This painting by Istvan Farkas was previously unknown to most of the writers who responded to it, according to the many notes I received. My great passion, perhaps even bigger than creating my own art or writing my prose poems and small stories, is to invite others into the paintings I love.
When my father, partial to landscapes or Biblical scenes, began to scrutinize pop art and urban works at the fairs I dragged him to, my heart sang! When my staunch modernist peers melt in the presence of a dusty Dutch still life, I feel something I can’t even explain.
My intention is always to coax onlookers into a hidden world of secrets, into the beauty and pain inside art. Art is everything- it is history, it is biography, it is culture, it is faith, it is politics, it is war, it is family, it is aesthetic, it is place, it is imagination, it is story.
Farkas’ works resonate with me emotionally- they are simple gestures of colour that come together to suggest a story or scene that we can all transform into a recognizable moment in our own lives. Yet behind the scenes is where the terrible truth lies- a man whose words were immortalized in a smuggled letter from his death bound train to Auschwitz, after surviving for a moment the murder of his wife.
Art is about these epic narratives, but it isn’t only that. The horrific ending of Farkas’ story is not the only element in his story. We are made up of much more ordinary moments, too, and they are just as essential to life. The small sorrows and flickers of beauty captured in each of his works is as important to art appreciation as the big tragedies of history are.
We received so many entries for this artwork-I was amazed. We had many new names and many familiar ones. I tried to include a large number and variety of works this time to honour how much work you created and shared. As always, I am so sorry to those I did not include. It is tremendously difficult to choose from so many talented takes, and I can't include them all!
The satisfaction of belonging to a community of like-minded writers is immense. And reading all the different perspectives and discoveries on a work of art is an incredible experience, one I get to share with you and with the world. I discover every painting anew with each submission of poetry and prose. Thank you so very much for your participation and for being part of the Ekphrastic family.
On the Road Between their Houses
The weep of green on the grass, the smell of damp branches heavy in the air, and that’s where the two neighbors meet.
“Sky sure cried its eyes out,” Mrs. Smith says.
“Your fence, the storm curled and broke it.” Mrs. Jones says. “You don’t want to leave it open like that.”
“I think open can be good” Mrs. Smith says. “Life is so big and the road we are on goes farther than us, is bigger than us.”
“I looked out my window during the storm,” Mrs. Jones says, “the road down there is washed away.” She shakes off the mud that has caked on her shoes. “You can’t have buckets of rain and not lose something,” she says. “It’s a law, like love not lasting forever.”
Mrs. Smith raises her hand for a moment, as if to comfort Mrs. Jones. Instead, she says, “your husband will get tired of that young girl and come back.”
Mrs. Jones inhales deep, as if stuffing the leftover storm into her lungs. “If he does, there will just be another.” She looks up at the sky, still bruisey with clouds. “Your husband,” she says, “make sure he fixes the fence before he runs off on you.”
Mrs. Smith walks down to where the water has stopped the road, the road she could have sworn would always be there. She leans over and looks at her reflection, behind her the clouds, a murky grey now in the dirtwater and lord only knows what other storms they are holding.
Francine Witte’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, and Passages North. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press,) The Way of the Wind (AdHoc fiction,) and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books.) Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) will be published by ELJ September, 2021. She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal. She lives in NYC.
A Path Home
There were so many black clouds,
so many storms. Not just hurricanes
and polar freezes. A life-threatening illness
locked us down. A court case loomed.
We wore fear draped around our shoulders,
tucked under overcoats. Any misguided word
created despair or released boiling anger.
We stood back-to-back, unable to face
opposition. Unable to move backward
or forward. Unable to trudge the path
toward home, its white-washed comfort
questionable. Was the deep purple horizon
winter’s sunset or sunrise? No matter.
We waited for the clouds to lift,
for spring to deliver its dark green promise.
Sandi Stromberg’s poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and for 2020 Best of the Net. She is a dedicated contributor to The Ekphrastic Review and recently contributed a Throwback Thursday (May 22). In addition to The Ekphrastic Review, her poetry has appeared in many small journals and anthologies, including San Pedro River Review, The Ocotillo Review, Houston Chronicle-San Antonio Express-News, Words & Art, Visual Verse, Weaving the Terrain, Enchantment of the Ordinary, and in Dutch in the Netherlands in Brabant Cultureel and Dichtersbankje (the Poet’s Bench).
