Colour Me Red
I come from the moans of Toronto streets
to look into the Marchesa’s eyes fiery air
away from pc crowds with pendulous hands
and I thought of Bukowski’s words
“If you're losing your soul and you know it,
then you've still got a soul left to lose*”
and from Luisa’s eyes there flowed into mine
her blood in my veins
a light unrequited love
John Di Leonardo
* Charles Bukowski, quote.
John Di Leonardo is a Canadian visual artist/poet and a graduate of McMaster University. He has published two award winning chapbooks Book of Hours (2014), and Starry Nights (2015). He is a full member of The Canadian League of Poets. His debut collection of ekphrastic poetry, Conditions of Desire, was published by Hidden Brook Press, 2018. John has had numerous solo and group exhibitions to his credit over the past three decades, his work can be found in private and public collections such as the MacMaster Museum of Art. He is a past Board of Directors member for the Station Gallery in Whitby Ontario. He is represented by Art Dialogue Gallery in Toronto. He writes and paints in Brooklin, Ontario.You can visit him at johndileonardo.ca
Movement from Scrabble
“and be ready for obliteration . . . .”
Poetry begins in a swirl of tiles,
blank side up. Oh, the rank possibilities
of uncovering three consecutive vowels,
an a, an e, an i. Stretching from left to right,
full words appear across the horizon,
a blue-mountain summer in finest silks.
Adjectives from ruddy banks below
sweep into curls, lines of tight auditory delight.
Darkest adverbs centre themselves
into eccentric eyes that pierce,
a pair of trained assassins
whose corners draw nearer
to the ruby smirk of attraction,
living snakes of fascination.
Todd Sukany, a Pushcart nominee, lives in Pleasant Hope, Missouri, with his wife of over 37 years. His work recently appears in The Christian Century and Fireflies’ Light. A native of Michigan, Sukany stays busy running, playing music, and caring for four rescue dogs, a kitten, and one old-lady cat.
She lived on a stage of maybe, snaking
her slender limbs, tossing her auburn hair
as would-be Shiva, as could-be Diva
whispering come hither, come hither
and he, like moth to flame, staking
her in paint, captured her stare,
the licorice of her eyes, glycyrrhiza
as he came thither, came thither
painted her poised above waves breaking
as she pretends, plays devil-may-care
squandering her fortune. Will amnesia
be allowed? He portrays her power, hither
and yon, as daggered, angry aching.
In her tangled orgies, nothing is laid bare
or true. Silence figures in wax, the boa
writhing by her throat whispers come hither
and she wears lovers bites, sets painstaking
scenes rifling her increasing dissolute share
of opulence. She is plucked strings of cithara,
tongued ophidian. Her fate will be to wither,
as we all do. But first, captured in paint, no mistaking
the feelings of her lover— in each stroke, a flare
of who she might have been— underneath the diva--
the plea of love me, love me, in the song of the zither.
Kitty Jospé, former French teacher, active poet, docent at the University of Rochester, Memoria Art Gallery, has been teaching poetry appreciation and creative writing since 2008. One of her favourite activities is exploring ekphrastic responses, as poetry brings paint alive to speak in often surprising ways.
You’d think it’s the fire-engine hair, cascading itself into a blaze
to pull you, moth-winged, but it’s those dark eyes that immolate--
they nail you against a bed post while she regards at you askance,
wearing nothing but a men’s ruffled white shirt, spacious neckline
ready to plunge below her hips. Will she let it drop before or once
she arranges live snakes around her neck as if jewels to ornament
her cleavage? As if the promise of hardened nipples against cloth
lacked bite. Scarps rise behind her, vaporous and otherworldly--
more smoke than rock—while her eyes hunger, draw sky and you
like an oil painting being rolled tight, with the promise, set alight,
of a Roman candle’s gleaming torrent—immolation in art’s name.
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer with an MFA from California State University, Long Beach, whose work has appeared in Panoplyzine, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review and other publications. He has written two poetry chapbooks. The second of these, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Award and is slated for release by Tebor Bach Publishing in 2020.
Crown of fire
erupting on her brow,
she draws us away
from volcanic landscape
while pale hands
rest in the curve
of a defiant hip,
lips set firm over
necklines of cloud.
There is mischief
in the eyes, the curl
of the mouth –
a child’s wildness
in a woman’s
as she beckons us
to bathe in her
Claudia Court has had work published in several magazines and anthologies, and has won a number of competitions. Her debut collection, How to Punctuate a Silence, was published in July by Dempsey and Windle.
