The Abandoned Doll
My precious Mimi lies on the floor, beckoning me to pick her up and hold her to my now-budding breasts.
I haven’t abandoned her.
Maman says I am no longer a child. That it is time for me to “Put childish things away.”
As she dries my back, I look into the mirror. Is is me or Maman that I see? I don’t know anymore.
I do know this: Just as my back is turned to Maman in this moment, it shall be forever turned to her. If I’m no longer a child, and not yet a woman, I am alone in this world. No more will I allow Maman to hold me close to her breasts, if I am not permitted to love my Mimi, as I have so many years.
I now see the pretty pink bow on my head in the mirror. Mimi also wears the bow I lovingly made and tied around her sweet head long ago...
So, after Maman goes to sleep, I shall pick up Mimi off of the floor, and walk to the river, where I’ll give her one final hug so, so tight, that it will be painful to my swollen breasts.
Then, I will kiss her on her cheek and say goodbye, as I place her in the flowing waters along with my
own childish pink bow. I’ll watch as my beloved Mimi and pretty pink bow float down the moving and constantly-changing river, until I can no longer see them.
I will not cry. Only little girls with bows in their hair cry.
Rather, I shall smile to myself, knowing they are floating freely to the land of forever-children.
And then I’ll run home, and give Maman a hug, and let her wipe away my tears.
Lisa Molina is a writer and educator in Austin, Texas, where she earned a BFA at the University of Texas at Austin. She has taught high school English and Theatre Arts, and later served as Associate Publisher of Austin Family Magazine. Molina now works with students with special needs. She can usually be found writing, reading classic novels, playing piano, or hiking and swimming with her family on the beautiful Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin near her home. Her writing can be found in numerous online and print journals, including The Ekphrastic Review, Beyond Words Magazine, Trouvaille Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Ancient Paths, Amethyst Review, Tiny Seed Journal, and Down in the Dirt.
The Yellow Chair
My husband calls me to it like a child. Come and sit.
No matter I am in the garden or mopping floors. Today,
another in a year of days, I must settle on the hard tufting,
shoulders back, hands folded, my toes scraping
the wooden floor. And we begin. Wasps flit the windows,
August bakes the air. His brush worries the canvas –
so slowly. Thirty strokes in an hour. Nestled like an apple in
a china bowl, I count them from my spot. Until the light is gone.
Then at last we must stop. And there is the chair, its rough
brocade forever at my elbow. My face always flat and dull —
squinty eyes, teacup ear, harrow-parted hair. My long fingers
that once pleasured him, a twisted jumble falling
from my sleeves. His composition never changing more
than the tilt of my head, a deeper blue for shadows.
My red dress. He asks for it each day. Though the heavy fabric
stinks with sweat and others in my closet are more branché,
he cares only for its deep colour and soft drape. How it plays
against the yellow chair.
Iris Rosenberg has worked in factories, nursery schools, rehab centers, newspaper offices, corporate bullpens and college classrooms. She has an MFA in Painting from Pratt, and writes both poetry and fiction. She was a long-time poetry reviewer for Library Journal. She lives in New York City and has studied with Mark Wunderlich, Patricia Marx, Hermine Meinhard and other writers.
Join us tomorrow afternoon for our monthly Sunday Session. We get together to write together! We have a great lineup of art prompts and inspiring exercises for poetry and flash fiction writers (or any kind of writing you want to pursue.) Our sessions are relaxed yet challenging. Check out upcoming theme sessions as well, like Moon Gazing and Ghost Stories.
Ekphrasis at Le Swamp
Dancing afterhours at an art show in a basement. Knock-off dragonflies from a Tiffany Lamp
pollinate the grey petaled sprinkler as water showers down on the paintings.
Battery lighting captures the pigment drips.
Into the nothingness of the ground I went.
The process of dissecting nostalgia is tricky—a lot of moving things around like a paragraph,
Or a neon tower in the desert that reads:
I tie the strings to a rusty water pipe that runs a staircase angle out of the brick wall.
Diagram of frog organs blueprint out the gallery.
I didn’t know glass could be fluffy. The pink insulation of DNA,
Looks like the inside of my skull would feel if I knew how I felt.
The Tiffany lamp is a glowing orb,
Sporting an unaffordable stain glass mosaic that fractures
Into bone marrow with shards of figurative insects.
I tend to think better in that light, when I have these creatures burrow my soft edges
And my hands don’t look so vivid.
