Questions for the Night Drinker
He is only one of 164 celebrating with cups of pulque
on this fragment discovered deep underground.
And so, alone, as a singular celebrant,
why not imagine drinking agave on top of Popocatepetl,
or sharing his wide cup decorated with ancient Goddesses,
with Mayahuel herself, as the eleven serpents writhe
about her 400 breasts.
You can guess at his tongue
as he opens his mouth to drink--
or is he about to sing?
O night drinker, will you chant the story
of Gods hurling unfortunates into volcano fire… ?
I want to ask so many questions--
but you simply answer vas a ver --
ready to dance in syncopated
rhythms accelerating, vas, vas, vas
your hand clapping a ver, a’ver
vas’’a’ver. You hold the cup,
your eyes so widely open
as we watch. Tell us what you see.
Editor's Note: Read more about mezcal and art in Cholula, Mexico, here.
Kitty Jospé has authored many books and her work has appeared in numerous local and national journals. Bilingual in French/English, (MA French Literature, NYU; worked in Belgium for the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) she retired from teaching French in 2006 to pursue an MFA (Pacific University, OR). She gives tours in both languages as docent at the Memorial Art Gallery; lectures on language and art as tools for deeper understanding and offers weekly poetry appreciation courses at the public library since February 2008.
On Seeing The Little Shepherdess
Swimming the glorious, noisy tides of
World Pride 2014, exultant in the
blooming of my long dormant femininity,
borne along by an electric current,
immersed in a supportive sea of
companion emergent chrysalids.
Perspective soon needed, floating off
to bathe in art’s calming waters and
breathe in the quiet of Toronto’s AGO;
approaching Paul Peel’s little nook,
like me a London, Ontario local,
best work done in exotic Paris,
taken so young, not yet thirty-two;
my ruminations interrupted,
flashing back twenty-seven years,
a special exhibit in our home town,
one painting that unfathomably wound
a tentacle around my heart.
And there, high up on a wall,
the screen of trees in the distance,
meadow sloping down and left
to a pond just in front,
lily pads and blue irises, attendant
blossoms to the little shepherdess
bursting from the background,
seated on a large rock,
her charges grazing amongst the trees,
crook, clothes and cares cast aside,
hair garlanded with delicate pink flowers,
skin glowing with expectation,
a demurely sensual and unveiled adolescent,
quietly bold, gazing at nature’s mirror
echoing her incipient beauty,
left foot curled shyly under,
right testing the pool awaiting her.
Awash in a wave of meaning, transfixed,
sinking down to contemplate this image done in oils
a century ago, but seeing my reflection.
Separated by decades in age from
the model posing outside for the first time,
this moment by more than one hundred years
from the young artist’s loving strokes,
his vision’s eternal youth from
my all-too-real aging flesh and blood;
but we three, model, vision and I,
still compeers, sister adventurers
setting out into a vast beckoning ocean.
Jennifer Wenn is a trans-identified writer and speaker from London, Ontario. Recently published is her first poetry chapbook, A Song of Milestones (Harmonia Press). She has published poems in Open Minds Quarterly, Tuck Magazine, Synaeresis, Big Pond Rumours, LOCP Fresh Voices, Wordsfestzine, and the anthology Things That Matter, and has written From Adversity to Accomplishment, a family and social history. She has also spoken at a wide variety of venues. Jennifer has a day job as a Systems Analyst at Canada Life and is the proud parent of two adult children.
Horse and Train
Horse of iron, horse of flesh,
Each suspended in their track,
There’s no forward, there’s no back
And the space that lies between
Will never widen or decrease,
Nor will their motion ever ease,
Nor force disrupt their equipoise.
Each committed to their course,
There is no train, there is no horse.
The grasslands grow and do not grow,
There is no cloud, there is no smoke--
Just paint. And light. The brush’s stroke.
Though always in your mind you see
The two collide, the dark horse rear.
