After the ravages of war
I come to capture serenity
armed with canvas and brush
to the shores of Mimizan.
I begin my assault,
complementary cyan and gold
fighting for supremacy
in a land scarred by atrocity.
I sketch a skirmish of trees,
they stand to attention, salute
dawn’s stealth into day
its silent sortie into enemy lines.
Where is the movement?
My hand scuffles the surface
until leaves emerge
like a ricochet on water
but the clouds tread time,
the sun stands still
stubbornly refusing to advance
or retreat into blissful ceasefire.
My mind will not quieten,
even here by Aubeilhan
where land and lake join hands
in near symmetrical perfection.
Painting a picture
is like fighting a battle
I think, as I pack away my weapons
with gritty resolution.
Kate Young lives in England and has been passionate about poetry since childhood. Her poems have appeared in The Poetry Village, Words for the Wild, Poetry on the Lake, Alchemy Spoon, Dreich and The Poet. 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.
Springtime in the Forest by the Lake: a Tanka Sequence
No Harleys mark its coming
Just robin music
Warblers following later
A birdsong cacophony
Budburst on the trees
Is slow at first, then rapid
Each unfurling leaf
A sign of things yet to come
Of life about to return
Quite the good omen
Harbinger of wildflowers
Such as the crocus
Destined to bloom on the floor
Of the beautiful forest
Meanwhile, in the lake
Beavers emerge from their lodge
To gnaw and to chew
Spring peepers quickly appear
Singing nighttime lullabies
The deer venture forth
Fawns explore the water’s edge
Watchful does nearby
The rabbit, the fox, the skunk
Come out of hibernation
Coming back to life at last
The woods greening up
In a comforting cycle
And lovely awakening
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 was choreographed and performed by a local dance troupe, and she has an ekphrastic creative nonfiction piece featured in the Companion Species exhibit 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, and Tangled Locks Journal’s MoonBites. An OCD-sufferer since childhood, she strongly prefers hugging trees instead of people.
The trees in a smoky muddle of yearning
To float skywards
Or dip heavy limbs down
Down to kiss themselves in cobalt water
Delicious joy of meeting
One’s self and the long embrace.
A sickness of self love
Perhaps still desiring cloud
Arbour making the shape of sky.
The summertime onlooker on the shore
Seeking the solace of reflection, balance
Paints summertime desire.
A hundred years later
This onlooker, free from war, politics, fame
Feels the breath of rippling water
The canopy of sky soon
To be replaced with stars
Who saw him, the young man and his palette
Before he stepped into war.
Lucie is a retired librarian who is writing as much as she can and has particularly enjoyed working with ekphrastic challenges!
The Mirrors of Mimizan
Not unlike the Midwest, where white pines grace the shoreline,
stand as if sentries in unbreakable bundles for the greater good,
the commune of Mimizan mirrors a soothing sweep to peace,
transports us from the bustle of urban life to the solitude
of a glassy lake, where the mind’s eye can envision loons
as they glide, disappear, then resurface amid the clarity
of expanse. The impressionistic strokes of painters remind us
of nature’s radiant countenance, how it saves us in azure
and cerulean blues, sage greens, in jade and juniper hues,
in the silken streams of cirrus clouds, where the presence
of clean water and unique wildlife encounters lifts our being.
Yet, as our internality is eased, altered by the beauty
of our natural world, are we willing to act on its behalf?
As we float in the silhouettes of ephemerality,
human indifference continues to erode the planet. Is it possible
to unite as one, to actively participate in improvement,
to become environmental stewards of reform?
Generations to come depend upon the well-being of Earth.
As reflective melodies drench in pastel overlays at dawn,
will plein air painting become a lost art?
As fireflies gather in luminous blinks and blooms at dusk,
will future artists experience the serenity of Mimizan-like
settings? As white pines grace the shoreline,
stand as if sentries in unbreakable bundles for the greater good,
how can we not save Mother Earth and the breathable bounty
of a pristine day?
Jeannie E. Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts lives in Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She’s authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children's books. Her newest collection, As If Labyrinth - Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released by Kelsay Books in April of 2021. Her poems appear in Anti-Heroin Chic, Sky Island Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, and elsewhere. She’s an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, a Best of the Net award nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs.
