To Joseph Cornell Regarding Planet Set, Dedicated To Giuditta Pasta
Perfection, you would have us know,
is hemispheric sky aglow
with heaven's art the eye can frame
unveiled in darkness, name by name,
amid the orbs that move beheld
in paths, unending, thus compelled
to be predestined solar set
that would its precious gems beget
of clarity in nature's glass
and man's that would for nature's pass
as crystalline in form and tone,
the beauty lent we cannot own
except as voice exquisite found
in which, divine, we hear its sound.
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.
Titans aren't immortal.
When Atlas dies he'll strike
the Earth's gong
to sound a song of death:
skies will tear
from pole to melting pole.
Futures shrink - spheres within a sphere -
to a single blind bead.
You'll hear his mallet swing
and his final exhalation,
his final exclamation:
Titans aren't immortal.
Paul McDonald taught at the University of Wolverhampton for twenty five years, where he ran the Creative Writing Programme. He took early retirement in 2019 to write full time. He is the author of over twenty books, which cover fiction, poetry, and scholarship. His creative work has won and been shortlisted for numerous prizes including The Bedford Prize, The Bridport Prize, The John Clare Poetry Prize, the Ottakars/Faber and Faber Poetry Competition, the Sentinel Poetry Prize, the Sentinal Short Story Prize, and Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Net.
Paul McDonald Amazon Author Page
A Small Box of Everything
I stand alone
Ninety degrees north
Earth rotates beneath my feet
Every latitude begins with me
Each time zone
One pirouette describes twenty-four hours
and a trip around the world
The polestar identifies me
anchors above my head
Half the heavens spin around it
and around me
I raise a glass full of nothing
and one half full of nothing
and one half empty
Our blue planet in another
and our virgin moon
Finally crystallised rock
Formed by a force
unimaginable to me
insignificant to the stars
All of this
the rest of creation
distant moons Titania and Oberon
unleashed from their realm
held in a rough box
behind a sheet of melted sand
Rob Joynson has written 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. He published his first collection Of Life and Love and Interludes in 2020 and has been published by the The Ekphrastic Review.
An Uncharted Star*
Do you remember a celestial map
on a shelf of a laboratory
in our high school among the heap of scrap
neglected but kept its former glory?
Beside of it an assemblage of balls
expressed the planets orbiting around
the sun, but now on earth each of them falls
and they get dumped and packed in a box browned.
Though these stars are almost forgotten now
I still recall your dream you told to me
when we searched an uncharted star somehow
in the night sky and I still want to see
your comeback as a ballet star on stage
and look up your lasting shine from backstage.
* This Cornell artwork is dedicated to Giuditta Pasta, a nineteenth-century Italian opera singer.
Toshiji Kawagoe, Ph.D. is a professor at Future University Hakodate. He lives in Hokkaido, Japan. His poems in classical Chinese have been published in the anthologies of Chinese poetry and his science fiction short stories in S-F Magazine and Anotherealm. His academic works in economics are also published in many books and academic journals.
You first came into my life
in a store on Fourth Avenue
where I found a lithograph
of you as you had been in life.
Captivated, I saw your face
rise before me like the dawn
and I had to possess you,
claim you as mine.
You won my affection
from beyond the grave
and your ghost was safe
to pursue, no fear of rejection.
I have impossible crushes,
death ensuring they are unrequited.
I long for what cannot be,
to see you, to hear you sing.
To listen to your unique voice,
the ability you had to sing contralto
as easily as you sang soprano
and I envy Stendhal who saw you perform.
He heard what I will never hear,
he breathed the air you breathed out,
he seems like a love rival
and he is with you in the afterlife.
All I can offer you this side of the grave
is one of my boxes of discarded artifacts.
I dedicate it to you, Giuditta Pasta.
Stephen Poole served for 31 years in the Metropolitan Police in London, England. As a freelance journalist, he has written for a variety of British county and national magazines. Passionate about poetry since boyhood, his poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Poetry on the Lake, LPP Magazine, and two anthologies.
On Planet Set by Joseph Cornell
I don't have much to give,
a few worn treasures
on a weathered tray
plucked from the ash heap
of a broken life.
