The Secret of Your Sight
Your hands touch and send signals to your brain. Your hands’ feelers
at the feeder, hovering over flowers, reading the raised dots ion your books,
or gently drumming the skin of your lover. When you let
them hover over the heat of the fire you know where
and how to keep your distance.
Your darkness is not.
When others tell you of the northern lights you use your hands
as antennae, understanding magic, feeling the time winds
after wetting your finger, drying them in the direction of everywhere.
Your close your hands, curling them around
your eyes in sleep, resting them on your comforter.
When pain overwhelms you, your hands’ eyes are too open,
after they’ve seen too much, you try to blind yourself by stitching them shut
with your surgical needle and thread. But
you will always remember.
Rose Mary Boehm
Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fifth poetry collection, DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS, has just been snapped up by Kelsay Books for publication May/June 2022. Her website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/
My Sister’s Flair for Fashion
She with the blue eyes had a flair for fashion,
an eye for style, colour, attention to detail,
when her foot could reach the pedal on the floor,
Grandmother taught her to sew on an old Singer machine.
Home economics classes in junior high,
she learned to work with patterns, choose fabric,
pinning, cutting pieces of her first clothing project,
a wrap-around red corduroy skirt.
She stitched an elegant A-line style dress,
long and pink with a halter top,
for me to wear at Singles Week in the Catskills.
She was twelve years old. I found a husband.
Lois Perch Villemaire
Lois Perch Villemaire resides in Annapolis, MD. Her stories, memoir flash, and poetry have been published in such places as Six Sentences, Trouvaille Review, FewerThan500, The Drabble, Pen In Hand, and Flora Fiction. Her poems have been included in anthologies published by Truth Serum Press, Global Insides - the Vaccine, American Writers Review 2021, and Love & the Pandemic by Moonstone Arts Center. She was a finalist in the 2021 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry.
The Hand, Though Blind...
The hand, though blind, can render seen
the truth that art would have us glean
as agony or ecstasy
from image -- or its irony --
as shadow, shape, and colour lent
by light revealing what is meant,
and how perhaps we ought to feel
about such capture, dream or real.
And so you cast here childhood plea
with mocking lethal guarantee
inviting test of death to try
should there be failure to comply,
suggesting we should realize
that in one's hands is where truth lies.
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...
Ekphrastic joy comes not from praise
for words but from returning gaze
far more aware of fortune art
becomes to eyes that fathom heart.
Cross Her Heart
Pearls of wisdom are hearts worn on sleeves once they’re broken.
Words bleed out until all that is left is their patent platinum glow.
Pondered in a looking glass, they enlighten with a needle’s clarity.
Ruffled sleeves stay spotless and nail polish doesn’t display blood,
And an eye in the hand is worth two in a bush to show blindness--
or so goes a needle, embroidering a picture a camel couldn’t pass
for the sake of a parable or bourbon to pour into an open wound.
The fingers stitching time in blue thread are tapered, immaculate.
They would rival Plisetskaya dancing the dying swan for elegance
and her husband Shchedrin’s Carmen for sass while quoting Bizet,
which is to say these hands were made for seduction and death--
but at least a tuneful end, with a full string section and percussion.
But that’s old school, royal blue dye in the needle’s cotton thread,
where the woman’s a schemer and the man couldn’t stitch his way
out of a wet paper alibi. Forget the splinter in the woman’s eye--
how about the plank in the man’s? As in walking a woman down it,
the plank, in the pleasantest pirate stereotype and in Technicolor,
without Errol Flynn or Burt Lancaster to testosterone to the rescue.
Somebody forget about Anne Bonney yo-ho-hoing with her cutlass?
Lucille Ball saving Star Trek with a single Desilu-producing hand,
needle-pointing business sense to stitch an icon into an open eye?
Maybe that explains the red-letter piping which edges her sleeve--
the woman in the picture with the needle, that is, making her point,
not just Lucy or Anne. Making the eye in the hand blink, to move
a loose lash out of the way. To cross her heart without asking why.
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer whose work has appeared in MacQueen's Quinterly, Panoply, San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published by Tebor Bach in 2021.