Lost Song for My Unvaccinated Lover
Here’s to paddling along the shoreline, cypress canopy
reflecting on water like painted charcoal. Sun-drunk flies
ready for summer glow. Don’t worry. You as a mother
are a good mother until you forget. A branch does not
remember how long its life came from a trunk, rings
swallowed by dappled foam and yellow fizzle.
Here’s a horizon we’ll never reach. Here’s science
dreaming of nothing but calling your name, not a sound,
just powder blue air. Here’s our moment, a spot along
a broken coast, rippling, ready to rub away. Our existence
folds in Earth’s pocket of an oilskin jacket. Here’s to
the religion of our boat coming on without mistake,
whispering for you to wake.
John Milkereit lives in Houston, Texas working as a mechanical engineer 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, Panoply, Naugatuck River Review, and previous issues of The Ekphrastic Review. His next chapbook entitled A Comfortable Place With Fire is forthcoming from The Orchard Street Press in 2022.
Joyride at Mimizan
Winston, you have escaped with a paintbox, your brushes,
board, an easel, your chair.
You wear a wide-brimmed hat and in your jacket pocket
perhaps there are cigars.
Have you a bottle of champagne? Surely someone will bring
a bucket of ice, a glass?
You are, after all, en vacances. You intend to make the most
of this late afternoon light,
not to mention your brightness.
So, you seize this moment to tackle today’s blank canvas
and lose yourself in reflection.
Can you capture pines on water, hunt down each ripple of
sky, cloud, dune?
How will you marshal and mix those blues to fix your view?
What brushes to use?
Quick as gunshot, you will pick answers, challenge yourself
to grasp new solutions,
snatch at joy, whilst you can.
Based in the UK, Dorothy Burrows enjoys writing poetry, flash fiction and short plays. This year, her work has been published by various e-zines and journals, including The Ekphrastic Review, Visual Verse, Dust Poetry, Spelt, The Alchemy Spoon, Failed Haiku and Wales Haiku Journal. She tweets @rambling_dot and occasionally ‘joyrides' with a sketchbook and pencils.
Light stains the still water
like paint on wet glass,
slippery and running out of line--
a blurry collection of blues and violets
as the trees swoop down
to dip their tender fingers
beneath the clear surface,
into liquid gold.
All the while cream speckled clouds
glide quietly down
the pebbled shoreline,
coating rocks and grass
in a powdery skin
that will dissolve by nightfall.
Sienna Taggart is finishing up her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and English, hoping to soon enter the world of teaching while she grows as an aspiring writer. She studied abroad in Scotland for six months at the University of Dundee where she took poetry workshops and wrote poetry reviews for DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts). Sienna’s nonfiction essay, “Archaeological Dig” was published on the DURA website in 2020. She currently lives in El Paso, Texas, enjoying its desert views with her family and spirited pup, Ronin.
The Period Between
He faced the easel away from the lake.
The three wood legs and his boots wore the mud
along the soft bank—Coco Chanel’s rouge
on the last cigarette she smoked—before
the sun blazed through the trees, turned the water
warm and blue, laid white and green on the surface.
Behind him, outside the lodge, men congregated
around cognac and cigars. Coco held
another cigarette, let the ash fall
at her feet. The air was too hot to hunt
deer and wild boar. The period between wars
made men fat and worse liars—women peripheral.
He focused on the trees, how light altered
the view and changed the color of the mud,
the hue of the rouge on charred white paper.
Red: the one paint he left on the palette.
At twilight, it became a dried blood stain.
He left the easel empty on the bank.
In the dark water, the dumped colored oils
formed an amorphous slick and one rainbow--
one perche-soleil floating on the surface.
Moonlight made the easel white as bleached bone
—a headless companion. He drank and smoked
in the shadows, ash on the grass bowed with dew.
Robert E. Ray
Robert E. Ray is a published novelist and poet. His poetry has been published by Rattle, Wild Roof Journal, The Ekphrastic Review and in three poetry anthologies. Robert lives in coastal Georgia.
