"Armenian weddings have many traditions. One such tradition
is the cutting of the red and green ribbon."
Green sky at moonrise means the lovers must have stood outside the artist's shop
looking at his hand-painted sign, the self- portrait of a man sitting at an easel.
No, it meant when this picture of an artist-at-work showed the man who could paint
what they wanted, they did not have to buy a still-life like the picture on the other side
of the sign, and they didn't want a landscape without people the Maiden's Tower
without Hero waiting while Leandros swims toward her; to be reminded of tragedy,
how he drowned in the darkness. Will we be in a boat? the young man asks in Armenian,
and when the girl answers O yes! the artist smiles. Already his paint brush
has begun to trace the circle of the moon fallen from the pale shape of the clouds,
and even in darkness the boat holding the couple will leave the pier on the other side
of the swollen river from a house that could be his house, a house where a man stands
on a porch as smoke curls into the sky from a chimney pipe. Inside the house, built
on stilts so the river can't come in a woman calls to him from the hearth --
Are they coming? Can you see them? She is thankful for the warmth of the fire
after the violence of the storm, and thankful for her daughter coming home
with the man she has decided to marry; who will, formally, ask her parents for her hand.
In the past, weddings have been lavish the Priest placing small crowns on the heads
of the bride and groom to consecrate them as king and queen of a new kingdom --
their own kingdom. The Byzantine Emperor is ancient history, part of a world
where he built a Maiden's Tower to isolate his daughter -- to protect her from death,
a fatal snake bite. Everyone in Istanbul knows of this legend, one of misfortune;
and however unlikely such a story is in 1928 the woman in the kitchen is worried
for the safety of her children, delayed by storm and high water as she prepares food
for their engagement celebration stuffing grape leaves with meat and rice for Dolma,
and crushing walnuts for Gata and Paklava. The young man will be their son,
and when the sky clears her husband will paint the ritual colours -- that strange
and diaphanous green. They cannot afford a luxurious ceremony, but the painting
will be a wedding gift. In it, the children will be coming home by boat after the storm
and before the signing of the marriage contract in the Consulate's office; then the pro-
cession, money-giving and dancing in the streets on their way to watch their children
blessed by the Priest. She has saved her wedding ribbon -- red and green --
for this very special day and her husband will paint the spring into the sky,
into the moon-ripples reflected in the water so like a fortune made with wavy lines
the gypsy has seen in her coffee grounds: the future of the young couple,
who, like their foolish parents will share the wedding ribbon and start a family,
unraveling time when the colour red is heart-fire burning in an artist's hearth.
Laurie Newendorp is one of the writers who is addicted to Ekphrastic Challenges. Yazmaciyan's painting, Istanbul, reminded her of her daughter's trip to Bodrum, on the Turkish coast north of Istanbul, to visit a friend who was studying underwater archaeology. In order to marry a Turkish boy, her friend had to sign a contract in a government office (standard procedure) before she married in America. The Armenian alphabet was accepted in Turkey until 1926 when Turkish became the official language of the country. Yazmaciyan's self-portrait, painted on a sign to advertise his tin shop, is one of his best-known works.
The Moon Practises the Art of Night Photography
1. He leans into a sea-green sky. Soft focus.
2. Leander’s Tower. Foreground, midground and background: Straits of the Bosphorus.
3. Beyond Sultanahmet men sit in winding streets, play backgammon and drink small glasses of z’atar tea. Cats slink into shadow. Panorama. Pan from left to right.
4. In Beşiktaş a young woman stands, watches as mourners lift her mother’s bier into a waiting carriage. Amber beads twist through her fingers. Point of focus: the daughter.
5. A single boat with quiet oars. To avoid noise lower the ISO.
6. The muzzein calls the hour for morning prayer. The moon shutters the lens, slips away.
Marjory Woodfield is a New Zealand teacher and writer. She has lived in the Middle East and this often provides inspiration for her writing. She’s been published by the BBC, Atrium, Orbis, The High Window, The Pomegranate London and others. She has won the New Zealand Robert Burns Competition, and most recently been placed in the Hippocrates Poetry Awards, Yeovil, Ver and John McGivering writing competitions. She is currently recipient of a Cinnamon Press mentoring bursary.
