Study of a Woman's Head, by Leonardo Da Vinci
Details are long gone: the smell
of rabbit glue mixed with bone,
the scrape of pencil,
of workshop and kitchen,
of the quarter, of men’s hands and voices,
and the day, and the season.
She knew it all, it weighed on her
like work still to be done,
the floor that was swept and that needs
sweeping, this here,
that there, and back again,
and the ending even harder.
I could tuck that wisp of hair into place,
speak to her in her language,
Maura High was born and raised in Wales and now lives and works, as a freelance editor, in Carrboro, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in anthologies and journals, among them Tar River Poetry, New England Review, and The Southern Review. She has two small books, the chapbook The Garden of Persuasions (Jacar Press, 2013) and Stone, Water, Time (Lyric Kinard Publishing, 2019).
Madonna Del Parto
Calm long nosed Madonna
white as paper
Egyptian-blue dress slit
a bursting fruit
two angels hold the curtains
open on each side
their stares say keep back,
the musicians sing
their innocent mouths
Above the impatient Christ
pale as a corpse
for a beating.
perfect flattened circle
wherein the pose
of the Sergeant at Arms
A boxer climbing
into the ring
looks straight back
over the unstrung
Chris Hardy: "I have travelled widely and, after years in London, live in Sussex. My poems have been published in Acumen, Stand; The North; The Rialto; Poetry Salzburg Review; Poetry Review, the Blue Nib and many other places. I am in LiTTLe MACHiNe, performing settings of poems at literary events. 'The most brilliant music and poetry band in the world' (Carol Ann Duffy). My fourth collection, Sunshine At The End Of The World, was published by Indigo Dreams. Roger McGough said about the book, ‘A poet as well as a guitarist Chris consistently hits the right note, never hits a false note.’"
To One Who Only Tended to a Fold
In quiet she so flattered would withdraw,
to treasure lines his sonnet could convey --
as poetry of unrequited awe
each line a budded stem of love's bouquet --
from proper distance giving due respect
like sun that from on high had showered light
as yearning for the smile she might reflect
in moon becoming lustre of the night
at window where she paused again to read,
still clad in vibrant shades of peasant dress,
bravado that timidity would plead
as love she could not dream it would profess
to one who only tended to a fold
whose dowry was but beauty to behold.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
David Belcher lives on the north coast of Wales, and his most recent work has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Ink Sweat and Tears and Visual Verse. David writes and reads poetry because he enjoys it, and for no other reason. He is not a very complicated person.
We’re in our drawing room with the door open to a wall
where ivy and a rose grow, rustling in the breeze as if
shaking off the past. We’re barely talking to each other
and are frustrated because we can’t leave the house
to commune with whomever or join the chaos of the living.
One of the girls has a fever but there's nothing unusual
in that. We have enough cans to see us through and there’s
a turkey in the freezer. I would like to say of an evening
we sit round listening to the piano and cello but we watch
Netflix which can be inspiring as a breath or swathes of indigo
or dignified as a dark suit with white shirt and gold cufflinks
and offers escape from our routine like a dress made from silk,
ruffs and overflowing with lace bows. Not much in the paper today.
More money collected for the NHS. Government failings
to test at airports or provide nurses with enough protective
equipment on their shifts or let us know how long this forgettable
lockdown will last. “Set my people free with extra fries”, says Trump.
People are dying especially the non-white, the old and those
who disappear into care homes. I thought about painting the kitchen
but I can’t get the right colour paint. I thought about writing
but can’t get started as my head is filled with chocolate and honey
instead of something lighter and more joined up but words
have been hijacked. You must have felt like that, a river flowing
to the sea only it’s crowded with punts, water taxis,
ferries and so on and you can’t get across. Even the tunnel is closed.
On the settee my eldest daughter is being shown by my wife
how to darn a sheet. She holds it in a heavy metal two finger gesture,
sign of the horns, she’s wild as a grey morning. My son looks at
old photographs and the others are on the carpet playing
with the baby, who looks at me as he would a stranger.
We’re yawning towards eternity. I don’t know what needs
to change for the world to make sense over again.
Rodney Wood comes from England. His poems have appeared recently in Atrium, The High Window, Orbis, Magma (where he was Selected Poet in the deaf issue) and Envoi. His debut pamphlet, Dante Called You Beatrice, appeared in 2017.
Get your copy of Lorette's new poetry collection.
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These bittersweet, lyrical, yet often eviscerating poems are ekphrastic explorations that examine life’s fragile connections with ruthless intent. Sparing no one, Luzajic strips the shiny façade from her subjects, exposing their humanness, and her own.” Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of The Dead Kid Poems, poetry editor, Cultural Weekly
"Astonishing, urgent, leaves nothing behind. Each brief narrative emboldens an emotional truth with language that is fierce, elegant, and unflinching; Luzajic's writing is nothing short of brilliant." Karen Schauber, editor, The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings
“Best writing I've read by a living writer since who knows when.” Darrell Epp, author of After Hours, Sinners Dance, Imaginary Maps
"This book's more honest than you. It'll hold your hand and bring you places." Noah Wareness, author of Meatheads, Real is the Word They Use to Contain Us
A washerwoman sits for me today.
Accepting francs, she says she’s pleased to rest.
To answer why I paint her, I only say
the reddened arms she crosses at her breast
frame her face that’s washed in winter light.
