Dearest Readers and Writers,
Just a note to remind you how grateful we are for your words, your eyes, and your ears. Thank you for reading the poetry and stories of your peers. Thank you for taking a chance and sending in your words. Thank you for writing to the prompts we choose. In curating the challenges, it is always my hope that an artwork might open a doorway for you. Each time, I know that has happened because of the flood of entries we receive.
This is just to remind you that your work matters. We can only post a selection of entries here each time, but we are grateful for every entry and for every one of you. This ekphrastic family is a miracle.
Do the Math
T for trouble, ‘cuz nowadays
there is no Ike to like, add up
facts sitting out there, bird on
a wire, world on fire, blood
runs across days of death
soldiers, children – none safe
vacations on a lake, calm trees
no shield from danger, Chicago
blaze in ’58, angels unsaved
nuns prayed in vain, burned
habits repeat, tomorrow flip
calendar, shooting of the week
do the math, add up facts- anger
reigns like air raid, scramble
under desk, pulled knees up
to chest, smudged face, humanity
disgraced, from Dwight to nights
afraid, time turned sideways
days of death, escape to lake
swim away on waves, trust not
a red tide, time running crimson
weeps a praying mantis
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is a poet with a BPS in Behavioral Science, who writes creative non-fiction and poetry on topics of bullying, teen experience, animal rights, nature and environment. She advocates for captive elephants, rescues feral cats and loves kayaking on calm lakes. Dickson's poems appear in journals including Misfit, New Verse News, Open Door and The Ekphrastic Review.
"Touch the spindle, Aurora!"
The Sleeping Beauty, 1697
"Whatever gets you through the night,
It's all right, it's all right --
Out of the blue or out of sight...."
"Give me a lever long enough,
and a fulcrum on which to place it,
and I will move the world."
Unhooking the fish at dawn as the sun rose, golden, over the island,
images of nature were translated into the beginning of another canvas,
its surface illuminated in pieces like a collage created with coded messages --
or does art begin with a question? For example, why does the sepia portrait
of a man resemble Dwight David Eisenhower although it is probably
one of the artist's ancestors? A father-figure, perhaps or a general
in civilian clothes, home from the war in suit and tie for the business place,
in an office far distant from the primal world; from the golden bird
who flies from the tip of a paint brush to sit on a twig-like branch,
suspended over an illustration of 2 trees -- saplings growing side-by-side
from the roots of a pure white canvas the abstract essence of a cloud
made with house paint leftover from painting cabinets filled with clues:
how to reach the center of oneself by boat (a journey without an itinerary
following the new day into the next painting) through scenes where art soars
above the waters surrounding Captiva island.... Here, a fragment of the sky
is background for an ancient treasure map left in Florida by a Spanish king-pin,
Ponce de Leon, the life blood of history dripping on calendar pages
from the past, blurred and unreadable dates and numerals turned sideways
as in a dyslexic manuscript following a pathway of pictures; one
that resembles a praying mantis (the zoology of entomology)
an insect-size hope for victory as soldiers storm burning buildings,
igniting the future beneath a last, lost puzzle piece when the fish flops
at dawn, and Aurora, a captive of passion learns about life,
pricking her finger as she spins toward the fulcrum, a giant-size "T" --
a captive of dreams -- the morning light with traces of night --
axle or spindle attached to one wheel when everyone knows
it takes 2 to move.
Laurie Newendorp lives and writes in Houston. Honored multiple times by The Ekphrastic Review, her recent book, When Dreams Were Poems, 2020, searches for relationships in poetry and art. In 1998, she experienced a museum-wide exhibit of Robert Rauschenberg's paintings and sculpture displayed at The Menil, the MFAH and the CAMH. The diversity of his work, like a collage of the world waiting to be understood, is astonishing. In Fulcrum 1: No Primal Stroke, the artist "captures"
his own dyslexia with calendar pages turned sideways; and his personal experience in the military with sepia illustrations of soldiers and war. He acknowledges, with a bold and powerful "T," a fulcrum, the possible inflexibility of having one wheel -- an end-stop; or, as an artist grouped with the Dadaists and Pop Art, the "T" may be personal, Cy Twombly.