The wandering spirit.
Silent and heroic.
The gasps of joy.
That escape from the child's mouth.
Make yourself at home in me.
Sandy Rochelle is a widely published poet-actress and filmmaker. She narrated and produced the documentary film, ARTWATCH, about famed art historian James Beck. She is the recipient of the Autism Society of America's Literary Achievement Award - and hosted the television series On Our Own, winner of the President's Award. Her documentary film, Silent Journey, is streaming on: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/storyteller/Sandy_Rochelle Publications include: Dissident Voice, Every Writer, Wild Word, Lothlorien Poetry journal, Black Poppy Magazine, Poetic Sun, Potato Soup Journal, Spillwords Press, and others. http://sandyrochelle.com
Hunger in Istanbul
A soundless night
under a hungry-green
moon, devoid of all
vulnerable appeal, the sea
stalls, reflecting the same
ravenous hue, the leaning
mast, the lonely house,
the 2-man boat trying to find
the shore, reach the steady
smoke, join two pallid souls
waiting to share the catch,
four men feasting on one
for a brief, sumptuous
moment, becomes everything.
I am moved by words, trees, butterflies, art, music, and all forms of truth expression. I am a Christ believer who yearns to create art that glorifies the only One worthy of our praise. You can find my poems and learn more about my faith and love for God’s creations at my blog poeticmeanderings.com. My husband and I reside in a sage-blooming, tumbleweed-moving town in the oilfields of Texas.
The Hearth Fire of Your Story
Your soul’s hearth fire still burns.
You carry it with you into the emerald moonglow night,
an unknown journey into the next world
where you glimmer eternal.
Your every word and breath
becomes the subtle, undulating ripple on the water’s surface.
Each sea vessel holds a memory,
like a golden honeycomb candle,
the way a living room holds the energy
from twenty years of tree trimmings,
the way your fingers instinctively knew
what notes to play from that Irving Berlin song,
the way you embellished sound
with extra chords,
the way you layered your stories
with harmonies, with multi-toned details.
You are now floating to distant vistas,
the horizon of your life’s cinematic screen
still playing the highlights reel.
I see you carrying planks of wood,
a small pencil behind your ear.
I see you moving sesame oil
from side to side in a wok,
chopped bok choy at the ready.
I see you typing up a report,
your block letter edits in the margins.
Someone kneels in prayer, adding wood,
keeping the flame lit,
tending to it lovingly with smaller twigs
and large branches of devotion.
I look down and see my hands
working to remember,
keeping the story of you burning.
Cristina M. R. Norcross
Cristina M. R. Norcross of Wisconsin, is the author of 8 poetry collections, founding editor of Blue Heron Review, and is a Pushcart nominee. Her latest book is Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019). Her forthcoming chapbook, The Sound of a Collective Pulse, will be released Fall 2021 (Kelsay Books). Cristina’s work appears in: Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Verse-Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others, as well as numerous anthologies. She has led community poetry projects, workshops, and has hosted many readings. Cristina is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry & Art Day. www.cristinanorcross.com
The Emerald Epic
Emerald skies portend emerald rivers-
Water is just a flowing mirror.
Thunderclouds tease boats bobbing on lakes,
Boats that have been built to return home every night.
Even the frail oarsman has sinewy arms from
Rowing the boat through cobwebs of lotus that
Blush under the green moonlight
And fold up like the wings of birds.
The moon is green tonight like the
Sunshine is a memory now, strangely becoming
Vivid by the day. The moon stands resplendent
Like a known stranger farther away today than
yesterday. Thunderclouds burst forth, emptying their
crypts of vapor, and kitchen fires keep homes warm-
homes that the oarsman ferries the passengers to.
The sound of thunder is the same in winters and summers;
The sound of thunder is the same in Istanbul and the rest of the world.
Hail and rain have no birthplace.
They move like wanderers through
Caliphates, kingdoms, and empires.
Why yearn like an alchemist for a gold idyll,
While the calligrapher inscribes love sans embellishment
With her quill.
A painting’s flourish enchants where a photograph
would do mere justice. Through the crisp winds
Carrying cinders, I wonder-
Why write short verse when one can write an epic?