As Above, So Below
Liquid clouds drift toward
the horizon. Drawn like Narcissus,
trees stretch their branches
toward their rippling reflections.
Steadfast roots prevent them
from falling in—losing themselves
beneath the painted surface
of the sea. If I wet my hand
at the water’s edge, my feet
unsown—no groundwork to keep
me tethered—would my body sink
punch a hole in that perfect summer sky?
Gabby Gilliam lives in the DC metro area. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Tofu Ink Arts Press, Tempered Runes Press, Cauldron Anthology, and two anthologies from Mythos Poets Society. You can find her online at gabbygilliam.squarespace.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GabbyGilliamAuthor.
View at Mimizan, by Churchill, 1920
“John Constable is at the door.”
Send him away, he’s been here too many times.
He’s put water in my paints, and the oil
won’t quite fix onto the canvas.
But what about Degas, sleep-deprived,
blanch-eyed, raising his fingers to not quite tap?
Let him in, and let his girls in too.
I see a couple floating here in the reflection
of the sky, maybe a back, definitely a dainty foot.
I must have dreamed her while I daubed away
On the shore, and mulled over ends of conversations.
In the future, someone will paint me as a man of chalk,
the oil crudely patched to suggest moody features,
and Degas is already dead, three years now.
I talk to him all the time, but Constable
answers instead, with forced and plummy diction,
asking for haystacks, not fey French forest.
Kathryn Pratt Russell
Kathryn Pratt Russell has published poems in Gargoyle, Black Warrior Review, Chelsea, Red Mountain Review, and elsewhere. Her essays and reviews have appeared in American Book Review, Studies in Romanticism, Disappointed Housewife, Romantic Circles, and Studies in English Literature. Her poetry chapbook, Raven Hotel, was published by Dancing Girl Press in July 2021.
Passing Time by the Lake at Mimizan
these calm blue waters reflect clouds
wisps of cream that float across the sky
rendered thicker, as if flooding the lake
today's approaching its golden hour
and as I depict the trees, so dark,
my own mind is mired within their murk
later I'll walk that lake-shore path
with only my black dog for company
'Go on' he'll seem to say, 'Try it,
the cleansing depths, bathe, luxuriate
and wash away all the guilt and horror'
for now, I can lose myself in this moment,
at one with the scene through the very act
of capturing the ineffable still beauty,
the peace that's so lacking when I don't
have a brush in hand and canvas before me
this daub emerging pleases me, colours
and form fit a realism, a narrative
I will construct to capture today -
light and colour, peace and hope -
and I know there will be a tomorrow
that I may shape to be better
Emily Tee spent her working life wrangling numbers. Now retired, she is new to writing and is returning to her love of poetry, a pleasure from her schooldays. She lives in a semi-rural part of England.
To Sir Winston Churchill Regarding A View From Mimizan
You've rightly left unfinished sky
as evanescence to the eye
abstracted like evolving sea
as stillness it will never be
and yet awash in "often-seen"
that leaps to mind as what you mean
in those you bring to fabled shore
beholding as forever more
the depth of calmness teeming rife
in land of far more stable life
so clear when near to contemplate
that fades to what you consecrate
as battle of the heart with soul
adrift in time they don't control.
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
churchill’s momizan painting
cotton dappled water washing
into the shadows so soon
after the Great War
shadowed dark over the world
cotton dappled sky
just before the roaring years
dark and light
dark and light
before and after
before and after
chanted like waves on a quiet sea
Sister Lou Ella
Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse news as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at Y92 in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”
Painting Peace at Mimizan
I crept up behind them two men talking about “impressionism.” Living in Paris, I’d even met a few of the artists, men and women who were trying to paint light. I listened to them as I worked on my poems, trying to cover the smell of our Kiwi sheep farm in a sea of ink. Until the Great War, I thought my poems would bring me immortality. Now, the memories of the trenches echo in my head each time I try to sleep. Worse than my time on the Western front was the fate of my brother, Jamie, who stayed with the sheep only to be drafted as shepherd to a troop of our friends and neighbours. They were sent on a boat to their slaughter in a place called Gallipoli.
