Pray For The Paintress
To feel the strength of his belief,
my head against his heart,
the dark walls of night
opening to a last
was to feel
how the universe
was altered by a storm surge,
time an unlimited translation
of what he had been to me --
flesh and flash --
bolting what had ever been an anonymous
doorway, lock and key and words,
roses I'd plucked from the garden
to go with the bread, and the wine
called blood --
what he would shed
when the heavens were ripped open
in premonition -- the sky falling!
paradise in storm and stigmata!
how the earth is scarred
by the nails
and thorns; yet his heartbeat
remains steady, and true,
as the doorway frames
the dinner, a lunette
as I painted
how I was dear to him
hidden in the background
of his passion, my paint brush
shaping the twelve --
Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, Simon; Judas who will
betray love with a kiss; 2 named
Judas, 2 Simon, and 2 James --
how church history
and explains why I must be hidden,
ghostly as the spirit of the moon,
mother, somehow, to 12 rising suns --
All for One! -- Pray for me!
as I do not follow
of instruction -- Do Not Sit Near
The Son of God! Do not imagine
it is you who fills his heart
on this last night in one world
before we cross
O my love, before the paint dries.
Laurie Newendorp is unsure of many things. Sometimes visionary, she has tried to explain the inexplicable in her recent book, When Dreams Were Poems, but the essence of love and spirituality -- their certainty -- can only be described as those who are in her heart. Nelli's painting beautifully describes comfort, as do Stanley Plumly's words about his birth, and his grandmother, in “After Whistler,” a poem that ends "...holding me small in her small arms, hers, in the calendar dark, my head against her heart."
Someday I Will Love John Milkereit
John, no need to worry.
A piece of bread is only
a piece of bread.
John, keep it if you want
or give one or two pieces to your guests
You do not have to count.
No fair share since betrayal is eating supper.
If you want to offer a gentle touch to Mary
wrapped in her red and olive cloth.
If you want to drink more wine,
just ask for more, no need to keep glasses full.
And no need to cut the roasted lamb
in the turquoise bowl. You have never
liked fava beans, so do not eat those.
Or the lettuce heads.
Be gentle on yourself looking holy
with a halo. A moon sliver awaits
your naked body behind these brown panels.
John, it’s the last night to dance.
So go, just laugh, and say
“I will. Yes, I will.”
John Milkereit is a mechanical engineer working in the oil & gas industry, who lives in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in various literary journals including The Ekphrastic Review, San Pedro River Review, and The Ocotillo Review. He completed a M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, WA in 2016. His most recent collection of poems, Drive the World in a Taxicab, was published by Lamar University Press. He is working on his next collection of poems.
Dear Sister Plautilla Nelli
from your conservator, Rossella Lari
“It’s not unusual for conservators to spend more hours
alone with a great work than the artist themselves.”
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith
“One will never get closer to an artist than
in the restoration studio.” — Rossella Lari, conservator
In the beginning, I stood in awe before neglect.
Your painting once rolled like a canvas rag
and stored in a drawer. A victim of floods,
of Napoleon’s dislike of religious art.
So much damage to your Jesus
and his disciples. Could I resurrect
the first Last Supper by a woman?
As the years passed, I began to see you--
self-taught painter woman nun—more clearly,
to learn how you worked, how you mentored
sister apprentices in the power
of strong brushstrokes and chiaroscuros.
You knew what you wanted, as surely as any
male master-artist of the 1600s.
For four years I have stood before your art.
The work has ended. For the painting--
a new beginning. I thank you for nourishing
me as Jesus nourished his followers.
I stand in awe of the veined hands, muscled arm,
Jesus’s eyelashes. In awe of your courage,
painting under the rule of Savonarola,
hellfire preacher of the ferocious,
burning eye, who approved of your tableaux,
how they saved women from the deadly sin of sloth.
Sandi Stromberg is thriving on challenges from The Ekphrastic Review. What better company during lockdown than poetry and art! She has poems accepted for the 2021 Texas Poetry Calendar, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, and loved contributing to formidable woman sanctuary’s Spring 2020 Renga issue, the editor’s aim to create “evolutionary-lit.”
