Untitled (to Sappho) 1976, Cy Twombly
I read that line of poetry you inscribed, not as
Citation, not as illustration, but as lines--we are
Made of lines, visible, inseparable--actions
Of packed immediacy, choices of materials,
Colour, and drawing. I allow your work to thrust
Me into the present, that other way to read a
Poem aloud. Like a hyacinth in the mountains
Trampled by shepherds until only a purple stain
Remains: I read visual (hyacinth!), I read olfactory
(scent!), I read tactile (crushed by shepherds!),
And I read back to visual again (that stain left
behind!). And that smudge--a violet stain in wax
Crayon, sinuous, compressed, smell, touch, and
I join the act of reading--the sound of words.
G. E. Schwartz
G. E. Schwartz is the author of previous collections of poetry, Only Others Are, WORLD, Thinking In Tongues, and Murmurations, and lives in upstate New York.
The Burning Cathedral
The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, J. M. W. Turner, 1834-35
Scenes from the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, CNN, April 15, 2019
Where is our Turner now? CNN
video shows us the spire aglow
and at a tilt as the scaffolds go
up in the hell-dark heavens-high smoke,
plume, viewing it, we do not feel
will trip the carbon monoxide alarm
on the cloud ceiling under Paradise. Where
has our Turner gone? In the microwave
broadcasts our gadgets catch, where
is that brush’s own fiery awareness,
stroke upon stroke to call witness
alive in the air and the ash? No painter
here sketches furious studies for canvas
later, to capture that forest
fire’s cratering up through the roof,
the burn in our eyes till we hear
the roar, the name of the beast
beneath our medieval order. Blaze
a beautiful terror, no Turner renders
the old warhorse’s thorax and haunches,
mane of flame now lighting the Seine.
Our great Christian engine’s devotional
pistons pulsing for centuries against
the Saracens, awe’s vaulted technology
buttressed by charrings of heretics’ flesh,
smashing the lens on the shape of space--
where’s Turner and his eye to help us
face it? A sandal-shod prophet
offered his friends a soft-spoken treatise
on love, and look what men made,
grand and ornate. Where is our Turner
to paint the burning cathedral of state?
Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (winner of the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press), and four chapbooks, including Dark’s Channels (winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award) and Love’s Test (winner of the Grayson Books Chapbook Competition). Recent recognitions include the Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry, The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, and The Tishman Review’s Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize. Recent poems appear in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Jed is Poetry Editor for the journal Bracken. Find him at https://www.jedmyers.com/
Wheat Field With Crows
a field of yellow grief
pressed by an iron sky--
pain applied impasto
roads wind from nowhere
to nothing—snipped short,
blunt and abrupt, like cut rope
and the crows coming in--
dark hinges dropping low
over the troubled grain
sinister wedges, black Vs
scribbled beyond the horizon,
stuttering to say your name
and their rusty voices
striking like clods of dirt--
mocking van caw, van caw
No sunflowers flourish here.
This poem appeared in Richard Meyer's book, Orbital Paths (Science Thrillers Media, 2015.)
Richard Meyer, recipient of the 2012 Robert Frost Farm Prize, lives in Mankato, MN. His book Orbital Paths was a silver medalist winner in the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.
East River Voices
I am the river,
dark and heady.
I am the city
eager and ready.
I am the bridge,
on stocky legs
of iron and stone.
I am the tugboat
puffing on course,
the current’s force.
I am the onlooker,
wild with dreams
and busy machines.
I am the fisherman,
curved at the back,
grasping the pole
and leaving it slack.
I am the lantern
heavy with oil,
as shadows amble
past well-worn soil.
I am the daughter
of slavery’s scars,
the sky a deep river
rushing with stars.
I am the soldier
my eyes aglint
with pride and dread.
I am the boxer
my eyes aglow
in the crowd’s wild din.
I am the fireman,
rushing at the bell;
I won’t back down
from the flames of hell.
I am the mother,
my song I pray:
our Mater Dei.
I am the son,
two tongues in my head
Nostro pane quotidiano:
Our daily bread.
We paint our young tongues
with languages old,
then add our own shades
in amber and gold.
We are Liberty,
our torches burn bright.
They burn for the yearning,
they burn through the night.
Now swift as can be,
we race to the jetty.
We are the city
eager and ready.
Anthony Iacobucci is an avid reader and writer, and is an English teacher at TRECA Digital Academy. He lives in Plymouth, Ohio with his wife, Mallory, and two children, Calvin and Liberty. He also serves his community as a volunteer firefighter and EMT.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge: Cristobal Rojas
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 Teresa Vito, which ends today, June 28, at midnight. Accepted responses for the Teresa Vito challenge will be published on July 5, 2019.
The prompt this time is El Purgatorio, by Cristobal Rojas. Deadline is July 12, 2019.
We welcome Janette Schafer as guest editor for this challenge. Thank you so much to Janette for taking on the challenge of the challenge! Janette is an Ekphrastic Review contributor who has edited various anthologies, along with a wide range of writing, music, art, and performance projects.
Note From Janette Schafer, Guest Editor
"The artwork I've chosen for this challenge is El Purgatorio, by Cristobal Rojas. This painting is so evocative with imagery and magical realism that I encourage poets and writers not to be bound to the religious subject matter. My goal in choosing a Venezuelan painter is to increase awareness of this vibrant culture which is now in danger because of the current humanitarian crisis."