And the man in front of me sent him there. How could he, who surely studied the ancient battles in the Dardanelles, the old name for that place, think the Turks would not work hard to defend their land? And win.
He did not send boys raised in his hills, his pastures. No, he raided those of the lands “down under” to bloody a shoreline once as pristine as the one he has painted. My mam wrote to me last month that the British Graves commission found my brother’s body, his boney remains intertwined with those of a Turkish soldier. The two had fought to the death with knives, a sad and bloody way to end.
So now, I have brought a knife. This man, this Churchill, sitting at a desk ordered my brother’s death.
The man, Churchill, puts his paint box down and admires his work for that day. I want to rush up and offer him the death he offered to my brother. But looking on that peaceful scene as he is doing, a peace comes over me and the light the impressionists speak of begins to seep into my heart. I cannot bring myself to break the quiet with screams of pain. I cannot splash the greens of grass, the blue of the water, with blood’s red stream.
Churchill’s brush work celebrates peace. I drop the knife, an Army knife like the one my brother carried. He was, like all of us, enveloped for a while in war, but that scene, that river. It whispers, “peace be to you.” A man who can paint a scene like that—he is a man of peace. And so I leave him in peace and as I go, I feel Jamie’s hand on my shoulder and hear him telling me to forgive the man. And so as I walk away, I whisper, “You are forgiven.” Let us all live in peace.
Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Yellow Mama, The Ekphrastic Review, anti-heroin chic, Verse Visual, Brass Bell, ovunquesiamo.com, Crimeucopia, Bould Anthology, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and more. She is a Pushcart Nominee, has been a Tupelo Press 30/30 author, and a Gilbert Chappell Fellow and is a five-time winner in NC Poetry in Plain Sight Competition. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press. Her three free chapbooks are Nature’s Gifts (Stanzaic Stylings), and Dancing Under the Moon and Morning by Morning, (Origami Press). As a performer, she tells folk and personal tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women.
Recalcitrant Prime Minister forced to stand
Blizabeth both student and ruler, eventual
Friend, he mentored a queen, her first
Legislator, parliament listened when he spoke
Elizabeth sought counsel, bespoke privilege
Churchill painted to relax, health issues took their
Toll – reflected calm in otherwise intense mind
Imperial thinker, liberal democrat, trees painted
Over troubled waters of times, both war and peace
Noble Englishman, Nobel writer and artist
State funeral where even a queen wept
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson has visited all but eight of the United States, has been to Canada many times, also to Ireland, Paris, Bermuda, Bahamas and Jamaica, but feels there is much of the world she hasn't seen. Art is a way of visiting far away places and provides great fodder for poems. Dickson's poetry appears in many journals including Sledgehammer, Open Door and The Ekphrastic Review. She is fond of lakes, cats and advocates for captive elephants.
Triolet From Our Boat
The blues keep coming.
Beauty is always converging.
Water & sky reservoirs of refraction, strumming
the blues. Keep coming
out this far & returning, waves drumming
desire’s languid rhythm, submerging
the blues. Keep coming;
beauty is always converging.
Jennifer R. Edwards
Jennifer R. Edwards’ debut collection, Unsymmetrical Body, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in July 2022. Her poems received Pushcart Prize nomination, honourable mention for the NEPC Amy Lowell Prize, fellowships from the Palm Beach Poetry Festival and publication in Lucky Jefferson, Snapdragon: Journal of Art and Healing, Literary Mama, FreezeRay Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, COVID Spring: Granite State Pandemic Poems (Hobblebush Books, 2020), and other literary magazines. She’s a speech therapist and lives in Concord, NH with her family. Instagram: Jenedwards8, Twitter @Jennife00420145
A Mimizan of the Mind
We came here to be cured
but scarcely knew we lacked
all that we have gained: health is in the head,
like beauty, and here it seems certain
we’ll dream ourselves better.
We’re not the first: belle epoch bathers
were chased here by consumption,
mouchoirs speckled red in the city crush.
What better place than here
to find a life worth living?
The trees agree: from where we sit
they seem to paddle in the sea,
watch their charmed reflections
shimmer in Atlantic shallows.