Our Lady of Scarlet
The hair—so much of it—from the very beginning inspired awe and fear. No way to camouflage the child, to avoid the looks of cryptic hostility, to cover the suggestion of scandal. No escape for the mother whose colored cheeks and mouth appeared on the child’s head like a thicket of brambles. As if the mother’s entire body had been bloodied and branded, as if everything she touched, including her child, represented the epitome of humanity’s fall.
As time waned, so did the mother—strained by the whispers, the stark gaps widening between mother and child and the rest of the world. The unceasing accusations cut new deeper wounds with each passing year. In the end the mother became lost. She could find neither herself nor her child and she faded into a barren stillness.
The child’s red head was filled with dreams, aqua, impressionistic, a transient backdrop to her intense isolation. She grew into her own sorrow, posing as independent, sneering at the compromises made by others of her sex. She collected snips of wishes--awkward fleeting bits of nothing. Her ways were guarded, flinging pursed lips into the shifting silences, her pose forced, filtered by the lessons of unforgiving yesterdays. The hair, a flaming mass of curls now, rose contemptuously above her fixed gaze.
presence and inheritance--
eyes tattooed with scars
A wandering resident of NYC, Kerfe Roig enjoys the surprises she finds when combining words and images.
On Seeing Augustus John’s Portrait of Marchesa Casati
Never heard of her
until this morning
And the red hair?
A dye job.
My friend Sylvia told me
and she ought to know.
Augustus John, aka Lover Boy,
cut the painting in half,
saved the private parts,
probably for himself.
You’ve got to wonder
why men insist on controlling
women, living off
muses, sirens, devil women with
ruby red lips, stiletto heels.
What did she ever do
to deserve the honour,
or is ignominy a better word?
Don’t tell me she held the cards.
Without her papa’s money, title,
she would have been called a tramp,
like the little girls from the provinces,
laboring under a hot sun or out on the streets.
She was an orphan, died poor, buried
with a stuffed dog and her fake eyelashes.
So much for mythology.
Ronnie Hess is an essayist and poet, the author of five poetry chapbooks and two culinary travel guides. She lives in Madison, WI. ronniehess.com
Haibun for Luisa Adele Rosa Maria von Amann, Marquesa Casati
The face has the hard, unitalianate lines of Mitteleuropa, the hair too fiery, the eyes black-ringed like the eyes of certain wild beasts. There is nothing soft or voluptuous, feminine or maternal. There is sadness and decadence and the scent of fin de siècle excess, morbid and rotten, that seeps through the bright colours of the canvas.
She had wealth, opulence and a collection of aristocratic genes vying for dominance like baby sharks. She drank champagne at breakfast from crystal glasses, ate thrushes and ortolans with bankers and princes. She showered money as if she was Jove himself, and it all slipped thought her fingers, squandered, down to the last ostrich feather plume from her hair.
The rich are different, they say, and they should know. Perhaps those bright young things, the last tycoons also understood why she collected nobiliary particles and planted them in her child’s bed, though nothing germinated. Perhaps they smiled too at the bathos of dying in poverty in a cold foreign land with only a stuffed Pekinese to cradle in her dead arms.
would have been peacock
dowdy henbird pecks at pearls
strewn before swine
Jane Dougherty lives and works in southwest France. Her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, Hedgerow Journal, Visual Verse, 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/
A Poem in French and English:
Il est arrivé trois semaines
dans le deuil, sonnant la cloche,
la demander. Nôtre liaison en placard,
alors comment la savait-il?
J'ai cherché la porte
pour la claquer sur la caméra
suspendu à son cou, tandis qu’il
a révélé sa surprise:
Elle m'est engagée
de peindre son portrait; J'ai parcouru
près de 200 miles pour la photographier.
Ai-je la mauvaise adresse?
J'ai haleté, Oui, vous devez aller
au cimetière local.
J'ai regardé sa bouche de poisson
avaler quelques mots,
assez pour lancer une autre surprise :
elle avait payé en avance
qu’il avait déjà dépensée.
Dans ma chemise de nuit,
j’ai négocié, voulant juste
lui de partir. Mais non, il a insisté
qu’il livrerait un portrait, peut-être sa mère?
Non… non, et je lui ai permis de prendre
une photo ou deux de moi
qu’il pourrait utiliser pour son portrait.
Il est parti,
et moi, pleurant sur une perte
que je n’afficherais jamais,
je suis tombé dans mon lit.
