soft and full as a swan’s breast,
illumines homely features
in graceful symmetry –
ivory beauty with reticent eyes, adrift,
and full, sealed lips.
Behind – her sister, eclipsed
by her honey-suckle aura, mutes a reprimand.
On the garden fountain
ledge, a child idly circles
his finger in water,
while her sister whispers -
Father would be furious –
but tell me, what was it like?
This poem was first published at The Cafe Review.
Polly Giantonio's poems and work have appeared in various journals, including an interview published in Poets & Writers. She has been a long-time student of Prem Rawat, Ambassador of Peace. Polly resides in rural Vermont, USA.
Creativity. Community. Conversation.
Join us for one of our Sunday Sessions online- we look at and discuss together a variety of artworks, with fun and thought provoking writing exercises to inspire your poetry and prose.
Our workshops are challenging and supportive. They are part art appreciation, part discussion, and include opportunities for brainstorming and writing.
Click here or on image above to sign up for upcoming Sunday Sessions, as well as a workshop on artist Joseph Cornell and another on the witch in art history.
“I have attended several workshops offered by The Ekphrastic Review. Each time, the experience has provided a positive and nurturing environment in which I can freely practice the art of ekphrastic writing with other talented writers from various locations and backgrounds. Lorette chooses a wide range of styles of art, and she is an excellent teacher, and offers great feedback. I always look forward to learning from her about the artists’ backgrounds as much as I do the writing process. These workshops really get my creative juices flowing!” Lisa Molina
except for one flooding
an upstairs chamber,
in the silence
you from slumber?
Shaken from deep repose,
did a child toddle in
has a page-turner
to loosen its grasp,
or, unable to wind down
heighten your insomnia─
as a dripping faucet;
is the consequence
of late-night caffeine,
or did you simply drift
into a landscape of dreams
before extinguishing the lamp?
Elaine Sorrentino, Communications Director at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, MA, has been published in Minerva Rising, Willawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Ekphrastic Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, Global Poemic, ONE ART: a journal of poetry, The Door is a Jar, Agape Review, Haiku Universe, Sparks of Calliope, Muddy River Poetry Review, Library Love Letter, Etched Onyx Magazine, and at wildamorris.blogspot.com. She was recently featured on a poetry podcast at Onyx Publications, and has a co-authored book The Girl Scout and the Hitchhiker coming out next year.
Water, Earth, Air: the Art of Peter Angel
I. The dangers of buoyancy
You placed yourself
beneath its pectoral fin,
your small silhouette
this vast kite of the sea.
The largest living fish, too big
for any aquarium
except one carved
of liquid curiosity.
We suspend it
between the windows, stand
hand in hand –
travellers on the lip
of a foreign land.
You toss facts at me:
bigger than a bus, on earth
for 60 million years,
victim of the shark fin trade.
I half-listen, tugged
by ultramarine suck
sings my limbs to rest, inflates
my heart into
a crimson orchid
sought by trophy hunters
of the darkening blue
as, one by one,
the great fish’s painted stars
II. An alien encounter
The aliens land in the park. They advance in squadron formation, confident about their disguise. Satiny plumage – most convincing. Pink web-feet, green neck-frilling. Earth-pigeons aren’t five feet high, but that’s a detail. Anyway, everyone’s oblivious. The bi-gendered pair on the bench play hide-and-seek with their mouths. A she-human propels a clunky receptacle, shown by their infrared sensors to contain a neonate. A canine overlord drags two human slaves. They’ve read about all this in the files, of course.
The he-creature in the center of the scene has them puzzled. He bends, smiling, before a metal vessel. His elongated arm incites water to bubble forth. This, they agree, warrants investigation.
Something else is off-kilter.
They’re too happy, the white pigeon observes.
Too peaceful, the light gray one agrees.
The lack of violence and despair is strongly anomalous, the dark gray one chimes.
As they confer, a hand presses them to the green and yellow grass. The glue on their unpainted undersides begins to stick. Is this how they’ll end their mission - in some earthling’s collage?
They stare, glassily, at an ibis’s jaunty rump. Like them, it’s a cut-out.
Goodness knows how they failed to notice the giant magpie. It’s been eavesdropping all along.
You’re forgetting about art. The movement embracing the untutored authenticity of youth. Na-
The glue, drying suddenly, clamps the unfinished word to its oversized beak.