In the lee of Les Landes dunes
we breathe in harmony:
health is in the head, like beauty,
and now a wilderness of futures
shimmer in the mind’s eye
as coastal clouds reinvent the sky.
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. He is the author of over twenty books, covering fiction, poetry, and scholarship. 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).
Painting the View at Mimizan
There are more clouds in the water than appear in the sky;
I make my own illusions.
No fingerprints, no sense of duty, no struggle with vaccines.
My lifeline seems to flow through the brush into a reflection of indifference.
Nature travels all alone, it’s one ongoing experiment
I understand connection: the waves on this lake are my nucleotides.
My name is Churchill, but today I’m a ghost.
Clouds join to reclaim space, as if they care about accuracy.
They spittle my face but I cover my canvas;
I head for a so-called drawing room.
Sue Ann Simar
Sue Ann Simar published and edited 10x3 plus poetry journal from 2008 to 2012. She is a member of Madwomen in the Attic, a writing program affiliated with Carlow University in Pittsburgh. Simar participated in Women Speak/Women of Appalachia prior to the Covid outbreak. Her most recent
publications are Kestrel, Backbone Mountain Review, and Voices in the Attic.
It always takes me back.
In those grey years after the War, we would be invited to summer at the Château. Such a welcome relief from rigours of the big City and rationing and that pied-à-terre close by your parents’.
On the morning of departure, I would sardine provisions into the trunk. Usually overloaded but we could never tell when, where and if vittles could be sourced en route. As gasoline was never plentiful, we always pre-filled a khaki metal cannister - the one sneaked back from the front.
July weather was mostly reliable although an occasional electric storm could spit up the Bay. But thankfully, clothes packing was light with enough space for formals, casuals, footwear, jim-jams, two parasols and our smocks still paint-stained no matter how often they were boiled.
We were always excited at the prospect of our annual adventure. There was so much to look forward to back then.
With the long journey south, we would overnight in Le Touquet or Hardelot, then often at La Rochelle close to where I camped in the early thirties. Memories, fond memories.
We would amble through quaint towns; we would speed through the countryside. Massed sunflowers enthralled us though the heat would sap our energy.
Above the constant drone of the four-stroke and intermittent rumbling over cobbles, we would sing - popular and light operatic. How I envied your conservatoire training.
Although rustic luncheons at rural bistros were hit and miss, we were always welcomed - the French would not forget.
Neither would we.
Mimizan was an oasis; you said so yourself. The plage, the café scene, the skies - especially the skies in such a dense azure just like nothing I had seen before or since. You would comment that the commune had been preserved in aspic. Perhaps it was.
Accommodation in the Château was up three flights of narrow winding stairs. Vaulted ceilings, candelabra, four-poster beds, tall mirrored oak wardrobes, marble-topped dressing tables and exposed tenné floorboards with, invariably, salle de bains far along a corridor that echoed with every footstep. You would always tip-toe but creaks still resounded.
All the rooms were the same but all so very different.
You particularly liked the one proffering westerly vistas across the luscious green lawns where we would attempt croquet on Sunday afternoons, over the pine forêt and on to the water. Snug in beige rattan chairs, we would often watch the sun setting oranges and pinks into the Atlantic.
Most mornings after sustenance of fresh panne au chocolate from the patisserie on the corner and tepid chicory faux-café au lait, we would carry easels and palettes, parasols and paraphernalia and oils and acetone down to the lake along with a straw hamper with brie and baguette sufficient to last us until supper back at the Château.
You loved to connect with cormorants soaring then diving to plunder, as much as you detested swarms of black fly that visited on far too many occasions.
Yet if I am candid, some of your most evocative landscapes were created there. The location, the bonhomie, the freedom were inspiration par excellence. Little surprise that so many of us made the trip each summer.
You were so, so talented.
Then formal dinner al fresco, night after night. How you revelled in the dressing up.
Sweet fragrance wafting from hydrangeas, dahlias and canna lilies would blend with the aroma of spit roasted wild boar or fresh mackerel netted from the Atlantic in the morning and the pungent smoke oozing from Romeo y Julieta and Gauloises that so irritated your throat and made you cough. I worried.