Two shells the sea
has polished into pearl,
a row of glasses
ready to hold tears
or fine champagne,
and two maps of heaven,
the swirl of the milky way
drawn like a scarf
across night’s body,
filled with stars
that trace the outlines
of gods and monsters
measuring their way
through centuries of sky,
I offer you these
as gift and invitation,
emblem and souvenir
of the plain magic
that asks nothing more
than wonder, the held breath
of our most profound
Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who finds ekphrasis particularly satisfying, as it links her two major passions, art and language. She has had work appear in many print and online journals and anthologies, including The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester and The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette C. Luzajic, and the latest editions of Verse Virtual and Earth’s Daughters.
Join Up The Dots
Though being one inconsequential dot in
our universe of monumental proportion,
we have developed technologies of
astonishing achievement, and creativity.
We have an insatiable palette, for exploration
and discovery from our nose of curiosity
protruding from psyche and skull yet
should we inflict on other planets
our predilection for heinous greed
with ears tone deaf to alien suffering
and eyes wide open only when convenient?
For we are the self-proclaimed alpha anilmalia
with unbridled capability, to induce pain on the weak
yet we are the moral mentors to vulnerable offspring
en pursuit of the noble fibre to join up the dots.
Despite global warnings from leading indicators,
we perch on the precipice of self-destruction -
planet and conurbations and nodes from nature
of plant, bird and animal endangered species -
from egotistical aims far beyond our horizon
of decency, of humanity, of honesty, of truth.
While we may claim charity for the weak
and those insecure in their own fragile skin,
we bomb, we maim, we inflict carnage
at the very slightest provocation. Shame,
yet shame is but perceived weakness.
Do we want to export wanton human traits
to the fringes of our unbridled universe
to life in an existence beyond our capability
for peace, kindness and tenets of tolerance?
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, Belgium, 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.
Like the light escaping from under the door,
I hurried into the Milky Way, a train of starry monks,
Wiser than the moon, shining on their own.
In search of permanence akin to flying ants
Dotting the dark searching for the flames
To shed their wings and procreate,
Into a world of little known, I stepped.
The temple dome beamed gold.
The bells chimed and the chanting grew as the pastor spoke.
Earthen lamps flickered lighting up a little girl's face,
Head down, hands folded, she stood in silent prayers.
Looking to find all that had disappeared
Beyond the receding horizon, to which she could run
As the pink began to grey.
Somewhere among the trees or the muddy lanes,
Peace must be.
Unclear as to bring or let stay,
Building existence between now and then.
Abha Das Sarma
An engineer and management consultant by profession, Abha Das Sarma enjoys writing the most. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com), her poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Sparks of Calliope, Trouvaille Review, here and elsewhere. Having spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, she currently lives in Bengaluru.
Safe at Last
Ah! My celestial hemispheres in a box
Three handspans across
How much more convenient,
Less unimaginably far
Than ice caps, islands and stars
Carefully plotted on this map,
The frightening infinity of it all
If not pinned down by me
They would fly off their axis
My perspective is god like
The earth all small to me here.
To make it more homely
I add a few tchotchkes:
A marble, conductor’s baton, shells, goblets
That sort of thing
Before the hugeness, the great unknowing
With god like hand I
Wrestle them into the box
Decant, filter, sieve them of
Size, of unknown hugeness
You’ll not find the roaring of the sea
For these shells
Or the swell and cacophony of the orchestra
For this baton
The revelry for these wine glasses…
But this manageable tidy size
Fitting on my mantelpiece
Boxed in and boxed out
To be passed by
Without a murmur
As if the world were not
The ogre I take it to be
But tame, caged, docile
Lucie is a retired librarian who is writing as much as she can.
Night Sky Voices - a Duplex
I protect my cuttings, defend files, memorable charts, for
even the most sheltered boxes sound like night skies
you found the sound of sheltered boxes quite a night sky
when the pavers under your feet signed and stirred mysteriously
then the pavers under your feet started to wave, and mystery stirred,
saved the charts that work as carbon-copies of her voice
how may charts save the carbon-copy work of her voice,
and when did I become the bachelor of calm and clouds?
When the muse of clouds turned me into a bachelor of calm,
I sang to the sky in even waves, my world right in your hands
my even sky you sang to, waving the world right with your hands
that could never caress me, that forever set my mind surreal
that I forever should mind, still I caress the thoughts that set surreals
in files, as I cut time, protect memories, and map out superstars.
