Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Papa, you changed after Mama died,
forbidding your daughters from marrying.
I accepted that decision
but then Robert’s letters arrived,
like birds through an open window.
After meeting him more letters
quickly flocked in,
he loved me. Impetuous,
absurd, I insisted. Never mention love
again. Inevitably, like the moon
"love" kept popping up.
Papa would never agree to my marrying.
To broach the point would have meant
all doors locked from outsiders,
even letters turned away.
What else could Robert and I do
Crossing the Channel
was nothing compared to the distance
that opened between me and you, Papa.
Yet here I am, disinherited, an island
you have purged from your map.
Oh, Papa, for too long
I was an invalid whose friends
existed on paper.
Thank god, Robert's love has stayed
as steadfast as the seasons,
my heart no longer merely
a postal destination.
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.
Claudel's Wave of Madness
Paul Claudel, the brother of French artist Camille Claudel, had her committed to a mental institution in 1913, just after their father’s death. Although her forms indicated that she had been voluntarily admitted, they were signed by a doctor and Paul.
Prior to her incarceration, she destroyed many of her sculptures in psychotic fits. Only about ninety remained by the time she was hospitalized. Perhaps she pictured them living on after she had smashed them. Did she feel their cold reproaches could no longer hurt her? Or did they still mock her, freeing themselves from the monolith of night and shambling toward her bed, their derision a crack in marble only she could see?
One work that she spared was La Vague. La Vague was a departure for Claudel, so it’s fitting that it told of a wave, a change about to move water and land as one. Made of bronze and onyx marble, it was more delicate than what had come before. I wonder if critics were comforted when they saw it, thinking that the aging spinster had swapped her lurid embraces for decorative arts, as was proper.
But Claudel had seen woodblock prints by the Japanese artist Hokusai and been inspired. In Hokusai’s work, nature is pruned and perfected but loses none of its power. His waves are as pretty as the hair of a doll but still they crash out of the frame. Maybe that’s what Claudel was after, or what she was. Rodin wrote to her in a letter, “In a single instant I feel your terrible force.”
Did she ever wish she had shattered La Vague? In the sculpture, the wave looks like it’s reaching for three young girls. It arches like the back of a woman with her lover, but when it touches them the faces pooling in its water might be men’s—Camille’s doctors, her brother.
Maybe she dreamt of it in the asylum. Or maybe she dreamt that she would not be cast in bronze, that she would wither and crumble, broken plaster littering the floor of a huge atelier.
Maybe she dreamt that madness wasn’t set in stone.
This essay is excerpted from the author's upcoming memoir, Chronic: Blame, Bodies, and Decades of Madness.
Cynthia Gralla is the author of The Floating World and The Demimonde in Japanese Literature. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia. (booksbyCynthiaGralla.com)
Early Photographs of W.B. Yeats
People in old pictures don’t smile.
You’ll say photography took time,
and a smile is painful to hold.
Scan the face of Yeats, the jaw clenched,
the squinting gaze set on no one.
He won’t be moved. You’ll see this look
among children, too. To be seized
like that, alive, stalled precisely
in time, by an inhuman eye:
could you casually consent?
Held in your repose, you face Death
at its great ease—the poised spirit,
slower than you, and in no rush
now that you’ve paused, to see you go.
Joseph Chaney teaches literature and writing at Indiana University South Bend, where he serves as publisher of Wolfson Press. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including The Nation, Yankee, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Dogwood, Stoneboat, and Spillway. Some recent poems may be accessed online at Off the Coast, The Cresset, The Apple Valley Review, and Shark Reef.
When Date Night Includes the Seattle Art Museum Curator's Talk, "The Enigma of an Exalted Monk", by Pamela Hobart Carter
When Date Night Includes the Seattle Art Museum Curator's Talk, "The Enigma of an Exalted Monk"
Although we bolt the crème de pot
at the Thai place to run across First Avenue
in time for the museum lecture, I linger
(mentally) over the dark chocolate’s bitterness
and the whipped fluff’s sweetness yet grab
the juicy strawberry halves splayed at the lip
of the plate (can’t bear to leave behind
their luscious redness — almost drinkable flesh
after the stiffer texture of the custard),
and we pitch ourselves, as I swallow the fruit,
together, laughing, out onto the wet walkway, dash
to make the light, and race into the packed auditorium.
In synchrony we slide into our row,
shed our warm layers, mute our phones,
and give our attention to the image
of the Chinese figure we have long loved,
known as Monk at the Moment of Enlightenment.
(Every time we visit him, we wonder at the wild vortex
of his robe, the elation of his expression. He is in motion
and about to sing or yell.) But our curator reveals
he is someone unfamiliar, a Luohan or an Arhat,
a Dragon Catcher without his bowl or pearl.
His wooden skull, carved seven centuries ago, contains
not items of consecration — no sacred scroll,
no Yuan bank note, no semi-precious stone --
but paper chambers
encasing mummified mud wasps.
The night’s incidents and fresh facts collide,
and from their crash, craft
(in our own fat-filled minds)
crackling new synapses
all the jouncy bus ride home.
Pamela Hobart Carter
Pamela Hobart Carter used to be a teacher who wrote on the side. Now she is a writer who teaches and draws on the side. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The Seattle Star, and The Seattle Times.