As aspiring polyglots, we would engage in irreverent and irrelevant debate in French, in English and occasionally in the Euskal about everything and nothing often until well gone midnight against a tapestry of gypsy fiddle music and far too many glasses of Bordeaux - more nouveau than vintage you would tease. You could be so high spirited and sharp though relaxed at the Château.
Slumber was sublime.
By the spring of fifty-two, your health had deteriorated. We never returned south.
On evenings of contemplation seeking a modicum of solace, I sit gazing up at the symmetrical Mimizan lakescape with its reflections of verdant trees and bulbous white clouds. How I treasure that gift you received back then.
I recall so fondly our summer vacations; the adventures, the Château, our painting at the waterfront, the camaraderie, but most of all your presence.
You know I always will.
Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical free verse and prose. His work has been published by 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.
A born artist would instinctively know
how important it is to win the sky.
To wing the perspective at the right point,
to give the clouds a breathing disposition,
to flux the horizon beyond reach -
it is a skill tried and tested
in many long pictorial fightings.
And in addition, if you turn the sea
into a spitting image of the sky
and order the trees as dad’s army,
your conceptual measure
will also be such a pleasure!
It was a really lovely day!
After arriving with his young wife
for their summer break,
they didn't waste a minute inside,
he took his chisel and camped on the beach,
she sat under a tree on his right
chatting about love to sun and sea
and what fish they will have for dinner;
Churchill wouldn’t compromise on his
English “good companions” as he called
the fried fish and chips, while Clementine
definitely wanted to try some local dish.
It was getting hotter.
The birds took refuge
under every free leaf,
their chirping relieved,
the usual Atlantic breeze - at rest.
Churchill was a bit anxious,
he said he would soon take a dip
to taste how salty the water was,
in order, he joked, to infuse this taste
into his canvas; she said she was glad
he was going to separate for a moment
from his cigar; they laughed and he tipped
the tale with a practical joke -
will dip with his brush to ensure
the right amount of salt
for his arty plat-du-jour;
oh, man of taste, she smiled.
Yes, everything in view was secured
in good spirit and accord,
an alliance essential equally for artist
and leader, as for both it is a battlefield
in front and the aim is one - to capture it.
Winston trusted his brush
more than his books, he approached
the canvas with the faith of a loyal
beauty-adherent and this gave him
a great advantage before his future transgressor,
who was, in fact,
a failed artist. So it was clear straight
from the perspective of the canvas
who would be famous and who infamous.
In just two decades this smooth sky
will be cut in pieces by Stukas,
this exuberant waters will be slit
by U-boats, this green trees will be
burnt by bombs, this tender light
will be gunned in smoke.
But the artist, who captured
its peaceful charm
and tasted its salty character
would come to the rescue
to recapture its life back,
true and serene as here seen.
His then view point would be now
his horizon and thus the perspective
would come full circle -
a faithful completion
of a man with a mission.
Upon this lofty background
one question comes pressing:
why Churchill considered success
“going from failure to failure
without losing enthusiasm”?
Enthusiasm, what a strange word
in the vocabulary of a modern history’s giant!
Ordinarily, it is left for youngsters,
but adults would just ensure that they
“will go the extra mile”
in a typically English low profile.
Etymologically, it is rooted in the Greek word
“enthusiasmous” - meaning…believe it or not…
”possessed by a God”.
Of course, talking Greek, thinking Gods. Hence,
once the Greek root enters the context
all comfort zones are dismantled,
you are either possessed by a god,
or not part of the right lot.
Enthusiasmous is or not.
It is all to say that
Churchill’s Atlantic perception
is a glowing visual representation
of enthusiasm -
enchanting, luminous, vivid,
water and sky trading radiant light
in abundance, trees’ green shade
inviting the curious, a God in his finest,
one is captivated to enter this
elemental bliss and ask to see
the face of the possessing God
to be able to recognise/or not
the true enthusiastic features
in any prospective/or not alliance.
Was this rooting all Greek to Churchill,
or not? One can’t speak of this matter
if one is short of a possessing God,
but as for the right lot
it goes without saying since
that now proverbial Churchillian
“never despair” mode
made this essence famous -
in this finely captured bay,
just down the coastline
of the D-day.