Kate Copeland started absorbing stories ever since a little lass. Her love for words led her to teaching and translating some silvery languages; her love for art, water & writing led her to poetry...with publications sealed already! You can find her poems @ The Ekphrastic Review, Hedgehog Press, The Poetry Barn x Poetry Distillery, The Spirit Fire Review, First Lit.Review-East, GrandLittleThings & The Metaworker. Kate was born in Rotterdam some 51 ages ago and adores housesitting in the UK, USA and in Spain.
is that all there is
I am traveling the world is also traveling and together we blue latitude and longitude the oceans mapped with interchangeable stars and isn’t that always the way I’ll drink to that
magician checking the schedule cape that glitters hat pulled low who is he really and where do the planets go the planets turning the universe expanding and why does it always say end and dead
but meantime everything is moving beyond is watching blurring falling behind but where is when and why is it always between the getting on the getting off the port of call unanswered just keep moving
crossing riding piling up gone but mostly not stopping it must be the wind or maybe a wave both sides around repeating maybe and maybe not the focus shifting now the other side is turning all
transparent only ghosts where am I going wasn’t this supposed to be a journey with a destination yet it’s taking all my time I didn’t even say hello hello I don’t know why and then goodbye will I return
again once maybe am I when is it how now about tomorrow here and every step is sideways holding fast the way to never in this blue blue orb I don’t know who is what and how is where is it or not
Kerfe Roig has always enjoyed visiting the worlds created by Joseph Cornell.
World in Motion
My daughter, hysterical,
wakes me in the middle of the night
to drive her to the hospital.
In the private ER waiting room, the father cries
as he tells how he had tried to hold her up
and call 911 at the same time. Failed. He curses
the boyfriend who’d broken up with her
by text from the Army, threatens to kill him.
The divorced parents talk
of their daughter’s manic-depression,
maybe she’d be luckier not to live.
My yellow hoodie shrouds my face somewhat,
protects the back of my neck from hospital
cold as stress clenches every muscle.
The second hand on the round Pegasus
clock ticks audibly 360 degrees,
a mechanical pulse measuring interminable
moments of anguish as the night creeps by.
A van pulls up to the ER drop off. A man hops
from the driver’s side, not bothering to shut the door.
He runs through the ER doors and returns
to the passenger side with a wheelchair.
He rushes his laboring wife past me,
as a nurse instructs them to take the elevator
on the left to the maternity wing.
In the security office next to the entrance
sits a box labeled “human organs.”
Printed on the side are icons
for various body parts—one of them eyes.
We wait hours for a specialist. My daughter slumps
on the berm of the parking lot with her friend.
Near the hospital entrance
a pair of rabbits frolics on the small lawn.
The specialist comes and goes.
My daughter and her girlfriend
are allowed to say good-bye to their friend.
The sculpture in the hospital visitors’ entrance
a large granite boulder—perfectly round gray,
is designed to roll continuously when the water flows
beneath it. As the morning shift arrives,
a custodian turns on the water,
sets the world in motion.
Jeanne Blum Lesinski
An author of nonfiction and poetry, Jeanne Blum Lesinski writes for journals, lifestyle and gardening magazines, anthologies, and online sites. When not at her computer, she can often be found on a bicycle path, in a garden, or deep in a book. Recent work has appeared in Non-Binary Review, the Alphanumeric podcast, and F3LL. She is a finalist in The Ekphrastic Review Women Artists contest.
Her voice, high soprano
reaches for the night sky,
universal sound permeates
atmosphere, crystalline notes
held; Giuditta’s hand rises
into spotlight as moon ascends.
His tribute, love from afar,
shadowbox altar worthy of her
praise; were she with him,
hands clasped to her breast.
Voice rising in pitch, her
shattered crystals shower him
with joy, amidst broken glass,
face streaming with tears, eyes
raised with her to night sky.
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson has seen La Traviata and other operas, but more can appreciate art from which to write poetry. Visual prompts, she finds intriguing and challenging. Nature, animals and water always spark poetry as well; her two rescued feral cats standing by for the first reading. Misfit, Open Door, Sledgehammer and The Ekphrastic Review are among the many journals where Dickson's work can be found, as well as full length works on Amazon.
