Over the years at The Ekphrastic Review, I have received occasional poems inspired by my own visual art. I was moved each time to have my artwork looked at so closely, and amazed along the way at the variety of perspectives and ideas that came about in response to my work.
Poet Bill Waters, famous for his short-form poetry, surprised me with an eclectic series of short poems that were entirely composed of titles of the paintings, moved around like the collages I create to form a meaningful sequence. This became a little chapbook called The Luzajic Variations.
Later I was approached by Devon Balwit with a manuscript of poetry she had written about my art, and that became Risk Being/Complicated. It was curious to see what other creative people saw in my images and how they articulated it.
I was honoured to be approached again by a poet who was writing about my mixed media paintings and about ekphrastic writing in general, and I'm involved in a collaboration with him that will be born to the world in the near future.
When yet another writer asked me about writing about my art, another collaboration in the works, I decided to run an artwork a challenge subject for the Review. It was a fascinating experience for me to see how my pieces are perceived. I always feel uncomfortable in the position of "judge," knowing the truth is that editing and curating is a subjective pursuit. I felt this intensely when the challenge prompt was my own painting, and wondered if it was a better idea for one of the guest editors to read and choose.
I was astounded at the variety of submissions. I love ekphrastic writing because it makes us look more carefully at art and the world, stepping outside ourselves even as we are more deeply immersed in our memories and perceptions. We write about what we know and what we don't know at the time same time, with another person's creation as the key.
I know some of you took risks in your poetry practice with this piece, changing the approach you usually take, trying on a new style, or just taking a stab at it, wondering how I would perceive your interpretation. It is different to write about an artwork when the artist will read it, isn't it?
I thank each and every one of you for your poems, for sharing your talent with the world, for reading other writers, and for being such an important part of The Ekphrastic Review.
Much love, Lorette
Awash the din,
strike a chord
from the driver’s seat,
Bat mobile hits the wall –
all heads were turned.
Gangs from hell
Their eye-corner tears
wept as 23 scrape survival
from streets devoid of life,
no dollar signs delude,
no fools, they –
from diluted graffiti detritus,
so un-Banksy-like amidst
blue not of a calm sky.
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is a New Hampshire poet and YA fiction writer, whose passions are animals, especially rescued cats and captive elephants to be released to sanctuaries. Her work has appeared in Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Harvard Press, among others. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018 for her poem "The Sky Must Remember." Dickson's other works are available on Amazon.
Reading the Signs
BAM! STRIKE! Get ready for it.
Your fate is about to change.
That’s right, I don’t use tarot cards
or read palms. I read faces, and yours
is calling my bluff. So why can’t you
believe the best is yet to come?
First you must run toward it, work for it.
Go out and search for hope. Carry
a butterfly net into the fog of despair.
Blindly scoop if that’s the best you can
do. Unseen forces will guide you.
It’s much like the work of a poet
looking for ideas. Here’s a poem, there’s
another. What signs do you track?
Like dreams and fingerprints,
the numbers, symbols, and sounds
that you sense will be unique to you.
But many clients report a feeling
of weightlessness, like they’re floating
out of a dense gray fog into a cobalt
blue sky, with splashes of neon sunrise.
Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. For Alarie, looking at art is the surest way to inspire a poem, so she’s made The Ekphrastic Review home for four years. She hopes you’ll check out her poetry books on the Ekphrastic Book Shelf and visit her at alariepoet.com.
ain’t nothin like it
say the word love as
if you mean
it as if
it isn’t just another
bad habit to break
Kerfe Roig enjoys exploring the intersection of poetry and art.
On Love and Art We Leave Behind
The future's not to be foretold,
nor can it languish put on hold,
but risk that we anticipate
-- and plan for -- might well mitigate
what, catastrophic otherwise,
would be or seem as if demise
of beauty we have engineered
supporting dreams so long revered
of what we hope to leave behind
as love and art that others find
to be the works by which they know
that in their future as they grow...
...their past is only where they're from...
...today creates the best to come.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
Work In Progress
Far cry from part-used acrylic tubes
from printer’s black, the ink
thinners whose odour slices studio air
hogs’-hair brushes in a plethora of gauge
the palette knives
the rubber rollers
the metric rulers
worn stencils in both letter cases
numerous semi-permanent marker pens
fingers covered in mixed media, stained
ditto the Irish linen apron
and the thrice varnished parquet floor,
lie random conflicts from artist’s block
through long days
the darkest nights
the extant tears
the trickle of sweat
a constant strain of abstract work
empty cafetieres of French roast, cold
rigours of artistry performed under pressure
crumpled packets of Aspirin, the caplets
a structured approach to filling white voids
scurrying deep to find a balance
well beyond the third dimension, or fourth
in the devil and drive of human creation
for the best is yet to come.
Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He particularly enjoys ekphrastic challenges. In 2019, he was a Featured Writer of the Federation of Writers Scotland.
