The Opposite of Antipodes
I buy the poet’s book because
he is dating one of my exes
and hope he will take her out
to the café with the proceeds,
because I want her to get out more.
Then the poets I know walk into
the bar, and I pass it around.
Word salad, says D__.
Overworked, says B__,
and beautiful in the way
of the poets we imagine,
she flicks her hair and smiles.
We drink tequila and rewrite
the entire book as its opposite,
so where it says, “You have no faith
in certainty,” we pen, I have
no doubt about ambiguity.
“A sound too deep for peacocks,”
becomes baby blue for blind turkeys,
figuring it all means pretty much
the same, though we cannot pinpoint
the antonym of antipodes
or what happened to words
to make them so pointless.
We are sloppy by now and falling
into each other in the booth,
but know enough to back away
from the place our words have led us.
This is not unlike the opposite
of the days I passed with her,
as we stumbled toward hyperbole:
that time we pulled over and screwed
on the hood of my car
on a Rockwall, Texas frontage road
as three AM truckers screamed
past us, and my MA exam
loomed in Lubbock, a day
and a few hours later; or how
we'd find God in Chicago boredom,
there, on the sidewalk and know
what was meant by skyward vines
and sunset crickets; or when
she would cry because paint dries,
tops sit unspun, and people
she loves are no longer, and I
would say things I hoped would help.
But maybe her poet knows
what I do not about words.
They are useless glue and cannot fix
two people when they are broken,
and when they had the talk in which
they examined each other’s exes,
he only nodded in silence when she
told him I was good until I wasn’t,
or I was never good, or always good,
but bricks are hard when they fall
out of the sky for no reason.
Or she laughed, shook her head,
and told him I was the easy one.
She’d read me like a book and known
from the first page forward I didn’t
make any sense, and shouldn’t
have been written in the first place.
Editor's Note: The beautiful photograph by Moshe Sakal was chosen by The Ekphrastic Review to convey the sense of life's natural weaving of vines in love and in poetry that the poem evoked for us, taken from the line about "skyward vines." The poem itself was written in response to poetry, not to a particular painting or photograph.
Todd Heldt is a librarian in Chicago. His first collection of poetry, Card Tricks for the Starving, was published by Ghost Road Press. Other things written under various pseudonyms have appeared in print, on the internet, and on movie screens. Since becoming a father his biographical statement has less time to be interesting.
Drawn lights. The blinds descending. No disguise
hides anything. Soundscapes engage the room
whose alternating patterns craft our frame:
my supplications answered, in her name.
Now, as laced shades are covered, light perfume
eclipses what the daylight blossomed, ground
and air, combined with water, to surround
our limbs: fresh vines, new woven, an array
of tips and trellises. We fabricate
with each renewal, figures, recreate
her breath under whose ministrations sway
both reed and branch. All shadows disappear.
Shift focus. Change the camera angle. Sheer
textures grow insubstantial. What we hold
is shared with yet another. Through the air
descending now between us, as in prayer,
the space around us fills, her hands enfold
our motions. Now, as we become, so she
renews herself. Our patterned ecstasy,
unseen by any mirror, builds, cascades
as if the wind, through sudden waterfalls
dancing between the stream and rock, recalls
our earliest constructions. Now what fades
remains as afterimage in our eyes.
W.F. Lantry’s poetry collections are The Terraced Mountain (Little Red Tree 2015), The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012), winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award in Poetry, The Language of Birds (2011). He received his PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Honors include the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Editors' Prize, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (Israel), the Paris Lake Poetry Prize and Potomac Review Prize. His work appears widely online and in print. He currently works in Washington, DC. and is editor of Peacock Journal.
Van Gogh in Paris
I hung paintings--
red gladioli, coppery fritillaries,
the buttery yellows of daffodils--
from floor to ceiling
in the Cafe du Tambourin
as if it was the Salon.
I was intoxicated:
new styles of art were like hats
in a millinery shop,
I tried them all on:
Monet's, Seurat's, Gauguin's...
the hats fitting easily
on a dandy’s red head.