Gargi Shivanand is an aspiring researcher based in Hyderabad, India, whose work has previously appeared in Visual Verse. She found it easier to find her voice on paper rather than out loud but was pleasantly surprised when she discovered that expressions of any one kind helped blossom expressions of all kinds.
For the Ride
You leave the witch adding twigs to her fire – delicately, as though their precise placing were significant – and go out onto the water-balcony as she’s directed. You’re already lightheaded from the sweet smoke inside the room; when you step out through warped wooden doors there’s an effervescence in your lower stomach, and by the time you set both hands on the rail, the night has begun to melt.
You used to know things about this place at the confluence of two seas. You used to know about that city across the water, its bloodstained glittering history, its changing names - Lygos, Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul – but tonight, none of that counts. Here and now – though here and now is ebbing, already insubstantial, and I/me with it – other confluences are softly forming.
You came here expecting symbols, and the night’s replete with them. The full moon, personal favourite of the witch, is for divinity and otherness; the unending dark water is for connection, the unity beneath the surface; the metropolis with its many eyes is for belonging; oh yes, you’re part of humanity even if you deny it! Over there is the caique on which your own hopes have rested. Sometime symbol of departure and crossing, it’s not yet rigged but surely ready; its shadowy pilot waits, who could be Charon or Phlegyas or Urshanabi (from here you can reach east or west across continents, ransack their mythologies at will). And then, drawing the eye, stalling the imagination, the rocky lighthouse-island that stilly, insistently, waits to call you home.
You could draw a constellation, a mandala, heavy with meaning, to join up the symbols. It might even prove to be a roadmap of your spiritual life. Going, staying, family, exile, pagan goddess, reassuring ritual, love of home. You could draw it on parchment, carry it next to your skin, take it out and trace its silvered lines with your finger whenever doubt rises to choke you.
Wait instead. See, first, how the colours begin to run, see how moon-green bleeds into underlit water, how the water rises, overwhelming the caique, creeping up the sides of the lighthouse, flowing towards the quays and jetties of the distant city, swirling in its streets, up against its walls and towers, extinguishing the witchfire, lapping at the balcony where you no longer stand, because you’ve made your choice and are already on your way to the deep places, to the impossible, luminous realm below.
Patience Mackarness lives and writes in Brittany, France. Her work has appeared in Lunch Ticket, Every Day Fiction, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Lost Balloon, and elsewhere. She finds art scary.
My home at the world’s edge overlooks
a sea that envies me:
my life on stilts, my sunsets on the balcony,
the slap of green gallons for company.
The moon kisses me, and I let it
as the last of the boatmen creak to shore,
and the clouds absorb their own reflection.
The sea is emerald with jealousy,
blue-green, indigo, then something darker…
I watch it nightly, feel the draw of the woman who
waits for me, patient in the bedroom:
her amber lamp aglow,
the moths on the window that flock to see.
The sea envies me, and I feel it,
tell it 'hush' before I turn my back to join her,
hear it soothe itself with sobs, swallows.
It envies me my home, my wife:
I let its lullaby caress my life.
Paul McDonald taught at the University of Wolverhampton for twenty five years, where he ran the Creative Writing Programme. He took early retirement in 2019 to write full time. He is the author of over twenty books, which cover fiction, poetry, and scholarship. His creative work has won and been shortlisted for numerous prizes including The Bedford Prize, The Bridport Prize, The John Clare Poetry Prize, the Ottakars/Faber and Faber Poetry Competition, the Sentinel Poetry Prize, the Sentinal Short Story Prize, and Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Net.
I went to the country seeking beauty and found
nothing but taxidermy shops and insular
wooden houses with their porches caving in.
The billboards looming over the side of the road changed
from the veneered smiles of lawyers and dentists to bold
slanting font reminding me that HELL IS REAL
and a heartbeat begins nine days after conception.
In other words, I was unwelcome. I drove through mountains
where the radio played nothing but static, stopped
for gas at a station with a single pump and
a cooler boasting live bait and tackle. Who first said
you can’t outrun yourself by moving from one place
to another? I snap at people who ask me
for anything when I have already been asked
to make peace with the end of the world. And yes,
sometimes I cry about it. I am perpetually angry.
