EMBROIDERED REPRESENTION OF THE BRAIN OF SHOSTAKOVICH
DURING ONE PARTICULAR TIME
close your eyes and count to...before the ceramic raven can fly under or around is more like it open your eyes skulls will emerge uninterested faces around the spires the raven with fly stiff-winged and faceless around the spires while bland skulls just stare or turn upside down the one with the universe’s smallest bodice can’t find its neck it stopped looking and what’s the point of a robot here or a two-headed fish trapped let them/it out let out out microfilm nearly lost famous close your eyes
step back 15 feet open your eyes and I would wager that the tribunes attempting no pretending meaninglessness will be the first things you see 5 skulls 3 atop tweaked out hay-bails perhaps behind these utterly approachable excuses for bouncers you might just neglect temptation that is a temptation to retreat you might lurch cork-like toward the arched center door find it is a scrim find yourself on the other side buttered stairs the real danger but no language not here anyway no language not a single one can instruct you on the proper negotiation of a greased stairwell robots with flesh biceps are keeping watch next to the diamonds drafted after being bamboozled into hearing and hearing “music about terror” but high above the clown gorilla inspired portrait with the pointed cap spins twizzles as freely in the vacant space that emerged from nothing any nothing they’re everywhere but that does not mean their theme is invasion that flared up immediately after and when the last number not the actual last number that would be ridiculous and take all afternoon the last number you stopped before repeating close your eyes
step back 15 feet open your eyes and tell me without speaking or tightening your needy shawl what you between remembering what you saw last time has quadrupled impossible not to see impossible to speak so what’s point especially after realizing with a shock that it’s all embroidery anyway just plain old embroidery trying at times to have you believe that they papered one sewn wall with sheet music but without enough notes to honor 600,000 dead Shostakovich wallpaper squeezing a fish into a highly decorated pot which is not a honied victory anyway done with that 1941 movement #1 thirty minutes long give or don’t eight horns six trombones two harps a piano three side drums and percussion instruments in every outskirt of the stage smugglers out of Russia Leningrad at last loudspeakers implanted in the ears of each enemy vapid meat until they could barely stand it Toscanini Toscanini Toscanini town’s people shouted waving flags of dittoed wallpaper Leningrad around the world until today and always Leningrad Cemetery half a million victims 900-day Siege of Leningrad try with futility to rest seven
John L. Stanizzi
John L. Stanizzi authored eleven collections - Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide/Ebb Tide, Chants, Four Bits, Sundowning, POND, and The Tree That Lights the Way Home. John's latest book, Feathers and Bones, with be out shortly. Published by Steve Cawte and his beautiful press in London, impspired, Feathers and Bones is a hybrid "call and response" book comprising "garlands"and "ghazals"in concert. Besides, of course, The Ekphrastic Review, he has also published in Prairie Schooner, American Life In Poetry, New York Quarterly, Tar River, Paterson Literary Review and many others. His translations appear widely in Italy. His nonfiction has appeared in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, after the pause, many others. A former New England Poet of the Year, John received a Fellowship in 2021 from Connecticut Office of the Arts and Cultural Diversity. He lives in Coventry, CT., with his wife, Carol. https://johnlstanizzi.com
Duplex for Adolf Wölfli Drawing
Colouring with pencils, he constructs his world:
seraphs, mothers and saints commune and sing
whilst devils, monsters and skulls gurn and hiss
lines of blue notes. He draws blank eyes, scrawls
lines of spidery notes. Eyes blank, he draws more:
peace doves coo at flocks of howling spectres,
love birds coo at howling flocks of orphans.
This holy place hushes his mind with pattern.
This holy place hushes and patterns his mind.
In his temple of crosses, no one can harm him.
In his temple of crosses, he can harm no one.
Are the innocents safe now he mark-makes?
Will he be saved now he has made his marks?
Colouring with pencils, he dreams his heaven.
Based in the United Kingdom, Dorothy Burrows enjoys writing poems, flash fiction and short plays. Her poetry has appeared in various journals including The Ekphrastic Review. She sometimes doodles flowers and faces.
red and green towers
words printed right round
marking the hours
hear cathedral sounds
Carole Mertz writes from Parma, OH. She has work forthcoming at Adanna Literary Journal. Sounds matter, but silence sometimes grips.
