Storm and Stone
Beneath the lightning's storm where nothing stirs,
Your beauty, like Toledo's bridge, remains:
Four centuries of night span now shares,
Yet Greco's arch, like you, my heart sustains.
As silver leaps from green 'cross Tagus' tide,
You sweep me past all threatening chasms' cares
And set me free to choose ways to your side,
That I might rest where my true love prefers.
There, stayed within the pillared ranks of men,
Insensate stone and cloistering beauty's pride,
I am but helpless till you choose, and then
Our souls are matched, mere marble's mask denied.
No stone, storm lit, in exile's fairest image shines
As fair as bounds my heart,
where my fair's heart opines.
Nigel Stuart is a retired history professor with a secondary professional interest in renaissance Europe, artistic practice, and in film. Toledo is one of his favourite places, and it appears in the painting by El Greco, in the film Tristana, and in this poem.
Ellis Wilson had more notoriety after his death than he did during his life, as a replica of this painting hung above the Cosby’s mantel in the 1980s hit series. The painting resides at Amistad Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. Wilson traveled to Haiti in the early 1950s and noticed that from a distance, people become a mass of darkness. After this visit, he began painting figures from a distance flat and featureless.
Black dress first worn by my sister
moist with my tears—following
bouquet of pink roses.
Lindsey Thäden is the most 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.
Poetry Spoken Here Podcast with Charlie Rossiter
I'm delighted that The Ekphrastic Review had the opportunity to speak with Charlie Rossiter at Poetry Spoken Here. Thank you Charlie for this great opportunity!
We talked about ekphrasis, how to plunge into writing it, how The Ekphrastic Review has struck a chord, and I read a poem about the fabulous Tamara de Lempicka.
To listen, click here.
Learn more about Charlie Rossiter and this amazing podcast series, Poetry Spoken, Here by clicking this link.
It could be a soup tourrine or a kid’s toy from this distance--
Santa Fe cattle skulls are called art, wiped clean from their primordial ooze
by wind or the torn t-shirt of an artist. Georgia stands on desolate sand,
the dry brushed sky that separates her is filled in with ultramarine,
Cobalt Blue Hue.
She would probably say the painting isn’t about her,
as she loads a brush with Cadmium Scarlet or Indian Yellow,
transforming virgin canvas to iris,
or cala lilies blooming into vulvas--
iridescent wombs filled with colour.
She stands in a photograph taken by Alfred Steiglitz, unable to move.
She’s all celluloid flash and silence, a dust bowl stoic
painting the inside of her body--
what’s beautiful, what holds on to everything and nothing--
red larkspurs and cattle skulls like broken hourglasses turning time into dust.
Robert Walicki's work has appeared in over 40 publications including Vox Populi, Stone Highway Review, The Kentucky Review, Red River Review, and others. A Pushcart and a Best of The Net nominee, Robert currently has two chapbooks published: A Room Full of Trees (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and The Almost Sound of Snow Falling (Night Ballet Press), which was nominated to the 2016 Poet’s House List of Books in NYC.
From the window at Saint-Rémy
I saw a starry night and my brush
was turbulent with swirls.
The night sky was not dark — a bright moon
and eleven yellow-white stars lit the blue.
Still, I was Joseph, thrown into a pit alone
until I heard His voice bend in the wheat.
Renee Gherity lives and writes Maryland. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and Mitchell-Hamline University School of Law. Her work has appeared in Poet Lore, Innisfree Poetry Journal, District Lines, and in 0-Dark-Thirty, The Report. She recently participated in Ekphrasis, an exhibit that paired work of painters from the Corcoran (Washington, DC) and poets from the Writer’s Center (Bethesda, MD). She has been a featured reader in Maryland and Minnesota.
The Crucifixion of Christ
Stand back or you will miss its monumental gravity as it looms over you with the stark modernity of a Rothko. Francisco de Zurbarán’s seventeenth century painting of the crucifixion of Christ dominates the walls with monolithic austerity, a sombre narrative of light and shadow. Not the staged theatrical chiaroscuro of Caravaggio, but one of religious fervor, distilled into restrained emotion. The source of light is unknown, but omnipresent like God.
The pale body of Christ, ribcage and musculature protruding with naturalistic accuracy, hangs limp and passive. Only the flesh is dead, all else is life, nuanced, subdued. The cool umber of the wood sustains the bloodless body, then melts to the ground in a column of minimal brushwork. Bright white drapery winds around the slain lamb like a matador’s cape. The large round nails upstage the pierced wounds with iron dignity. From the painter’s brush, the grit of the soul envelopes the cross with the dense blackness of lava.
At the foot of the cross on a small, transgressive swash of white paint, Zurbarán signs his name with chaotic discretion.
From the towers of Seville to the stones of Golgotha, Zurbarán’s giant still life of the crucifixion is a tribute to the sobriety of death and the triumph of sacrifice. No pain, no pathos, no lament. The deed is done. The aftermath overwhelms us with soothing solemnity.
