break free from the past--
tell my past self
even more than
Uchimura Kaho 内村佳保
both are the real me--
one is the playful, extroverted me
the other is fearful of COVID, the introverted me
Uchimura Kaho 内村佳保
Born in Japan, Uchimura Kaho (内村佳保) lives in Tokyo. Her slogan won the grand prize at the Japanese Reconstruction Agency Slogan Competition 2017. Her book report won the special prize at the Defence of Japan 2019 Book Report Competition. She is the author of two novels, Jyuusansai no TAIDOU and Inishie Gatari vol.1. Her Tanka (a genre of classical Japanese poetry) won the grand prize at Minokamo city Tanka Competition 2021 and the Nikkei Newspaper the Best Tanka of the Year Award 2020. Find more on her website https://uchimurakaho.studio.site
The Dance of the Blue God
(based on the story of Krishna and Kaliya Naag)
A blue god tiptoes by the Yamuna’s banks.
Below the waters of the sacred stream,
the many hooded Kaliya Naag* lurks,
carnelian eyes stalking through gaps
in lily pads. Waters churn, poisons simmer,
swirling dark whirlpools, but the blue god,
undaunted, wades into its depths.
The leviathan cleaves the waves,
twisting into muscular knots, coiling
its scaled ferociousness around
the blue god. He draws a whirlwind into
his lungs, his thorax filling with
the weight of planets and stars.
The blue god pummels the serpent’s skulls,
feet pounding, dancing
the cosmic dance. Blood sprays across
the waters. Distraught naginis* rise,
ruby heads bowed,
pleading for mercy.
The blue god softens, growing lighter.
The vanquished snake cowers
in supplication, slithering away
in an ebony wave, entourage in tow.
Clear of venom, the Yamuna glistens
mirroring the midsummer sky.
The blue god floats above the rushes -
lost rubies and pearls
rising from the foam,
crusting his dripping silks,
lighting his prussian shadow.
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
*Kaliya Naag - In Hindu traditions, a venomous snake that terrorised the waters of the Yamuna river
*Naginis- the two wives of Kaliya Naag
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist and poet who serves as a chief editor for Authora Australis. She holds a Masters in English, and is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project. Her recent works have been published in both print and online literary journals and anthologies including The Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, Bracken Magazine, and The Eunoia Review. She won the 66th Moon Prize awarded by Writing in a Woman’s Voice Journal, and an Honourable Mention in the Glass Poetry Awards 2020. She lives and works in Sydney on the land of the Ku-ring-gai people of The Eora Nation.
His Dark Materials
A child of light, I come to life
as darkness. My filigree skin
carved by a craftsman’s hands,
painted in bright-hued colours:
blues and purples, scarlet red.
My story is played out against
the thin scrim of passing time,
the flicker-flame of history,
my limbs articulated by strong
threads of fate. I do not control
my own voice but sing his song.
I am a dancing doll, manipulated
by a master puppeteer; nothing
more to me than backlit shadow.
Louise Longson lives in West Oxfordshire. She is a qualified psychotherapist, specialising in trauma and enduring mental health issues and currently works to support those distressed by chronic loneliness and isolation. A late starter to writing poetry, she settled down to it in 2020 at the age of 57, and her work has appeared in various publications including One Hand Clapping, Fly on the Wall, Dreich, Vaine, Nymphs, The Ekphrastic Review, Drifting Sands, The Poetry Shed, Obsessed with Pipework and the various publication of Indigo dreams Publications. She is a winner of the Dreich ‘Slims’ competition 2021 with her chapbook Hanging Fire.
The Supreme Being of the Mahabharata has followed me
from childhood, starting from the mantle of the dank
middle room of our East Ham house. Kresna is my mother's god,
whose colour is all attractive black. In my imagination, his blue shadow
is a vestige like a Javanese puppet silhouette, waiting
for the dalang to direct the next act. My mother loved Kresna,
but hated being married. My father rolled Pay-Pay when it was affordable,
smoked indoors while listening to the BBC on a transistor radio, and lazed
on layers of blurring Hindi newspapers that covered his torn recliner.
