An Old Tune
Maria Laura do Amaral Gurgel
slips out of her lover’s mind abruptly,
as the burden of his work permits a lull.
He must meet her later at their hotel.
But sitting, smoking and joking with Euterpe,
between long sessions, suits him all too well.
They must not overdo such intervals,
when the muse touches an old tune superbly,
taking her fingers for a lively stroll
up and down the scale of his approval.
The mandolin vibrates, and joins in warmly. . . .
Maria Laura do Amaral Gurgel,
wife of the painter’s cousin, never shall
touch anything but Haydn, rather primly,
and never hears of this remote betrayal.
When, seventeen years on, her husband kills
her lover, at that same Hotel Central,
she has to go on living. In the gallery,
they mourn him as the finest in all Brazil.
Michael Caines was longlisted for this year's National Poetry Competition and highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly competition for winter 2019
He’s a young man with a vision into the future,
Almeida paints himself an old man into the corner,
colors immerse with a certain darkness, but tender
light and shadow falls on his model. He loves her
pose and applauds her performance, which might
extend beyond repertoire, perhaps this is why she is
resting. He is sober and realistic, committed to her
description, and the routine of the everyday life
of an artist, his moments of intimacy, details of living
even well into the future. There’s no interest
in painting historical subjects or even Biblical ones
unless they have that compelling allure of Eve.
He frames himself in the recesses of empathy
with that look of lust. His thoughts spiral like smoke
from a cigarette while looking at the nude
with approval. Ten years later, he fancies young Maria
Laura, his cousin’s wife, painting her at her wedding.
The shape of her head, and her hair, unmistakenly
familiar, similar to the nude he lusted years earlier,
and she, Maria, with that hopeless family arrangement
with a Sampaio, the man who doesn’t show affection
as he does the whores, falls in love with the older
Almeida. It is a betrayal
by love letters. Enraged, Sampaio defends his name
by getting rid of his wife and sticking a knife
into the painter’s collar bone, saying, I wash honour
with blood. While bleeding out, Almeida Júnior
says I am dead, but what an ungrateful man. No doubt
referring to Sampaio’s unappreciativeness for his wife
who is now holding Almeida slumped in the streets
as he enters rest, not quite the old man he imagined
but one painted into a corner with a certain darkness,
a tender light and shadow falling on Maria. He loves her.
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.
Perhaps his smile belies his dark intent,
eyes seeming to rest too long,
or maybe only innocence, listening
as she practices her chords,
needed to counterbalance stillness.
He smokes, the picture of nonchalance;
she turns toward him at ease.
A crack revealed, smiles
as the draping drops, reveals
the voyeur captured in the trap of paint –
and aren’t we all, enraptured,
as the artist shows what has been unseen,
unable to avert our eyes
in the contrivance of the mise-en-scéne?
Betsy Mars is a poet, photographer, and occasional publisher. She founded Kingly Street Press and released her first anthology, Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife,in October 2019. A second anthology, entitled Floored, is in the works and expected to be out later this summer. Her work has recently appeared in The Blue Nib, Live Encounters, and The New Verse News. Her chapbook, Alinea, was published in January 2019. In the Muddle of the Night, with Alan Walowitz, is coming soon from Arroyo Seco Press.
A Model’s Song
At the piano
After a long day
Of sitting still
I hunger to know
Of your secrets
Across the lands
Of colour in your head
And the gone days
Of your vision
As I walk with you
Through the lean times
Beneath your frail existence
Awash in the essence
Of our laughter
Beyond the fractures
In the marrow
Of our fading art
John is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology. He is the author of two books of poetry: March, and The Seasons of Us (both published in 2019). His work has appeared widely in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. John is also a Pushcart Prize nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.
I could capture the form,
the tone, all that flows
from your fingers, my own
would grace the canvas
with the beauty before me.
Poised in that moment
between notes, the keys wait
for your touch as the canvas
waits to know the true art
of the moment.
Ken Gierke is a retired truck driver who enjoys kayaking and photography, but writing poetry brings him the most satisfaction. Primarily free verse and haiku, his poetry has appeared at The Ekphrastic Review, Amethyst Review, Vita Brevis, Eunoia Review, and formidable woman sanctuary, as well as at Tuck Magazine, and can be seen on his blog: https://rivrvlogr.wordpress.com.
Resting her fingers on black and white piano keys
a naked woman on a stool asks her companion
to open a window
as he lights the cigarette between his lips.
She had imagined being his model,
lazy afternoons under his scrutiny— and afterwards,
when he’d finished with the day’s grubby paintwork,
he’d turn from her unfinished portrait,
wash his tender hands and suggest they share
a simple meal, a glass or two of wine.
Nothing like that happened. Instead, he laboured
for hours, hardly talking, while she perched on a hard,
wobbly seat. She had been mesmerized by his studio,
the artfully placed brass and pewter pots, satin drapery,
piles of finger-worn sheet music and a rumpled
handwoven rug; and when she grew bored of staring
at flower patterned plates, she watched him,
and her mind painted his portrait.
