Pelvis with Moon
At the crest of this girdle of bone
a moon like a luminous mask
of the dead. I wonder what the earth
has made of you: a story of scaffold
ditched fragment, new history of sand.
How much does the spirit weigh
within the sacrum’s basin? Was the life
of your pelvis as a bed, a cradle for sons,
or much later, this chipped hull in a desert
graveyard used as an object for art?
O’Keeffe saw through to a sky
so blue it seemed a carnivorous eye
to make of itself both the sea and reflection
of sea in a landscape of dust. Her vision:
bones more swan than decomposed
cattle. The stark plank of beauty:
Ilium. Pubis. Ischium. Coccyx.
The world beyond muscle
and utterance. Your mouth shut in all
of my dreams. The vision I want to bury:
your sunken chest, the treasure
I should not take from it. Here’s a story:
a woman was called to the desert,
pared down. Black. White. She relinquished the flesh
and blood of her New York lover to live
among the earth’s slow jaws. And it revealed--
or she began to see—the hard relics: mud, clay,
bone, her own permission to be a voice
of the unearthed mouth.
Sharon Fagan McDermott
Sharon Fagan McDermott is a poet, musician, and a teacher of literature at a private school in Pittsburgh, PA. Her most recent collection of poetry, Life Without Furniture, was published by Jacar Press in 2018. It wrestles with both finding a home and feeling at home in the world and seeking sanctuary in an often challenging life. A generous artist award from the Pittsburgh Foundation, as well as a grant from PA Council for the Arts, allowed Fagan McDermott to create and publish three additional chapbooks: Voluptuous, Alley Scatting (Parallel Press), and Bitter Acoustic, winner of the 2005 Jacar Press chapbook award, chosen by Betty Adcock.
clock, with pestle”
should’ve been the title
of this archipenko sculpture.
the precarious surgery
of dislocating bodies
like his own,
a russian in paris--
of foreign air on skin,
or of thin-boned foot
above foreign stone.
and he saw too
the blue-green patina of time,
mirroring it in his sculpture--
time as skin.
and what is worn.
in truth, the title was
a mild moniker
for the wild thing winding
through the colonic vats
of his casts and molds.
Stephanie Yue Duhem
Stephanie Yue Duhem is a 1.5 generation Chinese-American poet and educator. Her work appears in PANK, Glass, Lunch Ticket, and other journals. She was a winner of Red Wheelbarrow's 2018 contest, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye. She can be found online @nameandnoun or at www.sydpoetry.com.
On Being Married to Willem de Kooning
You left the figures faceless, Elaine,
then dared to title it Home.
Their arms disappear
into sepia and mustard,
earth’s most interior tones.
He taught you well, didn’t he,
shredding your still lifes
until you mastered each peony
and chair. If I roamed through
your West 21st St. loft,
I’d see your brush strokes wheeling,
the light of your city poured in.
Portraits are pictures girls make,
he said, horn blare and leaf dust
swirling. Tell me, Elaine,
how you claimed the air.
I’d see the floor cracking open,
your initials tight in a canvas corner
and the men you brought to life,
Cunningham, Katz, and O’Hara,
on their heels against the wall.
Tell me, Elaine, how everything
is made and unmade. Your hand
to the pigment quickened,
didn’t it, like a fish into current
or a species, radiant and
strange, thrashing against it.
Editor's note: This poem was inspired by the painting, Home, by Elaine de Kooning (USA) 1953. You can view the artwork here.
Sharon Pretti lives in San Francisco, California. Her work has appeared in journals including Spillway, Calyx, JAMA, Jet Fuel Review and is forthcoming in Schuylkill Valley Journal. She is also an award-winning haiku poet and a frequent contributor to haiku journals including Modern Haiku and Frogpond. She works as a medical social worker at a large county hospital where she also runs a poetry group for seniors and disabled adults.
Riven by Rumour
The Witches of Belvoir
Cunning women, they sooth agues and palsies,
ease painful birth with raspberry leaves and camomile,
meadowsweet and feverfew, lavender and
Then a sickness persists, a purge fails. A baby dies.
How can that be?
A cow sickens, crops are blasted.
How can that be?
A woman is barren, a neighbour miscarries.
How can that be?
Whispers, grudges, neighbours’ feuds festering,
a village riven by rumour. Elizabeth Hough, dead,
bewitched by Anne Baker, For giving her almes
of her second bread.
The Fairbairn child, dead of Plannett sickness.
John Patchett’s wife and new born babe death stricken.