But I was drinking
day and night,
my health failing,
as was Theo’s.
I had to leave Paris,
where I had arrived
“like a gust of music
through an open window,”
as Theo joked. Now my leaving
“Why give up friends
for the south?”
He shook his head,
worried, knowing loneliness
was more poisonous
Bob Bradshaw is recently retired, and living in California. He is a big fan of the Rolling Stones. Mick may not be gathering moss, but Bob is. Bob's work can be found in many publications on the net, including Apple Valley Review, Eclectica, Loch Raven Review, Peacock Journal and Pedestal Magazine, among others.
A Pale Fired Dream is a Haibun in a Renga
after A Ghost Story, and Kobayashi Issa
And yet, only an
aquatic metaphor, where
becomes James Blake’s James Blake and
Gertrude Stein awaits bookcased,
no, not to the glass
of muddled mint and shandy--
a measured quatrain,
the kuhi cloistered, un-carved;
verses sealed, and sequestered;
now the viewfinder only tapered. Sandwiched between the edges of the anti-oedipal and New Brutalism (no tall white fountain played), where will the eidolon go in this city of tears? In an artifice, the town crier picks up a drop of the same channel up to his jawline, his handbell unintentionally ringing in the same gait.
There is no one pond.
There is no one pond dithered.
Cyclorama to the end.
Dithered. More than no one pond.
is when a dew drop mattered,
A posthumous fragment, the
senryu nowhere to be found--
“The world of dew
is the world of dew.
And yet, and yet—“
Iain Lim Jun Rui
The haiku that helped inspire and ends this poem is "The World Of Dew" by Kobayashi Issa (Japan, 1763-1828).
Iain Lim Jun Rui is a Singaporean poet and filmmaker currently reading Philosophy at KU Leuven. Also a member of Singapore-based literary collective /S@BER, he is a two-time winner of the Love Poetry Competition and a finalist in the National Poetry Competition 2017. His poetry has been commissioned by the Singapore Arts Museum and National Gallery Singapore and is published in Rambutan Literary, ASINGBOL, Twin Cities and Voice & Verse Magazine among others. While having produced and directed several short films, his first documentary short is a finalist at Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition 2017.
Decision in an Automat
Is she brooding as she studies the coffee in her cup?
Does its blackness reveal what she has hidden from herself?
Has it a magic like tea leaves or a dark crystal ball
that will tell her her future, even if dreary, even if doomed?
We can only wonder why she lingers here,
where table-tops are anaemic-white and chairs
are hard and bare, where a vast pane of glass
reflects garish lights off a background of night,
and radiators don’t give a cough
or half a wheeze for comfort or heat.
Is it something that awaits her at home,
if she has someplace she can call a home?
But fur-lined coat and cloche hat insist she has money enough
for that. But is that residence more empty than this automat,
more lonely a place than this, and did she come here
for company but found only coffee instead?
Or is this what she wanted, solitude she craved,
an escape from shouting accusations
or from silent interrogations more probing
than the silence of this automat?
True, in the past, she sold herself cheaply
for two-bit parts, but today she was made
understudy to a Broadway star.
Yet she knows she’ll be told it’s just second place
in her life’s race, trapped and still circling in a cul-de-sac
that will leave her drinking coffee in this automat.
If you look closer, though, you will see there is hope.
No longer does she contemplate the contents of her cup.
Her gaze is raised above the brim and aimed
at some skyline just dawning in her mind.
The coffee has disclosed its truth,
and she has decided what she will do.
She will stride proudly out like Gloria Swanson,
with chin asserted, nose upturned, determined
she will be no second place. She will ride
under the Hudson with a ticket one way
on a train to sunshine and a new name,
to photographs and talent scouts,
agents and no casting couch for star-billing
with Valentino on the silver screen.
No need to be arraigned by an eastside lover.
No need to escape to an automat.
Hello, Hollywood, Rudolf and Charlie!
Good riddance, kiss off, New York!