When they were young, she and her sisters spent rainy days reciting dizzying rhymes their mother had handed down to them. Here we go ‘round, the oldest would chime, her singsong words punctuated by the crackle their crinolines made as the three sisters pranced and twirled and high-stepped through every childish verse they knew by heart. The heart they held in their hands. The heart they wore on their sleeves. Their most intimate feelings—love, lust, charity, greed—on public display for any and all to see. Cross my heart, cross my heart, the oldest would sing, the hem of her skirt rising higher and higher with each passing refrain. And hope to die, the middle sister would intone, feigning death as she dropped to her knees.
Ashes, ashes, the youngest one finally cackled, spinning out-of-control as she gasped apoplectically at her sisters’ feet. She’s dead, the middle sister cried after a spell. She’s not, the oldest one replied. Come on, baby. You’re ruining everything. To which, the youngest one suddenly sat bolt upright and, clearly happy with herself, sang out, Stick a needle in my eye! And all three sisters fell down laughing hysterically until their mother hollered at them to stop caterwauling like a band of banshees and come set the table like civilized people. But, alas, that was a long time ago, when crossing hearts came easily. A lifetime or two ago. Really.
Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas. A semi-finalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th annual Narrative Poetry Contest, she had the privilege of editing and publishing a pandemic-themed anthology--behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small literary press Singing Moon and received a Best of the Net nomination in 2020. Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prose, won a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. Recent poems appear in Lindenwood Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, MockingHeart Review, Red Earth Review, Silver Birch Press, and The Ekphrastic Review.
Spin the Bottle
Cross my heart and hope to die,
I murmured at eleven years old.
That game’s amber beer bottle spun and stopped,
open-mouthed neck said to kiss a strange girl.
Her hands like winter ghosts. Her wrists skirted
with gray and white crosshatched cloth, ruby ends,
pearl buttons and midnight blue thread.
Unfolding from squatting positions, we merged
so everyone would stop laughing. Lather of cold paste
on my forehead. When our lips met, slick moisture.
We swam in flashed light to a deep pool.
Today, she is a blonde grownup.
Her eye stuck on babies and I’m a spinning bottle.
The man she wants is a shadow fantasy. All I want is
to sip an everlasting elixir to survive this porous, precious life--
no basement, no laughter,
no snowbound December night.
John Milkereit is a mechanical engineer who lives in Houston and has completed a M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the Rainier Writing Workshop. His work has appeared in various literary journals including San Pedro River Review, The Orchard Street Press, and previous issues of The Ekphrastic Review. Lamar University Press published his last collection of poems entitled Drive the World in a Taxicab. He is a 2021 Pushcart nominee.
The white rabbit….
It had never really been Stella’s. True, she had made it, but it had been her mother’s creation: her mother was the one who had traced the pattern onto card, chosen the felt, bought threads, fished out a brand-new bag of kapok. All Stella had done was follow her instructions. By the age of eleven, Stella had been used to doing as she was told: life was easier that way.
The rabbit was to be Stella’s entry for the village craft competition. All her friends would be putting in an entry, so naturally, Stella would too. Besides, she loved sewing. At least, she enjoyed sewing when she was allowed to stitch whatever and however she liked. Normally, her mother did not lay down the law on such matters. Although Stella’s mother was herself an expert needlewoman, skilled at neat ruffles, buttonholes and lace collars, she did not consider craft to be important in the grand scheme of things. Reading, writing, mathematics, a conscientious approach to homework together with an upright posture, manicured nails and brushing one’s hair one hundred times daily, these were what Stella’s mother focused upon: they would ensure her daughter’s success in the world. Consequently, Stella had usually had the freedom to make peg dolls or cross stitch samplers or whatever she pleased in whatever way she chose. But a competition was something else. Marks were to be awarded, comments recorded, certificates presented: there was everything to sew for. Therefore, Stella’s mother had decreed that for this project, every stitch must be of equal length, evenly spaced and with similar tension; felt ears and eyes must match precisely: there was to be perfect symmetry.
That summer, Stella discovered that there was a price attached to perfection. This fact revealed itself to her slowly one particularly sunny Saturday. Her friend, Elaine, had telephoned to invite her round to her house to play. When Stella asked her mother if she could go, she was firmly reminded that the rabbit must be completed before the closing date in a week’s time; this target could only be achieved once the rabbit’s body had been packed tightly with kapok and stitched up. It was scheduled to happen that afternoon. Stella sighed, reluctantly relayed her excuse to Elaine, seized a fistful of kapok, began the task.