Wilderness of Pain
They were sisters in shelter,
comrades in faith, hated in
the narrow eyes of the world.
Each day a deathwatch within
ghetto walls, where screams
were silenced and battered,
bodies of Jews stockpiled like
old newspapers on storefronts,
a warning they were next in line
for their only crime: being a Jew.
Now they are strangers free
to wander in a wilderness of pain,
where their safety still thrives
on secrets, and creatures of fear
that may still lurk in the sands
of uncertainty. Jews pass each
other, faces shadowed by sun,
bodies bent in fear of a path
that may lead to the past. Their
storm’s been relentless, their feet
now unsteady on solid ground, but
like G-d’s creatures left untethered by
the cruelties of mankind, Jews will survive
the wilderness of pain.
Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband of 40 years, three rescue cats and a foster dog. They have two sons, Richard and Joshua, who are currently quarantined in New York and Texas, respectively. Shelly’s educational and career paths have followed public relations and journalism, but her first love has always been poetry. Her work has been published in such publications as New Verse News, Halfway Down The Stairs, and The Ekphrastic Review. Richard and Joshua recently published her first book of poetry, Pumpkinhead.
After the Storm
Past the charred picket fence
the iridescent green grass
follows the path
of the wet mirrored walkway
as the purple haze
descends from the black clouds
enshrined around the milky chateau
with the dark roof
two gentle figures whisper
in passing upon the bridge
their ghost like faces
revealing the dread of the storm
who has died
who has lived
in this eerie opaque light
Only a strange mumble is heard
for these are spirits
stuck in a limbo
while they wait
their judgement to date
Will it be in heaven or hell
Gold lite shaded
black crowned cap
with umbrella in hand
next to a purpurean robe
with a dark collared hat
they walk along the ancient path
May their graves be tall
with the cross
as their spirits descend or ascend
to the destiny they deserve
As they walk
In the iridescent
James N. Hoffman
James N Hoffman is retired and lives with his wife in Ocean City, Maryland. He has an MA in Applied Psychology and a BA in Philosophy. He would have liked to have been a painter. "But alas, I was not talented in that way. Fortunately, I learned to paint with words."
It Isn't Natural
Mrs. Wolfner turned up her collar with one hand, the day’s parcels nestled firmly in the other. Her boots squished rhythmically as she made her way down the muddy lane. The storm had let up just as she left the shops, so she wouldn’t be drenched on the walk home, but the unseasonably cold wind cut through her coat, tugging at her bones with its frigid fingers. She’d overheard Mr. László complaining about it at the pub when she’d popped in there for a pint, her last stop of the day.
“All this thunder and wind in June,” he’d roared, beer spilling out of his mug. “It isn’t natural!”
“Not much is natural anymore, László,” said Simon the bartender. “Did you see the sunrise this morning? Red as pig’s blood. They’re angry about the war, I tell you.”
According to Simon, small creatures who lived in the sky controlled what happened on Earth—a modern version of the gods on Mt. Olympus, as he’d once explained it to Mrs. Wolfner. It was unfathomable, of course—but, then again, so was this war; they were almost a year into it, and still, no one in the village knew what caused it, so when she lay awake at night unable to sleep, she sometimes wondered why Simon’s ideas couldn’t be true. Every day there was more news and all of it bad. Soon there wouldn’t be a woman left in the whole country who hadn’t lost someone. She’d heard rumors of women who had lost everything and had withered away—the flesh sloughed off their bones, their souls evaporated, their bodies reduced to empty cages—unable to live or die. Mrs. Wolfner had never actually seen one and refused to accept them as anything but rumors—the alternative was just too horrible.
It wasn’t as though she didn’t know what it was like to lose a loved one; her own dear József died three years ago—but he wasn’t mowed down in some faraway field under a useless banner or slaughtered in his sleep in a night raid. They’d lived long, full lives together—perhaps a little less full than they would have liked, as they never had the children they desperately desired, but they’d managed. No, she was one of the lucky ones. She couldn’t blame the other women for losing themselves in their grief.
Mrs. Wolfner shivered. Just a few more minutes and she’d be home, she could see it up ahead. It was an old house with a ramshackle fence that she never seemed to get around to mending, and it was drafty in the winter—and in June, it turned out—but the kitchen had an enormous fireplace and her woodshed was still well-stocked. The sight of the house just ahead conjured images of hot tea and a roaring fire. Mrs. Wolfner picked up her pace when another figure appeared around the bend in the lane: a woman, dressed in a long, mud-splattered dress. Her black fur coat, which looked like it was once elegant but was now in tatters, was open to the cold.