What Changes, What Stays
Outside, dusk is settling in. I start to pull the kitchen window shade down, but freeze at a sight. The blue light glowing through the backs of the butter-yellow ranuncula petals stops me. The flowers have altogether changed. They’re translating this gloaming into a gift. My camera can’t capture the light, can't capture it right. What name should I give them now?
This well-worn paper—aged in the sun and speckled with rain. I can still see the stains left by the drops. The way water becomes visible. The way water can stay.
If Bethany Rohde could spend her coffee break anywhere in the world, it would be in the imagined place she used to draw as a kid (and still does). She'd lean back against the smooth trunk of a shade tree surrounded by undulating, grassy hills and watch the sway and flow of the blades. Bethany's poetry and prose may be found in such places as Moms On Poetry, Emily D.Tea Traveler, Tweetspeak Poetry, T.S. Poetry Press' Every Day Poems, as well as in the e-book, Casual, published by T.S. Poetry Press, and in the anthology e-book, Starry, Starry Night, published by The Ekphrastic Review.
Like trees entwined branches once we were here,
no doubt our bond of love no one could tear.
Like a couple of male and female birds
with one eye and one wing in other words,
We needed to live together to fly,
our eternal vows nothing could untie.
We never thought our love would slip away
Like an old calendar faded away.
Toshiji Kawagoe, Ph.D. is a professor at Future University Hakodate. He lives in Hokkaido, Japan. His haiku was selected in the 21 Best Haiku of 2021 at the Society of Classical Poets and his poems in classical Chinese have been published in the anthologies of Chinese poetry. His academic works in economics are also published in many books and academic journals.
Note: a found poem based on erasing parts of the newspaper article “Stuff happens” by Adrian Searle in The Guardian, Tuesday 28 November 2006]
Emily Tee spent her working life wrangling numbers. Now retired she has recently started writing poetry. She has had some pieces published in Ekphrastic Review challenges and in print with Dreich magazine, with others forthcoming with Dreich and elsewhere. She lives in England.
On this day, a golden oriole sings
to greet the dawn. Numbers blur, blatantly.
Moments drip incandescently by.
Mercury in retrograde again,
some fool trying to kiss the sky.
This is how the days pass.
The love note of a discarded wrapper
serenades an empty street.
Moments drip into each other
like overturned paint cans.
Fragments of memories collage
past onto present.
A window frames the afternoon.
A glass overturned spills
unasked for light. For a moment,
everything is suffused in gold;
tomorrow, a welcome guest.
Today, an encore of regret.
Siobhan Mc Laughlin
Siobhan Mc Laughlin is a poet and creative writing facilitator from Co. Donegal in Ireland. Her poems have appeared previously in The Ekphrastic Review, The Honest Ulsterman, The Waxed Lemon, Drawn to the Light Press, The Poetry Village, Bealtaine magazine and other online journals. She recently featured on The Ekphrastic Review Podcast. Find her on Twitter: @siobhan347
I don’t know what you meant to say when you let the sun and sky bleed through the wall.
Or when you pinned up your mother’s tea towel printed with a calendar, never used to dry a dish.
And who’s the man smiling while a city burns?
On the inside of my childhood bedroom cupboard door were pictures of a naked model
and a beach and smiling long-haired boys. There were no snapshots of trees
and no red T’s and no black gashes, blood or creeping grey things.
I’m still looking in your cracks and corners for hidden codes. You’re still erasing all my smudges
looking for my pencil sketch.
Linda McQuarrie-Bowerman: "I am a developing Poet living and writing in the coastal village of Lake Tabourie, New South Wales, Australia. I have recently been published on Viewless Wings.com."
And a New Dream Gets Us Involved Further*
All the months pasted, fall standing on its head.