It soon transpired that stuffing a soft toy was not quite as easy as Stella had been led to believe. Naturally, her mother had demonstrated the process: this had included a detailed presentation on how to ensure that the ears, feet, and head were adequately filled; a short knitting needle was allegedly an aid to success. Perhaps it was the June heat or perhaps it was a lack of diligence, but Stella’s first attempts were lamentable. Indeed, after the first half hour, Stella was tearful. Her mother, meanwhile, was determined and irritable.
“Watch again! Use your fingers to push bits of kapok into the rabbit’s foot as far as it will go. Thrust a bit further with this needle. You try! Gently! Not roughly, Stella, you’ll ruin the felt! Where did I go wrong with you? Can’t you do anything right?”
How the minutes had dragged into hours, that afternoon, half a century ago! How her mother’s voice had screamed in Stella’s ear! How the tears had trickled down her face to drip onto an increasingly damp white rabbit. In the end, her mother had helped rather more than she had intended to, but not enough for Stella’s liking. Gradually, by trial and error, by exhortation and application, Stella’s dexterity improved; the rabbit dried out in the afternoon heat and by tea-time it had been stitched beautifully, although its ears and tail had to wait for the next session. The tricky matter of attaching and embroidering the felt eyes was left for the final tutorial: this proved to be such a harrowing experience for both mother and daughter that Stella, even now, chose not to recall the blood, language and tears involved. Suffice it to say that the white rabbit, bob-tailed and perfect, was presented for assessment on time.
Naturally, Stella won first prize. In fact, for the first time in the history of the competition, the winning entry was awarded 100%. Stella’s mother had been ecstatic. She told Stella that she was very proud of her. She praised her daughter for her strength in overcoming difficulties and reminded her that “Nothing great is easy!” As her mother left the room, Stella had smiled dutifully, waiting for the door to close. It was only then that she had tiptoed out of bed, grabbed the soft toy from the shelf before rummaging through her sewing box. Pulling out her sharpest, longest needle, she had glared at the creature’s hateful eye and taken aim….
Stella sighed and picked up her fountain pen. Perhaps, after all, it would be wise not to mention the white rabbit in the eulogy.
Based in the United Kingdom, Dorothy Burrows enjoys writing flash fiction, poetry and short plays.This year, her work has appeared in various journals including The Ekphrastic Review, Visual Verse, Spelt Magazine, The Alchemy Spoon, Dust Poetry Magazine and Wales Haiku Journal. She tweets @rambling_dot and occasionally doodles with embroidery threads.
Embroidery: a Haiku Series
Its tight threads storytellers
A nearly lost tradition
That someone passed down
A dying art form
Resurrected on Etsy
Helped by Pinterest
Such beautiful threads
Soft and, yet, unforgiving
Speak our heartfelt truths
Telling the stories
Of past, present, and future
With each dainty stitch
From simple straight stitches
To complicated French knots
So damn difficult
From the woven wheel
To satin and to couching
To fly, stem, and chain
Each tiny technique
Plays such an important role
Adding great texture
On the blank cotton canvas
Reflecting our dreams
A canvas we fill
With our thoughtful rebellion
With dark mystery
With seething anger
With our unshakable faith
WIth deep inner thoughts
With all of our hopes
With all of our frustrations
With all of our dreams
The needle’s slow pull and drag
Fosters great patience
All reflecting back
Where we are, where we have been
Where we want to go
Etched in silken thread
With needle as our paintbrush
To embroider life
Rose Menyon Heflin
Originally from rural, southern Kentucky, Rose Menyon Heflin is a writer and artist living in Madison, Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies spanning four continents, and her poetry won a 2021 Merit Award from Arts for All Wisconsin. In the fall of 2021, one of her poems was choreographed and performed by a local dance troupe, and she has an ekphrastic creative nonfiction piece featured in the exhibit Companion Species at the Chazen Museum of Art. Among other venues, her recent and forthcoming publications include Defunkt Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Fauxmoir, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, La Raíz Magazine, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poemeleon, sPARKLE & bLINK, Tangled Locks Journal’s MoonBites, and Visual Verse. An OCD-sufferer since childhood, she strongly prefers hugging trees instead of people.