Love letter to an airborne artist
You leap into painted air,
having cast off
everything but essence.
even your shadow
You recreate yourself
in a few quick strokes,
a headless army
its burnt umber fate.
Their poisoned sobs
will never catch you,
on your current
of boundless trust.
Faye Brinsmead's flash fiction and poetry appear in journals including The Ekphrastic Review, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, MoonPark Review, New Flash Fiction Review and Twin Pies Literary. One of her pieces was selected for inclusion in Best Microfiction 2021; another was nominated for a Pushcart. She lives in Canberra, Australia, and tweets @ContesdeFaye.
dinner and drinks at the event horizon
I sat across the table, leaning in towards him,
staring into his eyes.
Enraptured, I felt myself sinking into them
two dark, lustrous pools
and I imagined I could be happily lost in them forever.
I leaned back a bit, seeking more comfort,
and when I turned to him again
with just a bit of distance
it seemed as though the iridescent shadows were
no longer just in his dazzling eyes.
They seemed indeed to spill out from them,
the darkness still dazzling but now
slowly advancing across the table
like an encroaching mist.
Startled and shaken,
I rose to my feet and took a step back.
And only then did I see him for what he was
for what he would be.
Those dark lustrous pools that had so enchanted me
were the heart of a black hole,
an endlessly hungry void that would steal my light,
and if I stayed, it would swallow me
I drew back from the precipice and fled from the event horizon.
I never looked back.
If only all dangerous men came with such clear warning signs.
Megan Dobson is a teacher, a poet, and an unrepentantly queer hufflepunk making a home with her family on indigenous Tonkawan land in Austin, Texas. She has been published in the Poetry Marathon Anthologies for 2019, 2020, and 2021 and featured in Off Topic Publishing’s Poetry Box subscription. Pretty words are her jam.
st. josephine bakhita sculpture displayed at the vatican
in honour of new life ministries
corpus christi, texas
she opens a trap door
the dam broken
spills out its sludge of the invisible
a bronze surge of agony
how long will you stop and look
Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.
Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse news as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at Y92 in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”
Editor's note: Canadian Catholic artist Timothy Schmalz's sculpture was installed in St. Peter's Square on February 6 of this year. It celebrates Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman who was kidnapped and enslaved as a young girl in the 1870s. Her older sister had already been enslaved two years before her abduction. She was forced to walk barefoot 600 miles, sold numerous times, and covered in ritual scarification. She was whipped or wounded every day of her captivity. She did not remember her own name, so she kept the Arabic name her enslavers gave her, which means "lucky." Josephine found Christ and refuge in an Italian convent with the Canossian sisters. "Those holy mothers instructed me with heroic patience and introduced me to that God who from childhood I had felt in my heart without knowing who He was." She became a nun and helped prepare sisters who were going to perform charity and mission work in Africa. She was canonised in 2000, the first modern Black saint. St. Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of the Sudan and the patron saint of human trafficking survivors. Her feast day is February 8.
This week’s Throwback Thursday offers poems and short fiction inspired by beloved paintings you’re sure to recognize but will feel as though you’re seeing with new eyes. The archival selections also include photos and art you might not have seen before and will love experiencing through words.
Two Students Looking at a Postcard of a Painting by Gustav Klimt While Listening to Gavin Walker Play Jazz at the Classical Joint Coffee House, Vancouver, BC, by Tom Wayman
Multiple threads in this lovely piece inspired by a Gustav Klimt’s The Lady in Gold.
Living With What I Cannot Find, by David B. Prather
From Mary Cassatt’s Red Poppies: “Maybe the tall grass behind me says what I want to hear, tells me a day like this is all I need.”
Tessellations, by Marian Christie
An M.C. Escher-inspired poem: “as cream curdles in a snarl of salamanders fluorescent on the walls”
The Red Monk, by D.D. Renforth
The Kalaish Temple, the Ellora Caves of India inspires this fictional piece: “’Is your real as real as mine?’ the red monk asked Rachel as he laughed.”
Albrecht Dürer and Albrecht Altdorfer: A Genealogy, by Adam Pollak
“One Albrecht was raised by a metal-man, a gold-father named Albrecht.”