My mother collected Tesco stamps toward free suitcases
and placed flowers at the foot of her god's picture.
It was the 1970s and the National Front began its hold
in Britain. My father brought every scrap of anger home from the pubs.
Get out in the garden, he would say.
My play outdoors was eclipsed by mornings
sitting on the floor with my beaten mother. Her clothes
concealed everything except the disappearance of what I loved,
her sweet hope, her delicate way of speaking with her eyes.
My mother took photos of her visible wounds, mailed them to her sister,
and told me the story of how Sheshnaag protected baby Kresna.
I forgave my father because I knew his humanity--
not his godless violent insanity, not his addiction,
not his inability to fit in English society,
not his failings as a head of a household,
not his version of immigrant status,
not his inability to fulfil his father's expectations,
not his unfulfilled dream to go to college—I forgave him
because he played the harmonica, held my hand as we walked to the library,
and because he came to watch me, a brown-skinned angel in a Christmas play.
My mother scolded me for crying when he spent the night in jail.
She wept in front of her idol, shielding herself from my suffering.
Rhony Bhopla is a poet and visual artist. Her previous work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cosumnes River Journal, Pratik Magazine, and Notre Dame Review. Her multimedia piece The Indian Accent is featured online by the Crocker Art Museum. Rhony has an interest in indigenous artworks and heritage sites from around the world. She is a student in the Pacific University's MFA in Writing Program. When she is not writing, Rhony enjoys cooking and gardening.
Not As My Shadow
(A Puppet's Lament)
I was, of course, by artist made,
and by another then portrayed.
My soul was borrowed voice and hand
that spoke and moved me as she planned
to tell a tale that otherwise
could not have greeted ears and eyes
through shadow cast upon a screen
by light I blocked, where held unseen,
I mourned the days ahead forlorn
of home too soon I now adorn
in purgatory known as art
long absent life of soul and heart
at least admired, perhaps, on shelf
not as my shadow but my self.
Old man. Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
My war is gone. My war is gone and you are not my war. I stand here suspended. You wait behind but my war is gone and you are not my war. My war brought riches. My war brought crowns of jewels and robes of bones and red vests that were the suns of the war. Now my war is gone and you are a shadow. You are a shadow dreaming of my war. A shadow suspended in my space but you are not my war. My face is a burned bark left at the end of my war. My arm is attached with bolts longing for the next war and all you can do is shadow me with hopes to be my next war but you shall never be my war. You trail me like a scout and mock me like a child but you will never be my war and you will never be me. My war is gone and you who are a tiny shadow will know no war. You who are already dead will know no war. You who do not know you are dead will know no war. You who wait for the arrows to pierce your shadow will know no war. You who are not my war will never be my war. My war is gone.
John Riley has published poetry and fiction in Smokelong Quarterly, Better Than Starbucks, Ekphrastic Review, Banyan Review, Connotation Press, Fiction Daily, The Molotov Cocktail, Dead Mule, St. Anne's Review, and numerous other anthologies and journals both online and in print. He has also published over thirty books of nonfiction for young readers and continues his work in educational publishing.
Dalang’s Opening Synopsis
The kenong gongs!
Time for Wayang Kulit to commence
For I am Dalang
Puppeteer of all Java, the nation.
Pay attention to learn
My lessons and intricate messages
Of tales from Antasena
Contradicted, by Bagawan Bagaspati.
As music syncopates
Soothing your soul, heart, mind
Warriors face each other
Holding, heinous heirlooms in hand.
Shadows shall come
Shadows shall go
Shadows shall rise
To reflect on the wall.
Blood will be spilt
From the daggers and dialogue
As lives will be lost
To your loud screeches of horror.
Through the magic of flight
With the heritage of Cupu Madusena
Dead Pandavas will revive
To the predilection of you audience.
The jamboree will last
From crepuscular through to dawn so
Prepare yourselves children
Let our Wayang Kulit commence …
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 numerous 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 bi-weekly challenges. He is a member of the Federation of Writers Scotland for whom he was a Featured Writer in 2019.