The blind composer Wilhelm Bischoff sat at the wooden console, his fingers feeling out the notches where he would place the note markers. Soon Anna Legrand, his lover, would arrive. Like him she was no longer in the first flush of youth and it took her more time these days to walk the steep streets of Band Hain from her home to his rented rooms above the apothecary's.
Anna was assisting Wilhelm by transcribing his work from his composing desk onto a musical score. She was the only one he trusted with the task. Waiting for her he kept working, his hands darting back and forth. As the melody played itself over and over in his mind his fingers would delve into the relevant compartment, picking up minims, crochets, sharp signs, flats – whatever the muse determined - to be placed on the correct part of the stave. This piece was to be an oratorio, commissioned by the choirmaster at the nearby cathedral.
Sometimes Anna had to wait for Wilhelm to reach a break point before she could carry out her transcription. She could read back the music and hum it in a mellow mezzo soprano so Wilhelm could get a sense of how it was translating to the page. They'd been working together harmoniously for three years.
Wilhelm recognised Anna's soft tread entering the room. “Hello Anna, my darling, I'm nearly ready for you. There's some hot chocolate if you'd like it. I've had a very productive morning.”
Anna dropped a light kiss on the top of his bald head, careful not to knock the smoked glasses he always wore. She sat in a nearby armchair and unpacked a small roll of canvas from her shoulder-bag. As usual, she'd use the waiting time for her own project. An accomplished seamstress, she was pleased with how the embroidery was developing, almost organically. For the last three months she'd not only captured the layout of the cathedral and environs but started incorporating the theme from Wilhelm's composition. Notes and choral verses appeared in delicate traceries, alongside figures looking a lot like their composer. They appeared all over – everywhere Wilhelm's music breathed she captured a figure of him.
Today, however, she saw her work in a new light. As it neared completion she could see it was no longer the cathedral picture she'd originally imagined. It had taken on its own personality. Now, stretching the fabric out flat to see the totality, rather than just the small segment she'd been focusing on, she was startled to realise that something else was emerging.
Was it just her imagination, or was there the outline of a face? The figure top left was one eye, the vertical teardrop shape, the other. An unmistakable nose with two strong nostrils, above an open smiling mouth. It had somehow become the offspring of the two of them.
Emily Tee spent her working life wrangling numbers. Now retired she has started writing poetry and flash fiction. She has had pieces published in The Ekphrastic Review challenges and in print with Dreich magazine, with others forthcoming with Dreich and elsewhere. She lives in England.
Fanciful and fastidious footwork
Loquacious if you listen and learn
Ornate and omnipotent over-the-top
Relics remembered reconstructed
Indigenous icons insidiously implanted
Decorative dancing-dervish doorways
Impeccable interlaced intricacies
Tumultuous theological trends
Yearning for year-round yoga
R. T. Sedgwick
R. T. Sedgwick is an award-winning poet in Del Mar, CA and the author of three full-length poetry books, all published by A Word with You Press. His poetry is published in numerous anthologies and he is a charter member in the Escondido Arts Partnerships yearly ekphrastic publication titled Summations which is a continuing publication for more than 15 years.
Eyes look through grandeur
Prolonging illusion of truth
To the discovering self-
Enter lives restoring them.
You cannot go
You cannot go anywhere-
The echoes rise from the flames of desire
Above archives of church hymns, mosque cries
And temple bells.
The night thickens, motionless-
Guilty of fading details and leaving the regrets.
In doubt or in faith, how do I pray then,
Into the ruin I see no longer or can tell-
How far it all was, how far.
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.
Skt. Wandanna Cathedral
Music presses against my ears
Then shoots out of my eyes
In crazed mandalas
Because it’s sent by little witches
And false prophets to confound me.
They all sneak around my head
And look, someone planted a skull there
Just to keep its skeletal eyes on me,
Because they envy me-
They patrol and incarcerate me.
