Mona Lisa Musing
It's all about perspective. For example,
the imaginery landscape behind
for Leonardo was the perfect contrast
to my reserved posture but, to me,
is theatrical and over-the-top.
He so desperately wanted my portrait
to depict ideal womanhood like
the Virgin Mary yet he painted
a frumpy plain Jane housewife.
Although I’m known as La Gioconda,
meaning jocund, I didn't see the funny
side of that, nor the sitting for an eternity
on that rickety pozetto armchair.
There is a hint of a smile in the upturned
corners of my mouth and eyes but it’s no
laughing matter to be stared at constantly.
I never wanted to be famous.
You probably think I’m ungrateful and
should be called Moaner. You’d be right,
but I'm laughing on the other side of my
face now. As I said, it’s all about perspective.
Paul Waring, a retired clinical psychologist lives in Wirral, UK. He once designed menswear and, in the 1980's, was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. His work has been widely published in magazines/sites including Reach Poetry, Eunoia Review, The Open Mouse, Poets Online and is forthcoming in Clear Poetry and Amaryllis. His blog ishttps://waringwords.wordpress.com
Portrait of a Woman
He smiles, as he lays his brushes down,
blocks the canvas with his bulk.
I move quickly, almost pushing him aside.
I am her mother, I have the right.
A real beauty looks back at me.
There is some aspect of my daughter,
and, yet, it is not her –
a certain look when, thinking herself alone,
she smiles as if at some secret –
her eyes large with thoughts too great to tell.
Cleverly, he has made that look the whole story.
He has painted a face far from ordinary.
The portrait is beautiful - features delicate as air.
It will be well received, but so much is untold.
My daughter is big and gauche –
never sure when to speak, where to put her feet.
She will not be able to ask her husband’s pleasure,
or to know how he judges her-
I am so afraid that he who cannot be refused,
must not be disappointed, will do her harm
when he sees how she compares
with such a beautiful illusion.
Dorothy Allan: "I have been writing poetry since 1998. I was regularly published in a magazine called Neverburypoetry based in Bury, Lancashire. Sadly, it has now folded. I enjoy writing poems on a variety of subjects, but mainly about the peculiarities of other people."
Dogma plods on page after page
while at the edges, a rabbit riding a snail-unicycle hurls a spear,
another rabbit plucks a lyre, and a giant hare beheads a prisoner.
The medieval margins teem with bunnies.
There’s one poking a gargoyle in the ass with a stick
and another sword-fighting on the back of a lion.
Wide-eyed bunny balances on a high-wire vine
alongside an armored knight.
This little rabbit goes to market
with a basket of hounds on his back;
this little rabbit stays home
and plays a kidney-shaped bagpipe.
This one harnesses a dog and takes it for a gallop,
a snail perched on his gauntlet-clad paw.
There’s a human-sized hare with a stick over his shoulder
like a cartoon runaway,
a man hanging from the end instead of a rag bundle.
Another big-eared brute pulls buns from an oven with a peel.
Atop a scored-grass turquoise hill, two rapt rabbits scheme,
their black arms gesticulating, calibrating the ratio
of pinheads to angels. Meanwhile, beneath them,
the breeders bound and burrow and riddle the mound with holes.
Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo and raises her son in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in many publications, including Houseboat, Poetry Quarterly, Bijou, Off the Coast, Shark Reef, Wild Violet, The Binnacle, Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Ekphrastic, Chattahoochee Review, Kindred, Spillway, Tar River Poetry and Crab Orchard Review.
Red and Pink, the Little Mephisto
MEPHISTOPHELES: That I shall wait on Faustus whilst he lives, so he will buy my service with his soul. -Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe
The close observer will notice the image in the cascade of red paint above and slightly to the right of the reclining girl. There’s a face in the fabric of the painting like Christ’s in the shroud of Turin; it hovers ghostlike over Little Mephisto, I can see the image of a woman’s eye and a gray shoulder, it could be a draft of Little Evelyn or one of his self portraits painted roughly over. The girl on the divan in a pink dress sprawls invitingly behind her cheeky fan, her face also a mask. The thick red of the divan seems likely to have been brushed over something else, a kneeling figure, I like to imagine, pleading before the darkened angel obliterated in the wall of red.
the surfeit of red
as if fire had spilled
from the sky, red rain falling
in a crimson silken sheet
a fallen angel
would trade you a moment’s bliss
for your soul. Devil
in a pink dress, slovenly
beckoning and seductive
slick work quickly done
as if it was too hot to touch
partly a picture
he tried to erase, but look!
even her stockings are red
Charles Tarlton: "I am a retired professor who has been writing poetry full time since 2010. I am especially addicted to emphasis and have published ekphrastic tanka prose in KYSO Flash, Haibun Today, Atlas Poetic, Contemporary Haibun Online, Review American, Ekphrastic Review, and Fiction International."
Ironer, by Degas.
It’s not much more than a study,
just shades of grey,
grey bonnet, grey blouse, black skirt.
She is older, almost featureless,
the merest suggestion of nose, mouth and eyes.
Her body bends to her work.
Her right arm, clasping the heavy iron,
is strangely elongated,
as if stretched through time and labour.
Yet compassion is so deftly captured
in brief strokes of fluid simplicity
I must stop, stare and in tender sorrow
think on the life of this anonymous woman
labouring through her monotonous hours
in tired, uncomplaining resignation.
Neil Creighton is an Australian poet with a passion for social justice and a love of the natural world. Recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Silver Birch Press, Praxis Online, South Florida Poetry Journal, and Verse-Virtual, where he is a contributing editor. His poetry blog is windofflowers.blogspot.com.au
There is no known measure
for the distance between.
