Dear Readers and Writers,
Every once in awhile I have to stop in and say thank you, again, for making this wonderful thing happen. It is a true privilege to have the chance to challenge you with various artworks from all over the world, to set you scurrying out into your imagination or down the rabbit hole of the artwork's story. You wow me with wondrous things every time. Art history is my absolute passion, and sharing that with all of you is a rewarding experience. I learn so much more from all of you writers and what you see and write down.
As we continue to grow, some challenges get an avalanche of entries, and as always, I find choosing the pieces the hardest task. I understand that the words are your heart and soul, your gift, your talent, and that means something to me. While some journals publish only a very few pieces, quarterly, we publish two challenge showcases a month and daily in the main section! I am astonished that the poems and stories inspired by art just keep coming. Your talent, ideas, and ways of seeing inspire me and show me something new, over and over. Thank you. When we aren't able to post your work, it is because of an embarrassment of riches. Thank you so much for being part of this family. We are now a worldwide ekphrastic community!
I can't thank you enough for making this happen.
Will all of you please share this page on your social media? The most important thing is more readers for our writers. Help us tell the rest of the world what they're missing!
Through the Keyhole
The woman’s cigarette turns to ash,
the frail balloon of her thoughts rising
with the smoke. If I could slip
through the keyhole, I would sit
in the chair abandoned by her
breakfast friend, sip from the glass
of cold coffee, put out the burning
cigarette on the tablecloth’s edge.
Remnants of companionship.
It’s Saturday morning, two days
after my husband’s death, and I gaze
with her down the long hours ahead.
Grateful for the company and a day
that may be as empty as the shells
of her soft-boiled eggs or an egg cup
I could fill to the brim. Widowhood
has surprised me, arrived unannounced.
I’m drawn to her youth, all that lies ahead--
Italy, the Italian artist-husband,
a painting life. And remind myself
of the richness of my own past. Still, I envy
the rebellion born in her bones,
the different melody painted on
this canvas. She’s a woman at home
in her skin, as the French love to say.
She could make herself into a perfect song.
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. 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.
North pole in a vase
once plucked from the wilderness
who knows its full bloom?
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.
After the Gold Rush
The days that you saw me write
made a gentleman out of you.
It was the golden spot
to rest down all my moonlit words
and sunlight in little bell jars,
for preservation of the most unique talent,
a propensity for storytelling.
A story is what you wrote for me
when books bore my name
and then slowly it seeped into you,
the cagedness of the realisation,
the origin of your inborn faults.
That you were a man.
That none of your innuendos could
lay under the shadows of progress
for too long.
Then it started,
the theatrics of being second best,
playing second fiddle.
Being the lesser half
ground down to his knees
and I laughed at your impertinence
because your only words were merely
on your account books,
numbered to less than a dozen.
It wouldn't have caused me a blush if they called me Jezebel
But you were there,
to interweave my accomplishments
fitfully with ambition,
two words as disparate
as the land and the sea.
And so I chose to ponder
and squander all your meals away
for a dowdy ensemble
and broken egg shells
and jam spilling out of porcelain,
until you stormed out of the room,
unable to gaslight me
for creating paeans to the sunlight
first thing in the morning.
It dawned on you
after five years of wedded weather
that my words wouldn't fail me
nor would my God elude me.
She rested right there on the tip of my tongue
and thundered like a flooded stream
with the ink.
I picked up the last of the broken plates
and chose to show you the power of silence.
My words were enough in that instance,
on the page and beyond.
That's why the breakfast table now is my study
and you the last letter on my index.
The writer's name is Prithvijeet Sinha from Lucknow, India. He is a post graduate in MPhil from the University of Lucknow, having launched his prolific writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog, An Awadh Boy's Panorama, besides having his works published in several varied publications as Cafe Dissensus, The Medley, Screen Queens, Reader's Digest, Borderless Journal, Aspiring Writer's Society, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Chamber Magazine, Live Wire, Rhetorica Quarterly, The Ekphrastic Review, The Quiver Review, Dreich Magazine, and in the children's anthology Nursery Rhymes and Children's Poems From Around the World AuthorsPress, February 2021) among others. His life force resides in writing.
