finally made it, musée d’orsay--
the van gogh we’d loved, our picture,
sticks to me, it struck me, when i saw it,
a pure night. as gold & blue
as we thought it’d be,
but then back at the hotel,
i remembered it all navy. funny.
like your little-league uniform,
but it was prussian & ultramarine
& cobalt there, in person. & the golds,
cornstalk-streaks in the water,
the gassy ghost-lights & the stars
were all so subtly themselves.
van gogh wrote his own brother
of the picture, the big dipper’s pink
& green sparkle’s discreet paleness
contrasts with the gaslights’ harshness,
whose reflections are red-gold
& go down into a green-bronze.
they had some translated letters
there to read. wish you were here--
how can i tell you? i walked with him,
i must tell you. his dark, blue ghost,
his straw hat, as tilted & tangible as if you'd
breathed him alive, along that sloping-away
or sloping-up into the picture, a carmine
patch on my overcoat, two young lovers
in the mud, avoiding impastoed ruts,
& stalls in our furtive conversation,
where i told him about you, & he
said, the starry sky--
i’d very much hoped to paint it.
Darren Lyons is currently an MFA student in the Creative Writing Program of The New School in New York, NY. Recently, his poems were published in The Ekphrastic Review, Chronogram, and The Inquisitive Eater, and a poetry/painting project of his was featured on The Best American Poetry Blog. One of Darren's short stories and another poem were published in the 2016 and 2017 editions, respectively, of Stonesthrow Review.
Awake in this moment
our concerns far behind us,
we make our way,
reflecting on direction
Beneath the gaze
of a thousand million souls,
guided by their light,
our path is chosen.
Our course made clear,
we embrace the calm
that descends upon us
going forward, together.
Ken Gierke was forty before he found the need to write poetry, but even then he was pressed for the time needed to focus. Retirement has given him that, as well as a different perspective on life, which has come out in his poetry, primarily in haiku and free form verse. More of his work can be found at https://rivrvlogr.wordpress.com/
Admiring Starlight, Waiting
Fishermen will set out now
in the glowing whirl
of Starlight on the nighttime River.
But I, more cautious,
will watch sleepily
from my window
the lovely play of
dark and Stars upon the Rhone.
I will set out only
when Sun takes precedence,
light splayed out,
across the river’s shores
making bright lines up and down
day’s path made sure and firm.
Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood in Pittsburgh. She is a writer and story performer. Her Legacy of Honor series feature strong Italian-American women. Her poetry and essays appear or are forthcoming in Gnarled Oak, the A-3 Review, Hobart Literary Review, Silver Birch, Peacock, and Postcard Poems and Prose among others. Her first poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, was just released by Finishing Line Press. Joan's picture books from Theaqllc, Whoosh!, Summer in a Bowl, Rosa and the Red Apron, and Rosa's Shell celebrate food and family. Her award-winning short stories are collected in Simply a Smile. You can find more about her work on her blog at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com
Starry Night Couple on Shore
Shawl wrapped around my shoulders,
not because of any breeze off the Rhone,
but because I want to keep my feelings to myself,
afraid they will spill out over the reflection on water,
get caught in the undertow of boats tied to shore.
It’s the argument from earlier this evening--
why he extends his arm for me to link mine through,
not because the path is uneven, or the darkness
this far from cafes and bars, but the undercurrents
in every conversation, how he does not approve
of the way I pull away from him early in morning,
leave our bed for the rise of the birds from their roosts
and how they fly off, not to return until the sun
is about to set, same as the way he left each daybreak
in the skiff with the excuse of providing fish.
Dishes can sit from first coffee through evening meal.
The gentleman I see all over town with his easel
understands. He knows how you can get lost in thought,
roam the fields with paints waiting for just the right
sunflower to bloom.
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.
Letter of Thanks to Theo
I go outside at night and paint the stars,
dear brother, and I capture starry nights,
near to my yellow house, right here in Arles.
My royal blue water reflects gold gaslights,
and lovers in the foreground walk together
over mauve ground that borders the River Rhône
beneath my blue-green sky, under the Bear.
Soon morning light will dawn; they’ll head for home.
When dusk descends and shadows start to creep--
when day is over and the night draws nigh,
that’s when I’m wakeful. There’s no time to sleep.
I have to go outside and paint the sky!
I thank you from the bottom of my heart
for oils and brushes to advance my art.
Sharon Fish Mooney
Sharon Fish Mooney is the author of Bending Toward Heaven, Poems After the Art of Vincent van Gogh (Wipf and Stock/Resource Publications, 2016) and editor of A Rustling and Waking Within (OPA Press, 2017), an anthology of ekphrastic poems by Ohio poets responding to the arts in Ohio. She has presented ekphrastic poetry readings in multiple locations including the Arts in Society Conference, Paris and Groningen University, the Netherlands. She won the inaugural Robert Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry. Her ekphrastic poems have appeared in Rattle, First Things, Modern Age, The Lost Country, Common Threads and several anthologies. Website: sharonfishmooney.com
Law of Attraction
The world’s a watery reflection--
only the sky seems solid, thick
with stars, vibrating like struck bells.
