Dear Readers and Writers,
On occasion, someone asks a question about the prompt I chose. In this case, it was, "Why did you choose this particular painting of Christ and the adulteress? There are many artworks on this heartfelt scene from the New Testament, and this one is not as beautiful or evocative as many others."
Often with art, there is a story behind the story. Some of you know me and my ways by now and dove headlong into the past to look for it, coming up with poetry inspired by the strange destiny of this artwork and its artist. Some of you were more moved than others by the portrayal of the story on its face, and found your way in there.
We strive for an eclectic, diverse, interesting range of artworks to push your imagination and writing to new frontiers. My ulterior motive is, of course, is how writing about art opens the doors to art history wider than any classroom, and how art can inspire fresh content and perspective and keep our writing curious and alive.
Thank you for being part of this journey with me.
Call to Arms
So powerful, scary
That only the womb
Can grow new life.
So dangerous, deadly
Asphyxiating spineless men.
Subdued through ages
By protective patriarchs.
So exquisite, orgasmic
Arise, women, arise
Claim your place beside men
Share the power and pleasure
Of justice and equality.
Ann Maureen Rouhi
Ann Maureen Rouhi is Filipino by birth, Iranian by marriage, and American by choice. She is a reluctant writer but tries nevertheless because she has stories to tell.
The world sees me not as I am.
As a vision of learning and light.
I am judged by those in need of healing.
I am obscured by the vale of the darkened world.
Those that see through a glass darkly and not face to face.
May your holy teachings enlighten those obscured by ungodly thoughts.
We struggle here on earth as you guide us to the new world of light and love.
Give us faith Oh Lord to inhabit your teachings and not stray from the path of perfection.
As we bow and speak listen to our prayers and elevate out minds.
Allow us to rise above the bitterness of cruel judgment.
Sandy Rochelle is a widely published poet- actress and filmmaker. She narrated and produced the Documentary film, 'Artwatch,' about famed art historian James beck. She is the recipient of the Autism Society of America's Literary Achievement award- and hosted the television series On Our Own, winner of the President's Award. Her documentary film, Silent Journey is streaming on : http://www.cultureunplugged.com/storyteller/Sandy_Rochelle Publications include: Indelible, Dissident Voice, Poetic Sun, Black Poppy Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Potato Soup Journal, Impspired, Wild Word, Every Day Writer, Spillwords Press, Trouvaille Review, and others.
O you! Poor woman,
Why do you keep your mouth shut
O man! You Pharisee,
Why do you turn a blind eye
to your hidden sin?
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.
Clawing the rodent remnants,
A raven rests by her mate
Dead on a square-feet of wet land.
Storming rains are nearing the horizon
As I claim forgiveness.
Muted old and young in a fight to mend
Own soldiers turning traitors await their turn
For healers in medication.
No displays, no murmur, no confessions.
In a wheelchair the boy with his amputated leg
Brings stillness to the hall of patient care.
Bending hope like the marigold with a broken stem.
God's deeds are morphing into sins as I plead kindness,
For all, as I claim forgiveness.
Abha Das Sarma
An engineer and management consultant by profession, Abha Das Sarma enjoys writing the most. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com), her poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Sparks of Calliope, Trouvaille Review, here and elsewhere. Having spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, she currently lives in Bengaluru.
My constellations are missing some of their stars. I don’t know where they are or if I only imagined the invisible threads that tied them to each other, that connected me to the orbits of earth and moon, the distant voices I once carried. I try to follow them, keep moving, but I can’t decipher how it could be accomplished. Slowly I retreat into a shrinking certainty that faces only toward itself, myself, or what’s left of it.
There must be something remaining—still—of what was, once.
How did I fall so far when I never possessed wings? What kind of there is here, what kind of then is now, what kind of deity can I conjure to petition for mercy?
ripples on water
A resident of New York City, Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new. Follow her explorations on her blogs,https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/ (which she does with her friend Nina), and https://kblog.blog/, and see more of her work on her website http://kerferoig.com/
Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery
Pallid with shock, with shame,
heart bursting with bewildered loss,
she hangs her head
waiting for what she knows
of one stone…
of several more,
a rock, and then another score--
the agony of shattered bone,
the pain as of a broken man upon a cross
of one who seems to call to her, amazing her…
Forgive them, for they know not
what they do…
No rocks rain down.
Around her, women hold their breaths.
Those hard men scowl,
and one with whom she’d lain so hurriedly
has slid away into the crowd:
left her to face the rage,
He lifts a hand, the carpenter.
