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.
One Viewer’s Response to Emily Carr’s Red Cedar
That is one mighty leg
jutting out from beneath
her flouncy green skirt!
All sinew and ropy muscle,
it supports a woman of
— and heaven help the man
who stands in her way!
This poem was written for the Surprise Challenge, ekphrastic poetry on Canadian paintings.
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.
Eva Gouel’s Last Tango with Picasso
"Women are machines for suffering."-- Pablo Picasso
For all the machismo
of your slashing diagonals
you cannot bear the absence
of our close embrace,
the demise of your dominance.
So on canvas you dance your denial:
one primal stroke dissects
the curve of my neck
you slant the slope of my shoulders
into the flatline of the future.
The breasts you once kissed,
the womb you might have rounded
are in your hands half-moons
burdened with the guache of grief
sisters of the love-sick moon
who illuminates the anguish
of your blank stare.
You make certain
no one else will caress
the flesh you slice
from my thighs
that my dismembered fingers
will grasp no other shoulders
in a sudden lunge
submitting to another’s will.
The love letter you write
where your angles part my legs
shortens the single step
between love and death
between the red-green-yellow-blue
of children’s toys with which
you paint my moods
and the black
of your bladed lines.
And while you remake my mind
into an empty latticework
my eyes remain open but unseeing
lips still and silent.
With this dance of death
your genius flowers
yet transforms me--
into your milonga, the scene
of an immortal crime.
This poem was first published in A Rustling and Waking Within: Poems Inspired by the Arts in Ohio, ed. Sharon Fish Mooney (Ohio Poetry Association Press, 2017).
A Pushcart Prize nominee, Jennifer Hambrick was a winner in the 2017 international Golden Triangle Haiku Contest and received prizes in the 2017 Montenegrin International Haiku Competition (English) and the 2017 Kaji Aso Studio International Haiku Competition (Boston). Her debut chapbook Unscathed (NightBallet Press), was nominated for the Ohioana Book Award. Her work has appeared in the Santa Clara Review, Third Wednesday, Mad River Review, Heron Tree, Pudding Magazine, River River, Muddy River Poetry Review, the major Japanese newspapers The Asahi Shimbun (The Morning Sun) and The Mainichi (The Daily News), Modern Haiku, and many more. Jennifer Hambrick is founder and editor of the International Women's Haiku Festival. A classical musician and public radio broadcaster and web producer, Jennifer lives in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Her blog, Inner Voices, is at jenniferhambrick.com.
A Sharpshooter's Last Sleep
He lays on a mattress of hard earth
as if he has fallen asleep, one knee bent,
arms resting comfortably by his side
the way he might have lain at home in his own bed.
Leaves of a mulberry stir in the morning breeze.
The sounds of battle have faded but
traces of black powder smoke sour the air.
If I could kneel down with my ear close to his,
I might hear his mother's voice
calling him to morning chores before breakfast,
a call that will not rouse him today.
David Jibson grew up in western Michigan near the dunes and shores of Lake Michigan and now lives in Ann Arbor. He is retired from a 35-year career in Social Work, most recently with a Hospice agency. He is a member of the Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle and co-editor of the literary and visual arts magazine, Third Wednesday.
(Thinking of Marilyn Monroe after viewing Magritte's white dress in Philosophy in the Boudoir)
So here she comes again,
that big blonde dreamboat
sailing onto the scene,
polished to a sheen,
heady and haloed by seabirds,
sails at her mast billowing
like a finger crooked
and calling you to her.
And you move toward her,
just on the chance
she may ask you to enter
some cabin holding
a geography of mounds
in breasts and buttocks,
and where in the closet hangs
a perfect white dress,
dreaming her body
breathing inside it.
This poem appeared previously in Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems, edited by by Vasiliki Katsarou, Ruth O'Toole, and Ellen Foos, Ragged Sky Poetry.
Andrena Zawinski’s latest poetry collection is Landings. She has two previous award winning collections and four chapbooks. Her poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, and social concern. Zawinski runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com
The Birth of the Virgin, circa 1627
Gathered taffeta curtains frame the birthing scene.
Recumbent, tucked in blood red flannel,
Anne sags into her bedclothes, oblivious
to offers of consommé and sweet loaves
from her girdling attendants. Linens cascade
down shoulders, pour out from the hamper’s lip
unstained. Mary mews, hearty in the midwife’s arms.
Uninvolved in the slow commotion, aglow in blue
and mustard organdy, a patron meets Zurbarán’s gaze.
Her widow’s peak pronounces rank and age.
She poses crimson-cheeked, laden with gifts:
a chest, a basket. Her eggs intact.
Christina Lloyd's work appears in various journals, including Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme and The North. She is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing through Lancaster University.
A Stellar Fingerprint
Its fingerprint of astral trace
singles out sidereal face
amongst the heavenly array
of stellar orbs in star ballet
that dance in metamorphous space.
The light dispersals limn with grace
celestial body in its place
for earthly mortals, to portray
Yet nature’s flux persists in pace,
as death takes all in vast embrace
despite what star one’s cast to play,
plus humankind will fade away
and time shall by and by erase
This poem was first published by the Astro Poetry Blog of Astronomers Without Borders.
Harley White is a born word-lover and has written works dealing in fairy tales, musicaltheatre, many genres of poetry, and awakenings, as well as a book titled The Autobiography of a Granada Cat – As told to Harley White. For many years, she has been a follower of the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and its practice of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
Canada? Boring? What If?
The artist asks
“What if daily life in Canada is boring?”
an impossible question,
it’s too complex, and so
to parse it I ask myself
“if I were a province,
which one would I be?”
Alberta comes to mind.
I’m thinking mountains and
nature when I say that, not
oil fields and pipe line conservatives.
The same way I envision
Yellowstone grizzlies and bull moose,
not gun-toting white supremacists
when I think of Wyoming.
Then again there are
the coastal provinces,
and I’m big on the ocean.
I could be a mix
of big city BC -- Vancouver
and laid back little Nova Scotia.
But back to the question
Canada? Boring? What if?
It’s too much.
My big city friends wonder
if daily life is boring where I live
here in small town Vermont.
I could tell them, but that wouldn’t be
the answer. When it comes to
big questions the only answers
that count are those you find out
on your own.
This poem was written for the Surprise Challenge, ekphrastic poetry about Canadian paintings.
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