Gold light washed over monochrome
makes the clouds over Moll’s Gap look holy.
And the way the man in the white jumper listens
to the fellow turned to him suggests they’re friends
with each other and with the ground they stand on.
All around them graves dug over centuries,
monks and nuns and the five thousand from the first famine year,
whose remains, hastily buried, sometimes still bloom
in winter’s heavings, so the mowers must take special care.
In this frame of holy clouds and fringe of grass along the bottom,
they could be standing on the further hill
caught in an idle moment at the end of trenching a row
or on the pier, watching the holiday boats.
I imagine they carry the place with them in sleep.
I imagine them not imagining
a single story about the dead whose space they tend,
how they leave that to the tourists replete with maps and phones.
How these men stick to trimming grass and hacking back the fuchsia
when it threatens to engulf some family plot,
and gather the inadvertent trash left by the curious--
leave rain and sun and wind to do the rest.
Each evening they leave the dead in peace
and settle in, for Dublin, My Fair City or RTE, or a book
left open on its spine beside the bed. But they return again each morning,
speaking a word to this or that inhabitant, as if returning home.
Miriam O'Neal is the author of We Start With What We're Given (Kelsay Press, 2018). Her poems and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Blackbird Review, Lily Poetry Review, Ragazine, River Heron Review, and elsewhere. She is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, was a Finalist in the Brian Turner Poetry Prize in 2016 and the Princemere Poetry Prize in 2018 and also translates Italian poetry. She earned her MFA at Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Plymouth, MA with her husband and dog.
“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee?
I lay my hand on my mouth.” Job 40:4
From the ship’s stern, I hear God’s undulating voice,
See Him in all his majesty and power, in all His creative force, in all His manifold presence
As He stretches out his hand to gather the waters in a heap
To send them forth, willing them to stand fast, to heed their boundaries.
The dark blue waters
Spraying, crescendoing, cresting,
Foaming, frothing, billowing,
A reminder that a moment is as fragile as a bubble released from its wand,
That man washes away
Even as he builds fleets to navigate the turbulence and to manifest his own worth.
Yet the waters like crystals,
Inviting Leviathan to play there.
Dolphins to cavort,
Man to meditate on The Almighty’s sea-sculpted caves
To consider His wonders,
The deep to proclaim His glory,
His intent to judge the world.
But man, nestled in his hubris, heeds not Nature’s counsel
Until the waters increase and the light alters and
The winds lay siege to his certainty.
Jo Taylor, a retired English teacher from Georgia, enjoys writing poetry whose main themes are family, faith, and place. "Revelation" was inspired by a Baltic cruise, by Hurricane Irma, by scripture, and by a closer look at the American landscape artist, Winslow Homer, particularly his Perils of the Sea, 1881.
The day after my mother-in-law’s funeral
we collected all the paintings
from her studio and damp basement,
the thank you card from Irving Berlin,
her sketchbook for The Birdland murals
displayed for sixteen days
at the Smithsonian (now
owned by a private collector)
crated them for shipping to California
where we stacked them in rented storage
That’s when I imagined
of all the art
at the Uffizi, the Getty, the Kamakura
And now, I can’t get the image
out of my mind:
dried paint chipping,
the spread of mold pockmarks,
velour paper edges fraying, canvas rips, a gradual
flaking into sand, then dust sifting down
to be layered over by debris
of another generation
always the shifting sand
like a dust storm
This poem first appeared in Luanne Castle's book, Doll God (Aldrich Press, 2015.)
Luanne Castle's Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. A Pushcart nominee, she studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, Broad Street, Lunch Ticket, Grist, River Teeth, and other journals.
flower of Neptune
daughter of mother of pearl
for the birth
Laura Levenson is a writer and psychotherapist of more than forty years. Her writing has appeared most recently in The Potomac Review, The Maine Review, and Summer Stories [ShantiArts].
Francesca Woodman Speaks from MacDowell Colony, 1980
I used to reside indoors, materialize
from the flaking wall, all
the paint of lead, plaster
in pieces, scattered. No fire
in the fireplace. Shard of
so thin, so tall.
A stand of them, the one
manifesting me. Not cut
and used for heat
but, rather, to reach
with – my wrists sheathed
in bark. A new kind of
emergence. That one
girl turning into a tree
as form of escape, that
tree with the untoothed leaf
so unlike these and yet moving
in the same direction – toward
This poem was inspired by Woodman's photograph, Untitled, MacDowell Colony, 1980. Click here to view it.
Francesca Woodman Speaks from New York, 1980
I am trying on being
the wire for the foxglove – that
ladder of petal that recalls
gowns not worn anymore.
Hearty stemmed, this flower
really doesn’t need me. But
sun – morning in the garden
boxed in by walls, of which
I am familiar and a chance
to. What jaundiced threat
and the blurriness of the aura –
that cloudy state I captured
in other years and in other places –
but no matter. For now, now,
and this cup that fits
over my finger outside
of the frame.
Kelly R. Samuels
This poem was inspired by Untitled, New York. Click here and scroll to last photo with foxgloves to view.
Kelly R. Samuels is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of Words Some of Us Rarely Use (Unsolicited Press) and Zeena / Zenobia Speaks (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Salt Hill, The Carolina Quarterly, Sweet Tree Review, Menacing Hedge, Heron Tree, and SWWIM. She lives in the upper Midwest. Find her here:www.krsamuels.com
after Robert Ryman, in memory
You were already gone
in monochrome scaffolds
where time is texture
and vision apprehends vision
in the flash before form finds a name.
Here there’s no room for a self to sift through.
These minute strips of white--
glacial in the right light and mind--
dislodge from the cling of language.