No earnest negotiation
nor calculated navigation
will see you there--
No puerile charm
no palsied spell
will release you.
And how could you ever guess
that the god you created,
for just this occasion would retire,
leaving behind an old book
of ghost-written homilies,
preserved on aged onionskin
in the limp leather of cold comfort.
Steve Deutsch, a semi-retired practitioner of the fluid mechanics of mechanical hearts and heart valves, lives with his wife Karen--a visual artist, in State College, PA. Steve writes poetry, short fiction and the blog: firstname.lastname@example.org. His most recent publications have been in Eclectica Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, The Drabble, New Verse News, Silver Birch Press, Misfit Magazine and One-sentence poems. As an adult, Steve had the good fortune to sit in on two poetry classes taught by first class poets and teachers. He has been writing poetry ever since.
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Ever wonder about who reads us?
Our readership fluctuates constantly between 1000 and 2000 unique visitors a week. It's safe to say 1500 on average because it seldom dips under 1100 and occasionally veers above 2000.
For a small poetry journal maintained by a total of one person, this is pretty phenomenal- thank you! I think we can do better and get more readers to see the wonderful variety of works, to find more people who want to experience art and poetry in this way. I welcome your ideas for promotion. And please share your favourite poems and stories on your social media!
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questions, thoughts, ideas?
The Blue Church
You may think they
are gone for good,
or in the sky above,
members solidify those
of their arguments,
to win. Bickering
This poem was written in response to the surprise challenge, ekphrastic poems on Canadian art.
Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood in Pittsburgh. She is a writer and story performer. Her Legacy of Honor series feature strong Italian-American women. Her poetry and essays appear or are forthcoming in Gnarled Oak, the A-3 Review, Hobart Literary Review, Silver Birch, Peacock, and Postcard Poems and Prose among others. Her first poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, was just released by Finishing Line Press. Joan's picture books from Theaqllc, Whoosh!, Summer in a Bowl, Rosa and the Red Apron, and Rosa's Shell celebrate food and family. Her award-winning short stories are collected in Simply a Smile. You can find more about her work on her blog at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com
My Grandfather on a Summer Evening
(after Mark Strand)
When the summer sun slants
towards the horizon, casts its eerie light,
the shadows of the peach and quince trees lengthen
on the grass, the Rose of Sharon glows stark white.
My grandfather, a cigarette between his thumb and forefinger,
a glass of brandy on the table by his side
sits on the porch and looks down upon his small domain
his reward for hours days weeks months years
spent in the dark of the shoe factory
stretching pieces of leather over wooden forms.
Soon the red-hot cinder of my grandfather’s cigarette
the cold flickering light of the fireflies
will dot the darkness, and still he will sit,
ponder the marvels of Ancient Greece,
Alexander who hailed from his own small piece
of that great territory, ponder the wonders of the universe--
as if thinking could protect him.
My grandfather will come indoors,
his thoughts will come with him
as the fruit trees, the shrubs, the currant
and the blueberry, dig their roots in deeper,
in his garden the cornstalks grow silk
tomatoes turn from green to red.
He will settle into his dark oak Morris chair
drape his arms over the carved lions’ heads.
Then he will look up, notice me
sitting in front of him on the leather Turkish cushion. He’ll lean forward
our knees touching now, take my hands in his:
“There is only one God, and He loves everyone
no matter how small.”
This poem was inspired by another from Mark Strand, 1979, "My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer." Click here to read it. The artwork shown is an editorial selection and was not the prompt for this poem.
Leah Johnson is a poet, writer, teacher, and musician. She was a full-time professor in the Writing Studies Program at American University in Washington, DC. for twenty-years and is a member of the Surrey Street Poets. Her work has been published in Green Mountains Review Online, The Healing Muse, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. In previous incarnations, she has been a journalist, co-founder and artistic director of Georgetown’s Dumbarton Concert Series; US coordinator for Yehudi Menhuin’s outreach program Live Music Now!, and a piano teacher.
A Ukrainian Pioneer's First Winter
She dreamed in colour: wheat fields golden
under a sky so blue and endless she felt
it lapping at the shores of eternity, kissing
the lids of her still-closed eyes.
She didn't speak the language well. It still felt strange on her tongue.
Alien as a new handle on an old shovel. But she was learning.
Sometimes she caught herself thinking in English.
It was only when the summer fled and the autumn faded; when
the snows fell thick and deep and the world rested under
a blanket of its own hydrological weaving that the words she practiced -- softly
speaking them to herself -- emerged from her superior temporal gyrus while she slept.
For the first time her dreams were as snow-white and sky-black as the world outside.
She dreamed in black and white: birch bark visions of
scattered stars in the interminable firmament, winking
and curious. The milky way, a salt traders road beyond her reach.
Campfires a horizon line away. Moonlight.
Snow under the black.
But her shovel handle was worn in the places she had gripped it
during uncountable Ukrainian winters weathered. Her tongue still formed
old world words without a second thought. And when she dreamed in the language
of her grandmother, the colours of the land she left blossomed anew like the smoke
from her morning cook-fire, curling into the pale new-sewn sky.
Jack Rossiter-Munley is a freelance writer, editor, and podcast producer based in New York City. He is the producer and technical director for Poetry Spoken Here; the co-host of Close Talking, a poetry analysis podcast, and Party Bard, a Shakespeare podcast; and the host of the New Books in National Security podcast. He is also editor-in-chief of trolltennis.com.
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Marcia J. Pradzinski
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Amie E. Reilly
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Ralph La Rosa
George W. Ross
Mary C. Rowin
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Mary Harris Russell
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Sue Brannan Walker
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Martin Willitts Jr
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William Butler Yeats
Abigail Ardelle Zammit
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