I sat safely on a bench and considered
dipping my feet into a secluded and rocky stretch
of the Hudson while I watched a sixty-year-old man
take off his clothes and wade in, stark naked.
Emily McDonald is a writer and English teacher living in Baltimore, Maryland. Her poetry has recently appeared in Eunoia Review and SUSAN / The Journal.
Before Garabet Yazmaciyan Runs With Canvases Under His Arm
The house on stilts overlooks water so green
you’d think a pickle factory had disgorged its waste
Maybe in Kadikoy green pigment was cheap
and Garabet, in a hurry
covered his world with broad brush strokes
the house, the port, the okra boat
his unsuspecting wife, her arms deep
in scaling fish or maybe filling
the lamp — what else could account
for the daub of red in the window
Garabet, I want to say, put down your brush
trim the wick, the flames are hungry
for your green house, your littered floor
your rags of turps, your powdered pigment
the canvases in the corner
stretched towards the door
Frankie McMillan is a poet and short fiction writer from Aotearoa New Zealand. Recent work appears in Best Microfictions 2021 (Pelekinesis) Best Small Fictions 2021 ( Sonder Press), the New Zealand Year Book of Poetry ( Massey University) New World Writing, the Cleaver and Atticus Review.
Letter with Green Sky
I hope to God that you are silver
all over. The dock is slick
with ghosts and bird leavings, and winter has ballooned
into a groaning, glacial
brain, an animal of which
even the brooding,
secular face of St. John the Baptist
would approve. I am curious to know
where it is
you keep your qualms. Mine
are strung around the hip and
jangle lightly as I walk. You would think
they are some kind of dark burgundy,
the color of shame, but really,
they are a lot like
what you cannot see — that is,
specifically, the sky
which has so thoroughly crushed me
into conjuring a
reason to bear it. Someone wrote me with the confession
that they no longer knew
how to look at a flower, and, you, I’ve caught it
too — the light beams wobble, fall
off the eye and it’s like
all that fever
had been studiously misplaced. It’s the same
with the moon, with trees, with flame.
The silver of the waves. Perhaps you
wear a rosary around the neck, like they tell you
not to. Harbor a flair for rumination. The rowers
whoop like prophets; I pocket
the smallest echos. Their backs threaten rain.
Brenna Courtney studies at the University of Virginia.
The Theatre of Orion
for Monika Pisniak
after Istanbul, by Garabet Yazmaciyan (Turkey), 1929 C.E.
At this before-the-dawn ante meridiem,
the silent pier is our arms-wide-open stage,
engulfed by the serene sea--
drunk on the sublime moonlight.
The silhouette of moon & its reflection
—riding the quiet waves--
bring us in the spotlight
at The Theatre of Orion,
where Betelgeuse, Bellatria, Saiph, Rigel et al
chair the procession.
Mathematica is the language of the stars,
you point to the Orion belt.
“We’re but of / by / for the stars, you & I,”
I gently brush a bunch of annoying audience
—a cluster of entangled hair, hindering the way--
off your peach-red right cheek &
stamp it with a mild kiss.
“This congregation of hazel-brown moles,
running up & down the left side of your face,
itself resembles the Orion constellation,”
I amuse you with my romanticism.
Yours too. But yours is cologne-earth brown,
you smile back.
Look at these sparkling bubbles in the wine.
They look like tiny universes,
you raise the disposable-cup for a toast.
“If we find the courage
to burst the bubbles of our preconceived ideas,
then there’re many universes awaiting sprouting,”
I raise the disposable-cup.
We would’ve defied E equals MC2.
We could’ve fashioned our own equations!
Saad Ali (b. 1980 C.E. in Okara, Pakistan) has been educated and brought up in the United Kingdom (UK) and Pakistan. He holds a BSc and an MSc in Management from the University of Leicester, UK. He is an existential philosopher, poet, and translator. Ali has authored five books of poetry. His latest collection of poetry is called Owl Of Pines: Sunyata (AuthorHouse, 2021). He is a regular contributor to The Ekphrastic Review. By profession, he is a Lecturer, Consultant, and Trainer/Mentor. Some of his influences include: Vyasa, Homer, Ovid, Attar, Rumi, Nietzsche, and Tagore. He is fond of the Persian, Chinese, and Greek cuisines. He likes learning different languages, travelling by train, and exploring cities on foot. To learn more about his work, please visit www.facebook.com/owlofpines.
the moon and her voyeur
you watched her every night, casting
eyes like a fishing line on her form; first a sliver
Then a half, three-quarters. now, while she’s
pregnant, rotund, swollen-bellied, full.
and her blood spills light over the horizon.