She’ll catch her death like that, Mrs. Wolfner thought. She lifted her head to nod politely, but when she saw the woman’s face, she froze in the middle of the lane. It was not a woman, but a corpse. Its cavernous eye sockets were fixed straight ahead; one gloved hand gripped tightly around a brown umbrella. It gave no indication that it had seen Mrs. Wolfner, though it passed her so closely that it brushed her sleeve.
A chill that had nothing to do with the wind shot up her arm and into her heart. She clutched her chest as she turned to watch the figure continue on its way down the lane. She tried to remember who had lost someone recently, but it was as though the brief encounter had frozen her ability to think. Everything around her—the lane, the village in the distance, the hills, brilliant green from all the rain—disappeared. All that remained was the corpse’s chalky, hollow cheeks, bared teeth, and despair so palpable, Mrs. Wolfner’s left arm felt cold for weeks.
Carmen Catena is a writer, teacher, and TCK currently living in Colorado. When she's not hiking or chasing her toddler, she's working on her first novel. Find her on Twitter @ carmcatena
The Lonely Path
On the hem of her corn-coloured dress,
mud from the path, the fuss of speckled
indignations, chore for a brighter day.
Above the village, on the brow of the hill
an old woman in purple, eyes begging
for connection, her marble presence ignored.
That storm will never pass,
thought the older woman passing, clutching
her umbrella, woe and anger still painting the sky.
She heard her name as a whisper, soft and fragile
from that distant child. The child whose body heat
warmed her in the black of night.
That child with laughter, innocent and pure
as a babbling stream. Mirror to her sunshine
and freedom before her childhood was taken.
Motherly chores bequeathed, whose weight hung
as heavily on her young shoulders then as the fox fur
capelet did now, black and thick with rain, like grief.
How she had tried to replace a mother,
lost on a day like this, those lost years ago.
First time she had to walk this path.
All that sacrifice, that surrogate love,
repaid with betrayal, another bereavement
that had scorched her heart.
Thunder pulsing through her veins,
her brow knotting with the questions left unasked,
She never taught me how to forgive.
She no longer brought flowers when she trudged
up the hill, after a lifetime of pilgrimage
her sense of duty was enough.
The old woman in purple stood in the shadow
of the black tree framed by a black sky, mourning
the loss of two mothers and a sister.
Andy is from the UK. He lives and works in South East London. He has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies including; Obsessed with Pipework, The Cannon's Mouth, Orbis, The Dawntreader, Worktown Words, The Poetry Kit, Snakeskin and Sentinel Literary Quarterly.
After the Storm
he carved “Pádraig” patiently
into a plank of black bog oak
she watched with pride
he fixed it to his yawl
named after his father
she had prayed
he would never go to sea.
no bodies on the beach
the dark rain
smudged away her world
the ancient oak was found
and fixed above her hearth
a place to light candles
Robert Joynson wrote poetry for 50 years with no intention of publication. For the last few years, as a member of poetry groups in Louth, Lincolnshire, and the instigator of several performance poetry events, he has decided to expose his poetry to the critical gaze of the wider world.
After the Storm
A ghost town. No lights in windows of tall, stone buildings; just sluggish sunshine behind painted clouds that are charcoaled, stained, still gathering; a long, livid bruise purpling a disturbing sky. The land too looks sick: a vivid swathe of toxic green, as if that heavy downpour had released something other than rain for passing ducks to bathe in.
So where are the ducks, dogs, cats, children, men, babies? Where are the cars, bicycles, delivery vans, wheelbarrows, the ladders, the horses, the second-hand carts? Where are the window cleaners? Where are the housekeepers to beat the living daylights out of hand-woven antique rugs nibbled by ravenous moths? Where are the soaked shirts, left out on washing lines to drip? Where are the cafes and mended bentwood chairs? Where are the young lovers? Where have all the street musicians gone?
But this town is not silent. I can hear thunder that grizzles, gripes, sneers, hangs around; muttering, grumbling, ready to kick back. Perhaps somewhere in there a wooden shutter is rattling as it battles to free itself from rusted, loosening hinges. Perhaps I can hear a murder of crows screeching and scratching around overblown bean stalks; picking their way through cabbage patches abandoned in hidden back yards. Did I hear a train guard’s whistle? Perhaps I sense another storm circling, growling, stirring as it waits for forked lightning to strike.