See, they’ve stripped my flesh!
The soft pillow over my heart
Which a mother, long ago,
Stroked and loved.
Loved? Loved me?
Now I stare out from this haunted cathedral,
My head with its several skulls,
My eyes shooting out of windows
My arms pointy turrets
And where my heart used to be-
Where my mother used to croon-
Devils stomp and rattle.
Mass is at 10 every morning.
If you come, you will be eaten.
Notice the lady in a red dress and black boots?
See how she has been turned into the priest
In the bottom right corbel?
Come, if you can. Come if you dare.
Lucie is a retired librarian who is trying to write as much as possible and loves an ekphrastic challenge.
Like the mad prince
complaining of bad dreams
I found myself bound
stopped, held frozen
in this close asylum
tight and small as a nutshell
impossible to crack
facing the chain of days
of years lined up
like time in Limbo
of eventual redemption
My sentence of confinement
the pressure of time and gravity
that forces coal to diamond
hammers me out
like steel on an anvil
making me a blade
keen enough to pierce
the walls of my prison
and pull a new world
through the keyhole
I chisel with my pencil
on sheet after sheet\
of cheap newsprint
I raise cathedrals full of music
draw the rhythm of arches
and aspiring towers,
of walls and windows lined
with poetry and prophecy
moving like streams of song
around each step and cornice
naming me my new world’s
one consecrated Saint,
Author and King
of divine invention
free in the splendor
of my sublime designs
Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette C. Luzajic, The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, and recent issues of Earth’s Daughters and Third Wednesday. She has been a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee.
1. The other day I wrote down on paper with a pen
“I have started thinking at least.”
That was after a day or two when my Thalamus had finally allowed the flow of colors into the deserted colourless patterns of my cerebral cortex.
2. “And I find it really sad that you've given up on composing poetry.” he said.
“I can’t write anymore, not even prose,” I said for the millionth time, I think… “Something’s broken.” I finally said (out loud).
“Hmm… I will not probe further.”
3. Was it a coincidence that I stumbled upon Writer’s Block a couple of days later?
…If you are a victim of apathy, confess!
If it’s a break you need from yourself, don’t fabricate excuses or fashion fancy terminologies to conceal your deficiencies…
… If you are a Kafir and have no faith in prayers, leave the others out of your private matters. And do not go about insulting The House of Creation, The Thalamus, by uttering such blasphemy as “writer’s block!” … *
Once again, I started questioning myself; one of the whys that I had been asking myself for a good part of the last three years.
Until I gripped my slipping mind:
“You needed to learn that not everything that someone says is true for you, even if most of what they say is… That was why.”
“You needed the eye to see all those lessons that this book is pregnant with.” I said to myself as I made a note of adding Biblio Alpha of Prose Poems** to the list of the books that I had planned on dedicating some time to.
“What you seek comes to you, but you cannot beat time.” One final thought, before I stuffed the book in my bag and left for work… It was time.
4. Was it a coincidence that I found Do not Love Half Lovers only hours later?
…Do not accept half a solution
Do not believe half-truths
Do not dream half a dream
Do not fantasize about half hopes
Half a drink will not quench your thirst
Half a meal will not satiate your hunger
Half the way will get you no where
Half an idea will bear you no results
Your other half is not the one you love
It is you in another time yet in the same space
It is you when you are not…***
Thanks for your help. I hope you won’t mind that I do not agree with you entirely.
Solutions are to be found, not accepted/rejected.
One should not disgrace the truth by not believing the half of it that finds one.
Dreams are not to be dreamt. They are to be crafted instead. Sometimes from nothing, into something.
Half a drink will quench some of your thirst.
Half a meal will satiate some of your hunger.
Half the way will get you somewhere.”
5. “I needed to find my own colors to fill in the patterns in my brain, that I never got to fill myself. Maybe it is time to fill those patterns with colors that I find.”
I realize as I feel a feeble connection with my other half in that brief moment.