To celebrate existence
By slowing down
To the centre of it all
Folds into fog
Behind that one last breath
Of our breaking grasp
John is a social worker working in the field of disability management. He is the author of two books of poetry: March, (2019) and The Seasons of Us (2019). His work has appeared in the Arlington Literary Journal, The Rye Whiskey Review, Poetica Review, Drinkers Only, Literary Yard, The Alien Buddha Press, Montreal Writes, Mad Swirl, The Avocet, Sparks of Caliope, Harbinger Asylum, Black Coffee Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Cajun Mutt Press, Dissident Voice, La Piccioletta Barca Literary Journal, and the Adelaide Literary Magazine. John is a Pushcart Prize nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.
Flying Toward the Light
A near void forms the middle, (we cannot always see through to the core), but two planes are flying, speeding us to the outer world. This benevolent world, so rich! You love its clutter, not knowing where to place things, happy in the jumbled environment. Your son, added to the wondrous mix. It was not an easy A-B-C, you had to make decisions, just as Luzajic’s canvas must have called for decisions. Ought-nine was that split second when decisions were made for you. You feel again the energy of that moment, its definitive strike. Look! See again the seconds that are flying past—past the jumbled edifices, past the bursts of energy, past things known, lost, and found again, past the constructions that do not fail you. Mark the elements that bring you joy! Look for the encouragers! Stretch your arms to the sunlight!
Melded into light
Marked for something stellar bright
Asking what comes next
Carole Mertz, poet and essayist, is a graduate of Oberlin College. She maintains a lifelong interest in classical painting and other works of the 19th and 20th centuries and is a sibling to two professional visual artists. After music performance, writing is her chief occupation, with recent works at Eclectica, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Society of Classical Poets, WestWard Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her recent reviews of poetry collections are at Mom Egg Review, Eclectica, Into the Void, Arc Poetry, CutBank, Dreamers Creative Writing, South 85 Journal, and World Literature Today. She served as reader at MER in the selection of Pushcart nominees process and is Book Review Editor at Dreamers Creative Writing.Carole’s first poetry chapbook Toward a Peeping Sunrise will be published in October.
Do I take the obvious,
leaping from the screen?
The influence that money bought,
the products made to hear?
And when my eye, forced to view,
the pupil, parrot taut,
do I relax and broaden scape,
seek out the reticent?
Collage or is it collagen,
body parts that no one sees?
When norms retreat,
life back to front, or mirror images,
pretend not there, just look away,
or lay-by, temporary?
For my control to overwrite,
to colour as I choose;
transform the landscape overlaid
and mindfulness pursue.
The canvas mine, the palette range,
the dominating seen.
What scene is in my orbit scan
to cast or grasp or field?
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by over a dozen on-line poetry sites, including The Ekphrastic Review; and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, Foxtrot Uniform Poetry Magazines & Vita Brevis Anthology. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/
In front of you the foundations of her city -
gravity drawn lanes
negative space passages
Groundwork for a living city
streets connecting beanstalk buildings
garden squares for those streets to lead to
upturned skyscrapers along narrowboat canals
contours of mountains behind
Yet, the best thing comes
when on a sunny morning
she half-watches people
from beneath the canvas of a walkway parasol
where she reads the Saturday paper
Petra Vergunst is a poet living in Northeast Scotland who is interested in how we understand, relate to, and participate in the world. Currently, her writing investigates what visual art may teach us about what it means to be human, and the agency it gives us to shape our lives.
"The best is yet to come
and babe won't it be fine?" That's what they sang to each other, as if this life were the wall of a building, painted and papered across the years, maybe a small store that anchored and supported the changing neighborhood, both waiting to be rebuilt in time to mark a second coming, a rebirth, but it's not and now never will be. He doesn't remember his son and daughter-in-law an hour later, and takes as given that these grown women with unfamiliar voices, strange faces, are his granddaughters who will cry tonight at the memories ripped apart and not replaced. Once brilliant and careful, his words are randomly erased, their spaces taken by repeating strings of uncertain letters running to and fro, leaving him unreliably angry and unpredictably violent when he thinks he's been crossed, his authority questioned, while leaving her afraid to share a room with him in their marriage's eighth decade, mourning alone the best as it passes.
Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965.
Fog Over Central Park
(in memory of Mike Guerriero)
The ghost of memories float over the park,
a billowed wind sock as fireflies fill the trees.
And played to the tempo of time, musical graffiti
haunts the city air in blocks surrounding
this self-contrived center of images -- blue-skirted clouds
and sidewalks where my daughter roller-bladed to a corner
and stopped -- just in time, I found her just in time
almost fifty years ago when she rounded a corner
in a department store, small hands exploring the floor
lured by a broken button a piece of string
and part of a candy wrapper (to the avid collector,
found items are treasure) later, there would be shelves
for display (hell to dust) so she could see everything
gathered from travel, ours and her father's,
dented beer cans with cartoon pictures -- Asterix, Shizam! --
time passing -- 1, 2, 3 -- in the ABC years of education,
pieces of posters gathered like flowers growing on walls
in the New York subway. These were the years
of montage and mementoes theatres, ticket stubs, toy stores,
portable bowling in hotel hallways (pins down, Strike!)
when eclecticism was gender-specific passed from mother
to daughter (art DNA) -- why would we ever throw anything away?
a popcorn bag from San Genarro a map of festival events
with a festival cover guests of my mother's Sicilian lover,
an academic who showed us his city New York and the park --
music floating from Tavern On The Green -- Out of the tree of life
I just picked a plum... You came along and everything's startin' to hum --
The best is yet to come,
and baby, won't it be fine!