Wicked practises, sorcerye.
Gossip takes on ingenious spite. Sprites are seen,
black imps, a fiend. Malice and vengeance,
old scores to be settled.
Malevolent taunts become malignant.
Hearsay, whispers, a curse uttered in anger, a gesture, insult.
See, Mistress Baker keeps poisons in those jars, potions of hemlock,
aconite, belladonna, stinking tisanes and steaming brews.
Her only defence is conjuring fear in her tormentors.
Children run, screaming, to their mothers.
Dogs are set on her.
There is talk of nail parings, blood, hair,
wool from a marriage bed, a stolen glove pricked,
dipped in water, rubbed on the belly of a cat.
The Earl of Rutland’s sons dead in their beds,
and my lady sickens. Wicked practises and sorcery.
They come for Joan Flower and her daughters.
Whipped through the streets, wrists twisted,
a rope through the mouth, bridled, manacled, shackled.
Look, the devil’s teat, a claw mark, see, an incubus.
Broken, they stand before Francis, Lord Willoughby,
Sir George Manners, Sir William Pelhorn, Sir Henry Hastings,
Samuel Fleming, and Divers others of His Majesty’s Justices
of the Peace.
No-one to speak for the women, their voices querulous one minute,
defiant bravura the next. Pinioned in a dank cell,
Silence is recalcitrance.
Unbiddable women must be constrained,
made an example of.
At Lincoln Gaol, Margaret and Phillipa Flower
appear before Sir Henry Hobbert, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas,
and Sir Edward Bromley, Baron of the Exchequer.
They are no match for their inquisitors’ tricksy sophistry,
the witty word fencing of slick tongued lawyers
at ease with the parlance of law
In a climate of witch fervour, a rabble baying for blood
there is the rack. Torture by water. Confessions.
A gibbet casts a long shadow, a legacy of fear.
Those fearing witchcraft carry an amulet, a charm, prophylactics,
bury Bellarmine bottles as counter magic.
Those fearing accusation lock their doors and keep their silence.
Author's note: "In 1619 three women from the Vale of Belvoir, on the Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire border were accused of witchcraft. Margaret and Phillipa Flower were hanged at Lincoln Castle. Their mother Joan died on her way to the trial. During their ‘examination’ the sisters revealed the names of other women who had aided them: Anne Baker; Joan Willimot, and Ellen Greene."
Words in italics are from the transcript of the trial.
Of London-Welsh origins, Sue Mackrell has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Loughborough University UK, and has taught in universities and FE colleges. She has worked on a range of Arts Council, Heritage England and Heritage Lottery funded projects writing about those in history whose stories have been hidden or suppressed. Her poetry has appeared regularly in Agenda -https://www.agendapoetry.co.uk/ as well as in a range of print and online publications.
Tying One On
It’s not just a tie, it needs to be a
statement, carefully composed,
like a piece of music, a piano trio,
a be-bop jazz group improvising
in a late night club where the
clientele are starting to move on
not knowing what they’re about
to miss, what these three will get
up to once everything is in its place
and they can start taking it all apart.
Where does he take it from here?
Where is there to go from halfway up
except to the top, and then what?
Down the ladder and back up again?
Sisyphean without the stone.
Perhaps the stone resides within,
self-generating motivation rather
than the random will of a bored deity.
Perhaps what he pushes is himself,
endless ascension into an empty sky.
The Orchard Ladder
Mountains crouch in the distance.
A wide-ranging orchard stretches
toward the foreground crowding
out any other feature of landscape.
The man in a dark suit, white hat,
stands facing away. His gaze appears
to be fixated on a tall three-legged
orchard ladder left open in the middle
of a field. If he climbed to the top, right
now, would the wind carry him away?
M.J. (Michael Joseph) Arcangelini, born 1952 in western Pennsylvania, has resided in northern California since 1979. He began writing poetry at 11. He has published in a lot of little magazines, online journals, & over a dozen anthologies. He is the author of five collections: With Fingers at the Tips of My Words, 2002 (Beautiful Dreamer Press), Room Enough, 2016, Waiting for the Wind to Rise, 2018, both from NightBallet Press, What the Night Keeps, 2019 (Stubborn Mule Press), and A Quiet Ghost, 2020 (Luchador Press.) In 2018 Arcangelini was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Jeffrey Braverman is a San Francisco-based visual storyteller. He began his career as a photo-journalist and he’s still capturing emotions, moments and struggles as he tries to interpret humanity through his own personal lens. Jeffrey’s work exposes people to unique ideas and concepts that can impact a different perspective on the world. You can view more of his work here: www.JeffreyBraverman.com
Kostaki's Harvest Woes
The soil here bleeds too
The land buries itself in your nails
It wants to teach you about the first people and their culture
But we don’t listen with our pellets and ‘Blood and Bone’
We bring the tools of toil for another soil with its stored memories
The shovel hurts the spirits who are the true keepers of the weather
The garlic is hollow, the zucchinis are small, the tomatoes won’t grow.