There is no swerve, there is no fear
Except your own.
You are the beast, you are the brake.
You are the dream from which you wake.
Lisa McCabe lives in Lahave, Nova Scotia, Canada. She studied film at York University and English Literature at University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She has published poems in The Sewanee Review, HCE Review, The Orchards Poetry Journal, and Limestone Review among other print and online journals.
So Struck By 12/14/18
after a painting, Still Life, by Jean-Baptiste Oudry and a news item
A Dead Hare, a Dead Red-legged Partridge and Two Dead Snipe,
the bird strung up, hare slumped on slate.
He didn’t see the woman in red stockings, swiped
by a speeding car earlier that night
her skirt pulled up to her waist.
A Dead Hare, a Dead Red-legged Partridge and Two Dead Snipe
was on his mind, each feather with a hint of light,
each barb precisely placed.
He didn’t see the woman in red stockings, swiped
like the red paint on the legs of the partridge, dried
to a dark blood stain in the still life labeled,
A Dead Hare, a Dead Red-legged Partridge and Two Dead Snipe.
Savoring each detail — the eyes sealed sightless,
two highlights of glossy jade,
he didn’t see the woman in red stockings, swiped
but still breathing, lying there in moonlight,
a mere shadow until he felt car hit shape --
a dead hare, a partridge or two snipe?
He didn’t see the woman in red stockings, twice swiped.
Diana Cole, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has had poems published in numerous journals including Poetry East, Spillway, the Tar River Review, the Cider Press Review, Friends Journal, and the Main Street Rag. Her chapbook, Songs By Heart, was published in 2018 by Iris Press. She is an editor for The Crosswinds Poetry Journal and a member of Ocean State Poets whose mission is to encourage the reading, writing and sharing of poetry.
It’s not yet too early for celebration,
sunwashed in white light. Clouds strewn
across the sky like milk blooming into coffee.
She moves through the season with tickets
in her hand, feathers around her neck. Flowers
dot the ground like tiny stars. Men watch
from above, as faceless as time, their breath
constant and insistent like the wind. The duchess
of watercolor and all her contradictions, no longer
carrying the globe on her back. No longer fishing
in the mountains of grief. She presses on,
her gaze resolute and looking forward,
as if the past is just a myth
told by somebody else.
Leela Srinivasan is an MFA student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she holds a BA in Psychology and MA in Communication from Stanford University, where she wrote and published a collection of psychological poetry as her undergraduate honors thesis. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.
A Lady in Waiting
I can see by your expression that he is late.
How much longer, you’re wondering,
should you abide by the trunk of this tree.
You have dressed so carefully. It is a striking
outfit, pearl taffeta with ash-flowered trim,
the fitted jacket adorned at the cuffs
with three-inch-wide lace, the skirt’s top tier
pulled back in a small bustle to showcase
the shape of your hips. Your red-gold tresses
have been coiled into a French twist,
errant strands curbed by a black velvet ribbon,
tied in a comely bow at the crown of your head.
You have brought your folding silk fan,
the amber one with its daring crimson collar.
Did you intend to use it in coy flirtation
or was it merely to waft the heat from your face
as it is surely doing now on this breathless
mid-summer afternoon? Should I tell you
that you are destined to wait like this forever?
Mary Kipps has appeared regularly in poetry journals and anthologies across the U.S. and abroad since 2005. She is also the author of three Kindle eBooks of paranormal satire: All in Vein, A Sucker for Heels, and Bitten: A Practical Guide to Dating a Vampire.
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.
The prompt this time is Still Life, by Giorgio Morandi. Deadline is July 24, 2020.
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 you wrote down. (Please note, experimental formats are difficult to publish online. We will consider them but they present technical difficulties with web software that may not be easily resolved.) Please copy and paste your submission into the body of the email, even if you include an attachment such as Word or PDF.
3. Have fun.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY.
Send your work to email@example.com. 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 GIORGIO MORANDI WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line.
