A Gannet Dives
Arctic eyes catch sight:
below the roar
& chop & slap of surf.
He soars, grates out
a cackling incantation
swivelling on the pole
of the fixed gaze
locked on target
of silver beak
flurry of spume
Prey is taken.
Lizzie Ballagher has just finished her first full collection of poetry. Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines and webzines, including Words for the Wild, Nitrogen House, Poetry Space, Nine Muses, and The Ekphrastic Review. She blogs at https://lizzieballagherpoetry.wordpress.com/
"According to Morris’s catalogue essay, Congo soon recoiled against the bourgeois orderliness of these painting sessions and, like an auto-destructive artist ahead of his time, the chimp began “to obliterate the sheets of paper with large masses of paint”.
~ Tim Keane, Seeing Ourselves in a Chimpanzee’s Art
My mind daggers
its intentions in tangents,
in indigo squibs & black pigment,
like a haze of gnats
flattened onto a matrix.
A jungle evanesces
a largesse of charcoal bark
& curdled sky —
an arboreal commotion
like leaves in a nest.
into the slough
of the natural world:
both floral & fading.
into the susurrus:
its densities of velvet-
the bristle & singe
of my knuckles smearing
burnt ochre on paper,
see where my mouth’s red roof
dissolves into the hinterlands
A sporadic flush
of symbols effloresces,
an insistent scissoring & flourish
brinking on script.
upon myriad of strokes
into the pith, my fingers
stagnant with yolk.
Every inch is infinite
& I am caught like resin
in the crosshairs,
is a gorgeous sphere
gorging on knowledge,
unburying the lyrical.
I am amassing an archive
until such need recedes
& the obdurate ape in me
Isn’t all surface mirage?
Supple, faceted, shifting
like the questions that live
between our lineages.
If language is
where we divide,
let us respire
into the disquiet.
I was content
to know enough.
To concede this much
requires fealty & a fidelity
But I came to you --
whole, coherent --
& so shall I return.
O, to be born a beast
— verging on human --
& all that means.
But what being
can breathe in the smoke
of another’s dream
Ottawa-born and Costa Rica-based, Cara’s work has been featured or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry, CV2, The Maynard, The Fiddlehead, SWWIM, Rust + Moth and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. She won Room’s 2018 Short Forms contest and second place in Frontier Poetry’s 2018 Award for New Poets. In 2019, she was a finalist for Radar Poetry’s The Coniston Prize and shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. She has a diploma in Poetry & Lyric Discourse from The Writer’s Studio at SFU, and a diploma from the London School of Journalism.
The Envy of Picasso
You were the spaghetti they threw,
a shocking, fruitful three-year experiment,
your beautiful pandemonium of tempera choices,
a spray of slate blue, white, and black
radiating from a beige landscape
and kissed with delicate strokes of burnt sienna,
create a striking balance
of harmony and disharmony
with a signature symmetrical consistency;
even Pablo could not resist.
Forty years gone,
your abstract impressionism style
still yields a high price at auction, outselling
non-chimpanzee artists Renoir and Warhol.
Elaine Sorrentino is Communications Director at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, MA. Her work has been published in Minerva Rising, Willawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, The Writers' Magazine, Haiku Universe, Failed Haiku, and has won the monthly poetry challenge at wildamorris.blogspot.com.
A Surrealist Gives the Chimpanzee Pencil and Paper
And Congo draws a line
That will lead to other lines
That become his style
A hint of Chinese brushstrokes
That will sometimes be splashes of colour
Like a child’s jump into rain puddles
Vague radiating fan patterns
In blue and black, or red, yellow, green
Congo paints a line
Without one lesson
Not even a modest intro to colour
And goes down in animal art history
His mind not, after all, a tabula rasa
But like ours, filled with images
A primal search for symmetry and balance
Congo paints lines some call
“Lyrical abstract impressionism”
That Picasso hangs in his studio
The critics question
The way the doubting ask
Is there a God?
Congo makes his mark
But is it Art?
Sandi Stromberg is a former magazine feature writer, editor, and columnist, who has dedicated her retirement to writing poetry. She lives in Houston, Texas, and served ten years on the board of Mutabilis Press, dedicated to publishing the work of regional poets in a series of anthologies.
Congo in Britain
in spite of
strive for unity--
maintain their balance
This is Congo’s
blacks & whites
blues, singing their hearts out--
to hold—much like
our country—threads unraveling
from the spool
(Has Desmond played us
for a fool?)
Carole Mertz writes from Parma, Ohio. She’s reading Wilda Morris’s Pequod Poems, marveling again at how far poetry can carry us. Carole’s next collection Color and Line is scheduled for November (2020) release with Kelsay Books.
Rhapsody (Response to Congo)
Versions of you—kaleidoscopic
each facet sharp with intangible nuance
a composition of intersections and vertexes
but even the intersections never meet
cornflower blue contrast
to a dull beige world
stark white soul
resisting the gravitational pull into
without giving way
to fire and ashes
Elizabeth Bates is a wife and mother of one. Bates dabbles in various writing forms: poetry; flash and microfiction; creative nonfiction; literary criticism; and she is currently writing her debut novel. She has a poem due to be published in Versification literary zine in July. Bates is a high school English teacher in Washington state. She earned her MA in English from Southern New Hampshire University in 2019.