The fichu round her neck is striped with blue
(from years of wear, that fabric’s nearly white).
She seems to know that she is fading, too.
But with her gray-green, deep-set eyes that gaze
with quiet equanimity, she’ll need
no painted flourish or sentimental praise
from me. This woman’s portrait may succeed
if viewers can perceive a will to live
yet resignation for what fate will give.
Barbara Lydecker Crane
Barbara Lydecker Crane, a finalist for the 2017 and the 2019 Rattle Poetry Prize, has won awards from the Maria Faust Sonnet Contest, the Helen Schaible Sonnet Contest, and others. She has published three chapbooks: Zero Gravitas (White Violet Press, 2012), Alphabetricks (Daffydowndilly Press, 2013), and BackWords Logic (Local Gems Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Ekphrastic Review, First Things, Light, Lighten-Up-Online, Measure, Rattle, Think, Writer’s Almanac, and several anthologies. She is also an artist.
Maple Street, London (1915)
To like desolation more than crowds, and taking-leave more than visits; to like debris more than an old man’s body; to like darkened windows more than light ones, a doorway more than the face and chest, the hands; to like a coat around your slim ankles, and a curb that no one crosses, nobody—a curb for ghosts; yes, to like pavement, to enjoy the feel of grayness and hardness; to feel permanent just before midnight; to prefer standing in the street to standing in a field, and being streetlit to being moonlit, and a small step to lying down; to come into silence as one comes into a family inheritance; to forget the piano lessons and the Austrian; to forget the night of the fair; to forget pudding and holidays and car rides and the beach; to sit in your favorite chair, recalling the week by the book: Bleak House week, then Barchester Towers week, seven days with The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Middlemarch on the horizon; and then to repeatedly boil tea, to repeatedly make toast, to repeatedly prepare for work in the dark, to repeatedly wash dishes in a special way, to repeatedly talk to yourself as Orthodox Christians do when praying; or to string up Christmas cards, and pass your fingertips over raised letters; yes, to think always about Terrance, the rented punt, those leaves spinning in the October water; to have giggled and to recollect that, to have undressed at a certain time and written about it; to like the feeling of bells in sequence; to like Sunday morning more than Saturday night, and fog more than heather, and slow rain more than a deluge, a flood, the gutters overflowing and the banks collapsing; to know that reds, rose and blood and lipstick and ruby, may be held at arm’s length, painted, conjured with, but brown and gray are your daily bread; to know what is governable and what is not, what a doorknob is and what a mood, what meals are and the time of death, hemlines and the true limits of intercourse; and then, to like walking at odd hours, to like inclement weather more than fair, and flint gray more than green; to understand the meaning of on the track, on the track again, on the track, and bare ruined choirs, and shroud of talk; to cradle your purse like you would cradle a child, and also like a child might cradle an old toy, or the grief-stricken their arms; yes, to be swollen and then to be swallowed with no one watching.
Brian Johnson is the author of Self-Portrait, a chapbook; Torch Lake and Other Poems, a finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award, and Site Visits, a collaborative work with the German painter Burghard Müller-Dannhausen. He has taught creative writing at Brown, Yale, and Southern Connecticut State, where he is currently professor of English.
“One striking aspect of The Goldfinch is the simplicity, even austerity, of the composition.
Yes, the bird is chained –a detail which meant that, in other Dutch paintings,
they could be symbols of captive love.”
Alistair Sooke, BBC 2016
When Mom died the sunflowers climbed out of her eyes and into mine.
The bits of green earth that spackled her irises
softly sunk the flower’s roots into my muddy sockets.
Ever since, I sense more clearly the evolution of a thing,
particularly this morning, when I heard a bird call outside my window.
Expecting a visit from Mom—by way of a cardinal—I instead spotted a goldfinch
alighted on a coneflower, which at first reminded me of the callousness of Fabritius’s painting.
But this bird’s pale feet pogoed from coneflower to sunflower then onto a black-eyed Susan,
where it settled hungrily, became medieval with the crown and seeds,
picking and pecking and knocking them loose, so as they fell, they were lit by the sunrise--
a spray of sparks sowing the soil.
The goldfinch shifted, twitched its head to look at me and generously decided to linger.
Monica Kaiser is a poet and tree hugger, and the author of Still Sifting (1996, Mellen Poetry Press). She has just finished an MFA in creative writing from Kent State University and lives with her partner, their son, rabbits, and her dad.
The Night Before
Their bodies open. Black-bar
bones hold tight, try to hold in
skin let loose. Toes flex
in the tree-root earth.
Night falls into their fire
and smoke licks tongues,
nipples, creases, crevices.
Torsos chafe. Limbs buckle
together. Blush pink.
Jo Dixon is a poet, critic and academic living in Nottingham. She is lecturer in Creative Writing at De Montfort University Leicester. Her poems appear in a range of publications, including New Walk, The Interpreter's House, Furies (For Books’ Sake), In Transit (The Emma Press), South Bank Poetry and Places of Poetry: Mapping the Nation in Verse (Oneworld). Her debut poetry pamphlet, A Woman in the Queue, was published by Melos Press in 2016. Her first collection, Purl, is forthcoming from Shoestring Press in 2020. An article on Alice Oswald can be found at C21: Journal of 21st Century Writings: https://doi.org/10.16995/c21.588.
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