Jack Grady is a founder member of the Irish-based Ox Mountain Poets. His poetry has appeared online or in print in many literary journals and anthologies, including such publications as Crannóg; Live Encounters; The Ekphrastic Review; The Galway Review; And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty-First Century Irish Poetry; North West Words; The Worcester Review; Poet Lore; A New Ulster; Mauvaise Graine; Algebra of Owls; The Irish Literary Times; Skylight 47; Dodging the Rain; Outburst Magazine; Poesia a Sul 1; 300K: Une anthologie de poésie sur l’espèce humaine; Mediterranean Poetry, and others. He read in Morocco at the 3rd annual Festival International Poésie Marrakech, as the poet invited by its committee to represent Ireland, and he was invited to represent Ireland at the 3rd annual Poesia a Sul, in Olhão, Portugal. His poetry collection, Resurrection, was published in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, by Lapwing Publications and launched in October 2017 and is available at Jack Grady – Lapwing Store.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge
Thank you to everyone who participated in our last writing challenge for Bahman Mohassess, which ends today. Accepted responses for the Mohassess challenge will be published on November 23, 2018.
The prompt this time is Gold Breastplate, Colombia. Deadline is November 30, 2018. PLEASE NOTE: In order to better organize submissions, we have a new email for challenge submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone can participate! Try something new if you've never written from visual art before and discover why there are so many of us devotees. Ekphrastic writing helps artists and lovers of art to look more carefully, from different angles or mindsets, at visual art. And it helps writers discover new ways of approaching their work, their experiences, and writing itself.
The rules are simple.
1. Use this visual art prompt as a springboard for your writing. It can be a poem or short prose (fiction or nonfiction.) You can research the painting or artist and use your discoveries to fuel your writing, or you can let the image alone provoke your imagination.
2. Write as many poems and stories as you like.
3. Have fun.
4. Send only your best results to email@example.com.
5. Include GOLD WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line in all caps please. Please use this email only for challenge submissions. Continue to use the regular email for regular submissions and correspondence.
6. Include your name and a brief bio. If you do not include your bio, it will not be included with your work, if accepted. Even if you have already written for The Ekphrastic Review or submitted other works and your bio is "on file" you must include it in your challenge submission. Do not send it after acceptance or later; it will not be added to your poem. We are sorry about these technicalities, but have found that following up, requesting, adding, and changing later takes too much time and is very confusing.
7. Late submissions will be discarded. Sorry.
8. Deadline is November 30, 2018.
9. Please do not send revisions, corrections, or changes to your poetry or your biography after the fact. If it's not ready yet, hang on to it until it is.
10. Selected submissions will be published together, with the prompt, one week after the deadline.
11. Rinse and repeat with upcoming ekphrastic writing challenges!
Hey Georges Seurat
Author's Note: "I wasn’t really considering a particular work of art when I wrote this, rather I was thinking about what would it be like to use Seurat’s technique of creating a visual scene using monochromatic dots of coloured paint, but instead using monosyllabic words to create a poetic scene, or soundscape, that evoked colour. I wanted to fool around with words as paint. The work shown echoes what I was striving for in the poem, more or less."
Robbie Gamble’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Scoundrel Time, Solstice, Slipstream, RHINO and Poet Lore. He was the winner of the 2017 Carve Poetry prize. He works as a nurse practitioner caring for homeless people in Boston, Massachusetts.
Letter from Marielle
(woman in forefront of Lautrec’s Salon de la Rue des Moulins)
My dear Henri, I am back at home now--
my hair grown out black again,
Spanish falling from my lips, rat-a-tat and crisp,
no more the slurry honey of French.
How well I remember Madame
as she sat in her violet frock,
her neck covered primly,
thinking of francs and sous.
And we girls, draped across lounges,
waiting silver-fleshed, our shoulders hinting,
waiting to be bought,
to slowly pull down those black stockings,
to spread our legs,
smiling, cooing, crying out oui, ah dieu, oui
while all the time we went to some other place--
for me, the golden fields of pampas.
