Old Home, Ogunquit, ME
Home is where the women wear
sleeveless summer dresses. They sprawl
on the lawn or lean against
the trees, the bench, the frame.
Light pours into the painting
from wherever you are. The houses
are one-sided, dimensionless.
The women cast no shadow.
The smooth, blank ovals of their faces
reflect the light. They could be
the same woman in different dresses
or no woman in particular.
They could belong to anyone,
Their summer dresses are
their bare arms long
in the long light.
The light grows
long in late summer, leans
in the afternoons.
The long light slows time, that’s why
these women are here.
They could belong to anyone
these women. Their faces
are not forgotten but worn smooth
from touching and touching again.
They have been lathed by years
in the mind.
The light changes
what it touches, makes it
different each time.
How can I tell you
about the light, except
that it’s where the women are?
I can give you the words
but not the light
or the way it clasps
the sides of the houses.
I can’t come to your house
on a cold night, pour it
into your sleep.
Just the women
on the lawn, barefoot
or sandalled, hands
behind their heads
or languid in their laps.
I can give them to you
lying on the grass, dry
at the end of summer, pricking
their bare arms.
They are counting
the feathered seeds
in the air, the blades
of grass on the backs
of their necks.
Counting the days left
in summer, the swallows
in the almost-night sky.
The mower a block over
shuts off, and there are insect noises,
music from a passing car.
The smell of cut grass, of the earth
to their limbs. The light
pours into them
They could belong to anyone, these women
on the lawn. It is the end
of summer. The grass is dry. It will hold
their shape when their bodies are gone.
Liz Hutchinson is a writer and gardener living in the North Shore area of Massachusetts. Her first collection of poetry, Animalalia, is available online.
Degas: Poet and Painter
“Degas began to write poetry, complaining to Stephane Mallarme that he could not understand his difficulties with sonnets, since he was not short of ideas. ‘But Degas,’ replied Mallarme, ‘you do not write poetry with ideas, you write it with words.’”
The Private Lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe
When you painted the joint portrait of your sister
Therese and her husband, Edmondo Morbilli, were
you working with ideas or with paint, brushstrokes?
You painted them when they visited Paris in 1865:
they’d lost, just months before, their expected child.
Therese sits, one hand on her chin, the other on
Edmondo’s shoulder, partly in his shadow. He looks
out blankly at the viewer. Each of their four eyes is
differently painted. One of Therese’s is darkened by
her husband’s shadow, the other, more widely open,
stares at us. Edmondo’s right eye seems normal, if half
in shadow; but the left is wide, unfocused, its oddity
underscored by a thick comma, a red patch of skin.
He has pursed his lips, holding them tightly together.
Therese could be asking us, the viewers, will we get
through this, will our marriage survive it? While
what Edmondo says is “I can’t speak. I don’t know
how to name what’s afflicting me, what words could
speak for my mouth, my eyes, what I’ve seen, wept,
mourned.” There are no words here, no ideas;
brushstrokes carry her question, his silence.
Sandra Kohler is a poet and teacher. Her third collection of poems, Improbable Music, (Word Press) appeared in May, 2011. Earlier collections are The Country of Women (Calyx, 1995) and The Ceremonies of Longing, winner of the 2002 Associated Writing Programs Award Series in Poetry (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003). Her poems have appeared in journals, including The New Republic, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and many others over the past 40 years.
Cast out the triptychs.
Cast out the saints.
Cast out the people
that artistry paints.
Away with all nature.
Away with all form.
Away with the substance
that once was the norm.
Eschew the censorious
accept the notorious
and mediocrity victorious
praising as most glorious
So artless and bold
voiding vanity and brains
in the sandbox called his soul.
Jack Belck is a retired university publications editor.
Editor's note: The image was an editorial selection to illustrate the poem, which was not inspired by a specific artwork.
Light at Two Lights and Cape Cod Evening
as if the light, always less than it should be
on that white lighthouse in winter, or those green-
blue trees at the forest edge, her hands folded
at the recurring argument's inevitable impasse,
or on the sidewalk outside that dull drugstore
flat and lonely covered by a gray-green tedium
The Sheridan Theatre
as if the light,
drowsing over that dim theatre balcony
like an orange malaise
where she peers down from the rail
he’s gone for some candy
from the girl at the counter
will he return? Or does he exist?
or bleaching air on a windy shore
where someone waits
with the cold unlit house behind her
for the white boat riding the rough trough of twilight
is he sullen, and unconcerned of returning?