Each day you visit the garden like the migrant you are
You offer excuses of being fed propaganda before you arrived
The garden digs deep and yields food you won’t stomach
You take off your gloves and plant your fingers to feel the pain
White soap washes the dirt, minerals, the remnants of rock.
The red iron bark will grow stronger than your lemon tree
It will tower over your house and give you permission to stay.
Angela Costi is an Australian-based author of four poetry collections including Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007) and Lost in Mid-Verse (Owl Publishing, 2014). An award from the National Languages Board in 1995 enabled her to study Ancient Greek drama in Greece. She received funding from the Australia Council to work in Japan on an international collaboration involving her poetry.
Recent funding from City of Melbourne is enabling her to document parts of her current poetry manuscript titled: An Embroidery of Old Maps and New. She manages 'Angela Costi Poetics' - a FaceBook page dedicated to reflecting on the poetry writing process.
are the persimmon trees who
suspend their weary gems on fog
rooms closed to me ring
the blue-gray toll of all not on
they cut breaths then let each sounder
vanish, cast among their
shades as flint chips
up close, they fossilize
at each approach and clang. If fruit,
Isaiah Silvers was born in Washington, D.C. He now teaches English in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.
My fountain is dry, lost in the confines
of the empty hallways of my soul. Death
surrounds me: an old carpet, fading like
the green in a dead patch of grass. Ceiling,
walls, mantelpiece, chairs, all are covered
in dying moss.
Help me find my water, my precious muse.
Pull some life from with your magic thread,
the singing birds of light, of love, of peace.
Guide them through the window to the outside
world, the breeze moving the curtains out
of their way. Let them see your earthy skin touched
only by the green of your spring-leaf gown, and your
waist-long hair, lit by the fire of Apollo. Show me
the way back to the garden of unending words.
Mari-Carmen Marin 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 appeared in several places, including, Wordriver Literary Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Dash Literary Journal, Months to Years, The Awakening Review, Lucky Jefferson, San Fedele Press, Willowdown Books, The Comstock Review, The Green Light Literary Journal, and Mothers Always Write.
My Mother and Andy Warhol
She’s pointing out to me, so I’m aware,
There’s more to him than cans; for her, what makes
It art is in the thorough pains he takes
On soups now grown mysterious and rare.
They aren’t all the same; Scotch broth is there
Along with chicken noodle. A heart aches
For everything a change of taste forsakes,
But here they are, displayed with equal care.
In him she sees the terms of motherhood
And like a Green Stamp book he will create
The needs redeeming him will validate.
For Mom, what lies beyond is Hollywood:
However golden, Marilyn will fade,
But soup is soup, eternal, ready made.
Robert Donohue is a poet and playwright. His poetry has appeared in Better Than Starbucks, E-Verse Radio and Pendemic, to name a recent few. The Red Harlem Readers gave his verse play, In One Piece, (about Vincent Van Gogh) a staged reading in 2014. He lives and works on Long Island, NY.
I Have Coronavirus and So Do You
“If I get corona, I get corona.”
They say that truth passes through three stages:
First, it’s ridiculed. Second, it’s violently
opposed and reported false as fake news.
Third, accepted as self-evident and true.
They say that grief passes through five stages:
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression,
and acceptance—this poem is my acceptance
that I have coronavirus—this disease
is contagious—like spring breakers in denial,
ridiculing medical truth and the facts.
Stupidity is a viral disease too,
there are no stages, and no passing through,
but there are people passing—people dying too—
I have coronavirus and so do you.
Eamon O'Caoineachan is a poet, originally from Co. Donegal, Ireland, but living in Houston, Texas. His work is published in Prometheus Dreaming, The Ekphrastic Review, Vita Brevis Press and The University of St. Thomas's literary magazines, Thoroughfare and Laurels. He is the recipient of The Robert Lee Frost-Vince D’Amico Poetry Award and the Rev. Edward A. Lee Endowed Scholarship in English at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He is completing his MA in English and working on his first poetry collection.
The Ekphrastic Review
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