Maraam A. Pasha
*This is an excerpt from the poem 'Writer’s Block' by Saad Ali
**This is a publication by Saad Ali
*** This is an excerpt from the poem 'Do Not Love Half Lovers' by Kahlil Gibran
Maraam Pasha (b. 1999 C.E. in Lahore, Pakistan) has been raised in Rawalpindi & Islamabad, Pakistan. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Finance from the National University of Pakistan, Pakistan. She has worked as a Marketing & Communications Manager, at EDSA, UK & Mob Inspire, USA. She currently works as a Business Development Manager at a multinational company: DeafTawk. Maraam has been published in The Ekphrastic Review. She finds literature a way to connect with both herself, and others. Her other interests include: photography, painting, music, travelling, baking, and sculpting. She shares her artistic creations on her page: www.instagram.com/maraam_pasha.
Portrait of an Artist: Adolf Wolfli
In the dark halls
of a hospital
I discovered an outsider
and followed him home.
The artist lived alone
in a sparsely furnished room
with court-mandated locks.
He poured colour and insanity
onto sheets of newsprint;
the sounds of his world
touched the edges
of life and the paper.
A thirty year commitment
fed fantasies and isolation
fueled frenzied collages
of anger, music and birds.
In triumph, St Adolf
lifted a paper trumpet
to his mouth
and played his painting.
Lesley Rogers Hobbs
Lesley Rogers Hobbs is an Irish writer and poet. She loves popcorn, sunshine, Pink Floyd and the ocean. She currently lives in a van with her husband and dog and travels the US visiting their four kidlets and national parks.
No Answers, Only Incomprehension
The spiders are at peace
In the derelict, desolate cathedral of stone
Unloosing their filigreed artistry, filament upon filament
To feed on the embodied, talk to the disembodied
In the forsaken church, French-windowed, deep-pillared
Twisted with age, clenched with creepers, their blood-red buds
And hidden among quite miles of forests and mountains
Cold squares of glass freeze the sun and sky, veil its secrets within
The hollow gazes of skulls, clavicles, tibias, femurs
Mandibles, ribs, phalanges of hand and foot
Among happy lights of chalices, crucifixes, capes and candles
Sanctus bells, censurs and boats and thuribles
The decay past the sanctuary, nave, sacristy, altar, ambo
The presider’s chair, credence table, tabernacle and the ambry
Beneath wall panels of saints, mystics and priests
Rich with pieces of faith, headgear, necklaces, gold rings
Crows caw in skies of fluid blue
Agitate amongst knife-edged gusts of wind
When will humankind stop torturing faith?
With its loathing, killing acts of passion?
When will it learn to free its soul?
To a borderless oneness?
The steeple stands pointedly still
It has no answers, only incomprehension
Chitra Gopalakrishnan, a New Delhi-based journalist and a social development communications consultant, uses her ardour for writing, wing to wing, to break firewalls between fiction and poetry, narratology and psychoanalysis, marginalia and manuscript and treeism and capitalism. www.chitragopalakrishnan.com
I am the stave
where the faithful pray
in this universal time-scape
the organ scatters its quavers
that settle on tapestry drapes
stitched and rivered in veins
shards of glass shapes
cascade the masonry
a waterfall of tessellation
tumbling stoned architrave
rolling along the nave
like snippets of cellophane
kneel at my balustrade
read the lyric in my tracery
feel the comfort in each pane
I will translate
the meaning of colour-stain
a bouquet of celebration
Kate Young lives in England and has been passionate about poetry since childhood. Her poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, The Poetry Village, Words for the Wild, Poetry on the Lake, Alchemy Spoon, Dreich, The Poet and Fly on the Wall. She has had poems in two Scottish Writers Centre chapbooks. Her work has also featured in the anthologies Places of Poetry and Write Out Loud. Her pamphlet A Spark in the Darkness has been published by Hedgehog Press. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.
The City You Built Without Me Is Beautiful And I Hate It
The eyes have it, since way back. Yours are
the color of the sea. The walls of joist and socket
let me climb to the exact height of witness, but still
the doors are locked to me. Music is a way of seeing
for all creatures. There is a giant among us, between us
and sometimes he is lullabied to sleep and we are left with
the old ways to cherish and hold on to because
happiness is fleeting even as the cup is overflowing.