Dialogue in Green, by Irene Willis
I love this painting, Dialogue in Green, by Will Barnet, the poem, a tribute to the painter: “as if the energy in her hand lighted the eyes and the cat knew how they held each other in silence”
Reflection on a Portrait, by Lee Nash
A black and white photograph led to this poem: “Yet I know that something open begs us to go through…”
Notes on the Painting, Gas, by Edward Hopper, by Mark Trechock
With Gas by Edward Hopper, this poem takes us down the road to a time long ago at a Mobil station in a way that feels like today: “A red winged horse flies like a flag above the scene but cannot move”
There are more than seven years worth of writing at The Ekphrastic Review. With daily or more posts of poetry, fiction, and prose for most of that history, we have a wealth of talent to show off. We encourage readers to explore our archives by month and year in the sidebar. Click on a random selection and read through our history.
Our occasional Throwback Thursday feature highlights writing from our past, chosen on purpose or chosen randomly. We are grateful that moving forward, Marjorie Robertson wants to share some favourites with us on a regular basis, monthly. With her help, you'll get the chance to discover past contributors, work you missed, or responses to older ekphrastic challenges.
Would you like to be a guest editor for a Throwback Thursday? Pick 10 or so favourite or random posts from the archives of The Ekphrastic Review. Use the format you see above: title, name of author, a sentence or two about your choice, or a pull quote line from the poem and story, and the link. Include a bio and if you wish, a note to readers about the Review, your relationship to the journal, ekphrastic writing in general, or any other relevant subject.
Put THROWBACK THURSDAYS in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's have some fun with this- along with your picks, send a vintage photo of yourself too!
When you arrive at the summit there’s no place left. You forget there are cities like Istanbul which have parks full of young boys on circumcision day dressed as sultans in gold Elvis rhinestones, laughing with each other amid the scraggly pines, while their families picnic in neck ties and makeup before the sun sets a painful orange, as if the minarets were backlit by a great incandescent koi who swam into the crepuscule from a pond so deep and still history no longer matters.
Richard-Yves Sitoski (he/him) is a songwriter, performance poet, visual artist, and the 2019-2023 Poet Laureate of Owen Sound, on the territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Fire, Train, The Fiddlehead, Bywords.ca, and elsewhere. He has given performances in industrial ruins, has read poems to earth worms, and has written verse on snow with biodegradable dye. His latest book is No Sleep ‘til Eden, an augmented reality multimedia collection of poems on the environment.
The future holds secrets she wants to uncover
as eagerly as she removes her hooded cloak
from over her shoulders, her blemishless skin
a soft-hued marble slab in a museum. Youth
makes her heart thirsty, a thirst only a fortune
teller may quench with the help of cards. With lines
plowing her coarsened face, the old swindler seems
to hold the key to the mystery of what is not but it will
be. She hides behind her black hood and holds on tight
to her black cat, as if darkness could help light
come alive. Outside, the blue sky wears pink ribbons,
its nightgown’s flirty frills. Don’t you see?
It screams for all to hear. The future you hope to discover
stands here, in front of you. Anything else is a thief.
Mari-Carmen Marín was born in Málaga, Spain, but moved to Houston, TX, in 2003, where she has found her second home. She is a professor of English at Lone Star College—Tomball, and enjoys dancing, drawing, reading, and writing poetry in her spare time. Writing poetry is her comfy chair in front of a fireplace on a stormy winter day. Her work has been widely published in numerous journals. Her poetry book, Swimming, Not Drowning, was published by Legacy Book Press in 2021. Her author website is www.maricarmenmarinauthor.com
Son of (Wo)Man
The wall is not so high for you. You keep the fruit for yourself even though all the Eve’s in your life suffered for picking the apple. You claim it as your own so often it becomes your visage. Your suit and hat wrap your body in importance. Even when hidden you are visible. You are heard. You come to the world backhanded and escape unscathed. There is no limit for you on the horizon. The water is all around, but you won’t get wet. All the wars, the battles, the fights, all fought for you, but you stand tall oblivious to the bloodshed. A man who ignores the tree, the roots, the love that brought you the fruit of knowledge. Your eyes flash charm behind your apple pie face. Divine hubris and human, son of man, indeed.
Nancy Geibe Wasson
Nancy Geibe Wasson’s flash fiction work has appeared in A Story in 100 Words, The Drabble, Flash Flood and Café Lit. She is a member of WFWA and AWP. Nancy lives with her family in Northwest Arkansas.
The Ekphrastic Review
Find a writer, artist, or poem, etc. by searching here: