Short Strokes, White Cottages
Short brush strokes help define Van Gogh,
the feeling of choppiness in a stirred up sea,
a winter look, what preceded the storm in his head
day after day, not that he didn’t paint longer flowing
swaths, the lime wash on the cottages and the thatch
on roofs, but what do you look at?
Same as what Mother looked at when she stared
across the sound, something further out, something
she thought she wanted, but couldn’t see,
so her paintings were always in a turmoil
of dark blues and grays. I know she never saw
a Van Gogh, was not taking her lead from him,
but from the second floor of the white house
with black shutters, a reverse of the clerical garb
in the priest’s studio where she painted
with other women of town. She knew what lay
under the formality, knew of his Philadelphia lover.
He knew the short strokes as seizures in her brain.
Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO. Her collections include Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018); This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017); So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015); Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014); My Visions Are As Real As Your Movies, Joan of Arc Says to Rudolph Valentino (Dancing Girl Press, 2013); and George Sand’s Haiti (co-winner of Poetry West’s 2012 award). With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Granted residencies in poetry from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), she is one of eight members of the Boiler House Poets who perform and study at the museum. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
scribbled on a too blue sky
and nothing safe
but these houses leaning
into the storm
declaring their innocence
with white walls thick enough
to mute the loudest howl
to block the needling
sting of rain
and protect us
from lightning strikes
swift and unforgiving
as the wrath of a forgotten God
whose cross is broken
on the roof
of this house without windows
meant to let him in
Mary McCarthy: "I have always been a writer, but spent most of my working life as a Registered Nurse. I've had work appear in many print and online journals, including 3Elements Review, Califragile and Earth's Daughters. I have an electronic chapbook , Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis Magazine Online."
After Three White Cottages in Saintes-Maries, by Van Gogh
It’s the kind of title that appears only
to describe, yet just two of them
are white. They seem as native
to this landscape as the spiky grass,
the church conspicuous against
the sea-blue sky, cross tilting
on a roof of whitewashed thatch.
One good storm could bring it down.
Though the church is called a cottage,
no one lives there. The other cottage,
squat and sturdy, sports a spar,
a splinter rising from the roof,
mast without a jib. Wood supports
that could have been a boat
cast purple shadows on the wall.
Except for its window, the third house
resembles nothing so much as a hayrick.
All three buildings face away from the sea,
but everything about them speaks of it,
the blue-lined window, red door,
this village rooted on a berm.
Bright as a box of crayons, the sky
and land vibrate with light. Is it
evening or full day? The houses
sail each night through skies
of phosphorescent sparks, nary
a husk of moon to mark the way.
Robbi Nester frequently writes Ekphrastic poetry. She is the author of four books of poetry, including an Ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections of poetry: A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and a forthcoming book, Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag), which is available for advance sale from the publisher at http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/narrow-bridge-robbi-nester/. She is also the editor of two anthologies: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014) and an Ekphrastic e-book, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees--celebrating the photography of Beth Moon, accessible athttp://www.poemeleon.org/over-the-moon-birds-beasts-and. Her poetry, reviews, articles, and essays have appeared widely in journals, anthologies, and other publications.
The Artist Dreams His Childhood Back
Nothing settled under him, no ground he knew.
A strangeness awkward in its courage, a beast
ungainly made, his own familiar, turned and
ran from him. The vast unseen was seen,
a blinding. He was not a man he recognized.
He collapsed beneath the dense insistence
—eternal, near, specific, known—as if
a battered seawall weakened and gave way
before the very nature of the sea it held.
Afterward, solidified, returning to the past,
he saw a final shadowed thing climb out.
It stumbled at his feet, secretive and makeshift—
a thing he could not capture. Gone were his
few answers to every question asked. Unsung,
the thing had cried. Unsung. Simplicity arrived
with morning. He walked the village street and,
laughing, found a few thatched cottages to paint.
Shirley Glubka is a retired psychotherapist, the author of three poetry collections and two novels. Her most recent book is The Bright Logic of Wilma Schuh: a novel (Blade of Grass Press, 2017). Shirley lives in Prospect, Maine with her spouse, Virginia Holmes. Website: https://shirleyglubka.weebly.com
This could be where my great-grandparents lived.
Small, windowless cottage, the roof line hanging down,
a bit unsteady.
Add a few lackluster chickens, dust,
rocks, a scratch of mud.
Take away lush green, leave
behind dirt, a dingy brown under cobalt sky.
Replace French words with Yiddish.
Call it Kovno or Vilna, call it Czernowitz,
the Pale of Settlement.
Add the scent of hunger, the smell of snow,
sketch in a touch of desperation,
the shape of desolation.
Call it 1908, paint the wind of shadows,
of danger, of night about to fall.
Valerie Bacharach’s poetry has appeared in several publications including Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh Quarterly, US 1 Worksheets, The Tishman Review, Topology Magazine, Poetica, VerseWrights, and Voices from the Attic. She is a member of Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic workshops and conducts weekly poetry workshops for the women at Power House and CeCe’s Place, halfway houses for women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Her first chapbook, Fireweed, will be published in 2018 by Main Street Rag. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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