Black and Blue
Black and blue.
Colours that go
a perfect match
Red is different.
It stands alone
But there is black at the heart
of the fire,
it’s bare bones.
And it needs air
Less air, though
to burn with a blue flame
to breathlessly consume
the black parts.
Blue and black
the remnants are lying there
Black and blue.
Waiting for the red.
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/
In summers past a hydrant blast was all it took
to wash the sweat off heated days, a splash
in the geyser flash, the cleansing sprays.
We jumped back laughing, stomping puddles,
united in the joy of cooling skin, the unexpected
surge and strength of thirsty limbs.
An ice cream truck jingled the soundtrack
to our dance, our soggy t-shirts twirling,
drenched and dripping, sagging pants.
We lined up with our silver,
split a Twin Pop™ with our best friend,
sucked the flavor from the ice,
chewed the stick to splinters,
until sweet and sticky,
we hopped back in again.
Betsy Mars is a prize-winning poet, photographer, and educator. She founded Kingly Street Press in 2019, publishing her first anthology, Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife, in October. Her work has appeared widely online, most recently in Live Encounters, Silver Birch Press, Verse-Virtual, Kissing Dynamite, and The New Verse News as well as in multiple anthologies. Her chapbook, Alinea (Picture Show Press), came out in January 2019. In the Muddle of the Night, a chapbook she is co-authoring with poet Alan Walowitz, will be published by Arroyo Seco Press later in 2020.
Objet d’Art Pan Troglodyte
He would never paint the Savanna,
depict home of the past, his origin
family long ago, recalled faces,
hear sounds of splashing in the pond,
to dispel the already oppressive heat
of Fongoli at morning, preparing to rest
after a cooler nighttime of gathering.
Child’s table with palette, bare canvas,
brush in hand, a far cry from Senegal,
memories of survival instincts dulled,
absent the din of his chimpanzee siblings;
colors remind him of water, tepid
but refreshing, mud streaked fur under
trees not plentiful, even shade brutally hot.
No one could explain the painful breathing,
cough endured, a human ailment not meant
for Pan Troglodyte, stricken young,
far from a Savanna he barely recalled;
they celebrate his painting, Objet d’art,
sought after, his creativity born of captivity,
in the wild, chimps don’t paint.
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is a New Hampshire poet, active in causes such as animal rights, teen issues, nature and environment. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Quarterly, The Harvard Press, Ekphrastic Review, among others. Her full length works are available on Amazon.
The Planet of the Blues
It’s easy, they cried. We are blue, we are huge,
we can only win. Do we need more land?
Yeeeeessss, cried the masses. Who’s got it?
The black ones. Then they planned
Splash, blue sprung into the black village
flailing their weapons wildly, hoping
to have it over and done with quickly.
They relied on their size and the surprise,
striking while the village was sleeping.
Those who survived the first wave
of the offensive regrouped quickly, defending
their land and their children.
They fought fiercely for what they loved,
won the day. Over time the blues learned
that there was enough room to share.
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and Tangents, a full-length poetry collection published in the UK in 2011, she was three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition. Recent poetry collections: From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949: A Child’s Journey, and Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back. Her latest full-length poetry manuscript, The Rain Girl, will be published by Chaffinch Press in 2020.
Witness to an Event
People stood agape;
there were curly-haired girls
and lip-biting boys,
complained about the noise
as the grown men wept and wailed,
while some women marveled
at the majesty,
and wrote sonnets
in their heads using words
like explosion and cacophony.
When the icerock hit the earth,
all these people were witness to the event.
Henry is a writer, poet and mental health essayist based in Somerset in the UK. He has a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Birmingham. His latest poetry collection is a collaboration about mental health with Dutch artist Marcel Herms and is available from Egalitarian Publishing.
View from a Quarantine Window
At least summer still looks like summer.
Deep blue skies, a few puffy clouds
skimming by like pool floats, inviting me
to drift away.
But the world goes raging on, spitting hate,
spattering blood, bringing darkness out
Will we find a vaccine
in time or give way
to nights without any stars?
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 was honoured to receive one of the Fantastic Ekphrastic Awards for 2020. Alarie hopes you’ll check out her poetry books on the Ekphrastic Book Shelf and visit her at alariepoet.com.
I Know What I Do
Lay down a foundation,
bold blue strokes.
Fan out in all directions cohesive,
Some splatters of white,
defined, defended by blue.
Introduce black. Figures
falling back, just abstract enough
to become subjective but not exact.
Earth’s darkest pigment,
the mix of all colours together
to go up against blue.
A blood-red spurts between the two.
Nothing is random in what we do.
Diana Cole, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has had poems published in numerous journals including Poetry East, Spillway, the Tar River Review, the Cider Press Review, Friends Journal, Verse Daily and the Main Street Rag. Her chapbook, Songs By Heart was published in 2018 by Iris Press. She is an editor for The Crosswinds Poetry Journal and a member of Ocean State Poets whose mission is to encourage the reading, writing and sharing of poetry.