Je ne m’attendais pas à ça,
rien de tout ça. Pas sa mort,
pas ce tableau, aucun
de ces surprises ont été
tout ce qu’on a prévu.
Pourtant, il est là,
immortalisé : ma douleur,
mes nuits sans sommeil,
chaque crevasse de mon chagrin,
fardé de colère,
une fureur que j’ai empoigné
a éviter attaquer
à notre anniversaire
je suis tenant ce testament
plus grand que la vie ou la mort
que je resterai dans le placard,
face au mur.
He showed up three weeks
into mourning, ringing the bell,
asking for her. Ours was a closeted
affair, so how did this stranger know?
I fumbled for the door
to slam it on the camera
hanging from his neck, as he
gave up her surprise:
She commissioned me
to paint her portrait; I’ve come
almost 200 miles to photograph her.
Do I have the wrong address?
I gasped, Yes, you need to go
to the local graveyard.
I watched his fish-like mouth
swallow some words,
enough to launch yet another surprise:
she had paid an advance
he’d already spent.
In my nightgown I dickered, just wanting
him to leave. But no, he insisted
he would deliver a portrait, perhaps her mother?
No… no, I agreed to allow him to snap a photo
or two of me he could use for his portrait.
and I, weeping over a loss
I’d never hang, fell back into bed.
I wasn’t expecting this,
none of it. Not her death,
not this painting, none
of these surprises were
anything either of us planned.
Yet here it is,
immortalized: my pain,
my sleepless nights,
every crevice of my grief,
brushed over with anger,
a fury I grasped to keep
from lashing out at
the hapless artist.
on our anniversary
I am holding this larger
than life or death testament
which I’ll stand in the closet,
facing the wall.
R. Joyce Heon
When you get to be a great-grandmother, you start thinking about time, how best to spend it. So Ms. Heon writes instead of publishing, and does not engage so fully in the Worcester (MA) poetry scene as she once did. But occasionally a call for work speaks to her, and she gives up a little precious time to submit. Most usually that's ekphrasis. She's written close to 200 poems in response to Jerry Uelsmann's photography. Obviously, she suffers from an excessive imagination. Lately, she's been writing in French. She's of Finnish heritage...go figure.
I capture our moment
for fear it cannot last
you and moi breathe morning light
amongst azure muted Alps.
Your left profile glancing
flame locks pas de deux from föhn
black eyelashes fluttering through
dark eyes steely glare with
cheeks rouged over milk skin to
your scarlet lips en pout. How
I feel a blown whisper above
a raucous silence from our bed
sensing your subtle fragrance
wafting through the ether as
musk of the morning from
the prime of our risqué frolic.
Your succulent-peach satin gown
caressing slender shoulders
revealing nothing of our liaison as
your clenched petite hands guard
manicured nails, polished. Here
I capture your eternal flamboyance
though we cannot last for
my hellion of the canvas
age cannot wither you
nor custom stale your infinite variety
maybe yes, maybe no.
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.
My self held hands needs no other.
Do not impose your own feelings on me.
I see what you do not.
My body is erotica.
I live by will of spirit.
Do not judge my perfection.
Envy my strength if you must.
I am Kali and Lilith and Helen of Troy.
I appear century after century.
In form after form
My stare is a colossus that made the planets ignite.
Sandy Rochelle is a widely published poet, actress and filmmaker. Her work has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Spillword Press, Every Day Writer, Wild Word - and others. Her documentary film, Silent Journey, is streaming on Culture Unplugged.
Marchesa Luisa Casati [1881–1957]
On her tombstone:
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety
(from Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare)
She paid many portrait artists
to commission her own immortality
with riches and sexual favors,
at least before she had spent
millions beyond her means, and
before her frantic search for
feathers to adorn her hair, dyed
red to shock her admirers, her
lovers. Her large eyes widened
for them with a hint of shadow,
the chiaroscuro of belladonna.
She stood elegant as a statue,
a goddess. The fire in her hair
brillianced the storm clouds
over the Italian Alps. One of her
immortalizers, Augustus John,
captured a romantic intensity,
her sensuous want, her dangerous
exhibitionism when she entered
a room. Everyone noticed her
cheetahs on a leash that she’d
walk along the piazza in Venice,
strolling nonchalant; nothing on
except a fur coat and pearls.
At times, her jewelry shimmered,
pythons painted gold writhed
and dangled from her neck.
She loved animals: she’s buried
in a sheer black and leopard
skin dress, exaggerated eyelashes,
and with her beloved Pekinese
that she had stuffed at death.