A Truth We Shall Never Know
Invoking stillness of a sudden death
Or a long awaited pilgrimage,
The leaves drop to angel birds
Guarded by the prayer flags,
Whispers beckon the sacred here.
Loosing words for the towering trees
Under the hermit sky, I breathe celestial.
Treasured dreams, bruises and grief,
The clouds shall find no more what hides beneath,
This lake of fulfilling wish from centuries ago.
Abha Das Sarma
Author's note: 30 Kms from Geyzing, West Sikkim district in India, lake Khecheopalri is located which is also known as the "Wish fulfilling lake." It is considered sacred and is a major Buddhist pilgrim site. It is believed that as soon as leaves fall on the water surface, the birds pick them up, keeping the waters neat and clean.
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.
The Lake as Artist
Look into me, Sir Winston.
I, Lake Mimizan lapping the country retreat
owned by your friend, Duke Bandor,
will paint your portrait in watercolours
as faithfully as you rendered me
with lemon-tinged clouds,
rippling trees and the hunting lodge
hidden in the background.
I won’t be upset if rain pocks my art,
a breeze ruffles my fluid canvas
or shadflies mar your image.
I can always recapture you
when the wind is asleep --
drinking champagne on the dock
with Dali, Chaplin and Coco Chanel
or garbed in a smock with paintbrush in hand
keeping depression’s black dog at bay*
while chomping at your Cuban cigar.
A warning: dear Secretary of State for War and Air
boasting of killing “savages”
and brutal when quelling rebellions**
like you are hunting wild boars --
Remember as you row through my gallery,
admiring your liquid reflections
with your steely blue eyes —
these non-commissioned portraits,
iconic as the photographs** you hoped
would make you immortal
will have disappeared
before you reach the far shore.
**in 1920, as Secretary of State for War and Air, Churchill was responsible for quelling rebellions in British Somaliland and the uprising of Kurds and Arabs in British-occupied Mesopotamia.
***famed photos by Yusuf Karsh
Donna Langevin's fifth poetry collection, Brimming was published by Piquant Press 2019. Short-listed for the Descant Winston Collins prize in 2012, she won second prize in the 2014 GritLIT contest, and first prize in the Banister Anthology Competition 2019 and first prize in the Ontario Poetry Society’s Pandemic Poem Contest, 2020. Her plays, The Dinner and Bargains in the New World won first prizes for script at the Eden Mills Festival in 2014 and 2015. If Socrates Were in My Shoes was produced at the Alumnae Theatre NIF Festival in 2018. Winner of a second place Stella Award, her play Summer of Saints about the 1847 typhus epidemic and the role of the Grey Nuns and others who cared for the newly arrived Irish immigrants in Montreal is scheduled to be produced by Act 2, Ryerson University, and published by Prometea Press in 2022.
Enjoy reading and writing ekphrastic poetry, fiction, or CNF?
We have an arsenal of ekphrastic inspiration for your writing practice- themed prompt books, workshops, and more. Check out the selection ebooks and workshops below.
Fifty Shades of Blue: 50 Art Prompts to Inspire Your Ekphrastic Writing Practice
A carefully curated selection of fifty blue-themed artworks throughout art history and the world, intended to inspire your ekphrastic creative writing practice.
Moon Gazing: 40 Artworks to Inspire Your Writing Practice (Ebook)
40 moon-themed artwork prompts to inspire your writing practice, whether flash fiction or poetry or CNF. (Ebook)
31: A Month of Ekphrastic Poetry Exercises ebook
31 ekphrastic poetry exercises to take you through a month. These are not painting prompts but inspirational exercises and projects using different resources and ideas.
Christmas Isn't Cancelled- 35 ekphrastic holiday prompts ebook
Christmas Isn't Cancelled: 35 ekphrastic holiday prompts.
Keep your spirits merry and bright during 2020's bleak Christmas season, with holiday-themed visual arts prompts for your ekphrastic writing practice. The variety of prompts is carefully curated to surprise and inspire.
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