February and October smeared with barn-red as
if were winter and fall of slaughter, applewood
smoking bacon and ham to nourish another year.
December’s either torn away or whitewashed--
started typing “whitewatched,” maybe was right.
Freudian Sears-and-Roebuck cotton slip of words
not far removed from my great-grandmother’s,
ordered from a catalog proven solid as the Bible.
Christmas catalogue arrived later, sparkling lights
and bright ornaments in branches across its cover,
all Eisenhower- and Lionel-train-diorama festive.
Rauchenberg’s birds are plainer—in dun, concrete.
rust-and-linseed, tire-black—more to the point or
maybe wheel as it turned on fresh super-highways,
boxed in Detroit steel and a whiff of prosperity at
premium, thirteen-and-nine-tenths-cents a gallon.
The branches are paint, winter-black and simple,
where those birds hop. Windows of math tables;
pair of birches overlooking lake, clouds; firemen
scrambling, smoke billowing above a laundromat,
brick façade with its mouth spreading mid-scream.
Magenta capital T at the bottom-right. For truth?
For taken? For “That is the way it was on this day,”
Uncle Walter Cronkite’s sign-off? Was he related
to the Uncle Walt we saw on T.V. Sunday nights,
camped in the living room around his Wonderful
World of Mickey Mouse, Daniel Boone, Zorro--
whitewashed Americana? T as in train as it circled
its mountain at Sears, framed in a picture-window
house-big from Thanksgiving to New Year’s? And
is that T in the corner magenta? Or maybe its faded
carmine. Something like the bird over the calendar,
dripping. Time bleeds. Folks just don’t mention it
or name darker shades which could fill in that letter.
*Title taken from the poem “The Big Cloud” by John Ashbery, from his collection April Galleons.
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer whose work has appeared in MacQueen's Quinterly, Panoply, Synkroniciti and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published by Tebor Bach in 2021.
The Year We Went Without One Factum
We thought a lot of what we said. What we did with our coats. What stains wouldn’t come out in the wash. Those were the years. We were tired before we even awoke. And we awoke often. Fearing that we might not be able to do it much longer. Getting by on a song. Or a ghost always trying to make a name for itself. Far away from the camera. And the ears of the little ones. Those were the years. We put mustard on everything. The windows. The birds. The days that turned our lives into a joke of some kind. When one could live on a diet of aspirin. And pot roast. Or dreams we’d let sleep. Less they made too much out of the headlines. Those were the years. Every street had its own fire. Its own telephone. Even the pine trees would smell of fake pine. And all the rest was a number. Aspiring to be something cold and preoccupied with more numbers. Or even more of a bum steer. Something starting with “T” we could most likely resist. Turning into art. Or a case for never opening one’s mouth.
Poems from Mark DeCarteret’s manuscript The Year We Went Without have been taken by The American Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Guesthouse, Hole in the Head Review, Meat for Tea, Nixes Mate Review, Plume Literary Journal and Unbroken.
Painted by Time
Memories are washed out and faded
within the busy bustle from a barrage of days
that spray out in rapid fire
leaving the mind filled with holes
and shell-shocked into a monotonous daze.
Years begin to disappear before they even begin,
covered by the thick, primer of time.
But this is no painted masterpiece--
rather a suffocating glaze that dulls and destroys
the blooming creativity of the mind.
This calendar has seized to be
an open frame of opportunity
and is now a crippling chart of obligation.
It’s lathered with layers of responsibility,
to-dos, and absolutely void of rest and relaxation.
Justin Farley is a poet and author from Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been published in journals such as Calla Press, wrkwndr, and The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press. He has released three collections of poetry, all available on Amazon. Follow him on instagram @justinfarleypoet or visit his blog @ www.alongthebarrenroad.com
Caged by time, relentless month
After month, day after day
I cleave to my twig and sing.