Laurie Newendorp's new book, When Dreams Were Poems, connects her to the Ekphrastic Review, to art, her love of collage, to the lyrical music of poetry and Max Ernst's frottage; and to her present, writing this poem filled with thoughts of her past when the best was yet to come, "my mother's almost fairy tale ending when Mike Guerriero came down to D.C. to help start up the OEO. For me, he filled New York with paternal magic; it became the place where my daughter felt the pulse of New
York's magic and took her roller blades to college."
The Best is Yet to Come
after Muhammad Ali and Lorette C. Luzajic
We live in chaos. In the arena’s blinding lights and deafening
noise. Hypnotic dreams floating like butterflies, stinging like
bees. We’re on the ropes with trainers pummeling final instructions,
managers clouting money, the crowd’s passion, red like slaughter.
Then the bout begins. Pivots and bounces and crosses and jabs.
We’re swaying like a punching bag suspended in the gym’s corner,
as disoriented as a sparrow glancing off glass. A dip and a cut
and a Strike! And a Bam! One, two, three, we’re out
for the count. Until -
until the Great Champion, the Pride of Jacob, lifts us
to our feet and raises our arms in triumph, proclaiming all
things new. No death, no dark, no curse, no pain. Victors.
For eternity. Reigning forever and ever.
Jo Taylor is a retired, 35-year English teacher from Georgia. Her favorite genre to teach high school students was poetry, and today she dedicates more time to writing it, her major themes focused on family, place, and faith. She says she feels compelled to write, to give testimony to the past and to her heritage. She has been published in The Ekphrastic Review, in Silver Birch Press and inHeart of Flesh Literary Journal.
So many possibilities in a new year!
Past ideas, hopes, actions
frame our path as we go forward
but our centre is a shape
unknown, to be formed
from our own will and force,
out beyond that frame
perhaps preserving some of same.
Into that space I throw myself,
Commending my spirit to the new.
My future will exceed present, past.
As I leap into its space I know
I can reach out to steady myself
by touching past, present
but they will not hold me back.
I swim through a foggy portal
into a future unseen, unknown,
but full of bright possibilities, hope.
Joan Leotta loves writing ekphrastic poetry. Her work has appeared in Ekphrastic Journal, ovunquesiamo, and many other journals. Her short stories, essays, and articles are also widely published. On stage she performs folk and original tales of food, family, and strong women.
So busy - numbers, letters, words, colour,
people, myriad emotions manic activity,
so much going on and I am overwhelmed
as I have always been overwhelmed by
the beautifully vivid confusion of life.
It is too much. It has always been too much.
Strike! Strike hard - strike now.
That's what I should have done
all those years ago when I was young,
but Time is the Great Deceiver of youth.
I'll do it tomorrow, next week, next year,
I'll do it one day until one day
all those tomorrows are a mountain of yesterdays
and our tomorrows grow fewer with every sunset.
Time is running out and if I am to leave anything
to show a vestige of what were once my thoughts
in this scintilla of consciousness which glimmers
between beginningless and endless oblivions,
I must do it now - there is no time to lose.
So I'll turn with hope to face the setting sun
and make damn sure the best is yet to come.
Stephen Poole served for 31 years in the Metropolitan Police in London, England. He studied Media Practice at Birkbeck College, part of the University of London and also underwent training at the London School of Journalism. His articles and interviews have appeared in a variety of British county and national magazines. He has also been published online. He has been passionate about poetry since boyhood. His poetry has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review and he was a contributing poet to the Strand Book Of International Poets 2010.
The Blue is Shrinking
The blue is shrinking, the pale space the space ships see,
unencumbered with lights and the debris of human lives.
Soon the blue swill will swell, grow green with algae,
brightly speckled with pretty plastic tops, lids, bags
and all the gaily strewn paraphernalia we cannot live without.
The ocean groans already and the thin crust we cut like pie,
digging out the best parts, throwing the rest away. Choking,
we might discover too late, is worse than living without.
Jane Dougherty lives and works in southwest France. Her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, Hedgerow Journal, Tuck Magazine, ink sweat and tears, Eye to the Telescope, Nightingale & Sparrow, the Drabble, Lucent Dreaming and The Ekphrastic Review. She has a well-stocked blog at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
Hope is the Thing with Feathers
As I meditate on a chaos of images--
collaged and swirling around the canvas--
I am startled by a Texas-size cockroach.
It scampers from under a copy of the artwork,
and takes up residence on my keyboard.
