partly understands why. Things are different here. There can’t be much to say about attaching fenders to automobiles, about precision. She’s got plenty she could tell this Mister Finch about Plainfield if he wanted to know, how the store’s closed down, how the cattle are all gone, how Mrs Kennedy moved to live with her sister somewhere in this city.
“No, sir,” she tells him. “He ain’t dead.”
The man straightens, but still remains in the shadow where he has been painted. His brother isn’t dead. All is well. No need to talk to her any more. He stares over her hat and Hattie is caught between one leg and the other, not comfortable on either. Not happy at being here in this painting at all.
“He, Mister Finch, the other Mister Finch.” Hattie pauses. “It’s my sister Minny. You remember her, sir?”
“Mister Finch, well he’s gone and, and now Mrs Gregory has let her go and she can’t feed herself let alone a baby. She gonna starve, Mister Finch, and he, the other Mister Finch, he don’t wanna know nothing at all. So I was wondering, whether you could see your way to giving her a dollar or two, just a bit, to keep her, for a little, till the baby comes.”
The man pushes tightly to the girder. The man in the white shirt moves on obliviously, permanently in half-step, and the man on the gantry looks down on the scene, tapping the ash of a Marlboro. He doesn’t really have a role to play, just stuck up there by the painter to break the skyline.
“I thought you might, you know, after, well,” she looks down. She wouldn’t be asking at all if it weren’t Minny, barely grown up enough to work let alone anything else, all skin and bones as it is.
“Nooo,” he says slowly, shaking his head. Plainfield is as far away as the other side of the gallery. What happened back there, back then, means nothing, not here.
“She’s carrying your blood,” Hattie says.
He shifts, as though deciding on something.
“I’ve got me a plan you see, Hattie,” he says. “Get me a tyre shop, make a little money. Need every cent I earn for my plan, I do. Can’t go sending none to Plainfield.”
He settles back. He belongs here now, this is his world.
“Could have been us,” she says, wishing she didn’t have to say it out loud, even if her voice is no more than a gallery whisper. “I could tell them that.”
The man shakes his head.
“Makes no odds to me,” he says.
Hattie looks around at the scene depicted in this barely more than monochrome painting. The almost incidental people pictured are here for good, stuck together for ever, each alone. Who here cares about anything beyond the frame? And even though he is the man and she is the woman, he is white and she is African American, he has money and she has none, she feels sorry for the half-man the ice man has become.
Ruth Brandt’s short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines, including Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2017, Bristol Short Story Prize Vol 4, Litro, and Neon, nominated for prizes including the Pushcart Prize 2016, read at festivals and performed. She lives in Woking, England and has two delightful sons. www.RuthBrandt.co.uk
Growing The Ekphrastic Review has turned into one of my favourite projects of all time. I couldn't have imagined the enthusiastic response from readers and writers when I started it up just two years ago.
The writers, artists, and readers here have together inspired each other to great heights, new ways of seeing, and wonderful relationships.
I understood that Ekphrastic would be something to which I gave my time, and that in turn, it would give me inspiration, poetry, and connect me to amazing writers. None of us are here for money.
That said- and here's that big "but" - there are times when money would be nice.
Other than my time, for which I am rewarded in the ways mentioned above, Ekphrastic doesn't cost me much. But there are some web and maintenance fees and I would like to do a bit of promoting with postcards I can distribute at the various art and literary events I'm part of.
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Gene Fendt: "I saw the Matisse exhibit in New York well over a decade ago; it was an entirely wonderful day, one which I hope to be able to relive in eternity, if that is what eternity gives us. Before and since I have been teaching Philosophy at the University of Nebraska, Kearney, in which direction most of my writing energy has gone, though I have recently have won the Princemere Prize and the open poetry competition at Gemini magazine."
Isn't it funny the way light plays,
how hiding it inhabits other faces and
sheds like skin, clings save for my skeleton
shell. I am left with scraps only,
the dripped leavings of ancient candle.