In The Blink Of One Hand Sewing
I gotta hand it to ya, that’s not bad,
The way you got it threaded through the eye
Of that blunt needle that you pinch in hand,
But probably you now need to apply
Attention to the back end of the thread
Which all though blue, still seems to atrophy
All of a sudden at the other end
Beneath the button. It just goes awry
With little rhyme or reason. If you mend
Up things with broken threads like that, you may
Find that you have have to do them once again
With care to keep your pink nails out of play.
There’s really little point to fix your palm
On that cold look that held you all along.
David L. Williams
David L Williams is recently retired from 34 years teaching high school English in Lincoln, Nebraska, his primary residence since he went to college there in the 80s. His poetry has mostly been written since May of 2021, and he has only recently started trying to publish. More about David and his poetry at http://classwords.com
Cross My Heart
Well, I said I would, if I ever,
And I did.
That day of promises
Along the Cornish cliffs,
Beauty asking for truth
Obscuring our messy, poor selves from
Failing, falling, failing again
From what we pledged.
I take careful aim
My needle-holding hand
Making the ‘O’ of one eye
As I prick the other
Still wearing the cream lace cuffs
Ringed with red velvet
And mother of Pearl buttons
The cuffs of my shame
Piercing my eye
As steadily as I approached you
Drawn to your flame
As unerring as
The punishment to follow-
As piercingly beautiful
Lucie Payne is a retired Librarian who is writing as much as she can.
Longing eye gazes
Nymphet frolics in clear pool
Needle pricks…he’s gone.
Her pointed revenge.
An eye for a heart
You broke my heart you bastard
So I stabbed your eye.
Ann Maureen Rouhi
Ann Maureen Rouhi is Filipino by birth, Iranian by marriage, and American by choice. She is a reluctant writer but tries nevertheless because she has stories to tell.
The shamisen strings
in the night resonates with
the sound of beating cloth.
Into the darkness
both of us blindly follow
the butterfly dream.
Skylark soars freely
through the skies, but our romance
leads to a dead end.
Toshiji Kawagoe, Ph.D. is a professor at Future University Hakodate. He lives in Hokkaido, Japan. His haiku was selected in the 21 Best Haiku of 2021 at the Society of Classical Poets and his poems in classical Chinese have been published in the anthologies of Chinese poetry. His academic works in economics are also published in many books and academic journals.
Psyche Has a Word with the Poet
Don’t ignore the pliant hands, marble white,
the sculpted fingernails, the needle.
Don’t bargain with time. Concentrate
on the eye painted in the hand’s left palm.
Eye of the beloved, like a Georgian
“lover’s eye.” Remember when he held
the precious marble of your hand,
uncurled your fingers. Hear his gravelly voice,
This is how I’ll always see you.
Look at the woman’s single eye
blue as a periwinkle, staring back
from a small oval broach. Feel his hand
wind a cherry-red ribbon around
your wrist. Remember the smile that twinkled
in his eyes, their hazel hue, warm
and full of life. Beware sharp objects.
Don’t let them prick holes in memory.
Don’t let them tear apart your heart. Let go
if onlys. Replay the embrace of that
first dance in your apartment, Michel Legrand
on the stereo playing “His Eyes, Her Eyes.”
Sandi Stromberg is a dedicated contributor to The Ekphrastic Review, which has honoured her with one of its Fantastic Ekphrastic Awards, recently nominated her poem “Widowhood” for a Pushcart Prize, and twice nominated her poems for Best of the Net. Most recently, her poetry has appeared in MockingHeart Review, Equinox, easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles, San Pedro River Review, The Ocotillo Review, and in Dutch in the Netherlands in Brabant Cultureel and Dichtersbankje (the Poet’s Bench).
Eye to Eye
I have often wondered
Why that tiny oblong
Metal hole is called an eye
Why is that eye
Of that needle
So hard to permeate?
Why does that thread hungry needle
Make it so hard?
We dampen the edge with
Our own spittle
We twirl it between our
Thumb and pointer
We look for a magnifying glass
We give up
We begin again
And are relieved
When soft and hard connect
We can sew our stories
Mend our minds
Alter our consciousness
Hem our tales
Embroider our own selves
On to our own selves
One stitch at a time
Eye to eye.
Tamar Einstein writes, dances, paints, cooks, gardens, creates jewelry and many other things, weaving one art in to another as she traverses Jerusalem through the lens of her Expressive Arts Therapy journey.