My Grandmother Gives Up: a Haiku Series
She lights up a smoke
Uncaring what people say
Pummelled by boredom
Unsure what to do
WIth herself this fine fall day
WIth nowhere to go
So she puffs lightly
And stares into an abyss
As nothing stares back
Her sould unsettled
Her heart beating out of time
Her mind wondering
With nothing to do
She takes yet another draw
Numb to her small world
How this world can go to hell
How useless it is
That is will kill her soon
As she breathes deeply
A puff of her cigarette
The first of many
Rose Menyon Heflin
Originally from rural southern Kentucky, Rose Menyon Heflin is a poet and artist living in Madison, Wisconsin who enjoys nature and travel. She was the August 2021 featured writer in Tangled Locks Journal’s MoonBites. Among other venues, her poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in 50 Haikus, Ariel Chart, Asahi Haikuist Network, Bramble, The Closed Eye Open, The Daily Drunk, Deep South Magazine, Dreich Magazine, Eastern Structures, The Ekphrastic Review, Fireflies’ Light, Haikuniverse, The Light Ekphrastic, Littoral Magazine, MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Minison Project, Please See Me, Plum Tree Tavern, THE POET, Poetry and Covid, Red Alder Review, Red Eft Review, Sparked Literary Magazine, The Texas Poetry Calendar, Three Line Poetry, Trauma Timelines, Trouvaille Review, Visual Verse, The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, The Writers Club, and various anthologies. Her poetry won a 2021 Merit Award from Arts for All Wisconsin. An OCD sufferer since childhood, she strongly prefers hugging trees to people.
How to Love a Daughter
She will never forgive you
your love. She will reject the profound knowledge
that you are bound to each other.
Oh, sometimes, very occasionally,
she’ll almost be seduced by your insistence.
Make no mistake, it’s only a truce,
never peace. There is no steadfastness
in her offering of absolution.
She loved you once with a fierce
and all-consuming emotion.
That she will never forgive.
Neither will she forgive
that you had a life of your own,
that you needed to leave for fear
of the master. She looks at you
and finds you wanting
and tells you in a roundabout way
that you failed.
And you know you are guilty.
You look into her eyes
and feel her pain. She is judging you
and you will never forgive yourself.
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/
If Mother says one word about this cigarette, I'm going to strangle her.
I can't remember the last time she said anything nice to me. Anything complimentary, anything remotely friendly. Even when I brought her those flowers, she said Where did you get those? The graveyard? Then she tried to cover it up by claiming it was a joke. Joke, my foot. She wanted to think I'd stolen them.
Well, I didn't. It isn't stealing to take something out of the bin at the back of the flower shop. If everybody wasn't so suspicious about Rolf and me, we wouldn't have to sneak back there to have a smoke. And I really picked the best ones out of the bin. They were better than the ones Papa brought home after that big row he and Mother had – yes, the one about me. She kept telling him that he spoils me. He kept telling her she was being mean, which she is. She never buys anything for me because she wants to spend it all on herself.
She'll probably smell the smoke when she comes in. I guess it soaks into the tablecloth, and the furniture. I can always smell Papa's pipe. There's a bubble of pipe-smell around him, like an aura. I can almost see it. It's not a bad smell, but it is strong. Maybe it soaked into that tweed jacket he likes to wear. I should slip into their dressing-room and smell that jacket when he's not wearing it. I could even try it on. I wonder what Mother would say if she found me trying on Papa's clothes?
I know this much – the only time she gets close to me is when she wants to sniff my breath. She thinks she's being so sly, but I can tell see her nose wrinkle when she sniffs. What’s she looking for, anyway? Smoke? Brandy? Bad breath? Anything to criticise me about! If she's not sniffing, she looks me up and down and then she starts telling me I need to lose weight. She should talk! She waddles around like an old sow, and she tries to squeeze into those clothes that don't fit her any more, but she doesn't fool anybody. She definitely doesn't fool me.
I wonder what Rolf's doing this morning. I wanted to let him touch me last night, but he got all trembly and dropped his cigarette. It's a good thing he wasn't touching me – if Mother found a cigarette burn on one of my dresses, she'd really kill me.
What am I going to do today? I guess I could go sketching and get out of this mausoleum that Mother calls a house. I could pack up some cheese sandwiches and go to the lake and stay down there all afternoon. If she calls me, I can pretend I didn't hear her. Actually, I think the only reason she'd look for me is to make sure I'm away, so she can stick her nose in the liquor cabinet. I know that she tipples when Papa isn't home. I can smell it.
