Guest editor note:
Thanks to everyone who submitted a response to the Jenn Zed “Louisiana Zombie Afternoon” Challenge.
It was a pleasure and an honour to be entrusted with your new brain droppings, fellow ekphrastic citizens. I am especially proud to have helped provoke such a wide range of content, both in style and substance. A huge thanks to the editor-in-chief for entrusting me with her baby, and allowing me to spread the word of Zed—a prolific, and phenomenal, contemporary visual artist worth following to see where her muses pull her next.
And with that, I present you The Poetry:
One-stoplight towns blink yellow and red.
The world has gone topsy-turvy
when it’s the dead who are on the move
and the living who are still.
Somewhere in between, I walk,
these rural routes, this event horizon,
a great big nothin’. All sludge and blood
beneath a crimson sky.
I’m on my way to what lies beyond.
I’m on my way to look at God.
Old fence posts crack a crooked smile.
Empty mailboxes gape.
Skeletal air boats succumb slowly
to boggy bottoms.
Somewhere, the last biscuit
has been lifted from the skillet.
Somewhere, the last laundry
has been taken from the line.
The fellowship halls now ring with silence.
I never thought it would be possible
to miss so much.
I never imagined how quickly
I would be over it.
This is my world now:
these ball-bearing afternoons,
The stink of the gun
and the burning in my lungs
assures me that I ain’t dead yet.
On the edge of the bay,
the buoy lights still bob and flash.
I walk into the water,
singing new hymns.
Lauren Scharhag is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. She is the author of Under Julia, The Ice Dragon, The Winter Prince, West Side Girl & Other Poems, and the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. Her poems and short stories have appeared in over ninety journals and anthologies, including Into the Void, The American Journal of Poetry, Gambling the Aisle and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com
if stars were smoke
if stars were smoke
we would learn the hidden undead
prepares for the redline of existence--
everyone is phased in.
the child is our warrior
for the sublime destitute
young ponytail princess
pays the price of solitude
the aching splendor of sky
holds her in direst rapture
a night to be remembered
by the phantoms of the galaxy
paralysis within arm’s length
the gun smokes in sane oblivion
her eyes meet mine in grayest surrender
while I pose like a wasteland of mind
I turn bittersweet like the nectarine
in a tempest of magic and blood
fascinated by silence and emptiness
the sky breaks into cries of forlornness
Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press and editor-in-chief of the award nominated quarterly Harbinger Asylum. His book Knows No End was an Amazon bestseller in new releases. He is author of several poetry collections, articles, and stories. He is a former contributor to Huffington Post. He writes the introductions to bestselling poet Kiriti Sengupta's collections. He placed as finalist in Adelaide Literary Journal's 2018 short story contest. He is also a visual artist, philosopher, literary critic, and musician.
I know I’m no angel
but I’m not a devil
I would cause a sea of blood
and it does look a bit like that
I think the sea may be the sky
and the blood a red moon glow,
but I know it’s not me who held
the smoking gun.
it’s just a cigarette.
I know I’m under age,
but that’s all it is
which lit up the sky
and bloodied the sea,
made them both red
and gave me a halo.
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.
Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/
Her Mineral Worth
he was on her
she did as
in her black eye’s mind
it might never be over
on this day in November
her calcium, magnesium
sodium & sulfur
carry her into
the troposphere, farther
pulled the pistol
from his belt
“the Dementor’s blood is red”
Maria Mazzenga is a writer of fiction and poetry from Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Awful Little Dresses on Roy Rogers' Lap
Pistol packin’ mama
dressed you in pink taffeta
in their curio cabinet
don’t be like us
be pure, be pink, be perfect
When life’s earthquake
breaks you apart
but all you knew
becomes the glue
who ya gonna emulate,
learn to hate?