Four Fingers (and a Thumb)
Stare at anything long enough
and it’ll stop making sense,
you think, and once again
you can’t comprehend
the point of a needle. How
sharp it can be. How it seems
to narrow into nothingness
as delicate as a wrist working
thread through a new button.
Loose cuffs do little to stanch blood
-flow, so two right hands are left
to clean what many messes you make.
Four fingers (and a thumb) fidget.
They see naught but the method
of their own disillusion dissolved
in the deep welling of your eyes.
Red tips each drop of water—red
hems the outside edges of the void.
You cry a deep stain across your
surroundings. But this changes nothing, only
bathes your labyrinth more livid.
Deep into this living and pain-light
and shadow puppets are no
longer enough. The heat of
the source draws you outward.
You edge forth from your cave
into blindness, into the bright
here, the suffering now.
In the dark everyone feels the same
Cullen Whisenhunt is a graduate of Oklahoma City University's Red Earth Creative Writing MFA program. His work has been published in Frogpond, Ninth Letter, The Ekphrastic Review, and Dragon Poet Review, among other journals. His debut chapbook of poetry, Among the Trees, was published by Fine Dog Press in 2021.
If a needle pierces my eye
will I cease to see atrocity
on every street, cacophony
screams turned to the sky,
pray to afore un-believed
entity to dissuade bullies,
looting, taking liberties -
perhaps they are deceived
thinking violence a right;
I would cross my heart,
promise if they will depart
from actions, this blight
on humanity, close my hand,
blind eye hidden in palm
fold into myself, a qualm,
have faith enough, stand
my hidden view, listen to
masses, heads bent in sorrow
blind eye to harsh tomorrows,
instead I’d embrace the few
who when faced with hatred
choose to pay forward
act to heal the world toward
kindness held sacred.
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is a long-time poet living with a rescued feral cat, who enjoys writing to prompts, especially art and photographs. Her poems have appeared in over 50 journals, including Open Door, Smoky Quartz, Sledgehammer and The Ekphrastic Review. Dickson is a past poetry board member; coordinates 100 Thousand Poets for Change in New Hampshire. She advocates for captive zoo and circus elephants and supports sanctuaries.
Where Love Is
"...let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
that thine alms may be in secret..."
Matthew 6:3 (King James)
"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy."
And when you kissed the broken lines hidden in the palm
of my left hand I knew you knew where love is, and why,
when I was just a kid I was afraid to say how promises ended
after Cross my heart; I didn't hope to die when time winked
and went on by, my eyes disguised by multiple identities, un-
compromised by changing tenses: we were, we are and we will be,
continuous and perfect a vision of heaven -- the golden apples
of the sun as predicted by a fortune teller who wears wrist-bands
with mother-of-pearl buttons -- the silver apples of the moon
(Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin The Moon Represents My Heart)
& red-ribbon trim ruffled like the rhyme a costumed mime
couldn't say at Christmastime... (Say it! Say stick a pin in my eye!)
and I tried to compromise with Pinky swear! before
I was old enough to understand how the heart -- mon coeur --
mi corazon -- il mio cuore -- comes alive in a lyrical moment
when light paints a way to fly -- birds with wings and hands with eyes --
braided in a vision, gentle and sublime shown, at random, by a butterfly.
Laurie Newendorp's recent book, When Dreams Were Poems, 2020, explores art, poetry and the tempting language of ekphrastics. Honoured multiple times by the Ekphrastic Challenge and The Ekphrastic Review, she seems to be addicted to epigraphs and quotations. Hidden in his knowledge of e = mc2, Einstein has a quote about sublimity at the horizon used in "Quantum Physics: Emily & Einstein," an early publication by Newendorp that appeared in Isotope, a Utah journal no longer in publication. "Golden apples of the sun, and silver apples of the moon" are from Yeats' "Song of Wandering Aengus."
Stranger Than Fiction
Women have been killed for less –
my genetic defect passed down mother
to daughter, skipping every other generation.
Mother wore her normalcy like an Olympic
Never once did she say, I love you
just as you are. Instead, she taught me
to delicately stitch the eyelid shut
each morning, cover with a bandage and sling,
pretend the arm was useless.
Now I work the handicap to my advantage,
creating women with magical powers –
top sellers in speculative fiction.
This solitary life suits me. No one has
ever noticed I have two right hands.