Golden ripples of light radiate
into the river below, stars
diving below the surface
in showers of sparks and steam.
In its turn, the river rises out of its basin,
sleepwalking toward the surf.
The sea, restless sleeper reaching
for the shore, takes a bit
of land each time it sweeps
the sand. Even proud mountains
give themselves to waves
and wind, wear down to a pebble,
and are borne away.
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.
Starry Night Over the Rhone
Oh, to have seen it his way,
celestial fireworks, the heavens
revealing the universe beyond his brushes,
the histories of it, its wild, intricate corners,
fierce explosions, disappearances, dark holes.
To be dazzled, showered in rapture, even
the watery elements turned to stardust.
We had gone for a stroll that night
to find a restaurant recommended by the owner
of the inn. We had stood for a long time in front
of one of Lyon’s many murals, marveling
at the city’s famous residents, their faces
drawn referentially across the wall.
We wandered further and came upon the river,
the full moon reflected in it, gently waffled
by the waves. There were bright lights
along the quays, voices coming from the bars
and bistros, sounds of contentment, even jubilation,
irrepressible laughter, glasses clinking in the air.
Ronnie Hess is a essayist and poet, the author of five poetry chapbooks (the latest: O Is for Owl and Canoeing a River with No Name) and two culinary travel guides (Eat Smart in France and Eat Smart in Portugal). She lives in Madison, WI. ronniehess.com
Starry Night Over the Rhone
Cast ashore, the couple turns
away from harbour’s shimmer,
backs to incandescent stars.
Flash, mirrored pinpricks glitter,
salutes distant as plans, hope,
as recollection. Linked arms
stop them staggering toward
home, muddy boots in step, qualms
thrusting weary legs ahead
like ill wind. Healing hearth’s edge--
soup perhaps, bread, bed. What did
they leave in river’s sludge?
Diane G. Martin
I know Vincent’s starry, starry
night, though ignorant of constellations,
of our universe and all others.
I grant that nothing stays,
stars burning out as you did
with hidden bottles of wine. Today
I think back to your wide eyes
looking up at me from the delivery
table and know the ways I failed
that trust—young and blind.
My mother, Elizabeth, your namesake,
quoted Milton on his blindness…in this
dark world…In your dark world,
death claimed your stricken body,
not your place in the only
firmament of stars I’ll ever know.
Diana Pinckney, Charlotte, NC, has five collections of poetry, including The Beast and The Innocent, 2015, FutureCyclePress. She is the Winner of the 2010 Ekphrasis Prize, Atlanta Review’s 2012 International Prize and Prime Number’s 2018 Award. She admits to being addicted to writing ekphrastic poems and has led a workshop on this form for the Charlotte Center for the Literary Art.
Imagine Driving with VVG in the Passenger Seat
A small village pops up ahead on the way to Arles; a church steeple, other roof tops, finally a road. The dirt pathway winds through stores with houses on top, bakery, tailor and blacksmith shops; a path wide enough for the horse I rode through the field of golden haystacks.
There is my friend Vincent, covered as usual with paint—shirt out, trousers torn, splattered feet bare and calloused. Come friend, ride this white horse that has followed me here. He is like a blank canvas for you to imagine painting or carrying you into a starry night. I have missed you while living my life of money and clocks, now we have a chance to catch up with our lives .
I hand him a geode—it has been opened to allow its mysteries to come to light. Its cave is lavender—lovely little stalagmites in turquoise and clear quartz around the sides. Does this bring your canvas of wild irises to memory, or shall we ride toward it on our horses—their bare backs smooth and powerful, their legs delicate like the flowering orchids at Arles.
I will take you back to my land—to the present so you can see your fame. In response, you leapt from your horse to mine, now a small car driving down a highway on the way to Amsterdam. I want to show you the history of your work; so few artists knew the power of your colorful mind. They painted the same old portraits and all gussied up soldiers with medals flashing. Yet you, painted from your inner vision of people and countryside even though sales were almost non-existent and you were troubled with your own demons. Look at what your work sells for now; see it hung in museums all over the world. Vincent, you are like a field of sunflowers in our lives.
Jackie Langetieg is retired and lives in Verona Wisconsin and secretly wishes it were Verona Italy. She lives with her son and two kitties. She is a regular contributor to the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, has published poems in small presses such as Bramble, Verse Wisconsin, Wis. Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, and has published two chapbooks and two collections of poetry. She currently is working on a series of stories for a memoir.
The Ekphrastic Review
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