A Resting Place
On a warm Paris afternoon
A time to meet those missed most
We entered 'Joyful resurrection through the gates of death'.
Wandering through lanes, breathing history
Drifting through ages, stopping every few feet
Reading the years of existence, family names
And listening to the murmur of a thousand lands.
Peace reigned in every corner, conversations rose
With passing of time and more of them coming alive.
There were stories of love, heart breaks and triumphs,
Deceits, great deeds from years ago.
An epitaph rose celebrating the outcasts
In Pere Lachaise near the tomb of Oscar Wilde
And accompanying plinth with an inscription carved,
A journey being photographed by many now.
Springing pink patches in my palms, blue veins in my arms
And turning the flesh white.
In Montparnasse Cemetery next
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir continued
Their friendship of fifty years.
Time standing still for us
To hear the unsaid and romancing death.
Abha Das Sarma
An engineer and management consultant by profession, I enjoy writing the most. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com), my poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Sparks of Calliope, Trouvaille Review, here and elsewhere. Having spent my growing up years in small towns of northern India, I currently live in Bengaluru.
The Virgin and child
dazzles its spectators' eyes
in the autumn haze.
Toshiji Kawagoe, Ph.D. is a professor at Future University Hakodate. He lives in Hokkaido, Japan. His poems in ancient Chinese have been published in the anthologies of Chinese poetry and his science fiction short stories in S-F Magazine and Anotherealm. His academic works in economics are also published in many books and academic journals.
The Bane of Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo would be aghast at the clutter (only the ceiling and windows are spared), no matter that paintings are by Renaissance masters, stack upon stacks, ogling the Venus of Modesty and copies of other Greek statues in various states of undress, their limp penises drawing the eyes of important people garbed in velvet layers and suffocating ruffs, pretending to appraise a portrait of the Virgin and Child or a genteel man walking his dogs. Her head would spin at the muddle of sculpture pieces and prints on tables, random frames on the floor resting on still more stuff, and gallimaufry stashed behind still more frames, presumably hidden from the view of prickly nobles. The mishmash of images would give her vertigo. Would it matter that they were by van Eyck, Durer, or Rubens? Would she know these names?
The doyenne of decluttering, simplifying, and organizing would not abide by this mess. She will discard, dump, ditch. She would implore van der Geest to take items he likes least and thank these pieces so that he can let them go – to a sidewalk sale, a thrift store, even Goodwill. Then she would impose order, perhaps frame size, or dominant color, or subject (naked ladies, warring men), or number of people in the scene. She would encourage van der Geest to divide the gallery into two floors, each floor sectioned into rooms displaying pieces grouped according to some system.
Would that she had a magic wand to enforce her sensibility! Because van der Geest and his 17th-century ilk would find her ludicrous and banish her. So would the multitudes of hoarders and chronic shoppers.
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.
On My First Visit to The Art Institute in Chicago: A Tanka Sequence
A feast for the eyes
An expansion of the mind
Succor for the soul
Such internal rejoicing
Both challenging and peaceful
What to look at first?
A sensory overload
Giddy as a child
Paintings vie for attention
Much to see in little time
A careful study -
Perusing so thoroughly -
Or just a quick scan?
Quality or quantity?
This is the question, Shakespeare
I choose depth today
Opting for great absorption -
Not superficial grazing . . .
And I make it through one wing
Far too wrapped up in
The Sargents and in Nighthawks,
I miss the Monet
And the French impressionists
Much to my disappointment
I vow to return
To give all the other wings
As much attention
As much thought and as much care
As I gave this one today
My mind all abuzz
With a fresh new energy
My soul so nourished
And my heart filled to bursting
I leave quite reluctantly
Rose Menyon Heflin
Rose Menyon Heflin is a poet and artist from Wisconsin who enjoys nature and travel. Although currently busy cyanotyping, screenprinting, and photographing plants and cranes, she also enjoys mixed media collage, watercolor painting, and papermaking. 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, Haikuniverse, The Light Ekphrastic, Littoral Magazine, 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, Trouvaille Review, Visual Verse, The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, The Writers Club, and various anthologies. Her poetry recently won a 2021 Merit Award from Arts for All Wisconsin.
A True Story in the Gallery of Cornelius van der Geest
She’s come to choose!
Great slabs of art stack the walls -
Mary Magdalens, Apollos,
She’ll have her pick.