Such unabashed confidence! As though
sent by the oracle of Delphi to assure me
The Best is Yet to Come. As a young woman,
I once sat on the steps of a Greek temple
above the Sybil’s sacred cave. Lost in reverie,
I hoped Frank Sinatra’s song would hold true
for me, too. But what if a cockroach
is just a cockroach--As Good as It Gets?
The ancient insect stretches its feelers
across the wireless keys, securing its position.
I hesitate to kill what might be a messenger
until I see strict orders on the painting
Strike! Bam! I assemble my SWAT team--
a pink slipper, the stapler. Then, I scrape
the carapace from the board, perhaps the way
the artist scraped a central space in this artwork.
Erasures that leave a ghostly, blue-white whisper
suggestive of an airplane’s body and wings.
Perhaps she has cleared the runway, tucked hope
in her luggage, ready to jet off to the undiscovered.
Sandi Stromberg continues to love these challenges that wed the pleasures of living with artworks and writing poetry. She also enjoys gathering poets’ work into anthologies. She co-edited Echoes of the Cordillera (ekphrastic poems, Museum of the Big Bend, 2018) and guest-edited Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston (Mutabilis Press, 2015). Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, read on PBS during the April 2017 “Voices and Verses,” and published in multiple small journals and anthologies.
Merkabah: Settled Dust
Pins and needles pill these veins -
rivers verve - in an alternate time
the cryptic mind gathers the years
as light surfing on faint flashbacks;
the pain has gone still but rivers
inflame as volcanic waves; today
is the day of the dawn/not the dawn
of the day/ men will gather in white
robes dangling beyond their tails
called shadows, meeting the earth
in a sweep towards cleansing,
and they will comb their hairs
in a manner for siding/parting/
holding/congealing. Their tongues
will favour fruits the colour of rubies,
picking ripened ajwas like rare stones
concealed within mountains rarer
to find, and their sights will savour
the decadent dusk - descending
domes - then a tree will tear out of
the souls of a painting covered in
a snow of words; the sky will blotch
on the canvas of their language,
and in the moment's lit ecstasy
their robes will stain like the sky
under a splitting sun. Thrones
will topple/return to basics/high jewel
will blend into the invisibility of regalia.
Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her works appear in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications have been Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, Atlantean Publishing, Alban Lake Publishing, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been translated to Spanish, Greek, Italian, Arabic and Persian. She is the co-author of a digital poetry chapbook entitled Nyctophiliac Confessions available through Praxis Magazine. More about her published works can be found at sheikha82.wordpress.com
All at once
there are too many voices
crowding the air
begging space enough
to be heard
time enough to register
as more than a flicker
of sound and color
my unfocused attention
I see nothing
disappearing too fast
to recognize or remember
words reduced to syllables
moving too quick to catch
in an overwhelming rush
as confusion rises
like a tide of fog
impossible to see through
or blink back to clarity
And it is suddenly
to find a good way
out from under
all these shifting
lies and delusions
back to silence
and solid ground
Mary McCarthy seems to have fallen in love with Ekphrastic. Not surprising, as she has always been both a writer and visual artist. The conversation between image and word is fascinating, and engaging in that conversation, whether as reader or writer, is purely irresistible.
Regardless of blue as best, yellow for yet, for the letters in BAM! the
red space around strike, the white veil of uncertain will win best
in show over the dripping lines for sure — the prize is
probably only clear to those who have not yet
stenciled in numbers, but clearly are ready to
announce possibilities to come--
The idea of it--
--best to split from sense--
is repeating in the chaos, are you ready
yet? no matter how you sequence $
to numbers, alphabetize fate…
come, come just repeat
the best, the best, the best, eugenically, the best the
scrub-off of the ill-fated. Best to start over. What’s best
for everyone will — was--is never— clear. Whose interest is
being scribbled on the wall, yet pasted upside down, yet
posted in disorderly notes, as if to say all that is. to
be considered has not yet come? Just wait. It will come.
Kitty Jospé, teacher, writer and art docent at the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester (NY)
loves to explore relations between art, word, music, choreography. After receiving her MFA in poetry from Pacific University, OR in 2009, she has published five books and her work appears in numerous journals.
Alphabet of primary red, yellow and blue stories
hidden in text so I get out a magnifying glass to see
circles of storms, zigzags of fences on mountain passes
and turnstiles to government land without a push bar
only cattle and horses forbidden on the other side
with directions to leave your time in and out in case lost
or a Dorothy Hughes noir mystery of the 40s and 50s
set on the edge of a pueblo in New Mexico
with a woman heroine and the quiet of a blanket
drawn against the cold as someone stands on a flat roof
of an adobe house observing the sunrise, best yet to come
in a cloud, a wash of white that makes you look deeper
into what lies underneath, books on the shelves with titles
you can’t decipher, not giving away all their secrets
and somewhere under all that exists a timetable
because that’s all we’re given—we get to fill in the rest.
Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), 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), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
They tore off the poster,
whitewashed the wall.
more offensive than others.
Truly beyond me.
Must be fear--
one person's voice,
bare on a dark stage
without white noise
polluting privileged thoughts
for a brief period.
Public proclamations concerning
lonely dissertations on dissent
make starched shirts uncomfortable,
itchy to take them down.
A layered effect
created by cover-ups;
dozens of individual attempts
to be seen and heard,
can lull passive eyes into
seeing handsome backdrops
to expensive dinner conversations
among the tax sheltered,
whom these protestations tried
to initially expose.
Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. His frightening book of verse, Spirits for Sale, is available on Amazon from Pskis Porch Publishing. Some of his work found a home here, and in other publications such as Burning House Press, Visual Verse, CarpeArte Journal, Fishbowl Press, The Blue Nib, Red Fez, Spillwords, Nine Muses Poetry, and Jerry Jazz Musician. Jordan is an editor at Red Fez, and a regular guest editor at The Ekphrastic Review. His poetry has also been translated in Vietnamese and Farsi. To see more of his work go to: https://jordantretheweywriter.wordpress.com.
As in a children’s storybook
a first elegy
fourth grade choir she didn’t make
and every summer
a boy drowning Ascension Sunday.
The boy from Burgweinting.
The small pond they swam in.
When she spoke of this boy
in the back of her notebook
Bavarian Forest mountains
bombed refugee town
roads of clay dirt, birch trees
ask about their secrets:
“Where do the dead go?”
Bogs older than Danube grasses
sharp spines of a hedgehog
a first elegy. Inhospitable
in the yellow sunlight
she couldn’t bear language
pigtailed nine year old
obsessed with glass marbles
poppies, purple thistles.
To need less and less
less familiar here, less rote
teacher with a lisp
clicking film reels.
Ilona Martonfi is an editor, poet, curator, advocate and activist. Author of four poetry books, the most recent collection is Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna, 2021). Writes in journals, anthologies, and six chapbooks. Her poem “Dachau on a Rainy Day” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. Artistic director of Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. QWF 2010 Community Award.
On this canvas of my life
it looks as though
butterflies were flapping
their wings and flitting about
at every opportunity
and shaking things up a bit.
into the cloud,
my lived life
I struggle to discern
were left to the butterflies
and their flitting and flapping.
In the end they flapped the clouds away.
Tomorrow I shall paint a new canvas
and with the help of the butterflies
I will paint another picture
drawn from my life.
On canvas, I am the butterfly.
I can make the patterns,
the order or disorder.
make of it what they will.
Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Vagabond Press, Light Journal and So It Goes Journal. https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/
Once Upon a Time in London
It started out like any old London
summer’s day. Not too hot, not too sunny,
a cloud threatening here or there.
The big boys took the little ones
to the zoo. Past the ABC cinema,
The Service Station, some yard
full of packing crates. Sometimes
they saw the blue sky that might
have been. That’s London. Most
of the summers you just imagined.
The big boys hurried the little ones
along- After all, they were responsible
and there were 18 of the small boys,
all trundling and play-fighting
and sometimes bothering other
users of the narrow pavements.
They also wanted to get there.
The small boys would be less
of a bother, they could let them
run free to see the animals
they wanted. So long as they’d
all meet again at 17.00 hours sharp
at the exit. The big boys looked
forward to a cigarette or two,
a sip of whisky secreted in a flat
flask in Bob’s coat pocket and
talking about the girls they knew,
of course. Then the thick fog
settled over what seemed
the whole world. Some of
the little boys found their way
home by about four o’clock
in the morning.
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels, one full-length poetry collection and two chapbooks, her work has been widely published in mostly US poetry journals. Her latest full-length poetry MS, The Rain Girl, has been accepted for publication in June 2020 by Blue Nib. Her poem, "Old Love’s Sonnet", has been nominated for a Pushcart by Shark Reef Journal where it was published in the summer of 2019.
The Best is Yet
a faded future, pastels distilled, burnt by the nuclear sun,
an angry past littered with dollars, swept up our lives,
marble-washed dreams given no time to set
they’ll find our culture brightly drawn, action-packed-
limbs flailing and cries of BAM! Drunk on technicolour-
violence, we always came a distant second
they’ll root through our pictures and words, they’ll see
numbers and figures and plastic covered nightmares,
betrothed brothers of mother’s ruin
our faded past, once rich and warm, glassed by memories,
sunk like the ships it carried, worn by the salt in the air,
if we scream no-one hears us, futility in blue
where did we go? No question too dumb, like the leaders,
count the days as we went backwards, as we went…
not for long, the universe always had its answers.