The hissing street is hushed.
Let him without a single sin
take up and cast
the first sharp stone.
trembles, cannot raise her face.
All men have gone:
save the carpenter in blue,
she is alone.
He raises her now with direct gaze
that burns away all fears:
takes her disgrace, her blame,
all tears, all burning shame.
See! He gives her back
the only things she ever owned:
her life, her given name.
Ballagher has travelled widely and lived for years in different countries, an experience that has seasoned her poetry, though she is also glad now to be writing and blogging at home in the UK again: https://lizzieballagherpoetry.wordpress.com/
Love It or List It
The windows of your eyes--
have declared me
Your chiding requires no billows;
it sparks freely in the flaming
fireplace that is your mouth.
*I, the adulterer,
am a property condemned,* you say,
*My living room
My bedroom offers no
So, I lock the door to my
and list it--
Keith Hoerner lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois, USA.
Faux Pas and Meegerenly Mistakes
There was an adulterous man
with woo-out-of-wedlock his plan.
Each maid that he’d plant
would soon find that she can’t
get away with it, like a man can.
The tale’s as unique as a weed:
nearly every man spreading his seed
in vast fields abundant
(quite often redundant)
regardless of vows or a creed.
But a painter who cheated a man
with a replica from a spray can
and was caught in this fix
needed defensive tricks
mixed and stirring to Goering and clan.
Although death was his possible fate,
he got one year by trial’s debate,
for the forger confessed
and proved he did his best
to make lies look like they were first-rate.
Do Meegerenly fakes now abound?
Are forgeries of his art found
in museums and gall’ries,
on subway walls, alleys,
or is he no longer renowned?
Ken Gosse uses simple language, traditional metre, rhyme, whimsy, and humour in much of his poetry. First published in The First Literary Review–East, November 2016, his poems are also in Academy of the Heart and Mind, Pure Slush, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Arizona for over twenty years, always with cats and dogs underfoot.
You know perfectly well that women must be covered.
You’re lucky it’s me. My friends will not let you
get away with a warning. Go home, put on your burka
like every decent woman in our godly country.
You have learned that men are tempted by woman,
and when men are tempted, they fall into sin.
You are the reason we may forfeit our eternal bliss
in paradise, temptress. Be gone. Stay home.
Have you no shame?
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). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fifth poetry collection, DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS, has just been snapped up by Kelsay Books for publication May/June 2022. Her website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/
Adulteress, I am shamed but not all blame is mine
Doesn’t my lover bear consequence, are they blind?
Under holy law, adultery is a sin yet somehow within
Lauded halls, secluded homes their sins are excluded from
Trial and judgment, deserved by many yet
Even though represent a multitude of guilty
Reserved for those chosen as example, we are
Eternally damned in love by a power above, unseen,
Serenely deciding the fate of us, whose mate may be cruel,
Subjecting wife to abuse, ruled by those excused as men
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is a poet and writer of topics such as bullying, animal abuse, nature and water. She loves prompts, especially art and her poems appear in journals including Misfit, Open Door, Sledgehammer and The Ekphrastic Review, among others; her full length works are available on Amazon. Dickson is active in the New Hampshire poetry community, past board member and coordinator of readings and workshops.
Christ our savior,
sees woman adulterous,
Lust and betrayal,
woman feeling remorseful,
saved by Christ the Lord.
Taken from husband,
for her impious affair,
atoning to Christ.
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher has been writing since 2010 and has had many micro-flash fiction stories published. In 2018 her book Shorts for the Short Story Enthusiasts, was published and The Importance of Being Short, in 2019. She currently resides on Long Island, New York with her husband Richard and dogs Lucy and Breanna.
Past This Line of Skin
You were a young
I loved and
A man, browsed my hand
and my husband left me
to the elements of stones
and ridges of rocks
But you, pulled me out
of the pit where the rocks
thrown, tore my skin.
And you told me
to follow you
to the depths
past this line
Shalom Galve Aranas
Shalom Galve Aranas has been published in The Prachya Review, Ponder Savant, Minnie's Diary, and elsewhere. She is a loving, single mother of two.
She is saved from death--
not from judgment;
left hand of stone on her shoulder,
up-right hand of superiority
in the insufferable air.
The bearded men remember
the Old Testament ways--
the woman and the man dying
for lying in another’s bed.
Man is saved! Her lover
roams the shadows of the city,
she on the fringe. Yellow is
drapes her. Dust and Christ’s feet
catch her eyes. The artist
never witnessed what he painted.