His lucky day! the tourmaline blue
Through lattice windows
Picks out the best
The jewel of Cornelius’s chamber:
(Yes, you’ve heard the story? Cornelius
Saving Master Matsys’ bones? Rescuing them
From the little churchyard, burying them
At the foot of the cathedral,
What a troop we were,
All of Antwerp watching!)
Yet I see it’s the Archduke Albert
Not dear Isabella, who covets
Her eye might glance
At that interfering young courtier
In gaudy gold shoes,
But as she’s known to be pious
It’s the tiny Brueghel she holds.
Or perhaps she has noticed
The Memento Mori above the door
Or has spotted
Holofernes, poor Holofernes!
Drugged and sleepy, pale naked neck
With Judith’s brawny arm upraised!
Cornelius, praising again such mastery,
Is seized at the heart -
Can he relinquish this,
Even to the Duke?
The good burghers of Antwerp
Appear unconcerned about the great purchase
About to occur
Or perhaps to hide their interest,
Gather round the globe, sextant and astrolabes.
And in the end, Cornelius won’t sell!
(Remember the bones? The cathedral tower?)
Too hot his love for this Madonna.
‘Come!’ says Isabella,
‘Let us take the Titian. Come,
And so they go, the spice merchant, the Duke and Duchess,
The painter, all appeased
As Echo, ever loyal,
Keeps to his mistress’s heels
Lucie is a retired librarian writing as much as she can.
The Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest and Agoraphobia
My husband Michael and I are in Maysville, Kentucky for Christy’s art gallery/hair salon opening. I’m interested. I’ve never seen an art gallery combined with a salon, but Christy makes jewelry.
Christy has made a lot of jewelry.
There are lots of foods on trays, and I want a cookie, but I am fat and will not eat in front of people.
It’s crowded. I haven’t been in a crowd since before Covid. Before Covid, I was already diagnosed with agoraphobia—fear of going out. It can manifest in many ways. Some people are afraid to leave their home. Some people, like me, do not do well in crowds, or with talking to strangers.
I’m a teacher. I am always terrified. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. There are tumors growing in my uterus from the terror I push down everyday. Well, at least this is the narrative I tell myself because it will give me a reason to find other work. It’s an easier narrative than the truth: my aunt has tumors, my mother had tumors—both ended up infertile. Both had to have surgeries for their tumors. My tumors are congenital and they will bloom and bloom and bloom until I hit menopause or bleed to death, whichever comes first. And I think to myself that if I’m going to bleed to death, standing in this gallery would be an optimal moment because I really don’t want to be here.
I’m not alone anymore. More people than ever became agoraphobic thanks to Covid. I mean, just look at how we ridiculously hoarded toilet paper, terrified of the virus, and rightly so. Justified agoraphobia.
The Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest by Willem van Haecht is a painting you enter. There are paintings inside the painting—they hang all over the walls. White statues stand as sentinels. There are people grabbing some of the paintings. It appears they’re fighting over them. Each painting watches you. It’s hard to separate the paintings on the wall from the real people in the gallery.
In Christy’s gallery, a painter walks up to me. She stands too close. I’m always concerned about my teeth, my breath—an old habit from wearing braces in middle school. I step back. She steps forward. Her hair is dyed black and in pigtails. She is too old to wear pigtails. Anybody over the age of 13 is too old for pigtails.
“I’m Mel,” she says. “All of my paintings start out as poems. I mean, under every painting, there’s a poem.”
“Okay,” I say.
“Megan’s a poet,” my husband Michael says. “She’s published two books.”
I want to say shut up. I want to say let’s leave.
He had told me we couldn’t leave until we bought something. So, I’d quickly chosen an onyx necklace and matching earrings. I’m already wearing them.
“What kind of poetry do you write?” Mel wants to know.
I hate answering questions about my writing just as I hate answering questions about my taste in books. It’s like wearing a bathing suit, which I won’t do. I haven’t worn a bathing suit since I was 11.
“Narrative. Confessional,” I say.
“Oh my gosh, I have to read your work,” Mel says. She has a piercing above her lip. Just a small silver dot.
“Okay,” I say, stepping back again.
She steps forward. “Find me on Facebook.”
“I don’t do Facebook,” I say, which is true.
“What about Twitter?”
“Do you do anything?”
“No,” I say. What a waste of time.
“Here, I’ll give you my number. You can text me.”
I sigh, take my phone from my purse. I put in the information, knowing I will delete it when I get home. I already have a best friend, and she lives far away, but I won’t go see her. I don’t like to travel. Anyway, there is nowhere in my life to put Mel. She will be a liability. Most people are, you know.