I write late at night after taking a long walk
alone. It clears the mind. When I hear
footsteps behind me pick up the pace,
I saunter on, wait for the electric shiver –
whirl and hold up my palm – STOP.
Always a man, almost always alone.
I needn’t do more. The eye in my palm
Some assailants turn and run. Some fall
or scream. Some die. Snap!
Their corrupt hearts unable to handle
the fear they inflict on women.
Alarie Tennille graduated from the first coed class at the University of Virginia, where she picked up her B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. Retired now, Alarie delights in having more time to read, write poetry, and hang out at The Ekphrastic Review. Her latest poetry collection, Three A.M. at the Museum, has joined her earlier books on The Ekphrastic Bookshelf. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
You couldn’t abide a thief, though what I took never came to much, a trinket, a token,-never a heart, a soul, or a life. It was your lies that unhinged the sky, dissolved the ground beneath our feet, left us sliding in sand, impossible to walk on, threatening a stumble with every step. You talked until there were no words left for me, nothing I could trust to hold unbroken, true. I could only cross my heart, swear I meant it, promise not to jump into the sinkhole opening under us, its powerful gravity fueled by lies, how easy they came for so long--how now they leave us with our world collapsing. heavy as a neutron star. Your words were the needle in my eye, breaking the membrane I couldn’t see through, draining all my colors, leaving me to settle into fog. Good penance for those days I saw nothing, knew nothing, went through the hours blind and deaf as stone. I was more than you bargained for, or less,-- not enough to satisfy hunger or desire. Breaking, your voice pulsed like a strobe light, fracturing time into splinters sharp as glass, their edges cutting us up, taking us down, like trees, like grass, turning us into trash.
Mary C McCarthy
Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently in The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette C. Luzajic, the latest issue of Earth’s Daughters and Third Wednesday. She has been a Best of the Net and a Pushcart nominee. Her digital chapbook is available as a free download from Praxis magazine.
Aye To Their Right
a politician, you can tell that
cannot look straight
talks in infinite circles
never answers your questions
swaggers as he meanders
avoiding cracks in the sidewalk
proffers a sickly smile
like a Cheshire on heat
doffs a grey pinstripe
wears silk ties with sponsor’s motif
hair cut once a week
per chance media come calling
appears on terrestrial
on cable and on radio
spouting drivel and contradicting
no matter the subject
made chums at kindergarten
networked at high school and uni
learning techniques of cute
ignoring responsibilities of duty
played at work in communities
pushed through false ceilings
joined the first party
dumb enough to elect him
sits on back benches
sleeps through some debates
berates all opposition
on moments he is awake
enjoys sidelines that pay well
carries influence in corridors
votes with an aye to their right
no matter that issue
stabbing unawares in their backs
pushing a needle into their eye
claims lessons have been leaned
pillar of his community
until exposed by voter incredulity
being only a matter of time
until he was seen through
Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical free verse. He has achieved success in poetry competitions across the British Isles, Europe and North America. His work has been published by numerous literary magazines, anthologies and webzines in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, India, South Africa, Kenya, USA and Canada. Since 2018, he has been part of The Ekphrastic Review community particularly enjoying the bi-weekly challenges. He is a member of the Federation of Writers Scotland for whom he was a Featured Writer in 2019.
The Map of Me
Your hands feel their way,
deft against the braille of my body:
they can see me in the dark.
No need to watch them look,
or wonder how they know me like
their own palms. My words
are silenced by a bone white finger,
its crimson talon fierce
as the promise of a needle.
You have the artistry to stitch
my eyelids closed, to blind before
I’ve chance to blink, finesse enough
to spider walk my body,
bind it in a tracery of mesh:
no need to see to know the map of me,
my captive mind, my willing flesh.
Paul McDonald taught American literature at the University of Wolverhampton for twenty five years, where he also ran the Creative Writing Programme. He took early retirement in 2019 to write and research full time. His books include the novels Surviving Sting (2001), Kiss Me Softly Amy Turtle (2004), and Do I Love You? (2008); poetry collections, The Right Suggestion (1999), Catch a Falling Tortoise (2007), and An Artist Goes Bananas (2012), and a recent collection of flash fiction, Midnight Laughter (2019). His scholarly work ranges across a variety of disciplines, including American literature, humour, and narratology. His most recent academic books are: Enigmas of Confinement: A History and Poetics of Flash Fiction (2018), Lydia Davis: A Study (2019), and Allen Ginsberg: Cosmopolitan Comic (2020).