It is this image she remembers now, the two of them,
side by side, at rest, him wearing his shabby artist’s smock
and leather slippers, his silly woollen hat,
and in his eyes a look of gratefulness.
David Belcher is aged over 50, he lives on the north coast of Wales, and his most recent work has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Ink Sweat and Tears and Right Hand Pointing. David reads and writes poetry for enjoyment, and to preserve his sanity.
I Explain Some Oleanders
You ask. where are the oleanders?
And the hot summer suns?
And the night, empty streets
his words filling them with promises?
I’ll tell you all that happened.
I stayed in Cefalù on Sicily island,
our hotel was Santa Lucia by
the Tyrrhenian Sea
the hotel with tarantella music.
From there you could look out
over shop shutters across the town.
Lacuna that lulled the naïve
unrested, filled with chimera
stone tiles of a dream fugue,
that would entwine themselves
with my memories.
And from then on the mythmaking
and from then on rhyme and lyrical vagaries.
And one morning all that
lime washed walls
one morning tinted taupe grey
a walled garden
remembers an ochre yellow house,
remembers his fists
steep stairway to the white sand beach
I have seen the sea grasses.
And you ask, why did you stay?
Come and see the moon.
Come and see the oleanders.
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.
The Model’s Particularity
To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude
is to be seen naked by others and yet not
recognized for oneself. — John Berger, Ways of Seeing
She sits on the piano bench nonchalantly
totally at ease in her body and with him, the artist
who paints her naked. But not as a nude.
There is complicity in how she is portrayed,
a tenderness perhaps that allows them to sit
with mutual comfort in each other’s presence.
As unconcerned as if they sat at an elegant tea
eating cucumber and watercress, Victoria sponge.
The spread of her arms and placement of her hands
convince me she could play the scores balanced
on the stand. She knows herself as an individual,
with talents. For him, she’s a woman with her own
particularity. Not Aphrodite or Helen, not Ophelia
lying drowned among the reeds. And he is not
Odysseus or Paris or even Hamlet. In the style
of the day, he can sit with a naked woman,
discuss music, listen as she plays, seated on luxurious
fabric in loose Turkish pants, her back to the viewer.
Is there a hint of exoticism in the room’s
furnishings that he projects onto her? Piano,
cloisonné vases, mandolin? The golden cloak
she has shed like an outer skin? The mystery,
the titillation is the painter’s alone. He has made her
the center of his rapt contemplation.
Sandi Stromberg recently had a poem about her days in the Netherlands translated into Dutch and published with the original and photos in Brabant Cultureel, a well-respected online arts and culture journal. She continues to delight in the biweekly challenges presented by The Ekphrastic Review.
for Lorette C. Luzajic & Sukaina Fatima
In the foreground
—ruled by the Chinese-gold silk sheet, grass-green fat pot,
blood-red and Egyptian-blue carpet knots, hazel-brown wood,
shimmering bronze surahi, et alia--
the paleness of my skin
is only rendered further paler.
But I permit
—wrapped in the rainbow dhoti,
affixed to the stool--
my fingers to fiddle with the black and white keys
in a row on the Victorian style piano,
and stir up a cacophony of a few sound waves
in an effort to make my background known.
The porcelain plates
—affixed to the wall
at 900 right above my head--
watch over me as the omnipresent Eye of Horus,
and the gold-plated candle stands on either side of the piano,
like the Kiraman Katibin—Raqib and Atid—supervise me,
as I turn to the choreographer of colours
for an acknowledgment and approval.
The bearded choreographer
—with a Clergyman’s hat and
dressed in an attire that resembles that of a Father’s,
ready to proceed to hearing a confession,
than that of a Michelangelo’s in the streets of Florence--
nods his head and applauds:
“You remind me of my youth!
We shall continue with our choir:
you, with your head, torso and limbs;
I, with the magic wand that this paint brush is.”
1. Surahi = an Indian pot which is usually used to store water, alcohol and other drinkable liquids.
2. Dhoti = a traditional Indian trouser—usually made of cotton or linen.
3. In the Islamic theology, the Kiraman Katibin, i.e. Honourable Scribes, are namely Raqib and Atid, who are appointed by God to sit on the right and left shoulder of a person in order to record every good and bad dead of the person for the Final Judgement by God on the Day of Judgement.
Saad Ali (b. 1980 C.E. in Okara, Pakistan) has been brought up in the UK and Pakistan. He holds a BSc and an MSc in Management from the University of Leicester, UK. He is an existential philosopher-poet. Ali has authored four books of poetry i.e. Ephemeral Echoes (AuthorHouse, 2018), Metamorphoses: Poetic Discourses (AuthorHouse, 2019), Ekphrases: Book One (AuthorHouse, 2020), and Prose Poems: Βιβλίο Άλφα (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. To learn more about his work, please visit www.saadalipoetry.com.
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