Two figures, both elderly, both women, both alone, stand, wait. What are they waiting for? Perhaps, once, they were friends or at least neighbours on nodding terms. Perhaps they are hoping that the other will speak? Or perhaps they no longer recognise each other. Or is it that they prefer to be as strangers? Perhaps it is easier that way.
The old woman who is staring straight at me looks haunted. Her face is blank. She clutches her umbrella awkwardly, defiantly, painfully in her hand. Rainwater trickles and streams downhill. To her failing eyes, the ground is rippling: wet grass, slippy rivulets, mud, fresh blown leaves. Earth sticks to the tips of her shoes. The ground squelches beneath her; this way and that. I want to tell her that she must be wary when she stumbles uphill: this is the time to watch her step.
She has obviously just been passed by a woman of some importance. I imagine this smart lady marching down the path: left, right, trippety-trot in her well-heeled, bespoke, leather boots spat on frequently and polished by a retinue of poorly paid minions. Note the cut of her pure wool coat, that fox fur trim with matching hat. Make way! She has a husband, a brother and a grown-up son, all with friends in very high places. Stand aside!
So, the world stands aside, lets her pass but just for a moment she pauses; hesitates.
And she is captured. Near the fence. With an old woman who looks like Death.
Based in the United Kingdom, Dorothy Burrows enjoys writing poetry, flash fiction and short plays. This year, her work has appeared in various journals including The Ekphrastic Review, Spelt Magazine, The Alchemy Spoon, Failed Haiku and is forthcoming in Dust Poetry Magazine. She tweets @rambling_dot
It was before and then it was after. The ground was reflected in the monochromatic sky, rising in the disappearing drizzle, held momentarily by the scattered light. The canopy could not be breached, not even by the unveiling here and now.
The witnesses waited--still, fixed, pretending not to see. Their refusals collided with the odd blankness of the landscape, falling like invisible waves on shores of disintegration. Although tangible, they remained impalpable, unfinished, holding on to each other with an enduring rebuke, their masklike countenances of habit and resentment stripping away their flesh until only bones remained underneath their heavy garments.
Does any destination survive? All the houses lie flattened against the mirror of dusk, silent and unwelcoming. The trees drift into painted lines, offering neither landmark nor shelter as they merge with the fragments of cloud and sky.
Against the shifting ground, all directions become unmoored, lost, unnavigable. Whispers take the shapes of crows, superimposed on nothing but the mercurial trajectory of the always-impending tempest, summoned from a contingency that is always beyond the grasp of the between.
Kerfe Roig lives in NYC. You can find more of her art and writing at https://kblog.blog/ and on the blog she does with her friend Nina https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/ .
Woman Navigating a Path
This is what war does.
It returns in the haunting
leaving remnants of death
in its wake hanging
in the drape of pain
like the purple cloth she clings to.
She hobbles the puddled pathway
and I catch a glimpse of her face.
She is wearing his scars.
I see it in her sunken eyes,
in her chiselled jawbone,
in the fist that clutches rage.
The sky is walking the same path.
Its cheeks share the blotchy stains
left by the aftermath of rain.
She inhales the breath of decay
as she glides through her grief,
to the churchyard gate
as soundless as a shadow.
Kate Young lives in England and has been passionate about poetry since childhood. She generally writes free verse and loves responding to Art through Ekphrastic poems. Her poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Nitrogen House, Words for the Wild, Poetry on the Lake, Alchemy Spoon and a Scottish Writers Centre chapbook. Her work has also featured in the anthologies Places of Poetry and Write Out Loud. Her pamphlet A Spark in the Darkness recently won The Baker’s Dozen competition with Hedgehog Press and is due to be published. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.
murky puddles, our faces indistinct.
Horizon slants of rain brush stroke downward
onto factory chimneys, purple brink
of fields, as we pass storm broken fence wood.
I carry a plank of wood beneath my coat.
Curious sideways glances from strangers
as if I, a woman shouldn't , but a bloke
should repair my home opened to dangers.
I will not be constrained by any rough edged weather,
that batters my roof, shakes the glass
in my windows. I will walk this psalm drenched
path, knowing all in mind will come to pass.
After the storm the storm still blasts elsewhere,
and will again to us, so we prepare.
Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include, She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He edits The Wombwell Rainbow Interviews and is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine. He recently had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb.