Maybe I could fight for morning light.
Maybe I could filter the blue hour haze,
rearrange my gaze beyond empty glass,
even momentary glimpse another ending.
Would I own the outcome? Recognize
this quality of light? I fear blindness so
downward glance to spite the dawn.
Still sun will rise above hurt feelings and
leave me shadow slouching, let me to
my work, my private war waged over
tabletop, elbows stabbing. Silence another
casualty– I am not immune to sleep
walking, to nightmare games.
I could hang myself on this hand,
surrender to solemn requiem, fingers
finding prayer in the starved darkness.
Emily Reid Green
Emily Reid Green's poetry, creative non-fiction and flash fiction have appeared in publications including: Skipping Stones, Common Threads, The Font, The Linnet’s Wings, Khroma, Gravel, and Skive Magazine. An unabashed bookworm and avid knitter, she lives with her family in Toledo, Ohio.
Study Guide: “The Fall of Icarus” for Ms. Hansen’s English 9 Power Slide 7
I like the ploughman’s head pointed
down to earth just like his horse looks
down to see where to step. Everybody
says look up, lift your gaze, look ahead,
see what’s going on when ploughing
the earth up for spring planting.
If he doesn’t look down he won’t see
a big old rock that might bust his blade,
and then what’s the horse good for?
I like the plowman’s shirt.
They’re all going about their business,
Though I don’t know much about the
Businesses. Haven’t you noticed,
nobody notices what everybody
else is doing isn’t that what we notice?
The guy with the red head who points.
He’s not about to jump into and save
The poor nincompoop, he just wants to point,
Like the guy who says I’m just a monitor,
He’s the monitor who sees a boy falling,
With wings of hot wax and charcoal feathers.
But maybe he just sees two legs in the ocean.
The other day I read about a body pulled
Out of the lake and nobody helped him out.
As soon as that leg sinks below
Everybody’s going to turn around
And just keep on doing what
They were doing before the
Big tragedy, though no one
Really thinks it’s a big tragedy.
Maybe even the painter didn’t
Think it was such a big tragedy,
Maybe he just had some extra
Red paint he wanted to get off
Of his brush, who really knows.
Well, a lot more things are noticed
By the artist, for example he likes
White cliffs, and white clouds, and
White sunlight, and white sails and
White sheep and white shirts and
White towns but he did a pretty
Good job with a couple of dabs
Of red, where did he get that red?
DeWitt Clinton is Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, and lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He continues to write and publish short creative non-fiction and poetry in in Wise Guys: An Online Magazine, Negative Capability, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Verse-Virtual, New Verse News, Peacock Journal, Ekphrastic Review and Stark: The Poetry Journal No. 1 which featured a “shortlisted” poem for the Wisehouse International Poetry Award.
"In my bold, vibrant palette, my work invites you to look for meaning beyond colour. The themes are a recurring focus on identity and cultural heritage, tangible and not tangible. In my art, I intend to convey the core value of the spirit of nature, my inspiration through the beauty found in each context, and the appreciation of the noble values of life."
Adorable Monique is an award-winning U.S. based artist brought up abroad. She holds a Baccalaureate from La Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and a BFA obtained at La Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Francisco Morazán. She has had the good fortune to be mentored by a renown Central American artist, which has helped enriched her artistic vision. She has received merit awards, and the opportunity to exhibit in various venues. Growing up surrounded by different cultures has broadened her overall view of life. She is continuously pursuing success in personal, professional, and artistic endeavours as well in the artistic experience itself.
fingers raw, for
I’ve scrubbed, scoured and mopped all
but my brow,
as she soaked.
Eyes closed, head back,
hair a glowing stream of sunset
running over the side
of the porcelain
gleaming from my morning’s work.
She is done now,
with her Sunday bath,
and these raw-rubbed hands
of a fiery forest of knots.
Taming, tending, touching –
these are my skills,
is the work
of the handmaid.