At the frame’s edge thought stops
on a gray splotch: an imagined origin.
This poem was written about an Untitled Robert Ryman painting in particular. You can see it here.
Joseph Massey is the author of A New Silence (Shearsman Books, 2019), Illocality (Wave Books, 2015), and a trilogy grounded in the landscape of coastal Humboldt County, California: Areas of Fog (Shearsman Books, 2009), At the Point (Shearsman Books, 2011), and To Keep Time (Omnidawn, 2014). He lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.
The Ghost of Me
“they pass and repass through the air”
I saw the painting mounted on the wall
of the Museo de Bellas Artes
in dusty Sevilla. I could not miss
three female figures, conspiring in shawl.
Dusk settling, crowd gathered for the ball,
a spotlight illuminates the dresses.
Faces held close. What neck tingling is this?
Strong kholled eyes smile, tugging loose the caul
that had enveloped me. A protective
layer of my own making. A strong wish
to hide, face pressed against the windowpane.
Shaking bones need hope, even tentative.
Creeping illness makes paint and thoughts bluish,
that I would like to begin again.
Constance Bourg lives in the Flemish part of Belgium, where she volunteers at a local social food market. She has studied creative writing with the Open University in the UK whilst living in Ireland, and that is where she found her love for writing in the English language. Now living by the North Sea in Belgium, she likes to take things easy because she’s chronically ill with ME/CFS.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge
Join us for biweekly ekphrastic writing challenges. See why so many writers are hooked on ekphrastic! We feature some of the most accomplished influential poets writing today, and we also welcome emerging or first time writers and those who simply want to experience art in a deeper way or try something creative.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our last writing challenge featuring the work of Fidelio Ponce de Leon. Accepted responses for the Ponce de Leon challenge will be published on May 24, 2019.
We apologize for posting this challenge two days late due to some technical difficulties.
The prompt is Post Time, by Ginny Caraco. Deadline is May 31, 2019.
We are very excited to have Joan Leotta with us this time as guest editor.
Joan chose this artwork for the ekphrastic writing challenge because Ginny Caraco is a Carolina artist, and because it is Derby Month.
Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer living in Calabash, North Carolina. She writes in many genres, but poetry, especially Ekphrastic is one of her favourite forms of expression. Her poems have been featured many times on The Ekphrastic Review and Visual Verse. Her work has also been read at the Ashmolean in Oxford, England and she has performed folklore and personal tales in many museums, libraries, classrooms and festivals. She is on Facebook at Joan Leotta. Her website, What Editors Want You to Know, is dedicated to helping other writers find their niche in the mystery short story world. www.joanleotta.wordpress.com
Ginny Caraco is an artist from Camden, South Carolina, specializing in house portraits, pet portraits, and equine subjects. She works in pen and ink, watercolour, or coloured pencils. Ginny graduated from Trident Technical College in N. Charleston SC with a certificate in Architectural and Industrial Drafting. Her studies during that period led her to become comfortable with the demanding medium of pen & ink and she has parlayed those skills into a lucrative craft!
1. Use this visual art prompt as a springboard for your writing. It can be a poem or short prose (fiction or nonfiction.) You can research the artwork or artist and use your discoveries to fuel your writing, or you can let the image alone provoke your imagination.
2. Write as many poems and stories as you like. Send only your best works or final draft, not everything.
3. Paste your entry in the body of your email. You can include a word document, PDF, or link to Google Drive, etc, but in the event we can't open or access the file, we need a ready copy in the email.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY. Submissions sent to other Ekphrastic email addresses will not likely be read in time, or by the right person, and will be discarded without response.
Send your work to email@example.com. Challenge submissions sent to the other inboxes will most likely be lost as those are read in chronological order of receipt, weeks or longer behind, and are not seen at all by guest editors. They will be discarded. Sorry.
5.Include GINNY CARACO WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line in all caps please.
6. Include your name and a brief bio. If you do not include your bio, it will not be included with your work, if accepted. Even if you have already written for The Ekphrastic Review or submitted other works and your bio is "on file" you must include it in your challenge submission. Do not send it after acceptance or later; it will not be added to your poem. Guest editors may not be familiar with your bio or have access to archives. We are sorry about these technicalities, but have found that following up, requesting, adding, and changing later takes too much time and is very confusing.
7. Late submissions will be discarded. Sorry.
8. Deadline is midnight, May 31, 2019.
9. Please do not send revisions, corrections, or changes to your poetry or your biography after the fact. If it's not ready yet, hang on to it until it is.
10. Selected submissions will be published together, with the prompt, one week after the deadline.
11. Rinse and repeat with upcoming ekphrastic writing challenges!
We have been featuring occasional guest editors for the ekphrastic challenges.
We're hoping this will inspire us in unexpected ways, add new flavours and perspectives to the journal, foster community, and widen readership. We have Kyle Laws and Janette Schafer coming up later this spring.
Dear Friends, Readers, Writers,
Don't worry, the challenge is coming- I'm sorry I'm late this time. There were some technical difficulties on my end and I'm fixing them. Hope to post new challenge tomorrow.
Pure Lotus Blossoms
Amidst belching scooters
at a busy crossing
on a gritty road
in central Hanoi,
a gossamer objet d’art:
giant Lotus blossom,
vibrant and vivid.
From the surface
of a muddy pond
on a floating green pad
arises, chaste and clean,
a delicate art naturel:
tiny Lotus blossom,
Kim McNealy Sosin
Until her retirement a few years ago, Kim McNealy Sosin was a professor and department chair of economics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She published numerous articles in economics journals, and is now focused on writing and publishing poetry and photography. She particularly enjoys sharing experiences of her travels. Her website is https://sosin.us.
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