Zac Thraves is a writer, performer and mindfulness practitioner based in the UK. You can find a number of poems on this site, as well in a number of other publications; and you may wish to take a browse on Amazon's virtual bookshelves for some exciting short fiction. The future is peace and love, just go with it.
like a Braque collage
wasted snippets of life
running off walls
in meaningless print
a silent soundtrack
to high-rise noise
its pastel life of
the slip-sliding waves
pulling us back
from the brink
of canvas wiped clean
Kate Young lives in Kent with her husband and has been passionate about poetry and literature since childhood. Over the last few years she has returned to writing and has had success with poems published in webzines in Britain and internationally. She is a regular reader of The Ekphrastic Review and her work has appeared in response to some of the challenges. Kate is now busy editing her work
and setting up her website.
all time explodes outwards
from the mind
all we’ve learned
the ABC of it
the 1,2,3 of it
the wham-bam-glam of scribbles, whales and balloons
puffs and pastels out, except
that fuzzy bit you don’t know yet
a small figure steps into the future
Oonah V. Joslin
Born in N. Ireland, Oonah V Joslin is a retired teacher. She writes mostly poetry and micro-fiction and won three MicroHorror prizes, and is published widely on-line and in several anthologies. Most recently she won two Moon Awards in Writing in a Woman’s Voice. She is currently poetry editor at The Linnet’s Wings magazine. Her chapbook, Three Pounds of Cells is available on Amazon and she was invited by the National Trust to read her poem from that book, Almost on Brantwood Jetty on board the Gondola Steamship at Coniston in 2016. You can follow Oonah at oovj.wordpress.com Parallel Oonahverse and on Facebook.
For the Best Outcome
I zoom in on the future 300%
to count eight rabbits stamped in
various positions inside red frames.
Nothing to do with a sexual appetite
even if little rabbits feed habits.
Double dollar figures
stand to the west strutting
their lucky bodies. No,
I do not bet. To improve
my outlook though, I want to
draw an angel fluttering above
with good health, beating wings
of common sense to that squatted rabbit
resting on her back. She is weird and pretty
looking up at Hello Kitty.
The wings flap, feathers,
still white and fragile,
would drop with each eye blink
and litter the splotched grass fields
where I want to sit, near bands of smoke
and scribbles of tumbleweed that roll on.
John Milkereit is a mechanical engineer working in the oil & gas industry who lives in Houston, TX. His poems have appeared in various literary journals including The Ekphrastic Review, San Pedro River Review, and The Ocotillo Review. He completed a M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, WA in 2016. His most recent collection of poems, Drive the World in a Taxicab, was published by Lamar University Press.
sector 097 of the venn
is reserved for serendipity
whose cuts produce the gem
you never asked about
the aesthetics of upside-down
don’t neglect the pun
the decorated globe
the braille for texture
Will you find it mama?
find it mama
I know my dear
eat your veggies
you have glue in your hair, pet - sit still
No I won’t!
Don’t destroy it darling
your brother wants to read it
I found this wonderful site Lorette
it has waxed paper
for keeping food fresh
you would really like it
…just one ice cube please…
…she has a stud in Kentucky…
Are we nearly home yet mummy?
mummy wake up
wake up mummy
i don’t like beetles
and there’s a big one the rorschach
i flushed it mommy
but its running down the page
Boys and girls
come out to play
kiss the railing first.
I’ll let go if you kiss the railing
Don’t write in the steam darling
it leaves marks
the flagpole of free dom
i can’t see it mom
i can’t do it because it doesn’t make sense
Stamp it like this…or use your stencil
That’s lovely darling!
Will we put it on the wall?
The sociologist is visiting
and he likes pictures.
He rides a bicycle.
No, don’t scribble
All right, lets see if we can make something from it
Tidy up the comics now Adam
Just do something that makes you happy
I love the colours in that one.
What do the words say
(keep it in the airwaves)
everything was signed
after my parents left
they had no idea
it was the best thing
I CAN’T HEAR!
Everyone’s talking at once!
col OMB ia!
I’m going to bed now
It was clearly the best thing
but they had no idea
they had it coming.
Cameron McClure was brought up on a farm in the north of Ireland where he still lives. Now retired, writing is his attempt to prove to himself that he is human after all.
Gilded wisps skirt a vacant abstraction
like satellites whose globes are dissolving
in a haphazard sky. So? Signs shriek shnocked
proclamations: “All’s awash!” “Waterlogged!”
“Blue puddles like splotchy slugs footprinting
eroding concrete and encroaching fast!”
But shun such convulsions, will ya? The crux
of broadcasting one’s garbled conceptions--
reflections feared, sneered, steepled gossip—is
it’s too stupid! (The best is yet to come!)
D. R. James
D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 36 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His most recent of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2020), Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box, 2019), and If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press, 2017). His micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is printable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project. https://www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage
The Best Is Yet To Come My Way
Out of the tree of life I just picked me a plum
You came along and everything started to hum
And now, the end is near And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
Still it's a real good bet The best is yet to come
I've lived a life that's full I traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this, I did it my way
The Best is yet to come and babe won't that be fine
You think you've seen the sun But you ain't seen it shine
Regrets, I've had a few But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do, I saw it through without exemption
And wait til the warm up's under way Wait til our lips have met
And wait til you see that sunshine day You ain't seen nothing yet
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
And yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
Wait til your charms are right for these arms, to surround
You think you've flown before But baby you ain't left the ground
But through it all, when there was doubt I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way I've loved,
I've laughed and cried I've had my fill, my share of losing
Wait till you're locked in my embrace
Wait til I draw you near And wait til you see that sunshine place
Ain't nothing like it here But now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way Come the day you're mine
I've got plans for you, baby And, baby, you're gonna fly
Author's note: Song lyric by Carolyn Leigh, 1959, recorded by Frank Sinatra, and merged with Sinatra’s signature 1969 song "My Way," composed by Paul Anka. Donald Brackett verbal collage conducted according to the Burroughs and Gyson method.