Jocelyn Ajami is an award winning painter, independent documentary filmmaker, and writer. She is the founder of Gypsy Heart Productions which specializes in documentary projects related to cultural awareness and social justice. Among her award winning films are Gypsy Heart, Oasis of Peace and Queen of the Gypsies.
As a leader with a global perspective, Jocelyn has been the recipient of major grants from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Leadership Foundation, International Women's Forum, and the Goethe Institute. Most recently, Jocelyn received first prize for her poem, "Chicago Burning" from Poets and Patrons, Chicago. Born in Caracas, Venezuela and educated in Italy and France, Jocelyn speaks five languages. She works and lives in Chicago, USA.
the young, rough green snake
wound her way among pennywort stems
in the warm, marshy womb
of the deep East Texas swamp, docile
and unaware of the blue heron
silent and still
against the gray world above her,
the snake saw only
another bit of blue and green
blending into the swirl
of mud and water, concerned completely
with feeding on insects and frogs, her small world
immediate and provisionary, when
the heron’s long neck
red through murky greens, black beak
the sharpest forceps,
extracting the snake, still wriggling and warm,
a vital organ cut
from mother earth’s soft body, the heron
a master surgeon’s eye
on the snake’s open mouth,
the only venom in the marsh
was the approaching hurricane,
Editor's note: Jessica Isaacs' poem was inspired not by the poor substitute photo above, as pretty as it is, but by Pennywort Pool, by David Bates, 1988. We regret that we were not able to get permission to run the piece, but hope you will click through to see it here.
Jessica Isaacs, founder and co-editor of Dragon Poet Review, received the 2015 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry for Deep August. Her poems appear in Oklahoma Today, Poetry Bay, Cybersoleil Literary Journal, All Roads Lead Home Poetry Blog, Malpais Review, SugarMule’s Women Writing Nature, One Sentence Poems, Short Order Poems, My Life with a Funeral Director, Scissortail Commemorative CD, and Elegant Rage.
A Shishkin Triptych
1. Chapel in the Woods
In northwest Russia: one quaint edifice,
the base of its dry masonry foundation
only inches higher than a brook
that soon enough will pound the building with boulders,
all the uncharitable flood debris
(look at the exposed tree roots above).
This is, however, an accustomed site,
terrestial streams or footpaths mirrored by
a flyway of six ravens overhead.
Now, note the metal pipe diverting water
downward. Here is the source—a holy font
of inspiration at high latitude,
where a painter works below his white-night sun.
2. Stream in the Forest
This spot is so familiar. Last seen
in Europe, now it’s right behind our house
(via steeply eroded anticline).
Funny how a place can have a twin:
three quarters of a mile to Tanner’s cabin--
when I bushwhack south across Bare Mountain rock--
this sheltered site along a tributary
feeding Sorrels Creek souls out a whisper,
Why the haste to reach a logger’s road?
Take off your knapsack. Rest among the ferns.
Here, covered with a modest clarity
that functions—wavering—as a hand lens,
arrives my nameable: a waterworn
novaculite projectile (Gary point,
the variant obscured) three thousand years
on this slope, washing downward in the flow.
3. Rain in the Oak Grove
Dressed in styles of 1891
(homage to some bloody Western film),
a couple under Sunday-best umbrella
and a man with a not-yet-sawed-off shotgun
stride forth in muddy ruts, just having witnessed
Unforgiven win its Oscars for
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting
Actor, and Hellacious Editing.
This city park—the Best Oak Grove this year--
enhanced by puddles from a late monsoon,
allows the mind to fog reality
until Saint Petersburg can reappear.
Reality is messy. Art is clean,
if only for a moment in light rain.
Mark Blaeuer’s poems and occasional translations of Spanish-language poems have appeared in Blue Unicorn, The Dark Horse, Ezra, The Found Poetry Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, Measure, Nimrod, Verse Wisconsin, Westview, The Windsor Review, and many other journals. Kelsay Books/White Violet Press published a collection of his work, Fragments of a Nocturne, in 2014. He lives a few miles outside Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, where he was employed as a ranger for twenty years. His M.A. (in anthropology) is from the University of Arkansas.
She lies in a stream under a willow. Shadows flicker
where dragonflies and midges hover.
The shells of her ears, floating half-hidden
in the secret weeds of her hair, hear nothing.
Her sightless gaze reflects: a fish-eye image,
filigree of shade and sky,
all of time since Caesar’s mind moved in silence,
a long-legged fly.
This poem was first published in Riverbabble.
Mercedes Webb-Pullman: Graduated from Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing 2011. Her poems and prose have appeared in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, Otoliths, Connotations, Ekphrastic, Typewriter, and Main Street Rag, among others, and in her books. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.
a series of paper collages on paper, by Lorette C. Luzajic (Canada)
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