He testified (a forger) in oil--
portrayed the woman the sinner.
The men looked on.
Robert E. Ray
Robert E. Ray is a retired public servant. His poetry has been published by Rattle and in two poetry anthologies, High Shelf XXXV and A Poetry Garden. Robert lives in coastal Georgia.
Three Takes by Portly Bard
They Were, At Altar, Well, and Wall,...
He ministered by miracles,
and testament of parables,
by life He lived as He believed,
and moments in which He achieved
as man, not God, the justice done
of dignity beheld as won
where gift was measured by its means,
self-worth by kindness it convenes,
and sin not by self-righteous stone
but by commitment to atone
where only half a crime was tried
for egos to be satisfied.
They were, at altar, well, and wall,
the women hearing Gospel call.
To Han van Meegeren Regarding Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery
Ironic was your justice served
by crime your "victims" both deserved...
...first critic falsifying claim,
attributing a master's name
to work of artist he'd disdained
for mimicked skills ineptly feigned...
...then soldier spending spoils of war
as greed of wealth still wanting more
who traded art for forged acclaim,
self-image bought by artist name,
and strange mystique of missing lore
Though neither "victim" law accused
of actions by which they abused,
your will to act and serve your time
would open eyes to greater crime
and save as you so rightly said,
a trove if lost the world would dread.
The Meegeren Defense
At cost of one, I have retrieved
a trove of many you'd have grieved
had I not wrought, as fair in war,
the ruse such sacrifice was for.
Did I not dupe but devil's eye
convinced that pilfered wealth could buy
the work believed a master's soul
that by possession he'd control?
And have I not exposed to you
the folly of a critic's view
who selfishly would nurture fame
by foisting such unfounded claim?
It is not me you have to fear,
but how you choose what you endear
when what today you've seen and praised
is for its source tomorrow razed
and prompts the world to wonder why
and where, in truth, does beauty lie...
...If in the eyes that so behold,
how could it not in what they're told?
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.
Ekphrastic joy comes not from praise
for words but from returning gaze
far more aware of fortune art
becomes to eyes that fathom heart.
I Owe You a Piece of My Heart
Another foggy afternoon on the coast south of San Francisco. We were driving down the Great Highway toward Half Moon Bay, planning to eat lunch there, maybe go for a walk, turn around and drive back home. Strangely, there was hardly any traffic. The Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin: someone like that was on the radio.
We saw the girl at the same time; as I said “Stop!” you were already hitting the brake. She stood at the edge of the pavement, barefoot, a long, heavy sweater clutched tight around her, eyes darting like those of a startled deer. The car slid to a stop and as we jumped out two men came running over a sand dune. One of them yelled “Hey, bitch!” before they saw us and turned to run back the other direction.
I threw my arms around the girl, noticing she had a bloody scrape along her left cheekbone. You went after them, but they had a head start in the damp, shifting sand and they got away. I was so proud of you for going after them and so relieved you didn’t catch up to them.
While you were gone she told me what had happened. She’d been taking a walk along the beach, alone, and suddenly realized she’d gone farther than she intended, far from the families with children, beachcombers, birdwatchers, fishermen casting their lines out into the surf. Two young men came up from behind and started walking with her, one on each side. She felt uncomfortable, but they all kept walking and talking until they rounded a tall dune. The men grabbed her arms and dragged her into its shadow, into a hidden, cave-like spot where they threw her down, tore off her pants, and took turns raping her. She rubbed her eyes and apologized; she said the wind was making her cry.
When you came back I told you what had happened. Another car stopped to see if we needed help. You asked the driver to call the police and they arrived in a few minutes.
The two officers were solicitous at first. The girl was shivering so one of them offered her coffee from his thermos. But as the story came out, when the word rape came out, their expressions changed. They looked down at her bare legs and one of them sneered. It was subtle, gone as soon as he caught me looking at him, but it was definitely there.
The other policeman wrote down the descriptions we gave them. You and I had both gotten a good look at the men, and of course the girl had seen them much closer up. She told how one of them had horrible, rotten breath. “Did he really?” said the officer who had sneered. “Why does that matter?”
As she became more distraught both policemen seemed to lose interest, like the whole thing was a waste of their time. The one who seemed to be in charge, who had been taking notes, told us we could go, but you insisted he write down our names and contact information because we could serve as witnesses, and so he did.
Everything the girl said to them seemed to work against her: the fact that she’d been walking alone, was new to the city, didn’t have a job yet. The second officer leered openly now at her bare legs, speckled with goosebumps from the cold. He licked the corner of his mouth.