I rest my head in your hands,
close my eyes and feel your shoulder
beneath my ear.
I remember the first time you held me
this way. I remember their fight:
something about a wandering eye, and the
dinner table conflagrated before our eyes.
The heat of our father’s breath, the shrill
of our mother’s tone, the soft pace of
your fingers across my back.
You took me to the stars, let us watch
the eruption of our home from the
distance of a lightyear.
Thank you for making me an astronaut,
for showing me how to float, eyes closed,
when forks and tablecloth felt heavier
than Earth itself.
As a teenager living in Los Angeles, I enjoy writing about the things that surround me, stimulate me, the events of my adolescence as well as the happenings of the world. I hope to share my experiences and perspective with others and inspire them to do the same.
2008 C.E.: The Last Supper at George’s
for George, Nick, Christiana and Shaohua
“How is the spaghetti? Is the beef missing something?” Surprisingly, this time, Christiana needed some reassurance. “We still should’ve made something special. But you, Big-Babies, were too impatient and needed something fast. So, Bon Appétit!” She lodges the case in her defence straight away, too.
“Here, Malaka! A hint of some olive oil should make it edible. It’s straight from my Olive Gardens in Crete,” teasing her, George passes me the unbranded and unlabelled glass bottle. “And eat some Feta; it’s homemade feta—my grandma’s special recipe. It’s good for you!” George’s hospitality had always been second to none.
“So, shall we?” Nick sends a quick glance my way for an approval. “Sure, Dr. Karf! What better way to compliment ‘The Last Supper’ than a fine tobacco, Stella and chess,” I reaffirmed.
3. The Next Morning
In the bus, en route to the Heathrow Airport to fly out of the UK for the last time, I couldn’t stop reminiscing and smiling: we treated ourselves—and deservingly so, too—by paying a visit—a homage, more like—to the grave of Karl Marx in London before saying the last goodbyes. And back in 2004 C.E., it was merely a romantic idea to return to Leicester to further our personal and academic causes by continuing onto the PhD programme. … Shaohua will be fine; she will be fine!
Ever so often, I leave this song, Yaarian (Friendship), by Vital Signs playing in the background:
To those, who leave friends behind,
Life must be awfully harsh.
 ‘Malaka’ implies a loser or an idiot. It’s a very common slang used by the Greeks, when having a casual conversation among friends. But outside of a casual friendly conversation(s), this slang can be very offensive, if said to a stranger.
 Vital Signs are an iconic music band from Pakistan, who revolutionized the Pop Music Scene in the South Asia in the 1980s.
 This is my literal translation of the lyrics by Vital Signs: “Yaaron ko, Jo bhe choar kay chalay jaatay hain, Unhain zindage rulati hogi.”
Saad Ali (b. 1980 C.E. in Okara, Pakistan) has been brought up in the UK and Pakistan. He holds a BSc and an MSc in Management from the University of Leicester, UK. He is an existential philosopher-poet. Ali has authored four books of poetry i.e. Ephemeral Echoes (AuthorHouse, 2018), Metamorphoses: Poetic Discourses (AuthorHouse, 2019), Ekphrases: Book One (AuthorHouse, 2020), and Prose Poems Βιβλίο Άλφα (AuthorHouse, 2020). By profession, he is a Lecturer, Consultant and Trainer/Mentor. Some of his influences include: Vyasa, Homer, Ovid, Attar, Rumi, Nietzsche, and Tagore. He is fond of the Persian, Chinese and Greek cuisines. He likes learning different languages, travelling by train and exploring cities on foot. To learn more about his work, please visit www.saadalipoetry.com.