Maybe Rolf will touch me tonight. I'll just need to make sure he puts out his cigarette first.
Tom Sigafoos is the author of The Cursing Stone, an Irish historical novel. His crime novella Pool of Darkness: Raymond Chandler in Ireland was shortlisted for the Penny Dreadful Novella Prize. His memoir and short fiction have appeared in in The Quiet Quarter Anthology, Trasna, Crannog Literary Magazine and other publications. A member of the Irish Writers’ Centre and the Irish Writers’ Union, he also serves as PRO for the Allingham Arts Association. See www.tomsigafoos.com for contact information.
Tired, oh so tired I am
of this world’s quotidian
tasks – every day
the boiling of eggs
the toasting of bread
the brewing of tea.
And the endless arguments –
What is art? What is life? words
flying across the breakfast table,
like sparks from our cigarettes,
rising in the air above us
like smoke, till finally
he pushes back his chair,
goes out of the room once again
leaving his cigarette on the table
where it will burn a small
brown spot in the tablecloth.
I am tired. I watch it slowly smolder.
Gretchen’s poetry and travel articles have been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, journals and anthologies. She won the Poetry Society of America’s Bright Lights, Big Verse competition and was projected on the Jumbotron as she read her poem in Times Square. She has led writing workshops for Florida Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. Her chapbooks, That Severed Cord and The Scent of Oranges, were published by Finishing Line Press.
"Her early years were however spent at Ilmajoki as her father attempted farming there. Because of the Finnish famine of 1866–68, the farm failed. After being forced to sell the farm, her father Karl shot himself."
Wikipedia, “Elin Danielson-Gambogi"
After the Finnish famine,
After the farm failed,
After Father was forced to sell the farm,
After Father forsook,
After the frosty silence in the garden,
After the agony in stony places,
there are still
languid Sunday mornings
stretching into afternoons
of emptied egg shells
and long smokes
in front of feathery sketches and an Asian fan,
She puffs her languor into a cloud.
I think it is the gray flag of her disposition.
Her hooded eyes, offset by rosy cheeks, show
she has mastered the pose of indifference
or she mirrors it
and I have mastered it
as the After years have demanded
of me--so you think.
One day you will read a few facts about me--
fragments from an encyclopedia
(If you still call it that)
and stich them together, to try to know me,
and you will put poets’ voices in a painter’s mouth.
I could say to you,
“Just look. I have painted what I want you to see.
Don’t palimpsest me out of memory.”
But then, the girl in my painting
could have asked me
not to make her my mirror.
We do what we can do,
imperfect as it is and as it will be always,
Brian O'Sullivan teaches rhetoric and modern English literature in southern Maryland. He has had work published in One Art, Everyday Fiction, and several nonfiction academic journals.
Warmth of porcelain on skin
warmth of tea in throat,
warmth of cigarette in hand
warmth of smoke in chest,
the luxury of morning,
space and time to breathe, free
of the press and urgency of the world,
to sit quietly, lost in thought, composed.
Still life, before clearing the table.
Jaime Banks is a marketing/communications professional and freelance journalist who has recently returned to her first love, poetry. She lives with her husband in the DC area.
Clear the table?
Wash the dishes?
Search for my truant husband?
Let me enjoy the cigarette and escape to a
Fantasy place of music, dance and poetry,
Where life is sweet and contagious
Where my heart flutters with anticipation
And my soul dances with precision.
Let the goddess of time extract more minutes of reverie
And allow me to quietly extinguish the last
Wavering wafts of my cigarette.
Ellie Klaus was born and raised in Montreal. She has lived different selves over several decades: daughter, wildlife biology graduate, vision quest traveler, family life educator, president (of her son's school committee), friend, confidante, lover, wife, mother, caregiver and now caregivee, if there is such a word. Each has contributed to a different perspective of living, of life. The pieces of the puzzle are evident and coming together, although the final image is yet to be revealed. So, writing has reemerged as a creative endeavor to release some of the angst that arises from living a confined life, or any life for that matter. She has a poem entitled 'Bones' that appears on NationalPoetryMonth.ca April 9, 2020 and poems appearing inThe Ekphrastic Review and Pocket Lint.