Donald Brackett is a Vancouver-based culture journalist and poet who writes about music, art and films, as well as curating film programs for Cinematheque. He is the author of three books with Backbeat Books: on Amy Winehouse, 2016, Sharon Jones, 2018, and Tina Turner, 2020. He is currently working on a new book about the conceptual artist and musician Yoko Ono.
Jeannie E. Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts has authored four poetry collections and two children's books. Her work appears in print and online in North American and international journals and anthologies. She is poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings.
After The Best is Yet to Come
for family, friends and Lorette
A book on the loft, I am
A bunch of scriptures, maybe;
Or a booklet of prayers,
A Chapter of the Kamasutra,
Or a prescription for venereal diseases.
I realize nothing out of these.
(Someone would have read had I been one.)
In my life,
I’ve had the privilege of performing three major pilgrimages:
1) In 20th Century C.E.:
during my childhood,
to The Kaaba in the heart of Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
2) In 21st Century C.E.:
during my intellectual maturity,
to The Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
Perhaps, the site should be declared
The Holy Place for all philosophers, poets and artists.
3) In 21st Century C.E.:
during my conscious transcendence
to Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh, Pakistan.
Perhaps, the site should be declared
The Holy Place for all historians and philologists.
I should like to confess:
the second experience has been the profoundest.
A verse and/or discourse on why and how on another occasion now.
Currently, I’m on The Pilgrimage to Self--
the most significant of all, after all.
For, in the words of Bulleh, then:
your resources and claims
and acclamations and proclamations
of knowledge and wisdom:
learning by means of cramming
—devouring thousands and thousands of
all manner of volumes on top of volumes.
but have you ever endeavoured
to read and learn about your-self
all your life,
you’ve remained a permanent resident
at the so-called house of lord
—temple, synagogue, church,
mosque, gurdwara, shrine et cetera.
but have you ever cared to spend
a few nano-moments
at the house of self?
latterly, you’ve been preoccupied
with rather rigorously sanctioning
all manner of battles and wars
against all manner of devils
of all manner of worlds.
but have you ever considered
embarking upon an odyssey
—supervising, monitoring and regulating
your ego/super ego?
2. Love and Romance
Throughout my life,
I’ve been exceptionally privileged
to have always had the love of my mother.
And of course, of my father and siblings.
And of course, of many dear friends from across the globe.
I’m absolutely convinced:
Mother is The Face of God!
And in my life,
I’ve had the privilege of experiencing
the romance and romanticism of many
loving, caring, intelligent and beautiful
women too of various classes and creeds.
And I’ll keep (re)emphasising
until my material and immaterial being ceases to exist:
EVE IS NOT FROM ADAM’S RIBS!
Phallocracy/chauvinism/patriarchy may be
The Order of the Day (governing the mechanics
of societies in many regions of the world today),
but as Heraclitus said:
And the ones in denial
of the inevitability of change
are, but delusional, I’m afraid.
3. Languages, Art and Literature
Right from the onset i.e. the very early childhood,
pursuing the trait of being multilingual was instilled in my brain.
Hence, the basic knowledge of many and proficiency in some
languages i.e. Sanskrit, Farsi (Persian), Arabic, Turkish, French, Punjabi
and Urdu, English, respectively.
Urdu (the so-called Mother Tongue) is a transliteration
of the phrase اردو, which literally means a ‘caravan.’ The
language is a chimaera—formulated by blending Farsi (Persian),
Sanskrit, Arabic and Turkish. I should like to confess: I’m still learning it.
There is a theory, you know, which states that “the language
that you speak in your dreams is your Mother Tongue.” Thereby,
I can rather conveniently claim the English language to be my
ultimate forte and fortress. A consequence, I would say, of the
postcolonial syndrome, apparently. The British ruled the so-called
Indian Sub-continent for over a hundred years, after all.
And throughout my life,
I’ve had the privilege of having an unhindered access
to all manner of local and foreign art, theatre, and literature.
Such are the virtues
of a liberal and postmodern upbringing.
During the infancy,
I was fascinated by calligraphy. And I learnt to carve bam-
boo stems into calligraphy pens. The craft was taught to
me by our gardener in Kotli, Kashmir. I was encouraged
by my family and friends to participate in the Calligraphy
Competitions at school and won a few awards, too. I still
possess a few of those calligraphic pieces (wood, cloth,
stone and paper) from when I was only thirteen years old.
During the adolescence,
my existence became exposed to the marvels of Surrealism.
