Sometimes at the Beach
there’s a feeling of being at the centre,
in tune with the rhythm of the waves
and the larger rhythm of the tides.
Laid back, looking up,
in full contact,
warm sand all up and down
The cloudless sky
and the long flat horizon,
Bankers and business men
in long serious overcoats
are distant notions.
Only the sand is real,
and the sun-bleached driftwood,
the occasional gull whose harsh cries
call out the sky.
This poem was written for the Surprise Challenge, ekphrastic poetry about Magritte paintings.
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Lonesome, possessing the accoutrements
of wildness, yet stuck against the parapet.
A permanent sentry. Nothing to hunt.
Savagery dried up, the wings
accompanied by arms that have taken their place,
His fleshy feet sweat in leather shoes.
The nails on toes and fingers he keeps clipped short.
His fur: reserved for head and groin.
This jungle: pale green cement, well lit
by an orange haze of sociability. King
in a foreign domain, well suited
to the times, a mind clean and bereft
of improvisation and surprise.
This poem was written as part of the surprise ekphrastic challenge on Magritte's paintings.
Lavina is a painter and mixed media artist as well as a poet. Her poems have appeared in
various journals, including 3Elements Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Kansas
Quarterly, The Literary Review, The Paris Review, Poemeleon, and Prompt and
Circumstance. She is an Associate Editor of Poetry for Inlandia: a Literary Journey.
And she teaches visual art to seniors.
Midsummer's Eve in a Harsh Climate
It wasn't a fiddle, it was an accordion.
So we started, so we continued while June light
rinsed evening air into shadow. Recalled wishes
like not-yet-moths, fluttered around our heads.
A spree of dumbstruck would-be-ers
hoping for a lick of fun in a somber life,
we'd allowed ourselves license to ride the tide
with a ransom of music and some modest laughter.
How about a song? Can't dance in a boat but
the beat of the oars and the way light in the willows
peeked at us from shore lent us the text
to an old drinking song. Spirits come in many forms.
Raise the cup, dunk sorrow, it's a new chance now.
Are we equal to joy? A little jelly to spread gleaming
over the continent of pain.
Grace Marie Grafton
Grace Marie Grafton’s most recent book, Jester, was published by Hip Pocket Press. She is the author of six collections of poetry. Her poems won first prize in the Soul Making contest (PEN women, San Francisco), in the annual Bellingham Review contest, Honorable Mention from Anderbo and Sycamore Review, and have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Poems recently appear in Sin Fronteras, The Cortland Review, Canary, CA Quarterly, Askew, Fifth Wednesday Journal, poetrymagazine.com and West Trestle Review.
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Recently Unearthed From an Archive of 'Lost Papers' of the Painter R.A. Blakelock (1847-1919), by Dave Shortt
Recently Unearthed From an Archive of 'Lost Papers' of the Painter R.A. Blakelock (1847-1919)
Platte, Medicine Bow, Cheyenne, (invisible) Snake,
Pawnee, Shoshone, (root) diggers
riding out on a horse-
if not art then the curiosity
of migration, hunting
camps under the moon, Man-
nahatta 60 guilder
will get you many fakes,
many cities, empire lying there
in childbirth, debtor
masses crazy for space,
where subject & object
are drawn forces seeking a mutual home
why hang on
to faithless physical
trails of royalties?
schooners leave, gorged
steer clear father
of all but harvest's pictured fatter moons
& suns, luminous
west of East
look, untouched by wars of whites,
avoided like coyotes' eyes hidden
away in animistic thickets
(never met that vision, never even sketched
on the outskirts of Lincoln)
without reservations, there shall be no trespass,
the creation in front of you
seen as form of homage,
the worthless land was an indigenous palette
not yet cut or built up,
in the style of indigence
every baby was stuffed with flesh,
any home about to feel the governing force
would later be swindled
by sunset's relativity
arriving at another undated title
layered into future whistle stops
& bids on estates of Spirit
(withal) a vanishing point of children
which all the zodiac provides for
cowpunchers sodbusters bison hunters
forge Eden with their snake oil
'& the leaf thereof for medicine'
the living, the living
forests starting to accumulate a wealth of
meanings more & more private (the wind owns)
no one takes his colors to represent
salient, or sales, or sage
how hard must one work
to be rewarded beyond the poverty? 9 ways
to Sunday, to infancy & infamy
of nymphless groves without morals Cora,
hideouts where no victim of dusk
was to be recognized
(the great necklace orbiting the big picture
of which the moon is a tiny jewel
was dropped around our childhood
by red giants)
the horse becoming one with the individual
on its back, one
with an accelerating freedom
to exploit the landscape:
make your way old paints,
by this hand, or where you will,
whatever's expressible in western
hanging on for dear life to
Dave Shortt is a longtime writer from the USA whose work has appeared over the years in numerous print and online literary-type venues, including Mesechabe, Nedge, S/WORD, Astropoetica, andVerse Wisconsin. Three of his poems are scheduled for publication sometime this summer/fall in Poetry Salzburg Review, The Journal and Molly Bloom.