Anonymous Journal Entry From Finland
July 17, 1890
After breakfast, they always leave, even if they have nowhere to go, and I get a little lonely. I guess you’d have to be lonely in the first place to bring home a different man every night and charge him. They’re desperate; I’m lonely. It’s a perfect storm.
I want to cry, but I smoke instead, looking at his plate: bits of shell from boiled eggs, a mess on the white tablecloth. There are a few sips left in his white coffee mug. I don’t let them use the good china. I hate sloppy eaters, and so many of them are, but when a man gets a warm body and a hot meal, he comes back, and that is the way I afford this blue dining room, white china and teapot with blue foliage, and fresh daisies.
I take a long drag, feeling unbalanced, which is the way I feel most of the time. They say I have a nervous condition, the doctors, and prescribed this line of work because I am incompetent with a sewing machine, too nervous to be a nurse, and my brain, said the doctors, is so scrambled that I wouldn’t notice when the syphilis kicked in. And yet I am still able to feel the untouchable darkness of my sins—a darkness no man can touch.
The daisies though…they’re here now. Their smiling faces and soft petals make me wonder if they grit their teeth through the suffering of being cut from their mother source of soil. Are they looking around right now at these blue walls and white tablecloth thinking, this is the last scene. Sometimes I think maybe I’ll have one last bouquet of daisies and when they die, I’ll off myself.
Last night—I won’t say his name just in case this daybook gets lost and his wife finds out—he stunk to high heaven. I hinted several times that he may find a bath relaxing, but he was eager. And once they’re in the house, they’ve got me. It’s too late to show them out once you’ve invited them in. They’re like vampires in that respect. Rejecting a man is the worst crime a woman can commit.
Sometimes I daydream, smoking my cigarettes, that someday things will be different. That one hundred years from now, this house will still be standing, and a young woman will go to work and not a workhouse. Mostly I dream that someone will know where my grave is—that someone will care—and plant all the daisies they can find.
Megan D. Henson
Megan D. Henson received her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Kentucky. She is the author of two books of poetry by Dos Madres Press: What Pain Does (2018) and Little Girl Gray: Sestinas (2020).
After After Breakfast
You paint in filigree detail
as Nordic morning distills,
clarifies daisies, china, glass.
You tame her in cream silk
and intricate lace, each shadow
and fold as delicate as eggshell.
You seat her sated, slumped
in reverie, yet leaning forward,
defiant, not caring a crumb,
refusing the rattle and rush
of sink or easel, carving out
for all time just one moment
to simply exhale. Still-life.
Cursory solace. You hint at
the sister who bounces in
to stub out her Lucky Strike
and crack into the apple-green
day. You don’t show at all
the dog who romps ahead
in Lapphund elation, looping
liberating. Racing outdoors,
white skirts thigh-high, wind
at their backs thrusting them
against the skyline, they bound
over buttocky hills, Pink Lady
cheeks, hair loosening, crimson
culottes ablaze like wild-fire.
Helen Freeman has been published on several sites such as Ink, Sweat and Tears, Red River Review, Barren Magazine, The Drabble, Sukoon and The Ekphrastic Review. She lives in Durham, England.
Her instagram page is @chemchemi.hf
Finland's fens are pale
ice blue and white.
Forests stride the shadows
and defy the sun on Sundays.
Warm heart of home, daisy charmed,
where the scooped polished cup
reflects deep inside the leaves of fortune
like trails through snow.
Time lies heavy here
at the curving summit of the world,
and lists north,
toward blue ice.
Here fire is life,
and smoke a
reckoning worth the burn.
Fire burns in the stove
when heat is is at the back,
warmth in the mouth.
For who can say man lives
by bread alone under the
looming run of days when
summer is a reverie,
A minuscule repast,
shattered shell, a crumb.
The white smoke takes
the form of breath,
Rises, disperses from the glow,
and is gone as if it never was.
No time is time
for summer in the mind.
T.S. Page is a life-long poet. Her first work was at age 8, and her love of poetry has been a reward for the introspective life. Over 600 works have been carefully collected from her daily life for many decades and her first chapbook, Heliotrope, A Woman's Turning, is online at Amazon. For the past year she has begun to submit poetry for publication. She studies philosophy currently, along with theoretical physics, and has a degree in German language from the University of Florida. In the past she told original Florida Folk Tales from her family tradition at the Folk Festival in White Springs Florida. One play, John and the Moon Maiden was written and performed for children in Martin County, Florida. Four grown children are her contribution to the world. She is particularly interested in the ideas of Spinoza, as well as Schopenhauer, and plans a book of poetry on some of these enlightened themes.