Sunlight on Brownstones
or one sits and one stands
on the stoop of the brownstone at sunset or dawn
does it matter which?
as if the light was a strange dawn or alien sunset
they see for the first time
with vacant features,
and always the eyes of darkness,
as if the light, weary of its own gaze,
gave up itself to a weariness it had
no business having,
glaring over uselessness
from strokes of the brush,
imperceptible on walls,
shadows and aches,
intangible as thought and desire,
as if the light was from a distant dying fire.
as if the light, never more than it could be
on that building, gray and blue,
companions dressed in yellow-gray
or gray-white or red brick,
somber as if someone died
and we are made aware
we are the voyeurs here
and stand above the empty street below,
as if the light, losing vital essence
and no one there to validate its presence,
only those on the empty street below,
as if the light, not withering or growing,
in a kind of stasis
a blue and yellow wall
the lower part of a restaurant sign,
red, unlit, inert
under pallid rays streaming through
diviner of motives and meaning and forms
suggestions of hands and the angles of arms
she sits with her eyes of darkness
wondering what it was
she could have done to halt
the inevitable impasse
the other from across the white sunlit table
looks at her and trying to console,
speaks the words she thinks the other needs
there is a moment’s pause
the other’s inward glance
while vestiges of sunlight in response
presage a sad and slow unfolding,
saying, come with me,
no use in going home
Hotel by a Railroad
as if the light, defeated by a drab
white slab of stone
the response to his attempt at glibness yields
the sound of a drab white page
turned by her aging fingers,
whose fingers are these? she asks,
were those my hands that held
the brownstone rail as he leans
beside me somewhere far away?
I try to reach, but never really touch him,
never really hold him,
as if he ever wanted to be held
and now he leans in some imaginary solitude
and this grim episode holds them both
in a way they always feared
they would be held,
reading and staring,
tired of the years of impasse,
as if the light, escaping
through the doors of twilight, slipping
out of upraised hand
and downturned eyes
Room in Brooklyn
as if the light, in this most dreadful place
a rocking chair beside a window,
looking out on all and nothing,
does she stare down at the street
or at the tops of the buildings?
no one hears the beating of her heart,
a tiny sound in that high room
and could her eyes be closed
by the ache of a dream
she knows descends when she turns
in her chair to face the order
that keeps her secure?
looking on nothing and all,
as if the light,
like the shadow of which she is made
transfixed by the light of the world
without a connection
and only by a terrible kind of inertia
held back from the fall,
by the stroke of a brush
forever holding her there,
as if the light
The work of Michael Harmon has appeared in The Raintown Review, The Adirondack Review, North American Review, and several other publications. He has a degree in English Literature from Long Island University and one in Computer Information Systems from Arizona State University. He resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, near my three sons.
Mad blue swarming, inky swim of watery
colors colliding and dividing, as if the octopus
in me used its multi-tasking arms to accomplish
its to-do list at one go.
Those arms are equipped
with one third of the animal’s neurons—like me
those rare mornings fleet fingers fly. Even sea-
monster-flick-severed, the arms retract in pain
when prodded, curl around a stick.
is to ink enemies, blind and numb them, but if
it doesn’t flee fast enough it will succumb
to its own venom and die. Now it’s me I see
in this inked scrawl, flailing to do everything
before me, throwing down a trail of distractions,
Can’t you see I’m trying, don’t reprimand me.
Look how far I’ve progressed from the globular
splat embedded in sea rock from the Carboniferous
era of my childhood. I try to do good.
hearted purveyor of the dark, two for its gills
and one to pump up organs, keep it on track.
Copper-based blood’s blue, allows it to survive
in depths of cold, and it changes colours too,
changes shape to mimic and mask.
I lag behind,
flagging, breathing hard, merely single-hearted.
I yearn to partake of depths where darkness
blesses, for words that can be seized and drawn
towards those paired, hard claws of a beak, for a poem
that will make the many-armed grow weak.
to mate like an octopus, externally, to hand off
my sperm for her to impregnate the world with,
to partner with another artist who’ll know all
I fail to know, the way the right lover makes me
better than I am, wiser, more noble.
produces 400,000 at one go. She obsessively guards
her brood, creating worlds beyond comprehension.
O to discover in me the feminine, to cross over
from this isolated beast of masculinity, to tie
myself to the greater good, to cease obsessing
over whether I’m doing what I should,
I’m only a vessel for something beyond what I see,
then to implode in cellular suicide, to die
from the outside in. O to have birthed something
astonishing, a plankton-cloud of offspring
eating anything that doesn’t eat them,
that both sink and swim, that know when to end.