Dragonflies’ sanguine eyes expand, pulsating rubies
With every lie I call truth, with every stanza of Faerie Queene.
One painting in the exhibition is of a thatch roof cottage in Brittany.
Other portraits are of other bourgeois symbols of jouissance:
Birds, flowers, parks and dogs.
I picked them out at the store as puppies, paws on the cage.
I can’t get the numbers right and a strange chord sounds off in the distant hills.
The lines care where you blur.
Though, every now and then,
I’ll hear a 5 longing
To be baby blue.
To resolve to 1 in the song.
In a little voice over and over.
Can I please be the pastel sage Vuillard used for dresses.
As the numbers dance with paint, the Particle Critic shows up in a glitch—delayed in graphics.
The paintings peel off the dirty walls and dangle there lifeless.
Errour crawls out my desk and eats the wood like an acid beetle: forming the glowing edges
of nirvana—pulling me inside.
My past life as a kite permeates into view as the house drifts off into space leaving its
DNA-newsprint-shroud. I lick my lips and clinch my capo, 3rd fret,
To shake off that heavy dust spewing from those
Andy Demczuk was born in Oceanside, California. He studied at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood concentrating on guitar performance. He then moved to the French Alps, where he led international volunteers in art and music workshops facilitating intercultural collaborations in an association funded by the French government. Andy writes fiction, poetry, and music, and pursues studio arts, using acrylic and multimedia, video, and sound design. In Fall 2019 he taught high school English in Spain. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at ETSU in Johnson City, TN.
The Joseph Cornell responses are up! Click here or on image above.
Embracing the Waves
It was the first time she believed that the sea might not swallow her whole. It was also the night Ethan explained that his brothers were going to keep calling and sending over their threats. There was an electric hysteria to his voice, as if fear from the last time had become canned laughter in his ears.
It was the first time their bed felt softened by cotton, cotton inside the springs that had become softer and dumber each year—cotton stuffed up against his heart. It was the first night he told her he had been fighting the blues, and this is why he hit her harder, so that she felt the shredding of an old dream; a dream that a family like hers could make itself better—the dream worn to lint in the end.
It was the first time she felt that there were ways to sneak off into a glowing green morning, when the water wants you badly, and wants you still strong. She had always been good at seeing shades in Ethan, how they blended into each other. Today she was proud of all the colours she had once imagined her young husband could become. She patted herself on the soul, said 'you did good, you did what you could do here'— told herself that setting off in the silver-green waves was different than already being dead.
Read Meg's story from a Renoir painting.
Meg Pokrass is the author of eight flash fiction collections, an award-winning collection of prose poetry, two novellas-in-flash, an award winning collection of prose poetry, and a 2020 collection of microfiction, "Spinning to Mars" which won the Blue Light Book Award. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Split Lip and McSweeney'shas been anthologized in New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018), Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015) and The Best Small Fictions 2018 and 2019. She serves as Founding Co-Editor of Best Microfiction 2020 and Festival Curator of Flash Fiction Festival U.K. and teaches flash fiction online and in person. Find out more at megpokrass.com.
Five Poems after David Hockney After Wallace Stevens After Picasso
"In 1937 Poetry Magazine published most of Wallace Steven’s poem, “The Man With The Blue Guitar,” inspired by Picasso’s painting, The Old Guitarist. That same year Picasso painted Guernica, protesting Franco using Hitler’s Luftwaffe to bomb the Basque town. Also in 1937, English artist David Hockney was born.
In 1977 Hockney created a series of 19 etchings titled The Blue Guitar after Stevens. He wrote, “Like the poem, they are about transformations within art as well as the relation between reality and the imagination.”
When I saw his work at MOMA, I wondered who was going to write a poem responding to Hockney to continue this conversation of discovery. I waited and waited and no one did, so I borrowed the titles of his 19 etchings to use as springboards to reflect on Picasso's guitarist, Steven's poem and Hockney's etchings."
The Old Guitarist
After waking to cheese and chorizo,
bread and coffee, I slide my fingers,
my bent, blue, arthritic fingers,
along your fretted neck.
And you moan when I lick you.
And you moan when I stop.
And my breath upon your breast
leaves us breathless as our bodies
turn into a body of song.
I want to taste the world within your world
of rosewood. I want to feel the feel of you,
the you of you, the very, very real of you
before caesura pries us apart. Before
I leave this world the way I slid into it--
sans teeth, sans hair, sans you, crying
Not yet. Not yet.
What is this Picasso?
