Frida Kahlo is known for her self-portraits, and here she holds a Mexican flag made of papel picado [cut paper] looking south on the U.S.-Mexican border. Kahlo was married for a time to Mexican muralist painter Diego Rivera, who was commissioned to paint extensive murals in cities across the U.S. Kahlo didn’t feel at home in the United States, and was upset by the industrialism she saw in cities such as Detroit and New York.
Buildings like esqueletos
block the Aztec sun—as I stand
over earth & wiring as roots.
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.
Spanish Moss and Moonlight
The shape on paper was hers, light pencil tracings of the first ideas of how the moss would hang in front of the moon, the humid haze would hover in the luxuriant Louisiana sky. Now he was shaping it in three dimensions, his fingers and hands working together, centering, centering, pressing, smoothing the Lake Pontchartrain clay; his strong left leg powering the treadle, the wheel spinning, the vase rising from a shapeless lump of earth into an almost living, an almost organic form.
“Pinch in the neck,” she said, “there above that rounded shoulder that suggests the tops of the trees--constrict the clay into a sharply defined ring, a cylindrical edge that will pronounce: Here is a vase--a form with a hollowness, with emptiness, inside it. The blue and pale lighted circle of trees I have in mind will hold within that hollow space where all vases hide their secrets, the mystery of moonlit nights and bayous.”
She carries off the green ware, places it on her turntable and begins to shave off strips of clay, layers of clay, snippets of clay that drop to the workbench, leaving strands of moss to fall from the trees. As clay curls off the edge of her embossing knife, the live oaks and bald cypress rise, their branches woven, and everywhere the Spanish moss, drapes, droops, caresses the tree forms, bounds the growing image from above the way bayou trees frame the southern night skies.
With the first firing, the vase turns white as the fullest moon, ready for the glaze. The blues, pale, paler, palest, separate sky and foliage, shape and void, turn black bayou waters into a moonlit blue sheen, mark the sky for radiance with flowing silken glaze. The trees across the water loom upward, reaching, reaching, and the round moon hides behind fingers of moss, the deepest blue moss, moss that loves live oaks and warm nights and calling owls and chirping tree frogs.
And then the final fire, the kiln blazing, clay and glazes merging, capturing in the chemistry of ceramics and heat a moment of time, making it a piece of forever, burning into reality an imagining of shape and form and color and shadings. Oh, yes, here is what she saw before she began to sketch. And here is what his fingers felt before he took up the clay. Here is what they made, together, from earth and fire and memories, from Spanish moss, from live oaks, from moonlight.
Roy Beckemeyer lives in Wichita, Kansas His poems have appeared in a variety of print and on-line literary journals including Beecher's Magazine, Chiron Review, Coal City Review, Dappled Things, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Kansas City Voices, The Light Ekphrastic, The Midwest Quarterly, The North Dakota Quarterly, The Syzygy Poetry Review, and Zingara. His book of poetry, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Review and Press, Lawrence, KS, 2014) was selected as a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He won the Beecher's Magazine Poetry Contest in 2014, and the Kansas Voices Poetry Award in 2016.
One Viewer’s Response to J. Francis Criss’s Detroit, Waterfront
This is a city of shapes and colours:
in the distance a pink milk carton,
in the sky a peach-coloured “1”.
Cigarettes with blue filter tips
are there too, along with a
smoking brown cigar.
The streetlamp and freight crane
are children’s toys, and the sky
is a flannel bedsheet.
This is a dream-Detroit,
a Detroit of the imagination
in which urban blight has no part
and the only trace of the Rust Belt
is in the rusty red-orange box
of chocolates in the foreground.
This poem was written as part of the 20 Poem Challenge.
Known primarily for his Japanese-style micropoetry, Bill Waters also writes ekphrastic poetry, found verse, book spine poetry, and all manner of short prose. He lives in Pennington, New Jersey, U.S.A., with his wonderful wife and their two amazing cats.