Cornell’s Planet Set Tanka
singing their Earth song
an artist’s scavenged objects
on dowling rods two balls
create new alignments
planets orbiting the sun
cyan blue marble
the hemisphere’s colours
this day he recalls
the resonance between the
heavens and the individual
he locks a shadow box
celestial navigation charts
stars clinging to it
like silver webs on the wind
full moon lunar tides
Ilona Martonfi is a poet, editor, literary curator, and activist; she is the author of four poetry books, Blue Poppy (Coracle Press, 2009), Black Grass (Broken Rules Press, 2012), The Snow Kimono (Inanna Publications, 2015) and Salt Bride (Inanna Publications, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna Publications, 2022). Her work has published in seven chapbooks, journals across North America and abroad. Recently, her poem "My Brother's Ashes" was nominated by The Ekphrastic Review for the Best Microfiction Awards Anthology, 2021. She is the curator of Visual Arts Centre and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. She is also the recipient of the Quebec Writers’ Federation 2010 Community Award.
The Moment the Womb Unravels
We all want to run our own Broadway show
leave these trappings of time and place
the moment the womb unravels its innards.
Each body, each person is a wilting-flower vase.
We’re all departmentalized into this world.
Boxed contents, the volume of which is equal
and yet disproportionate, whatever vibrations
shape their path; the framework of these people.
They are all the same, glass half full, half-empty,
They are like a divided ocean pivoting
one way and then another moment another way
we’re all internationally, globally, commingling,
mingling ah, all of creation, creation is singing
listen to the hummingbird, the common nightingale
listen to the New Guinea singing dog howl
listen to the gibbon and the common quail.
This world has its very own reggae-roots-musician,
a music baton in an otherworldly "conductor's hand"
this world is a singing beluga whale
the musical notations, connotations of which,
we’ll never understand.
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.
Moving beings all around,
circling the sun.
Gravity and life,
moon circling the planet,
earth’s floating forces.
Coming full circle,
air, gravity, and life forms,
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher has been writing since 2010 and has had many micro-flash fiction stories published. In 2018 her book Shorts for the Short Story Enthusiasts, was published and The Importance of Being Short, in 2019. She currently resides on Long Island, New York with her husband Richard and dogs Lucy and Breanna.
Voice of an Angel
Once I thought love
would be enough
to fly us away
past planets and stars
reaching up to them
to grasp that moment
and put it in a glass,
our own shining orb
that would stay forever
gleaming and shimmering
and singing at my touch
with the pure notes of
the voice of an angel
a voice so pure
it will never shatter
It’s lustre has faded now
but it will stay forever
a still shining sphere
in my memories
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/
Night Shift at the Observatory
A liqueur glass
tilted on a balanced shelf
upholding celestial heavens
cradles the eye of the world
as it wavers between
six crystal glasses
host the opera singer’s top notes
trapped in raw quartz.
then swigs a shot of medicinal herbs
shocks the stagehand
into raising the curtain.
in two wooden balls
rolling on a pair
of doweling rods.
Suzy lives and works in Luton, Bedfordshire, UK. Her work has appeared in Sledgehammer Lit, Spelt Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review and Wombwell Rainbow. Suzy wrote and directed two plays for the Civic Centre in Tainan, Taiwan, on British pantomime theme and is currently working towards a poetry pamphlet.
The Aqua Game Board
Our Celestial Hemisphere game board
hangs on the wall. It’s a diorama box
with two aqua maps of constellations
above a shelf with six tulip glasses.
We roll the dice of coordinates
to see where we land on Northern
and Southern sky views, and drop
a clear or aqua glass ball into a cup.
If we land in the Milky Way, we
move a clear sphere into the next cup.
If we land on a celestial body, we move
a blue sphere. On rainy days,
there are two white croquet balls
on a railing above the hemispheres;
we take them down to push around
on the carpet. We direct each
snowy ball through chair
and table legs with a wooden wand,
and carefully replace everything
back on the wall when finished.
But now this game says, water.
Its aqua spheres look like a flooded
earth where water seeps from melting
snowcaps and tropical storms stream
rivers of muck into subway tunnels.
I want to jettison this Humpty Dumpty
board game which keeps me playing
while earth goes overboard. I’ve cracked
glass game pieces and drained the magic
from the wand. There’s no water to douse
wildfires, as all the king’s horses, and all
the king’s men are nowhere to be found.
Melinda Thomsen’s book full length Armature was just released from Hermit Feathers Press, and Finishing Line Press published her chapbooks Naming Rights and Field Rations. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, New York Quarterly, Poetry East, Tar River Poetry, The Comstock Review, and others. Find her at @ThomsenMelinda