David Allen Sullivan
David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family.
His poetry website is: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website-1, a modern Chinese co-translation project is at: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website-trans, and a call for poetry about the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel for an anthology he's editing with his art historian mother is at: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website.
The Painter Goes to Work
It was intolerable to think of Theo
delaying his marriage, short on money.
Where were Vincent's paintings destined for?
Exhibitions in Paris? Brussels?
No, for Theo's crowded apartment.
Where would Theo and Jo put a cradle?
Perhaps it would be best for Theo
if he gave up painting...but today
he would not think of Paris.
He would return to the fields,
packed down with palette and paints,
the sun roosting over his shoulders,
his focus turned to the orchards,
their branches weighted
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.
Rothko’s White Center, 1957
in horizontal bands a cleaved rage floats
rent by light
wisps at edges
joining kingdoms of vapor
vermilion will held
fast by brilliance
gravity of resolute peace
this steam-to-steam flag of an unrecognized
country whose people would die before they’d retreat
Jari Chevalier's poems are forthcoming in Puerto del Sol and Green Mountains Review and have recently appeared in Arcturus, Beloit Poetry Journal, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, Concīs, The Cortland Review, Gulf Coast Online, The Massachusetts Review, and Poetry East, among others. In Fall 2016 her poem won the inaugural poetry contest at Sheila-Na-Gig Online and she was a semi-finalist for the 2016 Tomaž Šalamun Prize from Verse magazine. In 2014 she received a Merit Award in the Atlanta Review International Poetry competition and was a finalist in the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in writing and literature from Columbia University and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from CCNY. For more information, please visit http://jarichevalier.com
Is it the shocking sight
of how the stout man’s hands
gripped it? The cane made taut
across his chest, all I
can see, and so close up.
the most harrowing part.
I can’t move on, despite
hearing voiceovers from
shown in a darkened room,
where, in a burst of film,
small children are killed,
between droned interviews.
But here, the caning’s done
to educate, not kill.
For not speaking the Queen’s
English in Hong Kong, caned.
The artist came to grips
with what it meant. Survived.
Bonnie Naradzay: MA in English, Harvard University, 1969; Peace Corps, South India, 1970-72. MFA in poetry, University of Southern Maine, 2008. Graduated from the St. John’s College Graduate Institute in Liberal Arts Studies (Annapolis) in May 2017. I lead poetry workshops at the Women’s Jail, at a day shelter for homeless people, and at a retirement centre. My poems have appeared in New Letters, Poet Lore, JAMA, Pinch (nominated for a Pushcart prize), Passager, Innisfree, The Guardian, Beltway Quarterly,Seminary Ridge Review, Anglican Theological Review, Split This Rock, and others.
Behold my head:
a totem, an egg;
my arms are snakes
and I’m smiling.
My brain speaks Greek
and with the Geeks
This poem is from the author's two-volume poem Recto Verso, written ambidextrously in the white spaces of Carl Jung's Liber Novus.
Mike Barrett helped establish the poetry slam in Chicago during the 1980s before moving on to more esoteric pursuits. He has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has published many poems and essays. He lives, and teaches, in central Missouri.
A Quail Hymeneal
The couple in the painting
present for the brush
a formal wedding portrait,
quiet, unmoving, feathered Arnolfinis,
Jan van Eyck meets Audubon –
poised and proper for posterity.
Meanwhile, just out of the frame,
meddling relatives fuss and fume,
caterers lay out food and drink,
musicians set up, tune up,
chicks play hide-n-seek
beneath overhanging tablecloths -
losing patience, the rest of the guests
fidget waiting for the arrival
of the day’s celebrated ones.
In my yard such formality
is lacking, quail scratch at
the ground, stay alert for feral cats,
scatter at the casting of shadows
always ready for the short flight
to cover beneath the blackberries,
casually grazing in the sunlight,
in an overcast glaze of mist.
Mama hen trailing offspring
like a long wedding dress train.
M.J. Arcangelini, born 1952 in western Pennsylvania, has resided in northern California since 1979. He began writing poetry at 11. He has published in a lot of little magazines, online journals, & 9 anthologies. He is the author of two poetry collections: With Fingers at the Tips of My Words, 2002, Beautiful Dreamer Press, and Room Enough, 2016, NightBallet Press. He maintains an occasional blog of poetry and prose at https://joearky.wordpress.com/
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