Fond, long ago memories
Of those hot days in Lombardy,
The two trees by Lake Como,
Cracked olives littering the ground,
The sun captured in an orange square
Carried to my bar-less cage like a gift
To make me sing.
Does T stand for trespass?
Am I free, under the presidential gaze?
Above the burning buildings
All life aflame, in pieces, around me
As if we could glue this life together.
Lucie is a retired Librarian who is writing out and about in Oxfordshire.
I Want to Stand
with My Unvaccinated Lover
Give me a place to stand
and I will move the world.
When a launderette
smokes its billowing breath, I
think of December’s
grin and after cardinals
swoop to love the thin
branches of a birch duet,
we bundle with gloves,
our dreams and days astonished.
When they leave, they ink our minds.
Snow is now a mask.
I want to cover my face.
The red runs raw of
our daily news. Straight rungs on
a ladder will rescue us.
John Milkereit resides in Houston, Texas working as a mechanical engineer and has completed a M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the Rainier Writing Workshop. His work has appeared in various literary journals including Naugatuck River Review, Panoply, San Pedro River Review, and previous issues of The Ekphrastic Review. His next full-length collection of poems, A Comfortable Place with Fire, will be published by Lamar University Literary Press in 2023.
dadda, where are you?
smoke gets in your eyes
clogs the hunger in your soul
has locked its doors
no way to wash out
those charred reveries
blackened words roiling
filing the air
to the shape of your
torn and smouldering throat
head in the dryer
not sure what day it is
since father left
a factotum of manhood
on his knees
hiding behind trees
he walked beyond
the calendar’s confines
his cranium a colander
holding on to the outline
of words, meaning
in a forest
of torrefied sounds
papered terror shakes
the hand holding
his image, fading
into oblivion’s soft arms
come in, she says
let lines fall
like the scratched
feathers of a bird
and everything will be
shaped to a T
Simon Parker is a London based writer, performer and teacher. His work has been performed at the Lyric Hammersmith Studio, Hackney Empire Studio, The Place, Somerset House, Half Moon Theatre, Southbank Centre, the Totally Thames Festival, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Simon is an associate artist of Vocal Point Theatre, a theatre company dedicated to telling stories from those not often heard, and providing workshops for the marginalised. He runs creative writing and reading groups for the homeless, socially excluded and vulnerable.
Distant Mountain Ranges
Factions that once pieced together drifted like Pangea. Legend outmuscled reality in the retelling. “You know,” I started to speak up in the small group that was gathered but found myself momentarily stuttering, Dates and almost images poured like a tsunami through my mind. “You know,” I repeated for clarification, “He’d have loved that we all made it.”
I looked around the room for acknowledgement. The room wasn’t designed for a gathering of this sort. A sombre one, that is. His love of songbirds and distant mountain ranges pulsed in the forefront of my mind like a shot of electrolytes. The concept of their shared interests left me wondering what about mam?
She sat opposite me tucked closely to my youngest sister, Maude. The black clothing suited neither of them. Mam always dressed in bold colours: decisive ensembles of red or bottle green that left her company in awe of her style. Maude, meanwhile, was no stranger to the colour black but the respectful below-the-knee dress and the modest black heels combination was unrecognisable to her punky black days of old.
None of her piercings were on show that day, though she could do little to mask many of her tattoos. Dad had his own ones, of course, on account of his time in the service. His penchant for dressing in gentleman’s attire, though, ensured that they were rarely visible. You could almost forget that they were there until he surprised you one day.
“Do you think he’d be happy in the suit we chose for him?” I asked aloud as if my thought-to-speech function were unfiltered. I think I was just looking to fill the time with words.
“That was his favourite,” mam eventually confirmed. Her words were somehow a mere silhouette of her usual discourse.
“I remember him wearing that particular one down at the lake,” my brother Michael added. His voice sounded the most normal of those gathered. His love of fishing means that he often goes large amounts of time without speaking. You could tell that much as the words rolled right off his tongue as if he were unincumbered by the dryness of tongue or throat that befalls most of us when we spend time adjacent to reality like we did that day.