I was nineteen and a half years old. The stage was the post-
modern Babylonia i.e. London, UK. And the Metamorphosis
of Narcissus by Dali was the culprit. And to this very moment,
I have not been able to free myself from the hypnosis. Although,
I never did take the canvas, paint and brush as my brides.
To me, the apotheosis of my existence has been
the publications of a few florilegia of verse in English. A
feat—i.e. becoming an internationally published author--
that has never been achieved before by anyone in neither
my maternal nor paternal family. I know, it’s nothing too
extraordinary, since it has not been done for the very first
time ever in the history of humanity, but the milestone is
something to take pride in, for sure, I think. For, after all,
Family History is made. Although, I haven’t any offspring
of my own to carry the Legacy forward.
The words of my first-ever poem are still vivid in the
cosmos of memory. I had written it for this girl named
Amina from my neighbourhood in Kotli, Kashmir. I had
a very serious crush on her. And I was too shy to confess
it to her face. So, I wrote a short poem for her:
The luminous crescent of Ramadan is even jealous
of the charisma of your deep-set hazel eyes,
and the waterfalls of Srinagar even yearn
to bathe in the dust of your milky-white feet.
To me, she had the most beautiful eyes and feet that a
human being could possibly possess. Little did I know at
that time that the two were en route to manifesting as my
fetish, eventually. I was 12, she was 14. Little did I know
at that time that my inclination to fall for older girls was
being nurtured and was to become my permanent ally,
eventually. One day, after school, I mustered up the
courage to give her the poem. I like it, she said.
During this journey,
I’ve come to realise the following though:
Poetry is the string of yarn--
multishaped and multicoloured beads, art.
Irony is existence’s dearest attire—stain-proof, crease-proof et
cetera. Yes, that the thoughts and words are fascinating cosmoses
in their own rights. But the so-called influencer itself even needs
(some other form of) an influencer. To put it rather poetically:
for the so-called muse to be rendered a muse, the prerequisite is
the existence of (some other form of) muse. Id est: language as
the vahana, in case of thoughts and words; imagery, in case of
muse. ‘Why’ we would (probably) never know and learn.
Indeed, it has been an endeavour
pregnant with all manner of sounds, colours, smells and tastes--
worthy of an experience in every life
regardless of the nature of Karma.
Rest assured: none of this and that
has ever been taken for granted on my part.
Nonetheless, prior to the inevitable epilogue
(the one that all living things are decreed to have),
as I remain focused on finishing up
composing this ekphrasis, glued to my workstation (at home)
—inhabited by chocolate brown desktop,
separate journals for verse, ekphrases, aphorisms and notes,
led pencils (including mechanical ones),
and of course, the marvel that computer is
and its partner in crime, the printer--
I am, but compelled to ponder:
amidst the mist
of what has been and is being done,
if the best is yet to come?
 This is an excerpt from her poem titled ‘Time and Again’. Translator: Suresh Kohli.
 The Kaaba is the ultimate Holy Site for Muslims.
 ‘Masjid’ is a transliteration of the word مسجد from the Arabic language, which means Mosque—a place of worship for Muslims.
 ‘Mohenjo-Daro’ means ‘Mound of the Dead Men.’ The city happened to be one of the major cosmopolitans of the Ancient Indus Valley Civilisation from 2500 BCE (approximately).
 The most revered Punjabi Sufi (Saint) and poet, Syed Abdul Shah Qadri, or Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1757 CE) from Kasur, Hindustan (India). Kasur is now a city in Pakistan.
 This is my non-literal and a rather long translation of the first six verses of a poem by Bulleh Shah.
 Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 – 475 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher.
 Ramadan is the Holy Month of Fasting for Muslims.
 ‘Vahana’ is a transliteration of the word वाहन from the Sanskrit language, which means a ‘mount’ or ‘vehicle.’
 ‘Karma’ is a transliteration of the word कर्म from the Sanskrit language, which means ‘deed’ or ‘action.’ In the Hindu philosophical tradition, the phenomenon of karma is interpreted in the context of cause and effect and relates to reincarnation, or ‘rebirth.’ For example, good karma results in a good next life and vice versa.
Editor's note: Saad Ali kindly permitted us to reprint his poetry sequence, altered, in order to work with the formatting limitations of the software and this editor. A PDF file follows his bio, where you can read the original as it was intended.
Saad Ali was born in Okara, Pakistan in 1980 C.E. He has been brought up in the UK and Pakistan. He holds a BSc and MSc in Management from the University of Leicester, UK. He is an existential philosopher-poet. Ali has authored three books of verse (so far) i.e. Ephemeral Echoes (AuthorHouse, 2018), Metamorphoses: Poetic Discourses (AuthorHouse, 2019) and Ekphrases: Book One (AuthorHouse, 2020). By profession, he is a Lecturer, Consultant and Trainer/Mentor. Some of his influences include: Vyasa, Homer, Ovid, Attar, Rumi, Nietzsche, and Tagore. He is fond of the Chinese, Greek and Arabic cuisine. He likes learning different languages, travelling by train and exploring cities on foot. To learn more about his work, please visit www.saadalipoetry.com.
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