Lisa Conquet was lucky to grow up in NYC -- a place that mirrors her spirit, energy and mix of cultures. The city fed her soul and her love of words. As a copywriter for a Madison Avenue ad agency, she utilized her psychology degree to entice consumers, then went back to school and turned the tables. Now she is a psychotherapist who uses poetry to help her clients.
After “The Broken Column”
1. to unbind insecurities, torment, pain and annihilation.
2. to purge;
3. to clarify;
4. to make new.
I knew I was a poet when I found the only person that ever
understood me is a dead painter.
Lindsey Thäden is a recent winner of New York's 2016 #PoetweetNYC contest. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Philadelphia-based Apeiron Review, eleven40seven, New York Metro, Passages North and Vending Machine Press, which is e-published from Sydney, Australia.
The Whiteness of Bone
White on white. Was a time I wouldn’t
have seen it, a little snort bursting
from my nose, up-tilted, at the greyish-
white square, askew on the cream ground.
Suprematist Composition, 1918, indeed,
war’s end, and that is all Malevich could
come up with? So much nothing, a long
Sunday, hours mounded like dune sand,
the upward slog, the endless back-sliding.
Then, I was all noise, rushing to get somewhere,
not realizing the deception of motion,
Self always shrouding like the linen skin
of a dressmaker’s dummy. Now I know:
this as far as far as I’m going, this the end
of my leap, all the time in the world
to explore the gradations between pearl
and cream, paper and bone, milky and
opalescent. The dead in the trenches, bone
white against the bleached scroll of years.
The pitted surface, the brushstrokes, the
canvas poking through, plenty for the eyes
of one grown old enough to glean.
Devon Balwit is a writer and teacher from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks forthcoming--'how the blessed travel' from Maverick Duck Press and 'Forms Most Marvelous' from dancing girl press. Her recent work has found many homes, among them: Oyez, The Cincinnati Review, Red Paint Hill, Timberline Review, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Trailhead Review, and Oracle.
Resurrection of the Bird
It will fly into the oblivion it knows
rather than the one it doesn’t
willingly, composed, at ease,
as if returning home
the prodigal child of the sky
forgiven at last
conceived in a whim of light
absolved by the sun
reconciled with its destiny
as certain as the stars
so far from land
it doesn’t know its way
it waits for resurrection
as its primal right.
Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey, has published more than 1,000 ekphrastic poems in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world. His collections include chapbooks devoted exclusively to the works of Paul Klee, Matta and others.
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Meghan Rose Allen
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Rose Mary Boehm
Catherine A. Brereton
Charles W. Brice
David C. Brydges
Danielle Nicole Byington
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Fern G. Z. Carr
Tricia Marcella Cimera
SuzAnne C. Cole
John Scott Dewey
Suzanne E. Edison
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Ariel Rainer Fintushel
Edward H. Garcia
Adam J. Gellings
Emily Reid Green
Julie Howard Hobson
A. J. Huffman
Olivia J. Kiers
Loretta Collins Klobah
Jean L. Kreiling
Stuart A. Kurtz
Tanmoy Das Lala
John R. Lee
Lorette C. Luzajic
Ariel S. Maloney
John C. Mannone
Mary C. McCarthy
Patrick G. Metoyer
David P. Miller
Mark J. Mitchell
S. Jagathsimhan Nair
Heather M. Nelson
James B. Nicola
Bruce W. Niedt
Kim Patrice Nunez
M. N. O'Brien
Pravat Kumar Padhy
Melissa Reeser Poulin
Rhonda C. Poynter
Marcia J. Pradzinski
Anita S. Pulier
Ralph La Rosa
Mary Kay Rummell
Janet St. John
Christy Sheffield Sanford
Janice D. Soderling
Liza Nash Taylor
Janine Pommy Vega
Martin Willitts Jr
William Carlos Williams
Shannon Connor Winward
William Butler Yeats
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