The Moon’s Instructions to a Young Girl at a Meeting of the Lunar Society
Let go your sister’s sash
as you watch the caged
bird gasp, its once
puffed chest stretched
against the bubble
of glass. Unfurl
your brow as you eye
the bird’s white winged
flutter, its pink tongue
flicking for air,
grey eyes dulling.
Uncurl your sister’s
on your neck. Let go
of clenched churning.
Hold fast flame’s
observe light’s flickers
licking at the bird’s
closing gift to you.
Draw in bright
but for the light I shed
for your long walk
Mikki Aronoff’s work has appeared in The Lake, EastLit, Virga, Bearing the Mask: Southwest Persona Poems, Love’s Executive Order, bosque7, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, SurVision, Love Like Salt, London Reader, Popshot Quarterly, The Ekphrastic Review, and elsewhere. A New Mexico poet, she is also involved in animal advocacy.
She always liked her size--
she did wonder, though,
what it would be like to be thin,
enough to be a swimsuit model,
enough to flee her housing block
and frame herself in blinding white
deep in corporate studio space--
another gleam in the city centre’s sheen.
She knows now, after the sirens--
what she doesn’t know
is that the bombs dropped at all,
that her bed is ash and her body
mangled, the neighbourhood outside
grayer and the city centre too,
sky aflame, sheen no longer blue.
What she knows now is a place--
perhaps the inside of a peach
or air bubble suspended
in strawberry milk, where she
lies with rouged skin, sculpted
in something flesh-like, maybe silk.
She knows her body is immobile--
hip bones sloped, stomach like sleet,
her fingers, however, a bit too
bleak—bamboo stalks locked in
death prayer with no reprieve.
Tyler is an adjunct professor and freelance writer currently living in Brooklyn. His previous publications include the New York Public Library Zine, Film Matters Magazine, and Tuck Magazine, as well as professional readings of his one-act play in both New York City and Toronto. When not grinding on the freelance scene or rooting himself in academia, he can most likely be found enjoying "bad movie" nights with his friends.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge
Join us for biweekly ekphrastic writing challenges. See why so many writers are hooked on ekphrastic! We feature some of the most accomplished influential poets writing today, and we also welcome emerging or first time writers and those who simply want to experience art in a deeper way or try something creative.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our last writing challenge featuring the work of Omar Odeh, which ends today at midnight. (Click here to see the Odeh challenge.) Accepted responses for the Odeh writing challenge will be published on March 15, 2019.
The prompt this time is The Chess Game, by Sofonisba Anguissola. Deadline is March 22, 2019.
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 artwork 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. Send only your best works or final draft, not everything.
3. Have fun.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY.
Send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Challenge submissions sent to the other inboxes will most likely be lost as those are read in chronological order of receipt, weeks or longer behind, and are not seen at all by guest editors. They will be discarded. Sorry.
5.Include SOFONISBA ANGUISSOLA WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line in all caps please.
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. Guest editors may not be familiar with your bio or have access to archives. 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 midnight, March 22, 2019.
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!
We have been featuring occasional guest editors for the ekphrastic challenges.
We're hoping this will inspire us in unexpected ways, add new flavours and perspectives to the journal, foster community, and widen readership.
Upcoming guest editors include Shirley Glubka, Joan Leotta, and Jordan Trethewey.
We're excited about this and about having a whole year of challenges, now that we've found an ekphrastic prompt system that is working in terms of consistency and longevity. Many great poems are about to be written!
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We Take Our Teen-aged Daughter, a Wolf, to Rome
A sort of pilgrimage. Her middle name is a landmark
in this city founded by brothers
raised by wolves.
We roam the streets, the piazzas, the cathedrals.
We listen to the singing and the chatter
of tourists, race each other around the Circus Maximus,
imagining chariot wheels, reciting legends
as if they were history.
Because she loves art, we reserve time
at the Borghese Gallery, let her lead us
through its many rooms. She stops at Bernini’s
Apollo and Daphne, my wolf daughter.
She circles then is still a long time.
Here is Apollo--spoiled, selfish, all pursuer,
villain, hunter, god--and Daphne, running
even as her feet take root, captured
in the moment of change,
between girl and tree, always.
She says, “Look: you can see light
through the leaves.” We walk out past David,
past Persephone and Hades.
Her sharp claws click on the marble floor.
Amy Watkins is a poet and corporate trainer from Orlando, Florida. She is the author of three chapbooks--Milk & Water, Lucky, and Wolf Daughter--and the art editor for Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine.
a small red heart
black and shining,
into an abstract geometry
of tender secrets.
But behind the white mask,
the humble step,
bowed shoulders and
cultivated sighs, is
an ancient matter of wills:
bent to yours.
Karen Petersen has traveled the world extensively, publishing both nationally and internationally in a variety of publications. Most recently, her poems, flash and short stories have been published in the Peacock Journal and KYSO in the USA, The Bosphorus Review in Istanbul, Antiphon in the UK, and A New Ulster in Northern Ireland. New work will be appearing in the Saranac Her poems have been translated into Persian and Spanish. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Classics from Vassar College and an M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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