Editor's note: The Ekphrastic Review is most grateful to our special guest editor John Di Leonardo, for sharing his art and choosing these pieces of writing. Many thanks to you, John!
the pulse and throb of spoke-spin,
thistledown caught in the jowls of air,
a wheatfield of rippled muscle on spine,
the skitter of arpeggios in F♯ major,
a finger-tip brush on ebony bone,
a crush of honeyed-oil on skin,
the shifting wings in a drift of bees,
the promise of seeds eating the sun,
a crocus opening, simply knowing
Kate Young lives in Kent and has been passionate about poetry since childhood. Over the last few years, she has had success with poems published in webzines in Britain and internationally. Her poems have appeared in the Places of Poetry anthology, Write Out Loud anthology and Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite published by Hedgehog Press. She is a regular reader of The Ekphrastic Review and her work has appeared in response to some of the challenges. Kate is now designing her website and collating a pamphlet. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.
The Line, The Curve
Stilled and moving—is it
exhaustion or despair you felt then in that second? Did I ask?
A moment caught, a pose extending into the infinite.
The line of your foot, the curve of your breast—forever fixed, frozen
in movement to the unknown, immortalized
in tessellated form. The tenderness of skin, the tenacity of will—your youth--
Merril D. Smith is a historian and poet. She writes from southern New Jersey. Her poetry and short fiction have been published recently in Black Bough Poetry, Nightingale and Sparrow, Twist in Time, and Anti-Heroin Chic.
Recharging the Resistance
A series of fractured selves,
(body doubles, echoes in parallel realms),
lean against each other— unclad bone-
weary women. Whelmed by the neon-
yellow glare, they hug themselves
in half, repel, repair from the assault
of all they’re allotted
to do, be, bear, contain.
Already, the thick pitch tar
inches up their legs, intent
to clamp them in place.
Karen L. George
Karen George is author of five chapbooks, and two poetry collections from Dos Madres Press: Swim Your Way Back (2014) and A Map and One Year (2018). Her work has appeared in Adirondack Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Salamander, South Dakota Review, Naugatuck River Review, and SWWIM. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters: http://readwritepoetry.blogspot.com/. Visit her website at: https://karenlgeorge.blogspot.com/.
The Stationary Bicycle Ride
I’m not sure if I’m doing this for me
...or for him
never considered myself a feminist
...yet am I?
Loss is gain, is it because he
hints svelte equals sensuous
...or am I taking charge?
Will these screaming muscles
succumb - become toned, defined
on my terms, my effort
...or is subservience in play?
I read a book years ago,
The Subservient Wife, it
touted, choose your battles
written by a woman
non-feminist, it appeared
Ergo: I ride this stationary bike
Jane Lang has had her work published in several on-line and print publications. In 2017, she sent her chap book, Eclectic Edge, to family and friends in lieu of Christmas cards. Jane was nominated and received Honorable Mention for the 2019 Pushcart Prize.
Thought We Dare Not Disavow
The shadow struck by what we know
will somehow always seem too low
where eyes we bury leave exposed
the burden, by our birth imposed,
of conscience turned to face the light
in which we are, to others, sight
disrobed by failure to conceal
the shame that we've been made to feel
by fear becoming blinding glare
of what is never really there,
yet colored as the searing heat
of moment from which we retreat
to haven dark of head we bow
and thought we dare not disavow.
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.
The Sleek, Supple Contour of the Breast
Riding to glory on the hounds of hell,
hell-bent on travelling light and pell-mell,
light as a light year would have you believe
but only the blink of an eye in time’s weave.
In a mellow yellow moment of bliss
the ballet shoes crash to the floor with a kiss
opening a door to the other side
where stale tears are the price of the ride.
The sleek, supple contour of the breast
holds high court while the body’s at rest.
The flesh and the tone of the upper thigh
cause even a cold heart to heave a sigh.
The clickity-clack of a rickety train
gathering speed at sixteenth and main
wakes me out of my sweet revery
and shakes my mind back to cruel reality.
Now the hounds of hell are falling asleep
in the dungeon of a dark castle keep.
The light years have flickered, finally burnt out
and the ballet shoes have stopped dancing about.
And all the while …
the sleek supple contour of the breast
holds high court while the body’s at rest.