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. Please copy and paste your submission into the body of the email, even if you include an attachment such as Word or PDF.
3. Have fun.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY.
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 CRISTOBAL ROJAS 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, July 12, 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!
Many thanks to Janette Schafer, and to all of our guest editors who have been taking the helm for the challenges.
Guest editor bio: Janette Schafer is a writer, nature photographer, part-time rocker, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her writing and photographs have appeared in numerous journals, magazines, newspapers, and websites. She is co-editor of The Dreamers Anthology, released by Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh in April 2019. Her poem "What we want to remember about this river" was the 2019 winner of Laurie Mansell Reich/Academy of American Poets prize.
On Me Fait Signe (I Am Signed)
Notes to self upon entering
a painting: come look, let
something go. Stir a feeling,
search for something. Push
into a tangle of colour.
Be brave. Sign up. Add
your name in ink or type:
a loan, a doctor’s note, a check.
Let lines and shapes speak: make
a street, a scrim, a promise.
A patch of blue, a rub of sorrel.
Not scripture set in stone, not
earmarked walls or boundaries
but geometries that give you height,
a sense of flight across a country.
What language it is I don’t know
but I love to read it. As if
from a plane cutting through
cloud, blocks of shapes interlocking,
states reduced to abstraction.
Breaking. Not knowing
what it will become. The glow
of a capitol dome far below
coming into view, a monument.
Sharon Tracey is a writer and editor and author of the poetry collection, What I Remember Most Is Everything (All Caps Publishing, 2017). Her poems have appeared inEgg Mom Review, Tule Review, Common Ground Review, Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry, Ekphrasis, The Ekphrastic Review and elsewhere. Art and nature are recurring themes in her work.
To the Miscarried Child, Van Gogh’s Irises At Arles
The irises aren’t eyed, but tongued:
the three bearded sepals
droop, pant, loll
among the splayed jade-green blades,
while behind the jumbled
buds a bird’s head,
its two white eye spots
eying us: hybrid,
half plant, half animal,
like the foam-formed
almost human shapes we imagine
Turner’s turbulent seas cast up––
Poseidon, or something stymied,
unable quite to be,
like you, like me,
mon soeur, ma semblable.
Aping the brush’s flame shape,
a few buds even fuse
art and artist.
The one white iris
tugs us into its cup,
outlier among the blues,
poor blind boast.
We think white looks
like absence not
the plenitude it is, all colours,
married. And you, dear jilted ghost
of almost, veined iris-blue
in the dark womb water,
still porous, a skein,
all eyelets and mouths,
gone before you’d grown
the human husk:
if you’d had the luck
to be born,
would Vincent’s irises
have awed you too?
The terrors his brush disclosed,
bad gods among the beauties.
This poem first appeared in Amanda and the Man Soul, Emrys Foundation Prize Winner, 2017; and before that in Cider Press Review.
Mary Moore has five books, three in the past three years, and has work forthcoming in Poetry and Orison's 2019 anthology. She is retired from all but writing poetry. She was a professor at Marshall U in Huntington WV, where she lives with a philosopher and a cat...or perhaps those are the same beings....
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Toulouse-Lautrec in the Montmarte
Happiness was the nights
we spent in the clubs,
our table abutting the stage,
sketched a quadrille’s dancers,
their petticoats kicking up
In the early morning
Toulouse dragged his legs from under the table
and we walked the streets,
his chest out
as if he were a ship sailing in
with a cargo of silk.
He wanted everyone to believe
we were lovers--
his artist's pinch-nez
unable to distract
from the thick eyebrows,
the big nose,
a face as ugly
as a dogfish.
"I have much
to be grateful for," he confessed.
"Then why do you drink so much?" I asked.
"How can I not," Henri answered,
can only disappoint
after evenings spent with you
in the Montmartre?”
Bob Bradshaw is recently retired, and living in California. He is a big fan of the Rolling Stones. Mick may not be gathering moss, but Bob is. Bob's work can be found in many publications on the net, including Apple Valley Review, Eclectica, Loch Raven Review, Peacock Journal and Pedestal Magazine, among others.
Living in Nature
We cling tight to these cliffs,
turbulent tides below.
Driving the ocean road,
we look out for Antarctica.
Breezes lash shrubs and trees.
We shelter among roots,
branches. But nothing holds
against the winds, the waves.
When the Fire Raged, the City Buckled Skywards
All February, the fire circled.
There was a drought, no water left.
The Country Fire Authority
gave updates, advised we stay calm.
When the big wind blew,
the city didn’t burn,
it buckled to become a huge eucalyptus.
Punt Road still had too much traffic.
In Search of the Divine
Carl Jung documented dreams
where a big hand
reaches from the sky
just when the dreamer needs it.
Many saw a hand appear
half the size of the city.
It didn’t strike them as a divine presence.
It was acutely disturbing.
Michael Mintrom lives in Melbourne, Australia. He has published poetry in Australian and New Zealand literary journals including Landfall, Meniscus, Quadrant, and Sport. His recent poetry sequence, “Box Set for the Rolling Stones” can be found on the open access website of Literary Yard.
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