“That was my first time there,” I laughed. “My first time seeing you and dad out on the water,” my words dried as if the very mention of water had a reverse effect on my mouth.
“How long has it been since he left the paper?” my other sister Nancy spoke for what must have been her first time.
“Just short of two years,” mam replied.
“Four decades for two years,” Michael did the maths aloud and we all knew it was best not to comment.
“And the announcement in the paper?” I asked to move us along, even though I already knew the answer.
“All taken care of,” Nancy, the eldest, answered.
“Funny,” I laughed as if the punchline had been delivered though there was no joke in these circumstances. “Most people will probably see it online or hear about it by text with the way things are now anyway,” I commented into the communal bowl of the living room clock watching.
“Yes,” mam considered, taking a long time with her response. “But he’d have wanted it done that way,” she paused. “Your father.” We all nodded silently knowing that her words were true and that her speech was unfinished. Whether she’d go on to finish verbalising her thoughts though was something that we did not know.
“Good and proper. Just like he was,” she eventually concluded with a lilt that could rival the mellifluousness of a songbird in a distant mountain range.
Lee is a writer and poet whose work centres on the themes of relationships, social constructs, and culture. Lee is previously self-published in the creative nonfiction space and is now in the advanced stages of producing a debut novel, a standalone collection of short stories, and a collection of poems. Lee's progress can be followed on his Instagram @creativeleestorytelling
barely a few hours since you incinerated
ten months and three days of our lives
with striking efficiency
acumen reserved for days of abandon
obliterating those who drop anchor
close to the river’s edge
the place where the wounds are gaping
lesions of your own making
your refusal to heal
but the lacerations of days
nothing phantasmal in this pain
no chimera or supposition
it’s a bull’s eye
yet, you formulate still, in capital letters
ensuring that the implications are grasped
and that no change of heart will punch the clock
out of habit
not even a bid farewell
“Don’t join the book burners”
the final summons
nothing here to salvage
but for the sweet scent of paper
Dominique Elliott is a documentary filmmaker, poet, painter and professor. She holds an MFA in visual design from UMass, Dartmouth. Her work has been showcased internationally and her documentary Flying the Beam is included in the Eisenhower Presidential Library collection. Her poetry has been featured on the Apple podcast Words In The Air. She lives on a daylily farm in Georgia with her husband and their four cats.
There Is No Real in Reality
There is no real in reality.
Look at the evidence
Laid out so plainly,
Mapped in a collage of memory.
Time muddled in a crumpled calendar,
Days turned sideways.
[Once, a lady framed the page
From the free bank calendar
With the day
Her husband died,
As if to pull him back from the dead,
Bird flat pressed,
Like a wildflower stamped
Between the pages of a romance,
Perched on a twig,
While the shadow of an ant,
Crawls dangerously close to the smoke
Breathing from the building
And the men watching.
The T for two’s:
White birches twinned on the lake bank;
Duplicity of a faded white man.
Red and black—blood and ash--
Splattered across a collection of quadrangles
Pasted in apparent arrangement,
Juxtaposed in combination,
Surrounding a mystic motif centered
At the heart of such art.
A hoarding of things
[Depending on the definition of thing].
There is no real in reality.
Cynthia Dorfman has practiced ekphrastic writing for the past few years as a frequent participant in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery writing program. She has been a writer, editor, publications director and communications manager in the private and public sectors. Her creative work has appeared on line and in print with the most recent, a short story in The Library Love Letter.
Two miles every day. At 9am precisely, she will unbolt her side-gate unless there’s snow or ice or a downpour. In those conditions she circuits her kitchen table for an hour, listening to Radio 4. But today is a fine October morning; the breakfast dishes are stacked, the back door is locked, the key is safely in her jacket pocket, so she can escape by the side-gate.