But isn’t there more anguish
in her eyes than seduction?
Could she not see herself,
her internal broad-stroked
landscape of loneliness?
She was Italy’s richest woman
yet she couldn’t even buy
John C. Mannone
John C. Mannone has poems appearing in North Dakota Quarterly, Le Menteur, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, 2020 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and others. His poetry won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest (2020). He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His latest collection, Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry, is forthcoming from Linnet’s Wings Press (2020). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. A retired physics professor, he lives near Knoxville, Tennessee.
the painting marchesa casati
by augustus john
the marchesa stares back
with her infamous black eyes
and a crown of ginger tangled hair
she a flambeau question mark
against a soft somber sky
her small hands also whisper
in their slight twist
an anxious secret she will not share . . .
could it be a fragile shyness
she never quite outgrew . . .
notice there is no artsy glitter here
or outrageous fashion
with nothing more
than a slight exposé of breast
half buried in a white fluffed blouse . . .
life’s questions always tease the mind
a flame that goes unanswered
Sister Lou Ella
Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse news as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015 (Press 53).
Hall of Mirrors
"How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Rome or on Russia or on Spanish politicians..."
Politics, W.B. Yeats
How the fire of sunset has fallen into her hair,
a layering of clouds suggested by a ruffled blouse
covering her bare shoulders, pearlized white
in the portrait, a memory of winter in the thin line
of the northern alps painted as a background
above Milano where Gabriele Annunzio,
her first lover, wrote There are women's mouths
that seem to ignite with love the breath that opens them...
She carried the mysterious enigma of poetry within her,
and Augustus John must have seen it that first night
at a party in Paris as he'd seen sparks flying
from a gypsy campfire near the cliffs of Etang de Berre,
the smoky twilight in her eyes as night descended
on the lagoon, what was hidden in the depth of the waters
of an "inland sea" where nature yielded up such thoughts
of sexuality that the scandalous Marchesa Luisa Casati --
"the mad muse" known to wear improvised necklaces
of lover's bites at her throat -- her hair blazing
in the formal room, was the instant center of his attention,
all the foreign dignitaries fading in the background
as he ignored social convention, the old masters
already lost in his love for Irish tinkers, Normandy
fisherfolk and above all, the gypsies in Martigues,
an earthy contrast to the Big Four at Versailles,
in Paris for a critical Peace Conference... where we change
an historic account imagining Marchesa Casati's variations
reflected in the Hall of Mirrors: first, she is Erato, the muse
of love poetry, a woman who surprised Gabriele Annunzio,
though he was known as "the seducer"; then she is
Athena and Aphrodite the red-haired goddesses
of love, disguise and shrewd wisdom, her body shape-
shifting with the languid ease of a leopard in the artist's arms
that midnight, as, in his mind, the gypsy caravan circles
the necessary information, the geography of passion
traced by his lips -- this artist called The King of Bohemia
by other women -- a man who now holds a woman's red hair
in his hands and emulates the ocean-sway of touch,
the way his paint brush will translate her face four times,
The Muse of The Century, who makes herself a work of art,
against the threat of blank canvas,
and the unresolved alarms of war.
Laurie Newendorp enjoys writing for the Ekphrastic Challenge, and with a poem included in her book, When Dreams Were Poems, 2020, she was listed as one of ten Fantastic Ekphrastics. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles in 1919, the year Augustus John, a "war artist," was at the Paris Peace Conference with political dignitaries, among them, The Big Four, leaders of England, America, France and Italy (David Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau, and Vittorio Orlando); and Luisa, the Marchesa Casati de Soncino, an Italian heiress and art patron.
Wrong genre and pose, plural, but portraits
are intense thoughts: subject's, artist's, yours.
Take Augustus John’s portrait of his lover
Marchesa Casati. You also fall for this
slink of a woman, waist-high profile
unfolding like the Italian coast, white
silk robe with pinkish meat shades for her
cheetahs. You want to be tall too with thoughts
above those mountains, close to storms that
set the hair off with all color of fire. Let
hell rain on. Even in your browser window,
you believe you are wanted in the extravagant
rings of her belladonna eyes.
Forget she may be mocking, you
want in. Those hands, left index
hooking her craw, are poised to subdue
a snake for her vast chest. The mountains
are neutral, you think, except for white-gold
flames at the edge of her peignoir. Maybe
John saw a cheetah falling from clouds,
her fingers clutching a leash parading it
through streets, along with you, patrons,
misfits, lovers—the more the merrier, Dahlings.