Watch a short doc about the artist below.
The eyes stare out
from the narrow woodblock print
hung in the narrow gallery
filled with Japanese ghosts
The eyes of Shoki
the Demon Queller
stab out so fiercely
that even an all-purpose agnostic
knows who he will call if he is ever
spooked and scared and needs
a demon quelled.
Kim Peter Kovac
This poem was first published in Allegro Poetry Magazine.
Kim Peter Kovac works nationally and internationally in theater for young audiences with an emphasis on new play development and networking. He tells stories on stages as producer of new plays, and tells stories in writing with lineated poems, prose poems, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, haiku, haibun, and microfiction, with work appearing or forthcoming in print and on-line in journals from Australia, India, Dubai (UAE), England, Scotland, South Africa, and the USA, including The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Red Paint Hill, Elsewhere, Frogpond, Mudlark, and Counterexample Poetics. He is fond of avant-garde jazz, murder mysteries, contemporary poetry, and travel, and lives in Alexandria, VA, with his bride, two Maine Coon cats, and two Tibetan Terriers. @kimpeterkovac - www [dot] kimpeterkovac [dot] tumblr [dot] com
Delusions of Grandeur
People like to believe
they are more than
just the body, with its
insistent hunger, larger
than the animal urge.
Hands, after all, serve
the mind, whether
plotting an arc or
sculpting a stone.
But we are composed
of the same stuff
as a star or a redwood,
subject to the same
laws that govern
a mountain or a cloud.
What is art without
the body? Without
the material, the sensory,
there could be no art,
no artists. So in
the image, the glorious
torso is headless,
the smallest part
of the body. It rises
out of the much
origin of all making.
This poem was written in response to the surprise ekphrastic poetry challenge on Rene Magritte.
Robbi Nester is the author of three books of poems--an ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and two collections of poems: A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014) and Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017). She has also edited two anthologies--The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014) and an ekphrastic e-anthology, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees--celebrating the photography of Beth Moon, which is accessible at http://www.poemeleon.org/over-the-moon-birds-beasts-and .
Robbi has published poetry, reviews, essays, interviews, and posts in many journals, anthologies, blogs, and websites. A full list of these is available at her website, http://www.robbinester-poet-and-writer.com.
Martha Leaning at the Window
Perhaps she whispers
the cat’s name,
tsk tsks to her,
inviting her out of doors
into the garden
where light is captured and tossed
from shrub to the burnished sky
then back to flowers
so brushed by breezes
that corals and peaches
spring off their surfaces
before shape can contain them.
Inside, the walls hug burnt orange to themselves,
determined not to share
anything with periwinkle tablecloth,
almost strong enough to slam
the turquoise and aqua door
shut in Martha’s face,
selfish as fire.
Morgan Grayce Willow
Morgan Grayce Willow published her third poetry collection Dodge & Scramble in 2013 (Ice Cube Press). Her essays have appeared in Water~Stone Review, Imagination & Place: Cartography, as well as the anthology Riding Shotgun: Women Write about Their Mothers, recently re-released in paperback by Borealis Books. She completed the book arts core certificate at Minnesota Center for Book Arts and exhibited her original artist’s book Collage for Mina Loy in 2016. Morgan lives in Minneapolis and teaches at The Loft Literary Center.
I. Leave Taking
Lorenzo Lotto, your painting, “Christ Taking Leave of his Mother” haunts me.
Or is it you – for Samuel Johnson said of ghosts:
“It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the
spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it."
And you wake me, Lorenzo, at 1:44 a.m., and you won’t let me sleep – lo, all those saints gathered round, haloes gracing their heads – and your patron, Elisabetta Rota, in the corner with a prayer book open in her hand, and her little dog with its hypercephalic forehead perched at her feet. And there she is dressed in red, red bleeding into black. Caput Mortuum.
On a tour in a very old museum, the tour guide said that in the past, people covered portraits because what you looked at looked back at you and changed you forever. People are visited by ghosts.