It’s too late
what they created
don’t be upset, statuette
you’d be, too,
if you were meant for blue
Barbara Huntington has been a civil rights worker, teacher, computer mail order house CEO, technical writer, marketing analyst/consultant, and director of a university program to assist underrepresented students as they enter PhD programs. She retired in 2013 as Director of Preprofessional Health Advising at San Diego State University and is co-author of Writing About Me: a Step-by-Step Guide to Developing a Powerful Personal Statement for your Application to Medical School. She has a BS in Zoology from SDSU and an MBA from UCLA. Barbara lives in Chula Vista, California, with her dog, Tashi, surrounded by a drought-tolerant garden where she grows her own organic vegetables and walks her labyrinth of rocks and succulents. For the last several years she has published poems and stories in local anthologies such as the San Diego Poetry Annual, A Year in INK, and the SDWEG Anthology. She vents her frustration by reading angry political poems in local coffee houses and at the poetry bench in Balboa Park in San Diego. Her unpublished memoir is tentatively titled: Laughing Just to Keep from Crying…and Rattlesnakes! Her blog is: https://barbarahuntington.com
Heat and Hope
Death might become mere state of mind...
...delusion heat and hope will bind
to boiling, humid ocean air
and glisten of the cayenne glare
that skies become for one who braves
the brunt of warm cascading waves
that spill across a tortured brow
as tease of breeze that seems somehow
to briefly be the sought relief
for soul that overwrought with grief
resorts to listless, vacant stare
at image never really there...
...the child and yet the woman grown
of body still beneath a stone.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
Don’t Kid Yourself
There’s no safe place
no trigger warning
no room for innocence
when red skies promise apocalypse
the firestorm coming with
the collapse of a dying star.
Though I might stand like a child
in my white communion dress
my shoes so new
the soles are still unscuffed
no one lasts long here
without an edge--
So I’ve amped up my sass
refusing to lie down
or go quietly--
The Lucky Strikes I’m smoking
not just camouflage
but a warning–
These sweets have a sting
you won’t expect
something I would have loved
to erase you with
every time you pushed me
into another corner
out of sight
where you took what you wanted
and left me changed
just one more of your
Here in the ashes
where even the air is molten
an incandescent plasma
to cauterize all wounds
I wait for the hour
that finds me ready
the weapon that will end you
locked and loaded
in my hand.
Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, as well as a visual artist and a Registered Nurse. She has been published in many online and print journals, and has an echapbook, Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis magazine online.
This Just In
(an ekphrastic dizain)
Dateline, Louisiana, 10th April:
After months of zombie hunts and wrangling,
the Morton Salt Girl finally went postal.
In jade silhouette, a pigtail hanging
charmingly free and the left hand dangling
along her skirt’s side, she grips the pistol.
An ocular sun rises and haloes
her head in black-red ombre. Burning pot
rises from the joint she holds. Her feral
victims, in unseen gore, have all been shot.
Born into a Navy family, Bill Cushing lived in several states as well as the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico before moving to California. Because of his time as a marine electrician prior to beginning studies at the University of Central Florida, classmates dubbed him the “blue collar poet.” He earned an MFA in writing from Goddard College in Vermont and now teaches at East Los Angeles and Mt. San Antonio colleges, living in Glendale with his wife and their son. He’s been published in Another Chicago Magazine, Brownstone Review, Mayo Review, Penumbra, and West Trade Review and in anthologies, including both volumes of the award-winning Stories of Music. Bill was honoured as one of the Top Ten L. A. Poets in 2017 and has previously had work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Along with writing, teaching, and facilitating a writing group (9 Bridges), Bill has also been performing with an area musician in a collaboration they call Notes and Letters (available on both Facebook and Youtube). Bill is preparing for a Summer 2019 release of a poetry collection titled A Former Life.
Good Riddance to Innocence
Light shifts to red, a torus of shredded photons.
Look hard and long beyond the last dribble
of luminosity to where the dark is purest;
at this point every reasonable mind
drops down a bottomless rabbit hole.
Alice waits barefoot in the void, prettily attired
in a white summer dress, and smoking a reefer.
As a greeting she casually lifts
the revolver in her left hand
and clicks the safety
Ask her a question
if you dare.
Her answer is
a bullet through the head
and a road to the stars.
When he was eighteen David Belcher was told by a fortune teller that he would live a conventional life, he would be a teacher of some sort, and that he would marry a man and have two blond children. He is living a conventional life and he reads and writes poetry in his spare time. Aged fifty one he is happily single and wouldn’t dream of trying to teach anyone anything.