Christy finds me and interrupts because Michael has told her that I have beautiful hair. I take down my bun. She runs her fingers through it, which surprises me, and I wince. I don’t like being touched by strangers.
At this point, I am in awe of myself. I didn’t really think I had agoraphobia. And now, in this gallery/hair salon, I realize I do, and not only do I have it, but I am suffering with it. When I leave here, I will swing back and forth between the victim’s tale and the survivor’s tale.
“Your hair is beautiful. A little dull, but we could fix that.” Christy wants to fix my hair because my hair is deficient in some way. And Mel wants to undress my work.
“If I dye it, I can’t donate it to Wigs for Kids,” I say.
“Okay,” Christy says, letting go of my hair. People are closing in on me. Mel and Christy and all the bodies in here.
Mel takes over again. “I don’t ever want people to know the poems under my paintings,” she says. “Most of them are about my husband, who committed suicide.”
I’m speechless. She has opened herself to me. And what have I done to open myself? What happens if I open myself? Am I just a white statue? Am I a painting on a wall, watching? Will I recover from my agoraphobia in time for school to start? Or, will I have to resign? Do I want people fighting over me? Who am I?
“Ready to go?” Michael asks, suddenly beside me.
“Yes,” I say. I turn to Mel. “Lovely meeting you.”
“Same here. Text me sometime. I don’t get to meet many writers, but I meet lots of painters.”
A few days later, I look at her number, which is just sitting there in my phone. I don't delete it.
I believe this is a step forward.
Megan D. Henson
Megan D. Henson is the author of two ekphrastic poetry collections by Dos Madres Press: What Pain Does (2018) and Little Girl Gray: Sestinas (2020). She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two cats.
Much Ado in One Painting
Though both men are long since deceased,
the Gallery of van der Geest
as painted by Haecht
is, with all due respect,
quite remarkable, to say the least.
Pronunciations put aside,
(which depend upon where you abide)
will, of course, necessarily
vary most verily--
you might not use the one I’d.
Each name achieved its own fame:
Van der Geest, with the wealthier name,
had amassed this collection
for artists’ reflection
and Haecht painted all in one frame
The Archduke and wife Isabella,
a very rich, powerful fella,
had appeared at the scene
portrayed in this historic umbrella.
Ken Gosse uses simple language, traditional meter, rhyme, whimsy, and humor in much his poetry. First published in The First Literary Review–East, November, 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, The Ekphrastic Review, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Arizona over twenty years, always with a herd of cats and dogs underfoot.
An Art Collector
Art fashioned by the ones who truly could
Now decks the hall of one who couldn’t. Yet
A man who shares such art for greater good
Repays, with exhibitions, all his debt.
The artist, who's an employee, has made
Cornelis look très erudite——a man
Of culture with his provenance displayed,
Legitimizing him ... Do those who can
Look down on those who can't, as Shaw implied?
Expounding on a Massys in a scene
Cornelis paid for won't have satisfied
The cynic Shaw. But Aristotle's been
On record longer: teach means understand—--
Redeeming van der Geest as Willem planned.
Mike Mesterton-Gibbons is a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Florida State University. His acrostic sonnets have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better Than Starbucks, the Creativity Webzine, Current Conservation, the Daily Mail, the Ekphrastic Review, Grand Little Things, Light, Lighten Up Online, New Verse News, Oddball Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, the Satirist, the Washington Post and WestWard Quarterly.
Van Haecht’s van der Geest
Let me show you how I can do
everything great masters do,
but miniature, concentrated,
so you will see their works are small.
Behold Cornelis van der Geest,
this pipsqueak I’m forced to call master,
the one who taught me everything
without knowing how little he taught
to one who already knew the truth
of what paint could say or could not say.
He showed me what the market would bear.
That’s what van der Geest knew how to share.
I am van Haecht.
I will show you the world Geest made,
in which fine people, rendered small
beneath grand images on the wall,
bowed to the world that Cornelis
showed his grandees how to see:
decorum observed; decorum I wrecked.
I showed them all
how much bigger a world could be.
William Slattery’s poems and essays have appeared in The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Poetry LA, Santa Clara Review, ONTHEBUS, The Herman Review, The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, Antioch Review, and elsewhere.
So well large windows frame eternal earth
as art of sea and sky, of soil and rock,
where cycle of decay will feed rebirth
of life that briefly clings to waning clock.