But you too moved through the streets pretending--
pretending you were not stunted, pretending
you were striding across the cobblestones.
That is why you loved my silky arms,
murmured to them,
felt the length of my unbowed legs,
called them your bien amie.
And when you and I coupled together
I could cry in my own tongue,
I could cry for your dear deformed body.
And you would cry, your tears falling on my cheeks
as you, entering me, were made whole,
side by side— as tall, as hung, as any man.
Madame thinking that for us,
it was about the coins and cunt.
You and I knowing it was
we found ourselves
over and over again.
Carol Siemering has been published in a number of publications including the Artword Quarterly, the Anthology of Unitarian Poets, Unlocking the Poem, and the Worcester Review. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
The composer has come to the apocalyptic chamber.
Sunlight scratches in dark shadows cast by trees.
They have been burnt. They have not come to leaf.
These are the strings that must be played.
In the limbs, where a bird has landed or a ghost
the melody of the lost.
The secret is what can be subtracted.
The clouds part, and the sun’s rays fall upon
the ashes. He raises his bow
and puts his ear to the light
the stems of the coming blossoms.
Sheila Packa is a poet with Minnesotan and Finnish roots. Her work has been widely published in books, anthologies, and journals.
Editor's Note: Please view the remarkable taxidermy art on which Ken Gosse's poem depends: click here. The image shown from the play Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand (France, 1897) only tells half of this clever poem's story. You can read the original poem from the play as well: click here.
Anura of the Bergeracs: An Ekphrastic Battle Scene
A death at the Maison Mantin—fought
Under glass; a strange Camelot.
I calmly lower bulgy eyes,
My legs well flexed and splayed,
No mantle is there in my size,
Yet well-proportioned blade;
The grace of butterflies displayed
Within the arm I trust;
Prepare yourself to be dismayed,
For at the end, I thrust.
You’d best have chosen not to rise,
Discovering torso flayed.
Your heart, pierced through or cut endwise,
Or thigh, so insufficient made?
Oh! How the song of stinging blade
Turns bravery to dust!
’twill be your midst where blade is laid
When, at the end, I thrust.
I search for rhyme; what will arise?
Your sallow flesh has grayed!
Let’s see, a rhyme … Your courage, prize!
No hit. Your sword, so very staid,
Has been allayed. A sad charade.
My repartee is just!
Now don your fearless masquerade,
For at the end, I thrust.
Hear, princely frog, my serenade
Which in the end leaves you nonplussed,
And feel the point of my crusade
As at its end, I thrust.
Author's Note: "Anura of the Bergeracs: An Ekphrastic Battle Scene” is a pastiche of a poem from Edmund Rostand’s 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Cyrano creates the poem while engaging the Comte de Valvert in swordplay and, as promised in each verse, skewers him on the final line. My poem was inspired by a photo in a National Geographic article of an intricate taxidermy scene of a swordfight between two frogs at the moment of victory—and defeat. Numerous photos by Jérôme Mondière display the incredibly ornate building and contents of Maison Mantin (House of Mantin) in France, reopened in 2010 after being closed for 100 years. Anura is a class of amphibians which includes frogs and toads.
Ken Gosse uses simple language, traditional metre, rhyme, whimsy, and humour in much his poetry. Initially published in The First Literary Review-East in November, 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, Home Planet News, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Arizona over twenty years, always with a herd of catsand dogs underfoot.
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M. N. O'Brien
Pravat Kumar Padhy
Andrew K. Peterson
Laurel S. Peterson
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Marcia J. Pradzinski
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Ralph La Rosa
George W. Ross
Mary C. Rowin
Iain Lim Jun Rui
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Mary Harris Russell
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Loretta Diane Walker
Sue Brannan Walker
Joanna M. Weston
Martin Willitts Jr
William Carlos Williams
Morgan Grayce Willow
Shannon Connor Winward
Amy Louise Wyatt
William Butler Yeats
Abigail Ardelle Zammit
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