“What?” I said, leaning toward him. “Did you expect her to stop to put on her pants before she ran?” You held me back or I swear I would have hit him.
He started to move toward me but the other officer stepped between us. “You two can go now,” he told us again.
The girl was sobbing and I put my arm around her. “We’ll give her a ride home,” you said.
“No,” the first officer said. “She needs to come to the station to make a formal statement.” He took her arm and started for the police car. She looked back over her shoulder at us until he put his hand on her head to push her down as she got into the back seat.
We watched them drive away, then got in our own car and went back home. We never heard from any of them. Never.
The two men you chased were ordinary but not identical. I remembered their faces for a long time. One had called the other one Frank.
The girl had blue eyes and short blond hair that was messy and filled with sand. She wore a long brown sweater with sand grains caught in the stitches. She wanted to go back after her shoes but was afraid to, and she wouldn’t let us go either. Her name was Sally. She mattered.
Victoria Stefani lives, writes, and paints in Tucson, Arizona. Her work has appeared in the North American Review, Weaving the Terrain, The Poeming Pigeon, and elsewhere. A student of literature, folklore, and mythology, she has taught writing and literature at Humboldt State University and the University of Arizona.
“Pure and beautiful, but how will it end for each of us?” I say to Him and I feel the capital letter deeply, and I say it to myself, as I feel the faces that His body shields me from.
The hand across my shoulder radiates warmth, the upraised finger before me assures illumination, the voice embracing me conveys understanding of now and of the causes of now, the brutality of before, the now as inevitable result of before. And the Next, equally unavoidable, equally inescapable.
His next and mine. His Next will shake nations and reshape thought as Those before Him have done. Mine will do none of these things, but He tells me, mine is important, mine is the reason for His, my Next and other Next’s, like me, all vital, all reasons for Him.
I see terror in faces he shields me from, their terror at what He unleashes, and terror in what they themselves will unleash on His person.
And His hand on my shoulder radiates warmth and the Voice before me pronounces the words, the Word, there is no end to the Word. I am embraced.
Carl Damhesel lives in Tucson, Arizona, where he writes poems, prose and plays. He recently discovered The Ekphrastic Review and appreciates the opportunity to write in this new genre.
Winners And Losers
There’s always one.
to cast the first stone.
And the rest
of the pack will follow.
It makes no difference
who they follow
the game’s the same
and it will play out
the stones become a mountain
from which her blood flows like a river.
Then they will celebrate.
They’ve won again.
Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Vagabond Press, Gyroscope Review and So It Goes Journal. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com///www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/
"About suffering they were never wrong,
the Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position..."
W.H. Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts
"The knife there on the shelf --
it reeked of meaning, like a crucifix."
Elizabeth Bishop, Crusoe in England
If there had been a grave stone she would have put flowers
on a memory of the Magdalene -- white flowers, a gift of nature
growing in a field where wild grasses swayed in soil
softened by rain after a long and tortured drought,
the cracked earth revealing how the tender plants could reappear,
coming into the girl's hands, roots and all. Her father had not come
to take her picture at her First Communion; had never come
so had been a shadow in her dreams where the same old sun set in the sea;
in Sicily, she had read, they mined sea salt. The other girls
had had new dresses, white and crisp yet she was proud of hers,
second-hand and dingy before she hung it up outside, hand-
washed, bleached by sunlight to be presentable; for her
to be presentable, her red-toned hair mostly covered
by a white Merino scarf. She wondered who had worn it
(the scarf) as she knelt at the altar waiting to taste wine
the colour of grape juice; for the metallic lip of the cup
to touch her lips; for the Body of Christ, a sacramental wafer,
to dissolve, a kiss on her tongue... for the Body of Christ
to embrace her, His Spirit near enough that the forger, Meegeren,
could see they were alike as lovers a Jew and a girl -- eyes
closed in mutual prayer -- the way their peace and simple grace
defied the angry faces in the background of the painting
(Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery) two men judging
the woman's arrest like birds of prey circling a mountain
of human bones after the Holocaust. Edda Goring
loved and respected her father in the politically-correct way
daughters are supposed to love their fathers. (His art collection
was worth millions.) Called "Princess of The Third Reich,"
her father had taught her that evil is only an existential question,
and that sacrifice is an economic and social construct, a cross
to bear and rise above. Did he, Goring, identify himself with the power
attained by the religious figure in the Forger's picture, part of a race
whose strength and intelligence were a threat to the ascendance
of Der Fuhrer? Certainly women, even his daughter, were created
to fulfill the desires of men and Edda, like the Adultress
in her father's preferred painting was the sexual companion
of a married man a journalist documenting Der Fuhrer's diaries
even as the blood of millions -- Les Agneaux de Dieu --
coursing in war and nature would fill the cracks made by time
on the troubled earth; and on the girl's face,
Craquelure, lines of character
when the painting is authentic.