Candice James, is a professional writer, poet, visual artist, musician, singer/songwriter and book reviewer for a variety of Publishing Houses. She completed her 2nd three year term as Poet Laureate of The City of New Westminster, BC CANADA in June 2016 and was appointed Poet Laureate Emerita in November 2016. She has authored sixteen print books of poetry with five different publishers: A Split In The Water, (Fiddlehead 1979) was the first and her 16th book is The Path of Loneliness (Inanna Publications 2020). Her poetry has been translated into Arabic, Italian, German, Bengali and Farsi. Her artwork has appeared in Duende Magazine and “Spotlight” Goddard College of Fine Arts, Vermont, USA and her poetry has appeared in and artwork (“Unmasked”) on the cover of Survision Magazine, Dublin, Ireland and her poetry and artwork have appeared in Wax Poetry Art Magazine Canada.
Another Night of Selling My Soul
Backstage I faltered. He’d wanted me.
Begged to get into my dressing room.
Pounded at the door.
Keen on his pound of flesh.
What part of my flesh, I wondered?
He’d paid for the strip,
but so had others.
Don’t do lap dance.
It’s enough to take your clothes off
in front of drunken imbeciles
who can think of nothing
My little girl back home...
Is she asleep? Will the strange babysitter
treat her well?
Heather couldn’t come.
I think she has a new lover.
Have learned to survive.
It’s this or waiting at tables.
This pays better.
My baby girl needs new shoes
and a school uniform.
I’ll be home before she wakes.
So very tired.
Rose Mary Boehm
Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). Her fourth poetry collection, THE RAIN GIRL, was published by Chaffinch Press at the end August 2020.
Dark / Light | Stillness / Dance
After assemblés and arabesques,
the woman welcomes rest,
the solitude of stillness, the warmth
of yellow. She has danced the fairy tales--
Sleeping Beauty, Odette and Odile,
Cinderella. At home in her body,
she lives only to be at the barre
or to sweep in from the wings.
Though the days she danced
with Balanchine are gone,
Coppélia and the Sugar Plum Fairy
pirouette in her veins.
Her arms—laid lightly before her--
will soon swan as she gracefully gathers
her still lissome body. Long legs, shapely
and muscled, left foot poised to leave
the drawing’s growing darkness
for one more jeté into the limelight.
Sandi Stromberg’s poem, “Joy’s Seven Degrees and Pocket Full of Stones,” appeared in the October issue of Visual Verse, and another ekphrastic poem appeared in November's Words & Art, a collaboration between artist-poet Mary Wemple and the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston (CAMH). Two other poems have been accepted for the winter issue of The Ocotillo Review. She is proud to have had one of her poems in The Ekphrastic Review nominated for 2020 Best of the Net.
The Art of Drowning
I have folded into my own aura
which is sour,
which has assumed the shade of gone days,
the celluloid-yellow of storm,
drifts of torn leaves, the jaundiced lick of them
on pavements, clogging gutters
Lines have blurred, my outline
Days pass in celluloid dream, images
remembered by their own shadows,
backlit and shifting.
I turn over and over, like coloured glass
to the sun, the thrill of that unexpected meeting,
the night air brilliant with tail lights,
reflections across wet pavements,
and your fingertips so cold, so cold,
as they rested for an instant
on my lips.
Now the dark creeps nearer,
black oil on the surface of a great sea,
and no one is here,
no one is here to watch me drown.
Jane Lovell is an award-winning poet whose work focuses on our relationship with the planet and its wildlife. She is Writer-in-Residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Her latest collection is the prize-winning God of Lost Ways (Indigo Dreams Press). Jane also writes for Dark Mountain, Photographers Against Wildlife Crime and Elementum Journal.
If I’m Being Honest
Naked is purest,
before yellow and black
find their way to canvas,
each wispy stroke
perfection telling its tale
of muscle and sinew,
while ripples surrounding her form
mimic the flow of limb
a touch of grace and movement in the still,
locks escape her ballet bun,
a heartwarming detail
of shared shortcoming.
Elaine Sorrentino is Communications Director at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, MA. Her work has been published in Minerva Rising, Willawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, The Writers' Magazine, Haiku Universe, Failed Haiku, and has won the monthly poetry challenge at wildamorris.blogspot.com.
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