Bring me my spear of smoke and mirrors,
bring me my arrows of cupidity,
give them to the child we cherish,
watch her wield them with disdain.
Our world is bathed in the blood red glow
of a dying sun and a warring race,
bleak legacy, we pass it on,
baring fangs, to this once-was child,
now harpy-handed, jackal-toothed.
For on these green unpleasant marshes,
the death that comes will have her eyes—
not the eyes of simple lambkins
that lie down and play with lions
or tiger tiger burning brightly
but eyes of children. Starved, reproachful,
they’ll hold out hands, alight, and shedding
sparks of napalm, snatch the reins,
and mount aboard your fiery chariot,
whip its horses, bright as tigers
through the forests of the night
and snuff out the everlasting light.
Jane Dougherty is Irish and lives in the middle of a meadow in southwest France. She writes novels, stories and poetry and has been published in journals and magazines including Ogham Stone, Hedgerow, Visual Verse, Ekphrastic Review, Tuck Magazine, Eye to the Telescope and Lucent Dreaming. She blogs at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
Louisiana Zombie Afternoon
You know how she feels as you walk down Royal Street
in New Orleans on a July afternoon when the sky
is so full that it has no choice but to rain.
You breathe a sigh of relief after a late breakfast
of artichoke and sherry omelettes at Tally Ho
before they close for the day.
Your lover of twenty-five years asks, “Do you regret
not having a child? I could think about it.”
You are 50 years old. You’ve had both tubes tied
and one ovary removed when a cyst burst, strangled
your fallopian tube. He knows this— like how lovely
the room at the Monteleone is this year.
You think, he’s covering his bets like your great uncle
who came down to Mardi Gras for the big card games,
put his stake in a certificate of deposit each year
that matured in February. Your lover offered. He’s safe.
And like other times when you’re glad you don’t carry
a handgun, you stare into the blazing sun
and blow on the smoke you see in the air,
the heat that rises from crypts and mausoleums
where you leave coins and trinkets for the never born.
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 Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press), and Wildwood (Lummox Press). Ride the Pink Horse is forthcoming in 2019. 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. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
Under the Black Sun
is this the
endings, inhaling whispers
that glow in the dark?
black, this strangled wail
like the calls
of ravens—feathered weapons,
fire that consumes all
flattened bloodless revenants
that rend and sunder
Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new. You can follow her explorations on the blog she does with her friend Nina: https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/
Child Angel of Death
Even now in the mornings
as I wake, still wrapped in a dream,
I relive that morning of terror when
so many little ones left for school
and never came home. You are the
angel of death. So young, still
wearing that pretty dress you wore
to school that day, now carrying
the gun he used to take your life. You are
its keeper now. It can’t hurt your friends
anymore. A seafoam mist shields you,
your ghost silhouette is all I see.
No one can hear your giggles. Your cries
are muffled. How I wish I could kiss
this bruised world until it heals, take
that gun from that precious hand of yours,
hug you gently. But in my dream state, only
your white shadow appears. I hope one day
I will wake up and find you’ve gone
skipping back into your mother’s loving arms.
Shelly Blankman and her husband live in Columbia, Maryland, where they fill their empty nest with 3 rescue cats and a foster dog. They have two sons, one living in New York and the other in Texas. Shelly's career path has followed the course of public relations and journalism, but her first love has always been poetry. She spends her time making cards and scrapbooks and, of course, refereeing pets. Her writing has appeared previously in The Ekphrastic Review, as well as other online journals, including Praxis Onlne Magazine, Poetry Super Highway, Halfway Down The Stairs, The New Verse News, and First Literary Review-East.
Sweet Babe of the Bayou
by kudzu, bound by fine
flounces, slips out of her life.
Sinks down through the boggy,
this child of our past, into
the realm of the zombies; where
children like her , once rosy with
virtue and flaxen with good, rise
up with weapons and mouths full of hate.
Now undead in the bayou, crown circled
with kudzu; she swipes the white frock
with blood from her knife.
Sandra Rokoff-Lizut views herself as a mature (turning 80 this year) writer who is constantly learning, emerging and striving to offer an authentic, fresh, strong, voice to hybrid short prose and poetry which she began to study seriously ten years ago. The Oregon Poetry Association awarded Sandra 1st place in a 2014 competition and her poems have appeared in many publications including: Verses, Illya’s Honey, The Bicycle Review, Wilderness House Review, The Penwood Review, Wild Goose Poetry Review.