Pearls of Wisdom
The church doors are closing; it’s time to reflect
on the week gone by. An old lady hunches aside
for others close by who wish to say—hi.
Speak the obvious…damn chilly outside.
You should get-off-home m'dear; that old-
man and dog of yours will be all but done for
-alone wanting its leg of mutton the dog,
his butcher’s bone. What a sermon that was, eh?
Wasn’t-worth half a farthing of anybody’s money
m'dear, never mine or my bus fare, I tell you?
I’m of a mind not to come again next week.
These moss green gravestones are deadly to walk,
look, watch how you go m'dear and-
give my love to your poor old Sis,
tell her I’m thinking of her she’s in my prayers.
It’s a shame she had to fall-down-those ghastly cellar stairs.
Shouldn’t have to do it…at her age…I told her,
I told her…she should have gone electric.
She should have gone to NORWEB Chuck.
But would she listen, would she listen,
I’ve been telling her for years those days of
-filling a coal scuttle is long since gone.
Just thinking about it, now Chuck gives me chilblains
it absolutely fills my heart with tears, not pearls of wisdom.
Mark Andrew Heathcote
Mark Andrew Heathcote is adult learning difficulties support worker, his poetry has been published in many journals, magazines and anthologies, he resides in the UK, from Manchester, Mark is the author of “In Perpetuity” and “Back on Earth” two books of poems published by a CTU publishing group, Creative Talents Unleashed.
The Calm After The Storm
for the Late Azhra Begum
after After the Storm by Istvan Farkas (Hungary), 1934 C.E.
Thanks for the sunyata,
Thanks for the cosmic storm,
Thanks for the stairway of stars,
Thanks for the planets and their resolutions--
Making the opposites align and amalgamate.
Sheikha, A. and Saad Ali
Sheikha, A. (b. 1982 C.E. in Hyderabad, Pakistan) is from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan. Her works appear in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications have been Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, Atlantean Publishing, Alban Lake Publishing, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Arabic and Persian. She has also appeared in Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love anthology that has been nominated for a Pulitzer. More about her can be found at sheikha82.wordpress.com.
Saad Ali (b. 1980 C.E. in Okara, Pakistan) has been educated and brought up in the United Kingdom (UK) and Pakistan. He holds a BSc and an MSc in Management from the University of Leicester, UK. He is an existential philosopher, poet, and translator. Ali has authored four books of poetry. His latest collection of poetry is called Prose Poems: Βιβλίο Άλφα (AuthorHouse, 2020). He is a regular contributor to The Ekphrastic Review. By profession, he is a Lecturer, Consultant, and Trainer/Mentor. Some of his influences include: Vyasa, Homer, Ovid, Attar, Rumi, Nietzsche, and Tagore. He is fond of the Persian, Chinese, and Greek cuisines. He likes learning different languages, travelling by train, and exploring cities on foot. To learn more about his work, please visit www.saadalipoetry.com.
Walk with Me after the Storm
The storm that washed away part of the fence
has ended. Come out with me to admire the way
the rain has emboldened nature’s colors.
The tree trunks have never been this dark,
this potent—they make me think of Turkish coffee.
Nor has the grass ever been so green.
As a child, I had a crayon that shade
in my sixty-four-color assortment.
Do you remember? It was called sea green.
How fitting, because today the grass
is a sea.
The black cloud is receding, rushing away
with the same fury it unleashed on us
such a short time ago. Let the washed air
enliven your mood and your face,
just as the sun is brightening
the sky and your dress. Smell the breeze,
so pure and clear that we can see
far beyond the purple hills
and make out the distant curve
of the earth.
Catherine Reef's poetry has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Visions International, and The Moving Force. She has written more than 40 nonfiction books, including Sarah Bernhardt: The Divine and Dazzling Life of the World’s First Superstar (2020); Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator (2018); Victoria: Portrait of a Queen (2017); Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse (2016); and Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life (2014). She has received the Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award, the Sydney Taylor Award, the Joan G. Sugarman Award, and Jefferson Cup and National Jewish Book Award honors. Catherine Reef lives and writes in College Park, Maryland.
After the Storm
After the storm comes the quiet time.
Even the birds aren’t singing
and the streams have ceased to rage.