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, July 24, 2020.
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.
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Self-Portrait With Skull
Could have been carved from the chalk downs:
long scarp to the muzzle, yellow-white,
flint-blue, plus rust and mud. Among harebells, gorse
ploughed fields, a skim of umber,
bone wearing through. I can’t
do landscape any more. One of the children
found it, up on the Ridgeway; and I thought
memento mori, The Ambassadors. Arrogance!
Brittle, pared away, and the window-light
colours it earthwards. Imagine it galloping
against the skyline. Grins now. Such confidence.
For centuries. I was a painter, once.
I sit for myself. Empty-handed. Cobalt dress.
Ruth Valentine lives in Tottenham, England. Her latest publications are Downpour (Smokestack Books 2015), Rubaiyat for the Martyrs of Two Wars (Hercules Editions 2017) and A Grenfell Alphabet (self-published in aid of the Grenfell Tower fund). She's also published a novel, The Jeweller's Skin (Cybermouse Multimedia 2013) and various works of non-fiction. Ruth is an activist on migration and refugee issues, and works as a funeral celebrant.
Juliet Wood was born in 1939, grew up in London and trained at St Alban’s School of Art and The Slade School of Fine Art. Her long painting life has covered a nation-wide portrait practice, extensive teaching and exhibitions in London and the south of England, including a major retrospective with new work at the Bankside Gallery, London 2019. Juliet Wood’s paintings and oil pastels are inspired by the realities of contemporary life, human interaction and the poignancy of what is so often seen yet unspoken. She lives with her husband, the wood engraver Simon Brett, in Wiltshire and has three sons and two daughters.
Drawing Willendorf*, a Large Model
Colossal, mammoth, unclothed,
Lying in my studio, eyes closed,
She is a gigantic mountainside,
Earthquake fissured, rainfall softened.
Flesh becomes power within palisades
And gaps of enfolded crevices.
A spirit emerges from her shelters,
Fecund and fertile, filling our space.
I wait for a tremor to force my hand,
An aftershock or a thunderstorm,
Ready to draw her at the moment
Shadow, shape and perception collide.
She inspires broad charcoal for the hunt,
Images freed from burnt-out bonfires
Rendered quickly in sweeping strokes.
But, I draw slowly, to know her
In a thousand ink marks, pondering her,
The mother of shadow and luminance.
The soul of Willendorf, life’s origin,
In silence receives me, line by line.
*The so-called “Venus” of Willendorf is a small, Upper Paleolithic era carving, circa 23,000 BCE, of a large woman discovered in Austria in 1908.
A painter with twenty one-person shows throughout America, James Shay writes ekphrastic poetry based on his experiences making art. Before becoming a fulltime artist in 1997 he spent thirty-one years studying and practicing architecture. Photographs, models and drawings of his office's work were featured in shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other venues internationally. He is as yet unpublished as a poet, deciding this May to begin submitting poetry for consideration. He lives with his wife Karen, a sculptor, among the vineyards of Sonoma, California. From time to time, wonderful Sonoma Valley wines assist his writing and painting. The website is www.Jamesshay.com.
Women Birds and a Star
My bobinette flaps over each shoulder, fitted
to a Juliet cap garlanded by spring flowers, heels pared
to fit satin shoes, silk gown clings to skin
smeared with petroleum jelly, bird-tears darken circles
under feather-eyes, but flying high I’ll star-gaze
pulled by magnetic force to Saturn, deck myself in diamond
raindrops stuck to the mesh of my tulle veil.
Janet Murray completed an MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam Uni (2016) with Merit and won 1st Prize in the Fish International Poetry prize in 2018 with an ekphrastic poem called Vernacular Green which
was published in their anthology of the same year. It was based on Howard Hodgkin’s relationship with the colour green. She has had individual poems published in The New Statesman, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Millstone Grit anthology. She is currently completing an advanced poetry course with Richard Price at the Poetry School.
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