Memory Is Organic
Early warmth urged green-fingered hands up from soil. Iris bulbs driven by need to resurrect, unbury what had been blacked out beneath the surface until strong sun penetrated, woke them. When the irises flower this March, I will resist mind-seeing my friend and mentor again, one year since she held court in her living room’s mid-century modern recliner, another consignment store find. She had a knack for looking carefully and into corners, for noticing, showcasing beauty. That March she shrank daily, unlike the tumors inside, becoming shadow; wisp; waif. But her authoritative tone remained, still her contagious laugh spilling over mouth’s brim, broad smile so comforting. Three of us summoned to say goodbye as a group that day, at an appointed hour, could not comfort back, could only sit for the assigned duration, making stilted conversation, conversation meant for continuation, meant for the living. Just as the iris bulbs she gave me have risen, bloomed, died back each year in their own way and time, my friend lived longer than expected. They were blooming in my yard as she was dying, as I was reading the last novel she would ever write, about an artist trapped inside a wrecked body. My mother’s cancer then also had re-bloomed in her chemo-broken body. She fought longer than my friend, surrendered more quickly—from the day I watched her doctor withhold, force her to ask how long? reluctantly answer. When the irises bloom again, I will refuse to think of my mother who loved irises, think how my friend transported and tended and shared the bulbs another woman had poured into her cradling arms years ago, the arms she once cradled her only daughter in. These irises, not yet loose and opening, not yet offering purple-blue velvet unfurling, shock of gold stamen, are readying to bring up from earth’s basement the secrets that nourished them through the past year, through cold seasons, and soon will, despite my resistance, force me to remember.
Janet St. John
Janet St. John lives and writes in New Mexico. Her poetry and flash fiction have appeared in numerous literary magazines includingThe Nebraska Review, Poet Lore, StepAway, After Hours, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, Canary: A Literary Journal of Environmental Crisis,and bosque: the magazine. With arts funding under attack, she is dedicated to writing and creating even more art, keeping convos about the arts even more alive, and personally supporting as many artists and arts programs as she can. Her weekly blog series "Art & Soul Shorts" is part of that mission: https://www.janetstjohn.com/blog
Chapel of Ease
Roof gaping wide
Gulping azure sky
Once raised by the warp and weft
Of sermon and hymn
Hear the caw
Of the crow
Flown from the nest in the eaves
Crumbs of tombstones
Splayed out back
Of the dearly beloved, the damned
And the doomed
Can you hear the
Buckling, bowing stucco walls
T. E. Wilderson is a Minneapolis-based writer, who also works as a graphic designer and copyeditor. Once a PEN/Rosenthal Fellowship finalist, Wilderson's short fiction has appeared in The Opiate magazine, and is forthcoming in The Roanoke Review. Currently a student in Spalding University's MFA writing program, Wilderson is a student editor for The Louisville Review. Wilderson is at work on a short story collection and a novel.
And How the Wings Are Softly Grown
Late afternoon sun pulses into room
as shadows begin to demand
their fair share mix
with beams darken them
The figure in the middle of room
softens her stance so that body
morphs into curves
Tops of tresses outer arms
tops of breasts ends of nipples
outer thighs feet streaked
with alchemy of shade and blaze--
all pinken with onset
Waving branches passing cars
spinning birds create squiggles
and squares and patches
of dark that lengthen
and drip down walls
alongside the gold
of passing day.
Wrestling umber and blonde smudges
creep from corners undulate up her back
there conspire and intertwine
to forge wings that flare
sizzle and smolder
Persian pink in the thick
Taunja Thomson’s poetry has most recently appeared in Peacock Journal and Half-Baked. Two of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Awards: “Seahorse and Moon” in 2005 and “I Walked Out in January” in 2016. She has co-authored a chapbook of ekphrastic poetry that is due out in May of 2017 and has a writer’s page at HYPERLINK "https://www.facebook.com/TaunjaThomsonWriter" https://www.facebook.com/TaunjaThomsonWriter. A worshiper of nature, her summers are filled with water gardening, and her winters are spent obsessively feeding the birds and other wildlife that appear in her one-acre slice of heaven, a field.