All natures anger seems spent,
it’s noise chastened
it’s heat lost
So we will walk in the stillness
relishing this quiet time,
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, Gyroscope Review and So It Goes Journal. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com///www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/
Purple and Green
Paths cross. Two strangers hurry on their way,
Unsure of where they're going to, and yet,
Resolved to reach this place without delay,
Persuaded that behind each silhouette
Lurks danger. Trust no stranger. Press ahead.
Escape means grief in silence must be borne.
As purple garb pays homage to the dead,
No words are said. Both strangers know both mourn ...
Directions are opposed, and yet, both seek
Green pastures far away: they share a goal,
Recovering from grief. Why don't they speak?
Each lacks the words to soothe another's soul.
Each hurries on, as if already late,
Not sharing burdens, adding to their weight ...
Mike Mesterton-Gibbons is a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Florida State University. His acrostic sonnets have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better Than Starbucks, the Creativity Webzine, Current Conservation, the Ekphrastic Review, Grand Little Things, Light, Lighten Up Online, New Verse News, Oddball Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, the Satirist, the Washington Post and WestWard Quarterly.
"A few words for you: do not go,"
says the old self, but the new self does not listen.
The smell of rain hits eve's nostrils like an electric shock:
the dawn only smells the new-mown grass
that glows in the color of the fresh watercress.
The Roman soldiers used to eat watercress as a part of their diet,
and so did the men of WWI,
but Aurora has no interest in the history lesson: she's too young.
The light yellow dress - she has on - symbolizes sass,
and she's ready to kick the artist's ass.
"Stop painting!" her expression states.
"You promised me breakfast, and now, the levee breaks!"
Paula Puolakka (1982) is a Beat poet, writer, and MA (History of Science and Ideas.) In April 2021, she won the second prize in the "Lahti, the European Green Capital 2021" writing competition (adult category.) Her poem was also a part of the Spring Issue of Poetry Cooperative.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly
"When human dignity is so humiliated, it is not worth living anymore."
Istvan Farkas, from a letter written on the train to Auschwitz
In his painting After The Storm there is a promise of tomorrow,
the grass incredibly green on the other side of a spiked fence and gate,
black clouds rising above the light disappearing into the atmosphere
so a home -- a mansion, really -- is painted in pale stone with multiple windows
where the family can watch for the woman coming home. She has stopped
to speak with an acquaintance in a gold dress who is holding an umbrella
and a book (bumbershoot and Cubist rectangle.) The horizon behind the house
is red as spilled blood -- red sky at morning, travelers take warning -- so it is,
perhaps, blood-shed the women in the picture have known as they both wear
partial shadows and somber hats for protection although the threat of storm
is supposed to be passing away like the war which holds on, suppressing the life of art.
It was a teacher who smuggled pictures drawn by the children
of Terezin to London; why the play (I Never Saw Another
Butterfly) was written and my son would play the boy
who refused to obey the Nazis and cut his foot, smashing
the glass in a Jewish wedding before newlyweds were loaded
onto a train to Auschwitz. It was, friends said, his best role,
rebelling, refusing to be held back following what his heart believed
as the train a photograph in black and white, was projected, inevitable
and moving, on a side panel -- ominous -- part of the stage set.
Where are the butterflies that never flew back to the children,
encamped by force, consigned to entombment -- their lives brief,
drawing pictures, hiding that moment of salvation from the guards?
And there are no cocoons in the shadowed branches of the tree
beside the woman in the golden dress in Istvan Farkas Into The Storm.
It will not rain again, in this painting and we cannot know
if the woman wearing black and purple -- colors like the wings of Aperatura
iris and purple emperor -- is the artist's wife, her body to be murdered
and thrown into the Danube by Hungarian Fascists; or if we realize
the rain was actually our tears as the shadows of what we cannot change
rise over the heads of the women and what we've loved changes the train's itinerary.
Laurie Newendorp lives and writes in Houston. Her recent book, When Dreams Were Poems, 2020, explores the relationship of art and poetry; a world of idealistic and visionary beauty that was altered by the influence of an horrific darkness during WWI and between the two World Wars. "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" (as noted in the poem) is the true and heartbreaking play written about the drawings of the children of Terezin, a concentration camp in Bohemia, part of the Czech Republic.