She cannot cry in pain, she can only squeeze
the fabric of the sky. Watch it happen, voyeur--
you’re Alice, peering through the looking glass. Or
a furtive-eyed peeping tom, eyes flickering
to and away from her plight
like candle-lights in the dark.
Watch the sky try and sew her together; behold
the army of sewing needles;
glittering pinpricks strewn carelessly across the horizon.
Each is too dull to suture her up: her
flesh is so fragile, her
skin ripped so
She is desperate, she
knits her fingers into the sky’s fabric. She,
buries her face in it as the blood splatters the sea.
you glide underneath her, riverbound,
silent as a mouse in your wooden shell;
Oars slicing through the churning waters,
Thanking her for the ichor that falls on the water, how
It lights your way.
Kiran Bassi is currently a high school senior in Richmond B.C. When she isn’t writing, you can probably find her doing something weird to her hair, drinking green tea or watching really bad zombie movies. (current favourite: Pride, Prejudice & Zombies). You can find "the moon and her voyeur" and more of her other works at writingbykiran.com
And yet there were two sources of light. Each beckoning, calling, asking me to recognize their silhouettes of darkness as the true patterns showing me how to reach my journey’s end. Inviting me to join their respective circles, to choose a side, in or out. To open the channels between sea and sky or to burrow into the ashes of earth and fire.
What did I know of my destiny? I sailed an empty vessel waiting to be filled, navigating between the spaces held by promises. Whispered words and ghostly hands extended towards the edges I straddled, balanced on the verge of both inhaling and exhaling.
My breath could not tell which way pointed to certainty. I tried to recast my shadow onto something else, but I was suspended too tightly inside the directionless void. Everything was impending, flickering like a candle carried by the whims of the gods and goddesses that saturated the water and air.
If I held out my arms would they become fins or wings?
Kerfe Roig lives in NYC where she plays with images and words.
Following the Path Laid Down by the Full Moon
What is it about the full moon that makes me and others so prone to trust him?
Here I watch the fisherman leaving his home pier, wife standing, watching until he is no longer in view. I wonder how often must sail out from the warmth of his hearth’s cheerful blaze to into a dark unknown. He points his skiff toward the path laid down by the moon. He will fish somewhere along that silver line laid down across the dark jade of night’s waters. And stay until he has enough fish to bring home, until the sun burns hot along the water.
I want to jump in and follow the silver path over those green swirls and whirls and move my arms to the rhythm of the water’s flow secure in that same moonlight streak of silver, trusting it’s path will lead to someplace wonderful.
Last week the full moon beckoned me from my house. As I watched it rise from behind our neighbours’ houses and hover over the small stream behind us, I walked its path to the water’s edge. Although unable now, at my age to physically follow the path into the water, my imagination could leap into the water.. So, I closed my eyes and let my heart and soul follow the silver path laid down by the full moon into the unknown. I wonder as I wander, what prizes will I catch?
Joan Leotta is a poet, author, playwright, short story and essay writer and novelist. In addition she plays with words on stage telling personal and folk stories that often focus on food, family, and strong women. Ekphrastic poetry is a special love of hers.
Guardian moon, protect thy brave daughter escaping poverty, ignorance, befoulment; sister borne by abused mother now bidding Godspeed, herself borne by defiled mother now pleading to the gods for mercy—in blackness shattered by brilliant candle whose orange radiance might have beckoned phantoms lurking in the dark waters and forest but could not, as your brilliance casts a veil of luminous green to light the path and quell the evils roiling beneath the stillness.
Guardian moon, deliver her and the child she bears, her sibling, at dawn to a safe shore where she can break free from familial corruption, where she can find her voice, her strength, her power, her self.
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 so she can tell her life stories.