Protest Pro (and Only Ten Years Old!)
Mould divinely conceived,
spermicide protected to
increase breeding ante...
for the sake of soldiers.
Mobilization in numbers.
He’s only ten years old but he knows the evil of emo.
Gets down to the 27 club rockers, poli-power-psychedelica.
Old school ideals – home taught – trained anti-tear gas pre-teen titan.
Our little man, a protest-pro and not even close to the legal age to vote.
Shrug off early allegations.
Never too early to teach:
castrate necessity to ache enemy,
contraception, erotic debauchery,
He’s only ten years old but he’s packing more than desert heat.
Conditioned for kamikaze, a virgin volunteer until the next life.
Old wounds, avenging uneducated angel, instilled with adolescent angst.
Our little social justice juggernaut, too innocent to be suspected, or caught.
Small shields, better use.
Invest in tear jerk impact.
Children = weapon.
Corenski Nowlan is a writer and performer who lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. He dabbles in prose, poetry, plays, satire, and music reviews, but only because he's not yet found a way to break into the comic book industry.
Losing Her Body in a Zombie Afternoon
These days I live dangerously in the safety of my
body, under the filter of vintage dream blur these pale
scratches the scars of what I was and could not be
memories of before-and-after bodies miraculously
My daughter’s father
fought acause he was
afraid to let go of the idea
that we are alone when
He quit when our little girl was born with a
heart stopping gap between where she
thrilled underwater in my body to her own
body starting at air.
Breath became important.
We noticed it everywhere
on the panes, in the winter
in the idea that there is
purpose and consequence.
I became sober, became overwhelmed
by the task of finding a way to thank
others for the huge kindnesses they
brought to bear me up, keep me living;
overwhelmed by the task of finding
acceptance for the daily losses of
Many times before my children became part of my
body, I lived safely in a dangerous neighbourhood,
losing my self in a zombie afternoon, taking small
risks to feel my bones pull away from my sins.
Zero or one hundred with nothing in
between Full throttle or blotto at twenty
a skateboarder an eating disorder a shaved head a crush on a girl named
Jane a Ziploc pocket of weed a guitar a copy of the Gita several A’s and an F
in the midst of a degree
I didn’t quite believe multiplicity existed for me in
orgasms or abortions or debts or awards but all these
elements were falling into place to help me come of
age in the Aughts.
One week I decided to become a smoker to have something to hold
on to. I sat in the dry dirty grass on the top of the hill looking down
Eglinton to Keele I breathed from one body into another - by now a
familiar transition - the before body to the after.
Young boys gathered at that corner around 4 and
sang rap 6 or 7 hopeful, unarmed, grinning. I tried
smiling back but choked on the smoke so I gave up
on becoming the bad girl.
The week before I had finally seen a gun up close
I was waiting for the bus just before midnight to
the brim with that gorgeous feeling a twentyish girl
gets when she has an evening confiding in close
friends about the dark the light that has entered
her years marked her transitions from one body to
This man pointed it at me in the dark on the edge of
an alley So much like a film that I froze and watched it
happen to me From a bright sunspot emanating from
my cerebrum walked with purpose to my side the gun
like a hooded cock his breath in my ear.
He did not need to tell me Bang.
Panic doesn’t quite cover the
needling shrug red galvanizing
tingles when nuzzled by muzzle.
Fear sticks in your cracks and
folds, pale scratches on
photographic film forever part of
When weeks are years later and my
daughter drops out of orbit, her halo
the lights on the labour room
examining table my son says acause
which means because after breath
these concentric rings of her heartbeats
become frisson as if the shiver coming
off the end of labour - a promise to win
each other over and over - is the
solution to the fear of not letting go of
having to hold on to the cause of
everything breath and blood.
Kathleen Brown is a writer, artist and mother living in the Wild West. She has had work published in literary magazines including The Fiddlehead, The Capilano Review, filling station. As the common practice with others of her genus goes, she is "working" on "a novel".
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