A List of Inner Storms
she feels the need to stand there
to tell me tomorrow brings another day
that everyone is a bit gloomy now and
then, and the way I carry umbrellas
tells me tomorrow brings another day
indeed, more storms and nosy dolls
then, plus the way I carry an umbrella
which should not hinder my supper
indeed these gales and nosy gals
as you, my love, you turned away today
which should not hinder my supper
so ridiculous to even be thinking why
you turned away today, my love as
hurt not ever turns into comfort, I know
it is ridiculous to even be thinking I
may simply shake off things that storm
Kate Copeland started absorbing stories ever since a little lass. Her love for words led her to teaching and translating some dear languages; her love for art, water and writing led her to poetry...with some publications sealed already! She was born in Rotterdam some 51 years ago and adores housesitting in the UK, America and Spain.
Wolf Caught by the Axis of Evil
his final chance gone
last bridge now closed
the storms taken their toll
no sanctuary at home
the noose tightens by day
tighter by night as
the cattle train to Auschwitz
screeches into view
gas rises from its funnel
a fire rages in its belly
like an oven of death
signalling the worst
last chance to reason flown
last plea for compassion lost
last days of his short life
soon drawing to an end
in a herd of acrid animals
packed like sardine for
the train journey due north
to the bowels of Poland
he leaves Budapest blue
off to face another storm
waving goodbye to home as
the train wolf whistles; gone
Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical free verse. He has achieved success in poetry competitions across the British Isles and North America. His work has been published by many literary magazines, anthologies and webzines in the UK, Ireland, Italy, India, South Africa, Kenya, USA and Canada. Since 2018, he has been part of The Ekphrastic Review community particularly enjoying the fortnightly challenges. He is a member of the Federation of Writers Scotland for whom he was a Featured Writer in 2019.
I Met My Fear
I met my fear as I returned
to aftermath of storm I learned
left dampened hope in disarray
of spring beset by somber gray
and distant dark of passing skies
now sallow face and hollowed eyes
becoming eerie, echoed qualm
in turbulent but silent calm
that made me turn too late to speak
as slivered sun began to peek
illuminating aura seen
of moment that had passed between
the two of us as her despair
was mirrored in my fervent prayer.
Portly Bard: Old man. Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
Sisters stare at storm aftermath
Turned away, tear-filled eyes trouble
One who lost her lover to vivacious beauty
Remembers romance, reminisced embrace
Manner and propriety forced acceptance
Children denied to her as spinster aunt
Love reduced to bitterness, hidden to most
Only expressed in darkness alone, no
Understanding from sibling, oblivious sister
Denied motive to usurp, undermine fate
Storm cloud emulates dark hatred unbidden
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson grew up near Lakes Ontario and Erie, now living near seacoast New Hampshire. A lakes girl, Dickson credits a portion of her muse to water. She serves on the board of Poetry Society of NH and is a Pushcart nominee. Her poetry is found in Misfit, Gleam, Avocet and The Ekphrastic Review, among others and full length works on Amazon.
Asthan (a place)
We would go there often, a village immersed in peace
Children running in undergarments and bare feet
Smiles gliding like the droplets of water on pristine green leaves.
Women busy cooking on earthen stoves, men returning from the fields
The sky lined with pink gently being eaten by the gray
Concealing a storm contriving in faraway lands.
It was a place of divine blessing, Asthan as we called it.
Straight across the window where we would sit
Looking at the vanishing lane illuminated through a single street lamp
And a white dog lamenting in vain, the waters would rise every now and then.
Our minds marooned we weathered the storms, in grief turning apart
Even as it submerged our hearts. In search that we find what we seek
In each of us as we leave what we might call the inevitable to be.
Abha Das Sarma
An engineer and management consultant by profession, I enjoy writing the most. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com), my poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Sparks of Calliope, here and elsewhere. Having spent my growing up years in small towns of northern India, I currently live in Bengaluru.
Remember That Boy
the boy at Havasupai
dressed completely in black
shirt, shorts, socks
twirling a black umbrella
it was august of that year
the desert on fire
late in the day
struggling up hill
finely returning to the car
he was only beginning
a lively step
Fellini would have been pleased
alone without companions
perhaps it was just a little ”look around”
The Axis and the Storm
the soul of earth
allowing the sun
to peek out
swirling wind currents
hoping for spring
after a difficult winter.
behind that fresh veil
began to gather
outpouring of blood-
Farkas painted Hungarian skirts
scurrying across a bridge
oblivious to the raging
that would end their
Jewish friends journeys
Pamela McMinn has always been moved by art and prophetic nature of the painter or poet or writer. She has recently written poetry for an annual Holocaust Remembrance. Her goal this year is to publish the book she is working on.
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