Ode to Chess
On chequered fields and perfectly square plains,
the Pawns advance in creep-crippled campaigns.
while Rooks right angle their masonry might,
the Knights stampede then duck/dive for the fight.
And as Bishops zigzag to capture Kings
(who inch about, whatever battle brings)
each Queen runs rings around their man
because they can.
Luigi Coppola teaches and writes in London, England. Poems have/will appear in: Acumen, Anon, Equinox, Fourteen, The Frogmore Papers, Gold Dust, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Iota, Lighten Up, Magma, The Ofi Press, Orbis, Other Poetry, Pennine Platform, Poetry Digest, The Rialto, THE SHOp, Snakeskin, South, Strange Poetry and Stride Magazine.www.luigicoppolapoetry.blogspot.co.uk
One Minute Forty-Five of the First Round
[flash] [flash] [flash] and you’re [Sonny Liston]
just punched down in [Ektachrome] color
hit by the hardest man on Earth [flash] [flash]
and he’s standing above you [daring you to get up]
[flash] [flash] [flash] your [brain] has just been
smashed against the wall of your skull [you can’t hear]
[flash] [flash] your body is floating in seas of Africa
and he’s daring you [“get up and fight sucker”]
[flash] [flash] [flash] you can’t see the glowering white
[mouthpiece] you have no legs [flash] [flash]
but [maybe you’re the photographer] and you’ve stopped
down the aperture [to deepen the focus]
compositionally [Clay’s arm] forms a line that connects
with [Liston’s raised knee] [Clay’s glove is raised] erect
this is suffering you don’t want to get wrong
[this is your dad talking now, “don’t screw it up”]
so you open the lens to take in more of the ring
and now it’s like a floating king-sized bed of pain
but here comes the light [a sudden fleck of blood]
then a single [bead of sweat] comes into focus
through all the smoky dark and that’s the shot
Editor's Note: Henry Crawford's poem was a response to a famous 1965 photo by Neil Leifer called Ali-Liston (click here to view). Unfortunately the fees to show the image were not feasible, so we substituted another wonderful image, a painting by George Bellows. Thank you for clicking through to view the photograph on which the poem is based.
Henry Crawford is a poet living and writing in the Washington, DC area. His work has appeared in several journals and online publications including Boulevard, Copper Nickel, Folio, Borderline Press and The Offbeat. He is a 2016 nominee for a Pushcart Prize for his poem “The City of Washington” appearing in District Lit. His first collection of poetry, American Software, is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2017 by WordTech Communications through its imprint, CW Books.
Lullabye of Uncle Magritte
Salvador Dali never was a person at all.
Overweening pride led a half-mad eccentric - also named Dali - to concoct a chimerical entity of a plastic head grafted upon a waffle iron torso. Dali then set out to convince the whole world that his creation was a human being of great artistic talent.
The world soon grew bored of the Anthropomorphised Dali and forgot all about him. And that's how Rene Magritte, going for his daily constitutional, found the discarded remnants of the Dali Simulacrum melting under the hot hyperxiological sky, the golden metal endoskeleton grotesquely twisted and exposed.
Taking pity upon the atavistic vestiges, Magritte placed them tenderly upon his lap, shielding the molten body with his umbrella and caring not that Dali's aristocratic blue blood permeated and stained his hands, suit and shoes.
Pablo Picasso remained aloof, watching the scene from a distance, his arm resting upon cubes of sky he had carved off with his chisel.
The geometrical sky looked on approvingly from above, happy in the knowledge that the events down on Earth mirrored the events in the celestial sphere.
Boris Glikman is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. The biggest influences on his writing are dreams, Kafka and Borges. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs.
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Mary Kay Rummell
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Christy Sheffield Sanford
Janice D. Soderling
Liza Nash Taylor
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Martin Willitts Jr
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William Butler Yeats
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