Bronze to Bronze
—WWI Memorial, Jacksonville, Florida
Streaked black and green, he stands
a close crow-fly to the hospital where I was cast
into this weathered world. Naked,
young, metal, and muscular—wide
wings outstretched from his back--
he perches atop a huge globe of bronze
aswirl with torsos and limbs and pained
faces. World of war
underfoot, he’s gazing up, as if to take
to the sky where kids claimed they’d heard
the thwump, thwump of his wings
at night above stormed and stardarked roofs.
As a kid I loved to look at him: his freakish
wings and green indifference to all
the years of standing, staring, solitude and rain.
Pity him, forever looking up, poised to fly
but never leaving—his feet
welded to a world of grief, bronze to bronze.
Matthew Murrey: "My poems have appeared in various journals such as Tar River Poetry, Poetry East, and Rattle. I received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry a number of years ago, and my first book manuscript is seeking a publisher. I am a high school librarian in Urbana, Illinois where I live with my partner. We have two sons who live in the Pacific Northwest. My website is https://matthewmurrey.weebly. com/"
Why am I an artwork when that is not,
Said a urinal put down on a plinth.
Philosophy was raised, but from the work;
The consciousness of art then knew itself.
From then on art became philosophy.
But why not, then, just write it down, make up
An example of two objects? But, look,
A urinal! It’s disingenuous
To say it could be anything. How male.
But curved and open, how female. How like
Brancusi’s white, suggestive, abstract works,
Made that same year. The question’s time was right.
He called it “Fountain,” what was that about?
It makes you think the liquid will shoot out.
Eric Fretz has been a student of contemporary visual arts since they were modern, and not contemporary, and a long time reader of modern poetry. He is a published author of art criticism and history, but has only recently been persuaded to share his ekphrastic writing exercises. He divides his time between Brooklyn and Beacon, New York, and between art and politics.
Vishnu clasps a gold, multi-armed goddess who straddles his lap in a lusty embrace. Despite gilt garments, they kiss, erotically entangle, bound to the wheel of sensual bliss. Voyeuristic visitors glance, consult museum brochures, discreetly move on. Inspired lovers look and learn, seek a quiet corner, feel themselves blaze.
Jennifer Lagier has published thirteen books, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium readings. Newest books: Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle Press). Forthcoming publications: Like a B Movie and Camille Mobilizes, (FutureCycle Press, 2018). Website: jlagier.net
After Rodin’s Sculpture, The Kiss, 1901-04
I feel your hand on my hip
Your hand speaks to me
Is the story of our finding one another
The story of the moment
And never letting go
The story is in the hand
That held the book
In which you read
The story of Francesca and Paolo
In Dante’s Inferno
My breasts come into being
Full of you
My kiss feeds you all I know
My strength in the
Face of knowing they will
Kill us for this
And send us to hell
And still we dare
To be as we are
All eyes on us
Knowing only what
They want to know
Only their story
Into which we disappear
By virtue of our eternal
Arya F. Jenkins
Arya F. Jenkins' poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and zines. Her poetry and fiction have both been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her flash, “Elvis Too” was nominated for the 2017 Write Well Awards by Brilliant Flash Fiction. Her work has appeared in at least three anthologies. She writes jazz fiction for Jerry Jazz Musician, an online zine. Her poetry chapbooks are: Jewel Fire (AllBook Books, 2011) Silence Has A Name (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her poetry chapbook, Autumn Rumors, has just been accepted by CW Books and is slated for publication September 2018. Her latest blog ishttps://writersnreadersii.blogspot.com.
The Gabon Woman
Worn, withered, of wood, the Gabon woman waits.
Breastless, ungenitaled, perfectly flat, angularly she waits.
With legs disappearing into stone, arms ironed stiff:
eyeless, hairless, a perfectly managed wooden way.
From the side she is unsure, shoulders pointed skywards
asking why? which way? for whose
pleasure and profit?
Refusing to be found, named, said--to be any other way.
Bought, she cannot be owned.
Positioned, she declines to stand upright.
A page turned face down, a rhythm, she only repeats.
Silent, she watches us watch her,
each plane a way of arriving
at the body: in and out of the frame.
Mark Silverberg is the author of the Eric Hoffer award-winning ekphrastic poetry collection, Believing the Line: The Jack Siegel Poems (Breton Books, 2013). His poetry has appeared (or is forthcoming) in The Antigonish Review, The Nashwaak Review and Contemporary Verse 2. He is an Associate Professor of English at Cape Breton University where I specializes in American poetry, visual arts, and artistic collaborations.
At the entrance to the Dayton Art Museum, a tall piece of kinetic art guards the doors. On second thought perhaps it is knighting the stream of comers and goers: a shining, polished stainless steel structure, a perpendicular mast (a square-sided pole) 20 feet or so tall, which includes its divergence into a large wye's reaching arms, and at each of their tops, a shining sword-like, tapering, five-foot triangular piece of metal that juts out from the point of attachment near its thicker square end and cuts empty space, slicing around independently at the prodding of invisible currents.
I can't see the mechanism that holds these rotating blades in place yet allows their movement. Trying to do so, I stand near the sculpture's base craning my neck and farther off gaining some details in the distance but at the same time of course losing others. This crafts-person's trick in achieving balance is obviously beyond my ken. I can imagine the mind and the limbs creating it, though. They're in a well-lit large warehouse-like room playing with materials that became what I see.
Balance seems to be at the centre of this art—maybe it's at the centre of all art. If so, how odd. Some of the most unstable people I know are artists of one sort or another. If this observation is true, then maybe practicing an art based on balance appeals to kinetic artists because they find it hard to achieve balance in their own lives. At any rate, I'm thinking now of their act of creating as performance art, like someone on stage entertaining an audience.
To get my drift, go to youtube and view the video of Miyoko Shida Rigolo's performance. You'll have a hard time thinking it's not a trick of video razzmatazz. What she does is totally based on balance.
She begins by taking what looks like a large goose feather from the bun in her hair and balancing it upon a slightly longer and what looks like a heavier piece of wood or bamboo, though perhaps it's some lighter material. She holds this second piece at its balancing point, then repeats this procedure with increasingly larger pieces of the same material, slowly balancing one after another beneath the one before it, one hand holding the latest balancing point, the other introducing the newer piece of wood. At the end a large mobile of fourteen pieces slowly circle on her balancing hand and finally upon one last erect piece of wood. All the time during composition, at each stage of construction, you can see the wavering nature of the loose balance as well as the entire piece turning. Then she....well, you need to see the quiet climax, the breathtaking beauty in this finished art, which is mobile even throughout its creation.
It's another extension of the mobile idea, which I think must have derived from observing natural phenomena. The leaf or flower on a stem waving as a breeze affects it. The piece of tissue that hangs down tempting prey into deadly range of the angler fish's mouth. The glinting water drops spreading out, sprinkling down onto the ground, creating patterns, dripping from ice as it melts from an eave in bright sunlight several hours during the day. A week of the samaras helicoptering, swirling down from maple trees until gone for another year. The shower of pink crabapple blossoms that I've enjoyed, standing under limbs, immersed in a powerfully rich aroma some springs in my backyard.
The more constant example is the night show of stars, which hold such permanent positions that humans have recognized and named the relationship of stars to one another for millennia. A close study of the night sky stimulates wonder of course, and part of that concerns a perception of our own infinitesimal existence in the grandeur of the cosmos. But also, the wonder about what holds the continuing relationship of the things we observe up there in place. Science suggests gravitational pulls, magnetic attractions and repulsions, orbital forces beyond my knowledge but clear enough to me to prompt comparisons. They remind me of the wires and hidden human devices that hold the pieces of popular mobiles in a stable relationship while allowing their movements to occur.
In this way I end up also thinking about myself. Human beings are held on our own wires and strings, our invisible emotions and thoughts, the DNA patterns that formulate who we are, the inheritances that go back into humanity's prehistoric origins. Are we not to a large extent mobiles ourselves?
And all those supposedly stationary things that we assume are landmarks? The human eye can catch only a limited range of motion. We don't see the tree's slow movement, the erosion of a sandstone crag, or witness very well the hummingbird's flapping wings. If a movement is too slow or too fast, we miss it. Perception also depends on the nature of the moving object's substance and colour. Our eyes have help. Scientists have extended our ability to perceive the otherwise invisible, but we don't have to spend thousands for very complicated machine help. More simply, an album of photographs that show how we looked down through the years back to childhood can shock us and prompt nostalgia. Doesn't it also suggest those hidden wires that connect us all?
Making any kind of art employs magic. So does the viewers' appreciation of a piece of art. This kind of rapture lasts for the period during which a creation engages us, when we respond emotionally and intellectually to it. So here I am just outside the Art Museum's front doors, a George Rickey mobile, Two Lines Oblique, prodding me to circle around it in my mind, following the artist's impulses, judgments, and skill, levitating in my imagination at the artist's stimulation.
Bill Vernon served in the United States Marine Corps, studied English literature, then taught it. Writing is his therapy, along with exercising outdoors and doing international folk dances. Five Star Mysteries published his novel Old Town, and his poems, stories and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies.
Jacob and the Angel
He knows he has done wrong
and this is judgment:
the massive figure hits him
in the jaw –
bare shoulder –
solar plexus –
winded, he staggers back
– the wall rejects him steadily –
and raising his hands to shield himself
tries to summon courage –
the salt grit in his blink and swallow
all he can muster. It thwacks him again –
he howls his answer No!
(which is no answer)
and his shadowy antagonist
– the sound of endless rockfall –
pummels him into the night.
But Jacob has his vision
blistered with sin as it is
and wills himself to wrestle
this dark god. They blunder
into each other; muscles bulge
and heat steams over them –
they’re brothers fighting
for their birth; survival’s
jugular struggle (moon blinks
at the scene’s punched cavities).
It’s only when the sun’s slim
glimmer ushers change that
his angel holds him. Jacob
and his great sustaining angel –
captured as one sculpture
in the dawn’s soft rain.
Sarah Law is a poet and tutor living in London, UK. She has published five poetry collections, the latest of which, Ink’s Wish, was shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards in 2014. She’s interested in artistic representations of angels, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @DrSarahLaw
Bust of a Woman
Pose with bread on your head
like a hat and a balancing act
of a man and a maid beside
the toilet and a bin for laundry
and a pen. Stare out beyond
the framed air while ants
race up your face, parade
near your ear and on the
rising road of your lip. While
monkey-like men dance
on your collar necklace
and the harvest rests
on your neck in a scarf
of corn, husked and tied
from behind. No discourse
here but balance and oddity
merged on a bust waiting
to be noticed and understood.
Maureen Sherbondy’s latest poetry book is Belongings. She teaches English at ACC in Graham, NC.
What He Sees
is your body
layered like a set
of nesting dolls
each one diminished
less and less complete
the smallest at the center
closest to whole
an armless headless torso
the body’s core
rising from the shell
of a pelvis
that rises from the cradle
of your sex
both offered and
given the lead
magnified and closer
than any other fragment
daring us to notice
what is missing-
the hands, the face
This poem was written as part of the surprise ekphrastic challenge on Magritte's paintings.
Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had many publications in journals, including Earth's Daughters, Caketrain, and The Evening Street Review, among others. She has only recently discovered the vibrant poetry communities on the internet, where there is so much to explore and enjoy.
Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne
Apollo finally wearies of his lunging rush
at Daphne, whose slender fingertips even now
are changing into sprigs of laurel.
Why does she always have to run so fast?
And to have all her creamy skin covered
by that crust of bark, that always burns him up.
He’d just like to ask her out, so they might
sit together on his back porch in the twilight
and hold hands, or maybe a little more.
And Daphne, sometimes she’d like to turn on him
and dare the gorgeous fool: all right, let’s do it!
Right on the museum floor!
Just to let herself go a little
would be such a relief
after all these strenuous centuries.
She’s seen all the patrician women,
soi disant, stalking and turning
in slacks and sunglasses,
inspecting her with an envy that’s a little smug,
divining her marble beauty did nothing for her.
And all the gasping men, what good were they?
At last she’d just like a home to go to
where she could water the geraniums on the windowsill
and watch her neighbours in the street below.
Yes, she has to admit that the pose
she’s held for so long has been superb
and she’s glad to have had the job,
but finally any cramped apartment would do,
somewhere she could cook some fagioli-- wiping her hands
on a mildewed dishtowel, swatting at flies,
one kid hanging to her sweaty thigh,
and cheesy disco on the radio-- while she waits
for her husband the truck driver to finally come home.
Charles M. Boyer
Charles M. Boyer’s novel, History’s Child, was chosen by Mary Gaitskill as the winner of the AWP Award Series in the Novel and was published by New Issues Press in 2016. He also published poems and short stories in such places Abraxas, Literal Latte, The Larcom Review, The Atlanta Review, and other literary magazines. He received a grant for writing from the Wisconsin Arts Board and a Fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Charles Boyer graduated from Beloit College with a junior year at Harris-Manchester College, Oxford, and has an M.A. in fiction writing from the University of New Hampshire. He teaches English and Humanities at Montserrat College of Art and lives with his family near Boston.
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