Egg me on.
I’ll boil summer, lick it
like ships skimming over
Nights of corduroy & velvet,
of smoke & stars
moaned until morning’s quenched fire.
You of the dry eyes,
our yellowed yolk of summer
dulled, cool & still.
Leave the cracked crockery, the coffee
cold in my belly,
your broken breath scattering shards
of embers, frosty ash
casual in its cruelty. Our crumbs
are better suited to winter’s bones
Charlotte Hamrick’s poetry, prose, and photography has been published in numerous online and print journals and anthologies, recently including Emerge Journal, Reckon Review, Love in the Time of Covid Chronicle, and New World Writing. She’s had nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and was a Finalist for the 15thGlass Woman Prize and for Micro Madness 2020. She is Creative Nonfiction Editor for The Citron Review. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets where she sometimes does things other than read and write.
You leave your cigarette balanced on the edge, threatening our white linen. I examine the middle distance of your absence, your sharp bone-handled knife, your tall medicinal wine. I have no opinion on your absence. No more opinion than the listening daisies, who have no memory of your passionate presence.
You return with the tray, stub your cigarette into the egg cup, gather the napkins, the teapot, the dish of salt. You stack the plates, crushing feathered shells. I push back my chair, slip the cigarettes into my pocket, place the daisies on the sideboard, gather the tablecloth, shake the crumbs out the door. Fold and fold, in and in, catching blue-green shadow. I set my easel here, at this end. Yesterday's canvas, my brushes and rags, my smock.
You set your easel there, at the far end of our long feasting table. All day long the daisies inhale, without complaint, your weary exhalations.
Monica Corish is an award-winning writer of poetry and fiction, and an Amherst-trained writing group leader. She is currently working on a novel set 6000 years ago in the north-west of Ireland. www.monicacorish.ie
Inverted fan tacked to a pale wall
sketches belie a hand insouciant.
Fat bellied teapot in ash and blue
one almost matched tea cup--hers--
he prefers his tea in a Russian glass.
Her dish pushed away, eggs untouched
a distraction from the cigarette
dreaming in her hand along her face.
Broken egg shells on a painted plate
pieces of toast abandoned on a white cloth
a woven fringe at the edge exposed
like lingerie betrayed.
His chair angles back, precise yet in haste.
Her eyes dissolve to the center of the room
as a winding waft of smoke
escapes her lips with secrets revealed.
His plate, the knife, askew
the clash of sounds
echoing in a hollow room.
Daisies lean as if to capture
her waning dream.
How long will it be before his cigarette
left burning, over the edge of the table,
will flame more than the faint color in her cheeks.
He expects to return
she will be gone.
Carol Lee Saffioti-Hughes
Carol Lee Saffioti-Hughes. Seeker of wild things in the north woods of Wisconsin. Member of the Root River Poets, Racine Wi. and the Spectrum Gallery and School of Arts. Numerous poems published in the U.S., other work in England and Canada, including inThe Malahat Review. Most recent poem published in Poetry Hall, tranlated into Chinese. Chapbook: The Lost Italian and the Sound of Words, Brighter Path Press.
Could It Be
If you returned, I could hear
In the floating shadows and
The abandoned cigarette.
From the emptiness of the egg shells.
The words had made a hurried escape,
Could it be that you had waited?
Until the descending grief had melted-
Walking the streets silent in rain,
Watching the sky turning grey,
The sun limiting its patch, us crossing the land,
Connecting its diagonal ends.
In the room, the red bangles lay exposed and
The perfume emanated from the bottle.
As I reached for the shriveled bougainvillea petals
Held in place through the dried stamen and pistils.
Drawing the curtains to the sides,
Letting the moon occupy
The soul now bare on the floor
Ready for the journey it had waited for.
Of making immortal the childhood lores.
Could it be that you had stayed?
Until the Jupiter and Venus had aligned and
We had held the unborn.
Abha Das Sarma
An engineer and management consultant by profession, Abha Das Sarma enjoys writing the most. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com), her poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Sparks of Calliope, Trouvaille Review, here and elsewhere. Having spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, she currently lives in Bengaluru.