Listen, Lorenzo. I do not think Mary was consoled – and perhaps you, too, did not think thus, for her eyes are blind with grief, and her mouth, her open mouth, grimaces in pain.
And what of Saint Anne hovering darkly behind, Saint Anne, mother of Mary, grandmother of Jesus? It seems she wrings her hands as if she knows a child born to a barren woman such as she, is destined for greatness. Like Sarah, mother of Isaac and Hannah, mother of Samuel, and like Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. And when an angel of the Lord appeared and called : “Anne, Anne,” the Lord heard your prayers, and you conceived and bore Mary, your child.
Lorenzo, you are no stranger to departures, you, a loner, a wanderer traveling Anacona, Treviso, the Marches, Venice; you, solitary, emotional, insecure, but your mother, what of her? Bernard Berenson said of you that “Never, neither before not after Lorenzo Lotto, has there been an artist who could paint so much of his own interior life on the face of his models.”(1)
The cherry tree, Lorenzo, the broken branch with hanging fruit, it says what you do not even as you visit me past midnight. It cannot tell of new beginnings, for it is severed from the tree. Indeed, if not dead, it is dying – and your spirit visits me, but it is your painting that speaks.
1. Gustaw Herling: “My elaboration of the story always conforms to the reality at its source. It is always to the close to the world, the life, the reality it describes. No matter where I go, I’m still holding up a mirror.”
II. Leave Taking: For My Mother, Mary Katherine
Look Mama, Mary is distraught.
See her tragic eyes?
They seem not to see
the leave-taking of her son.
I, too, have a son,
your grandson who moved away.
Look Mother, how the women hold Mary back,
Look how they grasp her shoulders;
she would perish
for her son.
He is set to die,
set to carry his cross
up Calvary’s hill;
he waits the nails
“Father, Why have you
Look inside this darkened room, Mama;
it is hard to see,
hard to imagine
words that might bring ease,
hard to imagine any sound;
even the lapdog
at Elizabetta’s feet
seems unable to howl.
Look, Mama grief hovers,
Mama, if this is what men do to other men,
Now then, what can be spoken?
Now then, what can be said?
Sue Brannan Walker
Sue Brannan Walker is professor emerita at the University of South Alabama where she taught for 35 years. She served as Chair of the English Department and was the Stokes Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing and Director of Creative Write at USA. She was the Poet Laureate of Alabama from 2003-2012 and is the Publisher of Negative Capability Press. She was the 2013 recipient of the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama's Distinguished Scholar and was awarded also the Adele Mellen Award for distinguished scholarship for her critical book on James Dickey, The Ecological Poetics of James Dickey, by the Edwin Mellen Press. Sue serves on the Board of the Alabama Writers Forum and Blakeley State Park and has served as President of the Alabama Writers Conclave, 2014-2017.She has published 11 books of poetry, several anthologies, over 100 poems and critical articles in various journals. Her book, In the Realm of the Rivers, with a foreword by Edward O. Wilson, was published by New South Books. Her recorded reading of her book on Carson McCullers and slide show was presented at the International Centenary Carson McCullers Conference in Rome, Italy, in July 2017. A new edition of It's Good Weather for Fudge was released by NewSouth Books in January 2017. Her book, Let Us Imagine Her Name, an abecedarian, prose-poem memoir featuring 16 noted feminine persons, has just been released by Clemson University Press in July 2017. See negativecapabilitypress.org.
In Which the Magpie Resurrects the Voice of Henry David Thoreau
I am the magpie, sitting atop the wattle fence.
I embody the snow that fell overnight
& the blue shadows cast by the morning sun--
the fence’s & the great trees’ & yes, mine
all resting there on Normandy’s ground.
I know the woman you can’t see in the butter-coloured house
who boils carrots & parsnips over the fire
& the invisible man who plows the field beyond me
in the spring. I stretch forth my black breast,
impressed that I can perch here,
or fly, depending on my need.
Once, a long time ago, I sailed through
a rainbow, & its light tinged my wings green,
so all summer long, I sang of solitude.
Still, loss sometimes weighs upon my shoulders
(though I have no quarrel with God),
as when a brother dies & I gather with others
to walk around the body & wail.
Those essentials I encounter often,
like now, for instance, as the violet mist
dissipates, I spy another man close by,
the one with a brush in his hand.
I imagine he will practice on his pale canvas
anything but resignation.
Julie L. Moore
Julie L. Moore is the author of three books of poetry: Particular Scandals, Slipping Out of Bloom, and Election Day. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Nimrod, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. You can learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.
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