Because Hitler painted landscapes only as they are,
his landscapes looked like landscapes and nothing more.
So he painted huge machines dropping little machines
that Guernicaed the landscapes he could merely render.
Listen, we bitch war, but truth is, few of us would be
who we are unless there were so much of it. History
is an imaginary box with real bombs mewing inside.
We know they’re live when we hear them cry,
Have some more. And we say, Sure.
Let’s blow something up. Things as they are, are--
Don’t get me wrong, change can be good, but
so much depends upon who’s playing the blue guitar.
A Picture of Ourselves
O, do not ask what you can do for your country.
Ask for it to build for you, something huge.
Say, a corporation. Call it Manifest Duh.
Say, a religion. Call it Eminent Dumbrain.
Say, a wall. Call it American Except.
Look, up in the sky, stars turn over their engines
in the Guernica dark, and below, Main Streets
drape their coffins with flags.
Let’s make everything great again.
Let’s send everyone back.
What I mean is…is parade is history,
celebrated after the war is won,
the enemy done and the myth sips a cordial,
lights a cigar and polishes its story.
It was pageantry all afternoon.
And in the evening it was debris.
What we need is a song, you and me.
Let’s have us a song--
I place a guitar in Tennessee
And strike a chord
A minor chord that floats
Like feathery floss
Across the breezy slopes
And in the sky
Ain’t that the sky
A chorus of pundits cries out sharply
Things as they aren’t
trump what they are
What they are
Etching is the Subject
Etching is the subject of etch,
as making is the subject of poem.
Unlike nature that doesn’t mean to mean
or to be beautiful or to kill,
the poem is an obsession
of imagination over will.
When Dora Maar posed for Picasso,
he unscrewed her lens from her art.
She became his model, his muse, his lover,
but no longer a maker.
Look how pensive she looks in this engraving,
looking without and within.
O Dora, mi amor, even though a counterfeit
of your countenance hangs in my room,
I don’t think I ever
knew till now
Peter E. Murphy
Peter E. Murphy was born in Wales and grew up in New York where he managed a nightclub, operated heavy equipment and drove a taxi. Author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry and prose, his work has appeared in The Common, Diode, Guernica, Hippocampus, The New Welsh Review, Rattle, and elsewhere. He is the founder of Murphy Writing of Stockton University.
It wasn't so hard to eat the children.
He was accustomed to grappling
with galactic dilemmas,
forcing knife-ish solutions.
His wife was against it. Duh.
It’s still hard not to like the guy
whose goatish rage for order still gambols us
onward like any progress, friendly and stupid.
Call him the first pissed-off pop to lock
his brats in the bedroom.
He was buying time, his signal gift,
a gift bigger than he. As gifts are.
They would dub his the Golden Age
which he'd predicted and molded
but didn't contemplate.
Even gods can’t quite imagine their ends.
Yet he was the bringer of ends
last planet in the reign of circles
conning us all to believe he’d tethered a world
built on blood and weather, on women.
Surely he sensed in the way we do
when the future pricks our goddish fingertips
how all things born of fear
loop round at last to kick our ass.
Alexis Quinlan is a writer, editor, reviewer, and adjunct English teacher in New York. Her poems can be found in The Paris Review and Denver Quarterly, online at Rhino, Tinderbox, and Juked, and via abchaospoesis.blogspot.com. More work coming soon on Diagram and Juked. Her recent review of Stephanie Strickland's How the Universe Is Made is on Heavy Feather Review. She is also a member of XR’s street theater group, Cit Ass Theater.
judith slays holofernes
by the beauty of her countenance disabled him
bible scholars pronounced my story fiction
fiction or not
i am more than a story’s heroine
i am lady wisdom herself . . .
proclaiming in my stride
this is how to act, to live
as i walk out the city gate . . .
i am armored with only perfume, silks and lies
when the soldiers let me enter the dreadful camp . . .
biding my time
i stalk my prey
and wait like a circling hawk will wait
knowing full well
my wisdom can only seduce but with beauty
with my beauty kill
Sister Lou Ella Hickman
Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. 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 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at Y92 in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”
Congratulations to Jennifer Leigh Selig, winner of ekphrastic flash fiction summer contest!
Click here or on image above to read her story!
Thank you to everyone who entered. We loved your stories, and are eternally grateful for your support and participation!
Our currently open contest is Ekphrastic Sex. Click here for details. Our guest judge is the queen of erotica, Alexis Rhone Fancher.
Look out for our upcoming Halloween contest. Details will be announced soon.
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