The Last Supper by Sister Plautilla Nelli, OP
to the cloistered dominican sisters in lufkin, texas
as a child
she was left at the convent--
a family commodity
like so many others
but then as now
life was full of surprises
and she was certainly one . . .
donning her black and white lifestyle
whose cloistered walls sheltered sacred spaces
she canvased into color
her self-taught learning
then she taught women like herself
who would gift
this holy supper
to grace the nuns own meals
in the dining room
of their own hidden lives
Sister Lou Ella Hickman
Sister Lou Ella Hickman’s poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and journals as well as four anthologies. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53)
Praying Because of the Paintress
‘Nelli signed her paintings as "Pray for the Paintress" after her
name, confirming her role in spite of her gender’ - Wikipedia
the haloed saints turn to You
like sunflowers soaking in soft sun rays,
genome of devotion visible
along sinewy palms,
their mien ruffled like
flower petals caught in a storm
You coast through the Last Supper,
reveal the calculus of betrayal and
break bread with the traitor
snow shower of crumbs
meld into the crisp white table-cloth,
the scene safe and secure,
ferried along the route
of proper channel, from master to disciple
until it reaches the paintress
who leads me to the threshold of history
so close, I can hear nirvana breathe
through pores of the lit painting
wings of a silent prayer flutter on my lips
before take off
Preeth Ganapathy is a software engineer turned civil servant. She is an officer of Indian Revenue Service who hails from Coorg and currently resides in Bangalore, India. Writing has been her passion
since childhood. Her works have been published or are upcoming in Nymphs, The Short Humour Site, Red Wolf Journal and Spark (India) among other online magazines.
The Rectangular Table
Thoughts become things,
solid and immovable,
packed with the emotional weight
to contain the faithful,
to defend against heresy,
to prevent escape.
Who will name the mothers,
the daughters, the spirits
of the holy,
the sacred, earth?
What is outside this room
remains unheard, unseen,
the symbolic artifice of a vessel
that contains only the blood
of fathers and sons,
filled to the brim with the reigns
of kings and princes
who deny the dances, the wisdom,
of women, the circles
that follow the moon, the earth,
the seasons without end
Kerfe Roig is sheltering, writing, and making art in New York City. You can see more of her work on her blog https://kblog.blog/
it’s the fold of the tablecloth he
notices, resting his blurry head
against jesus’ shoulder, warm on
wine, warm by the hand cupping
his cheek like a mother’s would,
like his mother’s did. the tablecloth
is so even, and he can feel the lip
of one of the folds brushing against
his knee, and he takes one of his
hands, probably the left, and pinches
the cloth between his forefinger and
thumb and trails along the rough
hemmed edge, it is the nicest table
cloth he has ever seen, it is the nicest
fabric he has ever touched, and
jesus’ head droops to rest on his,
like a brother would, like a tired friend
would. but jesus is not the tired one,
and the steady wash of his words,
muffled and darkened by wine,
like when he would drowsily nod off
as a child listening to his grandmother
and grandfather talk the only room over,
candlelight whispering yellow and
blanket scratchy under his chin, just
like the itch of jesus’ beard, but that
is grazing his forehead, not his chin,
like his lord would- kindly, reassuringly,
pulling him to a more comfortable position
that he didn’t even know he wanted but
his lord did, and he closes his eyes as
one of the other men speak up. and the
night softens to his blood in his heart
and the tablecloth’s rough seam against
his fingertips and jesus’ words spilling
jesus leaves him there when he must
depart, unwoken, and so does everyone
else, just like when he was a child and
his older brothers would leave him behind
when they didn’t want to play with him,
and he blinks bleary buoyant a little still,
and he sits up and the tablecloth is uneven
now, the squares not as uniform, wrinkled and
twisted, and jesus’ shawl is draped over him,
smelling like him, like his mother’s scarf did
whenever she gave it to him when he was cold.
and that was the last time he saw jesus.
he didn’t realize it, though, because he was
pulling the shawl more tightly over him and
dropping his head back down onto the bench
and staring at the closely blurred lips of
the twisted folds of the tablecloth he remembers
admiring through the fog the night before.
Madeline McConnell: "There is nothing you need to know about me."
To Sister Nelli Regarding The Last Supper
How fitting work they resurrect
you so uniquely would perfect
as Passion that you dared embrace
as if the meal so commonplace
to holy women given art
to shield from sloth devoted heart
yet left to learn, each on her own,
by wit and grit the skill self-grown
to craft this moment much like those
depicted who from lives arose
as ordinary souls to be
the face of faith and destiny
by journey each would tread alone
together by example shown.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
The Ekphrastic Review
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