I’m No Saintly Sacrifice
I could make all your meals
and sort you out a hearty beef broth
I could do all your laundry
and even learn to darn your damn socks
I could tirelessly see to all your needs
and tidy up your every filthy mess
but I’d rather stab myself in the eye
then wash another cup or dish…
You know, making your bed
for me was once a labour of love
and nothing was ever too much…
“But who will look after me?”
Now nothing I do is ever enough
“nobody sees me; I’m only the hands,
the hands that sow, cook, and iron.
The hands that cleaned scrimped and saved.”
To keep a roof over your head
the house you’ll no doubt sell
when I’m dead, I guess I’ll no longer matter.
“But did I ever, but did I ever?”
My hands are like cracked old leather
tired of tidying, tired of laundry
I’m tired of you; my entire life’s been an existence.
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.
After the Audition
Jette, plie, twirl in your silver box
with satin padding en pointe while
madame in her crow-black shroud
taps cadence near the pink-flowered
duvet on the unmade bed of
Hopes, dreams became fear, a sadness
heavy as cement lodged in each thigh. A
silent tear pooled in the corner of one
eye as the traitorous needle trailed a swirl
of blue silk thread and punctured each
lofty idea, ideal.
Prima? No. Just you, little ballerina
in your fragile silver music box
Chopin Etude Op.10 “Chanson de Ladieu”
Jane Lang’s work has appeared in online publications including Quill and Parchment, the Avocet, Creative Inspirations, The Ekphrastic Review, and has been published in several anthologies. She has written and given two chap books to family and friends in lieu of Christmas cards. Jane lives in the Pacific Northwest.
The Real Me
Cross my heart
and hope to die
stick a needle
in my eye...
Who am I without the lie
that protects me
from the fake truth
so hard to see?
Who am I in the dark
depths of my nightly mind
when I turn to the light
and am trapped by the lies that bind?
Who am I if not the smile
hiding the sorrow behind the mask?
And the list can go on
If you want to know me, the real me,
all you have to do is ask
and I promise you
that I'll not lie,
Cross my heart
and hope to die...
Nivedita Karthik is a graduate in Immunology from the University of Oxford and an accomplished Bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance form) dancer. Her poems have previously appeared in Glomag, Society of Classical Poets, The Ekphrastic Review, The Epoch Times, Eskimo Pie Literary Journal, The Poet (Christmas, Childhood, Faith, and Adversity issues), The Sequoyah Cherokee River Journal, Bamboo Hut, Visual Verse, and Trouvaille Review. She is a regular participant on the open mic show held by Rattle Poetry. Her micro-stories have appeared in The Potato Soup Literary Journal. She is currently working on her first poetry book.
A threading needle,
directly into her eye,
through a painful memory,
eyes opening past.
Inside and Out
A needle and thread,
poking her inside and out,
through eyes wide open.
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 crrently resides on Long Island, New York with her husband Richard and dogs Lucy and Breanna.
As for his looks, I'd say
there was an empty house frozen to her shutters,
shreds of veil that took wings
after a long-lived summer,
and I wonder, now winter turns,
will the wind fall out with my dress, will I know
how to cry out with my hands wide open?
And so I tailor, every day, and face and try.
The room moving, the needles coughing softly,
but my tea turns bitter and the windows shiver.
As for my looks, I'd say
there are my hands moving in the middle of silence
for some new view, another sight,
that never wires at the end of the road, they tie
alongside and rise,
in sweet eyes, that guarantee
Perspective. Punctures. I'd say:
Say something and show me whom to cry for when I do,
but then, you might urge me to not redress the eyes
and say something like: don't blue nothing of it.
Kate Copeland started absorbing stories ever since a little lass. Her love for words led her to teaching & translating some sweet languages; her love for art, writing & water led her to poetry. The subsequent writing waves have sealed some publications @ The Ekphrastic Review, Hedgehog Press, The Poetry Barn and Poetry Distillery, The Spirit Fire Review, First Lit.Review-East, GrandLittleThings, New Feathers Anthology & The Metaworker. She has started working together with her poet hero Lisa Freedman on [multilingual] freewrite workshops. Kate was born in Rotterdam some 52 ages ago and adores housesitting in the UK, USA and in Spain.