Laurie Newendorp lives and writes in Houston. Honoured many times by acceptance to the Ekphrastic Challenge, her recent book, When Dreams Were Poems, 2020, explores the relationships between art, life and poetry. An Episcopalian christened in The Church of the Good Shepherd, Austin, in 1945, she has given history tours of Christ Church Cathedral, its original structure built on one of the lots designated by the Allen Brothers for church and school when Sam Houston was President of The Republic of Texas. Han van Meegeren is controversial, a forger whose wealth was made possible by Hitler's reign: "He bought up homes of several departed Jewish families in Amsterdam and held lavish parties while much of the country was hungry." Yet the figures in his painting -- Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (1942) -- have unmarked faces, innocent of violence and guilt.
With each pseudo stroke, the artist
schemed his revenge upon the critics.
Undeterred, he knew not a better way
to pour slush all o’er the masters,
and to pull himself down from the cross.
the pointing, Platonic finger of the Messiah,
while his, he angrily raised at the art-emperors,
Brown hair, evocative eyes,
each crease on the blue robe-
an exact copy of Veneer’s.
her head covered in white,
The ones who had picked up stones
their hearts untraced.
Meegeren sat down for a while.
“Sin no more”, said Christ,
his left hand on her shoulder.
The painter raised his head.
Light and shadow competed
on the canvas.
He pulled down the curtains,
when the Nazi official
knocked at the door.
the woman and the Christ
would together drag him to the court,
he would be ‘sinning’ no more.
Nithya Mariam John
Nithya Mariam John is a poet and translator from Kerala, India. Apart from her three short collections of poems titled Ruminations and Reflections : A Pinch of Poetry & Perspectives, Bleats and Roars and Poetry Soup, her scribblings are housed in Indian Literature, The Alipore Post, Borderless, gulmohar quarterly, theravenquothpress, Hyderabad Literature Festival-Khabar, Muse India, The Samyuktha Poetry, Malayalam Literature Survey and is forthcoming in Usawa Literary Review and Sanglap. She loves books, music, indoor pothos, sweets and milk.)
Christ with the Woman Taken in Forgery
-Did you love him, my daughter?
-No, my Lord, I did not love him
-Yet you made love to him?
-Yes, my Lord, I made love to him
-With the love that is not love?
-Yes, my Lord, with the love that is not love.
-That is forgery, my daughter
-Yes, my Lord, it is forgery
And their eyes burned
as they thought upon their daughters and their wives
and their fingers itched
as their stones grew hot
-And you were not married to him?
-Yes, my Lord, I was not married to him
-Yet still, you made love to him?
-Yes, my Lord— with the love that is not love
-That is double forgery, my daughter
-Yes my Lord, that is double forgery
And Jesus turned to them
as their eyes burned
and said to them:
Let he who has never loved
--with the love that is not love--
throw the first stone
Mark C Watney
Mark C Watney is an immigrant from South Africa who teaches English at Sterling College in Kansas. As his brain ages, and his chess ratings drop, he is discovering a poetic sensibility he lacked as a younger man. Recent Publications: Acumen, Dappled Things (First place, Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction), The Ekphrastic Review, Saint Katherine Review, Front Porch Review, Presence, Cider Press Review, and others.
Obscure as a door held open
subtle as a tap on the shoulder
or explosive as a volcano,
it exhausts your resistance
demands earnest consideration
a moment to weigh, reflect
while the voice inside implores
Taste the taboo.
Not long ago
a priest remarked
People make too much of sex,
not pointing to any indiscretion
but in sympathizing
with a young curate
seized for a seductive transgression;
no one is impervious
not even those of the cloth.
On the Mount
Christ silenced his challengers
affirming we are all
vulnerable to enticement,
and would be wise to examine
our own lives before all else.
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, Writing in a Women’s Voice, The Writers' Magazine, Global Poemic, ONE ART: a journal of poetry, Agape Review, The Door is Ajar, Haiku Universe, Failed Haiku, and has won the monthly poetry challenge at wildamorris.blogspot.com.
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