For elsewhere, you commemorate the works
in gallery you see as sacred crypt
where hope of immortality still lurks
for those that found their eye and hand equipped
to render fragile permanence as art
bestilling what forever might be seen
as all a witness speaking dared impart
that conscience in its moment could convene
as presence eyes unborn would later share
with artist resurrected who was there.
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.
Bring your coins forth,
purses laden heavy-
we have a bevy of portraits
large and small, many grandiose
and some mediocre, though the
latter not be any more
of a bargain.
Explore marble sculptures,
nudes galore, browse here or
perhaps a landscape, water
scene, what do you mean,
you’ve seen them before?
Gather ‘round, haggle price,
though we may charge
twice their value before you
part with your money.
How can one ignore the view,
Such clever art, famous men,
dogs on the hunt, come back!
New paintings are displayed
gilded, more each day.
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is a poet and writer of nature, teen issues, animals, art and life. Her muses can be music, art, flowers, water but her challenge is to hear the poem speaking to her. Dickson has had works in many journals including The Ekphrastic Review, Sledgehammer, Open Word, Five Willows and others. Her full length books are available on Amazon. Dickson coordinates 100 Thousand Poets for Change and serves on the board of Poetry Society of New Hampshire.
Big Fish Egress
By keeping a closet
I sponge bathe my mind
as women rinse their labias
and kiss the crowned heads
of babies, as they flip
pancakes with syrupy stares
and juggle bean spoons
Gather round weak-necked clowns
as my son, ignorant
clenches Aphrodite’s calf
and let them point fingers
at the entropy of love
and scourge of navel-gazing
Having mastered the alchemy
I know how to hide
your charging instincts
under capotes pinned
to your bent backs
so gather round, grab
a horn and drink
seed, fruit, root, and bark infused
nothing in my chest is reproduced
only my fine palate
exhibited, my refined palette
my moist eyes sliding
down my face
in this plaster capped cabinet
you must feel pierced
and weak with blood loss
you must feel lost
facing the sovereignty
of beauty and savagery
CJ Farnsworth resides in WV and is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program. Her poems have been published in several print and online publications, including Community College Humanities Review Journal, Women Speak, Kenning, Kestrel, Poetry Quarterly, Mountain Scribes, and Poetry on the Move. She is also a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.
Silver reflections off the water’s surface,
Shone everywhere; from purple walls to indigo ceiling.
Painting a marvellous pattern all over the intense colours, and me.
It was a beautiful night.
Yet I was oblivious to it all.
I was lost in thought, staring blankly at the waves.
The thought: I don’t remember.
I didn’t know that you were there.
Until a hand stretched out from my right,
Between my eyes and the dancing waves.
I turned around to see you.
In that moment,
I was aware of the beauty surrounding me.
I didn’t know what was going on.
Neither did I know that we were being photographed.
I visited you a few days later,
Partly because I had to know more.
Partly because I had to show you that lovely photograph.
Your room was a mess.
On your shelves and the floor
Was a mess of displayed trophies
That you had collected over time.
Among the biggest and the tallest,
Was a golden one with my name engraved on it.
I still didn’t quite get what was going on.
But I figured that it was best to leave.
Maraam Pasha (b. 1999 C.E. in Lahore, Pakistan) has been raised in Rawalpindi & Islamabad, Pakistan. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Finance from the National University of Pakistan, Pakistan. By profession, she is a Marketing & Communication Executive, and now works at Mob Inspire, USA. She has been published in The Ekphrastic Review. She finds literature a way to connect with both herself and others. Her other interests include: photography, painting, music, travelling, baking, and sculpting. She shares her artistic creations on her page: www.instagram.com/maraam_pasha.
Sales Without Remainder Bins
Silky statues of the prominent,
flattering portraits of the wealthy,
decorative panderings to vanity.
But we must earn a living.
So praise the smooth glad-hander
from whom our larger income flows.
Let us not roll peas around a plate
and say we are at least virtuous,
that we exist for the sake of art alone.
That is the subtler vanity.
Who has the mobile number of Cornelis?
Who has the mobile number of someone
who has the mobile number of Cornelis?
Osculum of a Purse Sponge
Osculum of a Purse Sponge is currently underwater.
of many forceful faces,
haunting our souls.
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher has been writing since 2010 and has had many micro-flash fiction stories published. In 2018 her book Shorts for the Short Story Enthusiasts, was published and The Importance of Being Short, in 2019. She currently resides on Long Island, New York with her husband Richard and dogs Lucy and Breanna.
Enter our ekphrastic flash fiction contest for summer. Deadline August 31. $10 entry, $100 for winner. Details here.