Shadow thing walks, dances
Tethered strings attached, hands
Rendered not your own, bidding done
Indolent arms forced to response, resistance
Not possible, accept fate and lose that
Grimace – attitude does not become you,
Sadistically, you are controlled
All actions dictated by puppeteer -
The audience whispers, applauds in glee, they,
Touted from streets, purses open to pay,
Admit to prime seats, flamboyant dress,
Colorful garb distracts, flushed faces fanned,
Hats held in laps, mesmerized are the
Eyes, follow strings attached to limbs
Designed to deceive; what a show!
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is a Pushcart nominee, rescuer of feral cats, advocate of captive zoo and circus elephants whose poems appear in various journals including Sledgehammer, Misfit, Open Door and The Ekphrastic Review. Full length works are available on Amazon. Dickson enjoys writing to visual prompts, including art, nature and autumn colours.
Java Shadow Puppet
of leather and wood
glides, graceful and lithe
manipulated by unseen forces
to tell the story
of love and battle
fear and victory
and – again and always –
The puppet gleams
with colours and curves
But the shadow –
The shadow is alive
And that is the secret
to the story
Katherine Saxby is a veteran English and French teacher, an optimistic but negligent gardener, and an adventurous vegetarian cook. Katherine is always looking for ways to improve her lesson plans, her accent, her pie crust, and everything else (including her poetry).
For Want of the Unattainable
She lived in a land of make believe
her suitors were the guards of demons
and dreams - their spears pierced
broken hearts of maidens’ lost hopes and
made them whole. She was defended
protected and bartered her gossamer self
against all perils. Arms bowed behind her
serpentine back, the taut black cord of
want, lust, need, tortured her ruptured
soul as it pleaded for love.
Jane Lang has written for years. Her work has appeared in several online journals including Quill and Parchment, the Avocet, Creative Inspirations and The Ekphrastic Review. She has been published in several anthologies and written and given two chap books to family and friends in lieu of Christmas cards. She lives in the Pacific Northwest in a big house with her lofty ideas and ideals.
Shadow of the Deity
Kresna…deity, elegant in your fine robes of white and red,
Your skin gold leaf, your face painted black.
These are the colours of your spirit, symbols of your qualities…
maturity and strength, knowledge, and serenity.
Your audience assembled back and front,
the oil lamp illuminates your stage,
a translucent screen welcoming your shadow.
Gamelan, choir, bells, and gongs usher you in,
angular limbs move with the voice of the dalang, the expert puppeteer.
His life of training, knowledge of narration and movement handed down through millennia.
Who gave you life?
The buffalo, which gave its own, the team of carvers with their intricate tools,
or the puppeteer with his ancient wisdom?
Kresna…hero of the Mahabharata,
in shadow form you take part in stories,
epics from the ancient times,
of battles between good and evil,
of divinities and cosmos.
Your shadow brings to life the ancestors,
lamp light and music breathe forth their souls,
to protect participants through the long night of performance.
This is the first ekphrastic poem I have written. I became interested in this form of poetry after taking part in a short online workshop recently. I have a Degree in Archaeology and a Graduate Certificate of History from the University of New England. I usually work in administration, but I have taken time off to pursue creative writing. I live in regional New South Wales, Australia, with my husband, two dogs, two cats, and two guinea pigs. My grandson thinks it is Noah’s ark.
We are all shadows, said Plato,
sitting in a cave watching movies--
our backs to the sun-lit world,
our eyes shackled to the wall before us
And outside the cave
people walk and sing and make love;
and inside the cave
we laugh and cheer and cry
as the fire casts their shadows
on the granite screen before us
And the Wayang puppet-masters of Java
meticulously re-create the illusion
with control rods and handles and joints
and screens and oil lamps and laughter--
and none dare notice
the artful hocus-pocus
Mark C Watney
Mark C Watney is an immigrant from South Africa who teaches English at Sterling College in Kansas. As his brain ages, and his chess ratings drop, he is discovering a poetic sensibility he lacked as a younger man. Recent publications: Acumen, Dappled Things (First place, Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction), The Ekphrastic Review, Saint Katherine Review, Front Porch Review, Presence, Cider Press Review, and others.
The drumming in the wall is disorderly.
His voice manipulates the metre
of her pulse which I cannot ignore
so I knock on the door. It opens a crack.
The tension in her eyes slips through
and I sense his presence back-stage.
He lifts her arm, a master of puppetry.
It is stiff with intricate lies tattooed
and stained in purple and blue
but it drops effortlessly to her side,
the tell-tale signs concealed
in the low lighting cast in the hall.
He articulates her mouth, choosing
words carefully to match the shapes
made by the opening hinge of her jaw.
I observe her stick-like features
projected as shadows on the wall,
power at his fingertips, a closed door.
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 poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Poetry Village, Words for the Wild, Poetry on the Lake, Alchemy Spoon, Dreich and Friends and Friendship. She has had poems in two Scottish Writers Centre chapbooks. Her work has also featured in the anthologies Places of Poetry and Write Out Loud. Her pamphlet A Spark in the Darkness is due to be published by Hedgehog Press next year. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.
I still see you in the shadows.
It’s where you’ve always been
casting shadows over my life
playing your part in its theatre
while staying hidden
to project an image
which makes me feel
as you surely are
behind that screen.
It will take courage
to draw back the blind
to let me see your features,
let me see who you are
and who you can be
when you’re free,
when we both are free.
So step forward.
Step out of the shadows
and on to the stage to greet me.
When I see your smile
we’ll rewrite our parts
free of the puppet master
and out of the shadows.
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, Best of the Net 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/
When Sita Learned to Dance
"Yes, I'm being followed by a moonshadow,
Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow --
And if I ever lose my hands,
Lose my plow, lose my land..."
Moonshadow, Cat Stevens
1. First the shadows danced moved by a child's hands:
Rama said Gamelan rhymes with hands.
2. Words were braided into branches of trees,
and shadows danced moved by the Gamelan's hands.
3. The moon was as full as a porcelain plate
and lovers danced moved by the Gamelan's hands.
4. Ravana watched Sita learning to dance,
dancing like shadows in the Gamelan's hands --
5. how her heart caught the colors of morning!
And the ring on her hand came from Rama's hands...
6. she'd be safe if she stayed in the circle of land
as their shadows danced in the Gamelan's hands...
7. Outside the circle -- outside of good fate --
Ravana changed shapes in the Gamelan's hands.
8. An evil drama, that was Ravana! & Sita cried out, kidnapped...
Could she be saved by the Gamelan's hands safe in the brown arms
9. of Rama? The candles grew dim, and the hour was late
as the shadows danced, dreaming in the Gamelan's hands.
Laurie Newendorp lives and writes in Houston. Her recent book, When Dreams Were Poems, 2020, explores the relationship between art and writing. Honoured multiple times by the Ekphrastic Challenge, her poems have received honourable mention for the Pablo Neruda Prize and second place in The Houston Poetry Fest's Ekphrastic Poem Contest. The Gamelan is the "puppet master" and musician in the Wayang Kulit, his stories like the Ramayana often told in an outdoor setting. "When Sita Learned To Dance" is a Ghazal.
Shadows in Time: A Sijo Sequence
Pale shadows elongate with each passing hour of daylight,
as seconds quickly become years in our tender memories,
age dancing across our minds in a rhythm too unforgiving.
The past and the present are both foreshadowed, omens presaged,
by the routine lengthening of the night as seasons progress,
the equinox of youth, so very sweet, rapidly forgotten.
Slowly, the new becomes the old, and the old becomes the new
in a cycle at once familiar and so very shocking,
just as we are surprised at how our own shadows shorten with time.
They will shorten ‘til they cast no more, no longer absorbing
or reflecting any of the sun’s light throughout the seasons,
and the only shadows that we still cast are merely memories.
Even those supple impressions will be forgotten in time,
and once we are truly gone, our stories wafting on the wind,
only the shadows of our bare headstones will bedim the sun’s light.
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. One of her poems will be choreographed and performed by a local dance troupe, and she will have 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 Deep South Magazine, DREICH, The Ekphrastic Review, Fauxmoir, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Fireflies’ Light, MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Minison Project, Tangled Locks Journal’s MoonBites, and Visual Verse.
this shadow that follows
cancels out my moves
taunts and teases
traces my extremities
from my nose to my toes
making out that I lie
like poor Pinocchio
I’m no Narcissus
I have no beauty
but see my aging mother
in all the windows
so have no need of shadow.
Diana Moen Pritchard
From a log cabin childhood on a remote farmstead in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada to retirement in Guernsey, Channel Islands, there is a wealth of experience in between which Diana Moen Pritchard endeavours to capture in her writing and poetry. She has some of her poems published in Ver, Reach, Artemis, Second Light, The Poetry Business anthologies.
Welcome to a world
of sweet illusions,
where a puppet’s shadow
dances on a screen,
where from the dreams
we dream come solutions
to all of our troubles
and life is a puppeteer’s
play, scene by scene.
Welcome. Here is a world
of only illusions,
where all ties to
reality are loosened.
Here shadows form
stories of make-believe,
and from the dreams
we dream come solutions
to the griever’s grief,
to the lover’s broken
heart, and to the loner’s
longing; for we’ve
come to a world
sweetened by illusions,
an enchanted world,
where a profusion
of pictures is all
that we need or see,
where dreams upon
dreams are now solutions
to everything, and
everything’s a fusion
of images, flickering
Welcome to a world
of sweet illusions,
where the dreams we
dream become solutions.
Gregory E. Lucas
Gregory E. Lucas writes fiction and poetry. His short stories and poems have appeared in magazines such as past issues of The Ekphrastic Review, Blueline, The Horror Zine, Blue Unicorn, and Peeking Cat.
We are two headed,
bobbing on the surface of water
both hiding and revealing,
the being and its mirror image,
the real and the reflected.
Where do the two merge?
Where does one end
and the other begin?
Like night and day
the same worlds
yet strangely different
in changing lights,
puppets in a shadow play.
Is god the puppeteer?
Does he pull the strings?
Are we really tethered,
empty entities, fleeting,
or is it a sleight of hand,
misguided, on our own,
are we conjured out of nothing?
Akshaya Pawaskar is a doctor practicing in India, and poetry is her passion. Her poems have been published in Tipton Poetry Journal, Shards, The Blue Nib, North of Oxford, Indian Rumination, Rock and Sling, among many others. She won the Craven Arts Council ekphrastic poetry competition in 2020 and was placed second in The Blue Nib chapbook contest in 2018. Her first solo poetry chapbook The falling in and the falling out was published by Alien Buddha press in January 2021.
When he shines
his light on me
I am nothing but
the thing he wants:
the twist and thrust
of his puppet rods,
dark on the screen
of his desire.
He dances me,
a rhythmic indignity
for all to see,
trapped by a tune
in his head...
Does the crowd
think me dead,
though my eyes dilate
in the lantern glow,
or do they prefer not to know?
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 Sentinel Short Story Prize, and Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Net.
Jan, I still talk to you in my head almost every day. I hope you
talk to me like that, too. Remember our spy phase in sixth grade
when The Man from U.N.C.L.E. came on TV?
This is going to sound crazy, but you know how my mind takes
leaps. Today I saw a presentation of Java shadow puppets at
an art museum. I think the only puppets I saw as a kid were on
The Ed Sullivan Show. These flat puppets projected through
a backlit screen reminded me of our spy nights.
Remember how we’d sit on the hill across the street to shadow
our folks watching TV? Their matching picture windows were
almost like side-by-side screens. Boring! Well, it would have been
if we hadn’t juiced it up by making up dialogues for the enemy agents
who were only pretending to watch TV – their cover in suburbia.
I’m pretty sure most shows were already in colour, but we still had
black and white sets. The eerie blue light through cigarette smoke
and sheer curtains showed us almost nothing – just who was on
the sofa in front of the window and who got up. But we took our
mission for U.N.C.L.E. seriously.
You had a crush on Napoleon while I was nuts over Illya. Once
a car with two men pulled up in front of my house. We squealed
and ran. We actually believed those actors might drop by to
help solve our case!
Your folks hardly moved – just sat watching the tube with your
mom’s head leaning on your dad’s shoulder. Remember how we
wore ear plugs from our transistors, pretending we were
intercepting transmissions? Their diabolical boss bribed script
writers to slip clues into the night’s programming. “Shhh, Olga’s
speaking. If anyone mentions red dog, they’ll meet the 7:30 a.m.
train arriving from Pittsburgh at Grand Central Station tomorrow.
No red dog means they’re stuck here another week. Wait, Olga just
got up and left the room. She must be packing!”
A few minutes later, there was a loud bang at Anna and Misha’s
home next door. The window went black. “I’ll call you tomorrow!”
I yelled, racing for home. My dad had thrown the TV against the
wall and shorted out the power. I’d never heard the term broken
home before, but I now knew what one sounded like.
Alarie Tennille did have a crush on Illya Kuryakin (actor David McCallum). The rest of this writing is fiction. Alarie graduated from the first coed class at the University of Virginia. Now retired, she devotes a substantial part of her poetry life to The Ekphrastic Review. Please check out her three poetry books on The Ekphrastic Bookshelf and visit Alarie at alariepoet.com.
Are elegant, intricate
cut and painted, arms and legs
long and thin as spindles,
the hands delicate, expressive,
their gestures clear,
cast in shadows
against the lighted screen,
they move like dancers
through the old stories
sacred and familiar,
repeated in that magic theater.
As night falls the music rises,
flutes and drums beat and
chime as voices sing
Lit, the fire lantern shines
through the white cloth
casting the puppet shadows
into crisp relief,
where every movement
every small detail,
is figured in the bright space
between memory and creation
where Master and audience
find themselves again
dreaming the old stories
down to their eternal bones-
shining like diamonds,
true as all the fixed and errant stars
we trust to guide us.
Mary McCarthy is a Retired RN with a life long love of art and writing. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Third Wednesday, Verse Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, and Earth’s Daughters. She has been a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Her digital chapbook Things I Was Told Not to Think About is available as a free download from Praxis magazine.
The King I Am
Notice the gold leaf, leather, buffalo horn
Magnificent ornament of my clothes.
Craftsmen wear their fingers
To the bone to make them,
And my nose so proud
It points like an accusing finger
At you, my friend. Beware.
It detects wisdom, good and evil.
Each hot, Smokey night
The play, my play,
Has me confront monsters and men
In my kingdom, in my palace.
I chase ogres, glimpse beautiful Sita.
Ring the gamelan! Draw near!
Let the play begin!
And yet. And yet…
In this whirligig someone says,
Some whispering child from the front row,
That I am but shadow,
A prop, someone’s hand in my stomach!
I wait in the darkness
Mute in the darkness
Hiding my shame
My gold and vermillion jewels
But a dull smudge in the darkness.
I am shadow now, only essence.
There is a moment
When the shadow draws back
When the eyes in your heart
Are opened and you see me
In all my glory.
Lucie Payne is a retired Librarian and is writing as much as she can.
In the Land of Shadow Puppets
I snuff out the candle just as the gamelan gong
sounds once, twice. A moment of silence
and then the drums begin to beat. Shadows
march out of my mind. Guided by bamboo sticks
fixed to hands and feet, exotic shapes scissor
across a sheet bleached white by light. They poke
elongated noses into my psyche,
its foibles and fancies. Hours pondering
le mot juste. Holding my husband’s hand at concerts.
His hugs that find us dancing through the kitchen.
Who are these shades from another culture
whose playfulness stirs a flurry of memories?
Let them be spirits come to guide me.
Let them know my name, rekindle joy.
Sandi Stromberg is a dedicated contributor to The Ekphrastic Review, which has honoured her with one of its Fantastic Ekphrastic Awards and twice nominated her poems for Best of the Net. Also twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her poetry has appeared in many small journals and anthologies, most recently 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). For ten years, she served on the board of Houston’s Mutabilis Press, dedicated to poetry.