You don’t go out of style that way, you think intensely.
Janice Bethany lives in Houston, Texas, where she is a writing lecturer for the University of Houston system. She is a finalist in the 2019 O’Bheal International Competition, Cork, Ireland; has work in Texas Poetry Calendar 2021; published in digital chapbook for Toledo Museum of Fine Arts; for Anesthesiology, a medical journal; work in The Ekphrastic Review. She enjoys Wallace-Stevens-walks where she composes along bayous of a local habitat and is influenced by art, music, travel, nature, and the good world around her.
Even after all this time,
still, I long to drown in
the pellucid green of your eyes,
to breathe in your scent and feel
the softness of your sunset hair.
It is a futile dream.
I always knew you would never be mine.
No man could ever harness a spirit such as yours,
but, oh, how I fantasized that those
green eyes were for me and no other.
I had heard of your moonlit walks in Venice,
two cheetahs your exotic guards
while donning only a cloak of fur,
its silky softness tantalizing your nakedness beneath,
the very thought arousing my senses.
The opulence of your soirées
stunned even Picasso into silence,
as you adorned yourself in egret plumes,
white peacock feathers and serpents.
Luisa – enigmatic, living work of art!
You craved attention yet remained aloof.
Even now, I would give all for you to be mine.
Now the sun is sinking and the night beckons
and the heat and brightness of noon has passed,
I would gladly spend twilight in your arms.
To be your final lover would suffice.
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 trained at the London School of Journalism. His articles and interviews have been published in a variety of British county and national magazines. Passionate about poetry since boyhood his poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Poetry on the Lake, LPP Magazine, and The Strand Book Of International Poets 2010.
Yes, look at me.
What do you see?
Fiery red hair,
Heavily kohl-lined inquisitive eyes.
Are you worthy of me?
Go to the boudoir and examine me closely
And discover both ecstasy and delight.
At my beauty and carefully coiffed sorrow.
Until the morrow.
Gaze at me one more time, and
Remember my fine, porcelain skin.
There is always another dandy
Seeking a magnificent mondaine.
Ellie Klaus was born and raised in Montreal. She has lived different selves over several decades: daughter, wildlife biology graduate, vision quest traveler, family life educator, president (of her son's school committee), friend, confidante, lover, wife, mother, caregiver and now caregivee, if there is such a word. Each has contributed to a different perspective of living, of life. The pieces of the puzzle are evident and coming together, although the final image is yet to be revealed. So, writing has reemerged as a creative endeavor to release some of the angst that arises from living a confined life, or any life for that matter. She currently has a poem entitled 'Bones' that is on NationalPoetryMonth.ca April 9, 2020 and a poem published by The Ekphrastic Review.
Owns every room
Even here her portrait
Is the main draw
A woman who knows
Her own worth
Makes no excuses
Relishes her flesh
And its capacities
Takes her pleasures
Stands at ease
In her body
Relaxing into her own
Center of gravity
Her red hair a flag
Above her face
Her wry smile
Invitation and challenge
Daring all to join her
Mary McCarthy, retired nurse and poet, finds herself in love with Ekphrastic, which keeps her busy and entertained during these plague days.
Marchesa Casati and Me
that’s how she looked at me
an intense gaze, a lust
intoxicating fire raging around her frame
a graceful swan of sin
Il Marchesa name imprinted
on my sheet, her perfume
hovers achingly on my empty bed
she once lay
I touch my lips as hers
my soul into her brim
entwined our limbs, memories
and then she left with silence forgotten
one sultry afternoon
I hold her song within
of charcoal black welcome
a world I’ve fallen, headfirst
my pit of broken need and despair
wanting her fire
my heart crisped to dust
Zac Thraves is a writer, performer based in the UK. You may wish to take a browse on Amazon's virtual bookshelves for some exciting fiction, or perhaps Youtube, for some mindful comedy and poetry films.
Remnants of the Living
It was unintentional.
You flounced into my frame,
your mane a buzz of gold.
I did your bidding,
captured your likeness,
a trap of beauty on canvas
but when I glance at you
hanging, I shudder,
tension rippling like bristle.
Is it the scoop of neck
that unnerves me so
or the pounce of pout?
Your eyes of Persian green
darken like the swill of brush
lording it over my landscape.
I catch your agitation,
fingers loosening the noose.
I fear I am the one ensnared.
You should be free as a sketch,
a cheetah chasing lines on paper
hunting for colours erotic and wild.
Instead, the smock you wear
drapes in orchid-stillness.