The Madonna’s colours
on the illuminated pages
of gilded prayer books--
her blue and red
serenity and passion
framed by the elegant letters
of hand-drawn script–
like smashed idols
broken and scribbled over
with furious black
the blue reaching up
above the blood red beat
of its failing heart
to speak in a fractured tongue
we don’t remember
Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, and she has an electronic chapbook, Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis Magazine.
Untitled by Congo
A murder of crows,
Dead in the dust
Gasping and gaping,
Where is the life?
Lost and ruined...
Where is the life?
Gasping and gaping,
Dead in the dust
A murder of crows,
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 to her. 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, over the past ten years.
To the Handler of Congo Regarding Untitled
If art is "as beheld" declared,
all images are thus ensnared,
and whether made by man, by brute,
or by machine is matter moot.
Yet if it's held as I in fact
believe -- a conscious, moral act
of self-expression one convenes
to be for soul immortal means
of statement to posterity
establishing with clarity
the conscious will of human grace
to hold a moment in its place --
these words cannot ekphrastic be.
There is no art that I can see.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
The Purest of Colours
A boy stares at a map of The Tube
looking for the blue line,
not the wavy blue of The Thames
but the blue that alights a flight of steps,
(no aeroplanes involved),
to Her Majesty’s Theatre where he assumes
The Queen will be waiting to greet him
(although he hates public displays.)
The boy’s eyes skitter anxiously
over three options as a confusion
of blue lines surface, swimming
up towards underground light.
Victoria Piccadilly TFL.
Three is not good, unlucky he thinks,
less than 50/50 by his calculation.
(He doesn’t do shades, even in summer.)
‘Tube’, the boy rolls it under his tongue.
Singular. Tube: a hollow cylinder
designed to squeeze him under streets
of London with maximum speed from
Point A to Point B. But the lines touch,
make contact then spin off at angles
to curious places like Oxford Circus
on the Red line, a gaudy-lipped clown.
The boy closes his eyes. Colours merge
as he rubs lids until kaleidoscopes form.
He considers the Brown of Bakerloo,
(unsavoury, a severe case of diarrhoea),
The Yellow of Circle, (happy like a roundel sun,
though he doesn’t do shades, even in summer),
the Black of the Northern to Charing Cross,
(he dislikes churches so it comes to pass).
A voice with no face slaps him squarely,
a boxer ringed in by claustrophobia.
“This train terminates at …..”, sounds fatal
as if the engine is dying on its wheels,
then a whoosh of tunnelled wind
its warmth surprisingly menacing.
‘Mind the Gap’, what does that mean?
Signage is misleading, personal even.
Gap: a break or hole between objects,
Mind: a person’s ability to think.
The boy is often told he is different,
that the messages in his brain jump,
become derailed. But he is perfect,
this boy who stares at lines with eyes
that see only the purest of colours.
Editor's note: This artwork reminded the poet of the colours on the London Underground, and how they might appear to one of the children with autism that she has taught. For many of these children, a preoccupation with colour and balance is common. The poem reflects that possibility.
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. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.
The Stakes Are High
Just heard reverberating voices, smell acrid antiseptic,
feel my torso horizontal sensing a gathering above though
can’t move my limp fingers or my arms or dead legs
can’t tell where I am and don’t know the time, or day for
I’m dizzy, lightheaded, hungry and parched with
tubes in my mouth and a foul taste in my throat as
I feel cold yet am sweating quite unable to move
cocooned in this body, overwhelmed from trauma so
guess I must be constrained for I’m numb down below
but impatient to calibrate on my vista overhead where
everything’s out of shape in a black, blue, white explosion
with nothing quite in focus, nothing I can recognise but
I sure remember the guy who wanted my Lexus LS
fresh from the dealership and fresh out of fuel I was
on my way back home only a five minute drive
stopping at the Chevron to gas up my sedan when
he pulled out a handgun (Smith & Wesson I think)
that must have gone off for I remember nothing else yet
at least I can see hear and smell, cognate with some image
but I must make a recovery with far too much at stake.
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.
We carry our roots with us
sometimes rolled neatly in a coil
and hidden in a bottom drawer,
sometimes worn in flamboyant locks,
a dance of embroidered slippers,
a way of walking, a mournful song.
They linger, clinging,
deep and primal,
and we remember fear and loss,
the black, the white, shadows and ghosts,
and the great billowing blue of ocean,
the trench that divides us
from then and now
the unmapped tracks that never lead back,
whether we are man,
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/
The Ekphrastic Review just turned five!
We are celebrating five years of ekphrastic poetry with an ebook anthology. There are 60 curated prompts in this collection, The Ekphrastic World. Your purchase (20$ CAD, approx. $15 USD) gets you the big book of prompts, and you can submit up to 15 poems from the selection of artworks (or five essays or short stories.) You also support The Ekphrastic Review! THANK YOU SO MUCH.
We also have an ebook on Fifty Ekphrastic Approaches, featuring fifty ways to practice ekphrastic writing. It is $8 CAD (approx. $6USD.) Thank you so much for the support.
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