As her semi-detached is tucked away at the right-hand corner of the cul-de-sac, she knows the route through the estate by heart. In fact, she could navigate its T shape with her eyes closed: the street is almost as it was when she and Alfred moved in back in 1958. Sadly, not many clipped privet hedges have survived and front gardens are fast disappearing. Young families don’t seem to have the time or the skill with a pair of shears. Tarmac is spreading because wheelie bins and four-wheel-drives need space; though she does miss the privet, the handkerchief lawns, the hydrangea bushes. Not that she’s complaining: there are still sparrows and goldfinches flocking from the street’s remaining sycamores to all those new-fangled feeders. So far, she hasn’t spotted any squirrels or rats sniffing around though she fears it is only a matter of time. But she won’t think about that. Today the sun is almost shining.
As she negotiates the pavement, avoiding potholes and wandering cats with bells, she greets passers-by. She’s no longer certain who her neighbours are but if she spies anybody about to drive off, she will speak. Her action normally elicits a wave. And the man whose name is on the tip of her tongue often has a word. She thinks he owned the haberdashers that burnt down. Or was he God when Alfred was the Devil in the am dram’s Mystery Play? The man has the same eyes as God, the same huge, fluffy beard, like a shop Santa. Today, this man, whoever he is, is cleaning his windows because of last night’s Saharan dust. She hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about, but she smiles. He squeezes water from a sponge all over his concrete slabs and asks her how she is. As usual, she tells him that she’s still breathing. He laughs a bit too loudly, as he always does, and says: ‘Enjoy your stroll!’
She waves politely and walks on a little awkwardly. Her left hip is being bothersome again and her stick isn’t much help, but she refuses to give in. Giving in is a slippery slope and she is made of sterner stuff than Alfred.
The rumble of the traffic reaches her before she meets the line of cars on the main road. She pauses by the traffic lights, waits for red, crosses carefully and turns towards the lake. But her hip won’t leave her alone this morning. She will ignore it. She will reach her bench.
Eventually, she does so and eases herself down with a wince and a sigh. She gulps in fresh air, gazes at a couple of swans gliding by serenely. It is a surprisingly comfortable bench. She didn’t believe it when her nephew explained that memorial benches weren’t usually made of wood these days. Recycled plastic it may be, but it is extremely comfortable. Alfred would have considered it cheap and nasty but he’s not the one who must sit on it.
She is the one still here, still waiting, still staring all day at the same old view.
Based in the United Kingdom, Dorothy Burrows enjoys writing flash fiction, short plays and poems. In the last couple of years, her work has been published in various online and print journals including The Ekphrastic Review. Once upon a time, she lived in a cul-de-sac.
The Factum Of The Matter Is
I see it as one chronicle of the
subconscious--personal messages 1957 taken
by a mad bop secretary
splotches of black dripping blood red-- swatches
of muddy orange-- inside/outside a yellow rectangle
a thin vertical green stalk
the red CAPITAL T stands out large
under Kruschev beside himself
--a pun (?)---two tall twin birches
photos of a fire-- tragedy
reduced to yellowed news
--paper-- most images doubles
doubled splashed white spaces
here and there---images floating in
free jazz time...I'm writing this
thinking--wow!! what a way to spend
the day by checking off each improv image
as my subliminal back burner brain
not hard to find a red T
or even a fire via the 24 hr news team
--my 12 month schedule
at my lap and twin trees just
out the window-- but where the
hell if you please do you find a picture of
Niki K in this day and age.
Daniel Brown lives in beautiful upstate New York where he writes each morning watching leaves come and go over pond water. He has most recently been published in Mono, Jerry Jazz Musician, Frog Pond and Chronogram.
7/1/2022 09:59:37 am
I am so pleased to see my poem Disparate published here in the Ekphrastic Review as part of the Robert Rauschenberg challenge. I have enjoyed reading all of the poems and can see I am in great company. Thank you!
7/5/2022 08:53:14 am
It's a beautiful poem, Linda. Keep writing!
7/5/2022 09:44:09 pm
Thank you Dominique! :)
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