Your passion folds in on itself
leaving streaks of desire
pinkened like flesh on bone,
the remnants of the living.
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 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. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.
The Alchemical Allure of Luisa Casati
Her massive hair a dare, the Marchesa
observes the observer, a flaming red tease
echoing in her lips, her stance, her décolleté
and negligee. She possesses no doubt
of her prowess as though born of fire
and a hint of madness. With his brush
and vibrant palette, Augustus John
plays alchemist, creates the Rubedo,
fourth and final step to his magnum opus
sprung into seductive fullness.
Behind her, stormy skies, a suggestion
of an English moor, an inviting terrain
that entices the unaware to enter,
then unveils a bog—spongy and unstable,
riddled with unseen sinkholes. Nothing
is as safe as it looks. Poisonous
droplets of belladonna glitter
in Luisa’s emerald eyes.
Sandi Stromberg loves gathering poets’ work into anthologies. She co-edited Echoes of the Cordillera (ekphrastic poems, Museum of the Big Bend) and Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston. Her poetry has been nominated for 2020 Best of the Net (The Ekphrastic Review, thank you), a Pushcart Prize, read on PBS, and most recently published in The Ekphrastic Review, Still the Waves Beat, Purifying Wind, andSnapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing.
A Living Work of Art
Her most famous Poiret-designed costume was the “light bulb dress,” worn by the Marchesa, Luisa Casati, to the 1924 Beaumont Ball in Paris. The light bulb creation saw various wires and lights made up into a massive fountain shape – the outfit was huge.
Posted at Art U.K, 07 Mar 2019, by Chloe Esslemont
You wear my mother’s eyes, stranded between
the rage and resentment that were her life,
the ire with which it manifested.
The skyline is perfect, a cross between
an oncoming storm and the calmest day.
When I saw your eyes I had to create
the infractions and trouble I’d foster,
the rudeness to The Virgin’s precious love.
You tried to look relaxed by folding your
hands, but your pointer was like a sharp claw.
Would you have yelled less, Mother, if you had
replaced me with a storefront mannequin,
poised formally, my insides stuffed with my
own ashes, or those of some long gone love?
Would a naked, gold-gilded slave have helped?
Your snake necklace and your reptile earrings
are ornaments my mother would have loved.
She would have placed them gently in their cage
before forsaking me out to the world
she thought had twisted and fragmented her.
Though no Marchesa Casati, you were
still the neighborhood’s scandalous woman,
your beatings and vulgarities blasting
out the kitchen windows in summer time.
In winter, sounds of terror were muffled.
You wear my mother’s eyes, stranded between
the infractions and trouble I’d foster,
poised informally, with my insides stuffed,
before foresaking me out to the world.
In winter, sounds of terror were muffled.
In 1924, at the Beaumont Ball in Paris, a homage to Picasso and the Cubists, Luisa, Marchesa Casati wore her now famous “lightbulb dress,” made entirely from wires and lights. Too wide for the entrance to Beaumont’s ballroom, those who witnessed Casati attempting to squeeze through the doorway, reported that she collapsed like a “smashed zeppelin”.
Fiona Macdonald, CULTURE, September 2017
In a dream you held an ax, wore a lightbulb dress.
A dream for sure; you would abhor a lightbulb dress.
Was it a barber-strap, a wooden spoon, or axe?
Either way, there was the war of a lightbulb dress.
You floated like a constellation in a dream,
lights reflecting on the floor off the lightbulb dress
Would things have turned out differently without the booze;
dad not drowning at the bar of a lightbulb dress.
Like you, Luisa, Marchesa Casati had
one child; yours hid in the glare of a lightbulb dress.
Milan, Calabria – they are not the same thing.
A dirt floor will waste the hoar of a lightbulb dress.
Shock of red hair and what Mother would call “bathrobe.”
She wore one too, making done-for this lightbulb dress.
I know this cannot be true; it’s the stuff of dreams.
John, I saw her toil to restore a lightbulb dress.
John L. Stanizzi
John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and Sundowning. His brand new collection, POND, published by “impspired” in Ireland will be out in October. John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, Tar River, Poetlore, Rust & Moth, Rattle, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in El Ghibli, The Journal of Italian Translations Bonafini, Poetarium, and others. His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Adelaide, Scarlet Leaf, Literature and Belief, and Evening Street. A former New England Poet of the Year, John is the Flash Fiction Editor of Abstract Magazine TV, and he has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT. He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry. https://www.johnlstanizzi.com.
The Ekphrastic Review
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