You marked me with your cobbled vision and after
that day I was never the same. I no longer needed a god.
That is to say, I’ve been trying to write this message
for a long time and everything gets in the way. I no longer seek
knowledge but a small opening. How do you start
telling someone you love them after a long drought of expression?
You have been walking it back for years now, back peddling
like a fiend, your perfect nose always to the grindstone, anything
to show proof that you reside somewhere outside my reach.
This tooth is your tooth. I made it, it was made for me and we both
have to chew with it. Decay is a devil and hard to spot
amongst the Italianate tiles and everything turned on its side,
the way memories come back to me of my mother’s favorite
chairs painstakingly carved and then ravaged by beetles.
Sass-back was never your style. Yes, Ma’am was more like it
and then I love you quietly fading into a draught-induced sleep.
It was the yelling that tore asunder everything we’d built. And
once a stone has crumbled you need a prayer to bring it back
and I was never willing. A spell was what I needed. Let’s sit and
talk a spell like we used to after I’d turned off the ignition
and the words wove around and through open windows,
reaching into Nature as we knew it, grass and leaves always
leading us to some body of water. That was where we shined.
And it was brightly. A star will rip itself open to let out light
when the burden becomes too heavy. Isn’t that the way of it?
Let me believe a little while longer. Sometimes I can see
there is heather to collect out past the city walls. The swans
will lead us there after they’ve finished off the rest of their flock.
Crystal Karlberg (she/her) is a Library Assistant at her local public library. She is also a speaker for Greater Boston PFLAG. Her work has appeared in oddball magazine; Nixes Mate; Rust + Moth; The Ekphrastic Review.
Cathedral streets worn smooth by pauper footsteps
shuffled at a snail’s pace to celebrate holy days,
observe royalty christenings, champion Templar Knights
(known only through legend) & 20th century cinema
when biblical epics reigned world box offices supreme.
Angel wings juxtaposed with grinning skills laud kenophobic
Wölfli’s horror vacui obsession: interlinking lines filled
white space with script, stone towers with excess windows,
moorish arch doorways with exotic carvings & three-dimensional
pinnacles with lines melted into heaven accompanied by music notes.
Walking over his cobblestones in dreams, I clutch boots in hand
marvel at relief sculptures & listen to brass clangors strike
ornate church bells as they swing out of sight—yet in close
proximity—to priests, nuns & cardinals who nurture deaf tollers
as they pull & peel away a lifetime amid a medieval ossuary.
Adolf Wölfli disturbs silent shadows within, producing songs
from experience, embracing brut style, pushing imagination,
sketching a Skt. Wandanna Cathedral in Band Hain doppelgänger
to hang on the breeze between church pew aisles, disturbing
hair shirt parishioners, successfully sharing violation’s scars.
An award-winning author, poet, and Evergreen Valley College English Professor, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared many literary magazines, journals, and anthologies including Danse Macabre, Ekphrastic Review, Trouvaille Review, Shot Glass Journal, and Sparks of Calliope. Warner’s collections of poetry include Rags and Feathers, Without Wheels, ShadowCat, Edges, Memento Mori, Serpent’s Tooth, and Flytraps (2022)—as well as Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories. Currently, Warner writes, hosts/participates in “virtual” poetry readings, and enjoys retirement in Washington.
A House, Restored
I am a dwelling of many
rooms, a dollhouse
cut in half, full of skulls.
I am a house, prepared
for a child; you see
me in every square
foot, gripping the ledge,
my past a tome
written on a stone
in depths, algae-grown,
quiet and heavy.
I set my guilt
outside, lay grace
like a doormat;
you see, this place
is not shame, but color
and sighs, bones
forgiven, built upon.
I am a house, repaired
by love; my son
a master key, cut in faith.
My temple of skeletons
Heather Brown Barrett
Heather Brown Barrett is a poet and member of Hampton Roads Writers. She lives in Virginia, mothering her young son and contemplating the meaning of life, the universe, and everything with her writer husband, Bradley Barrett. Her poetry has been published by The Ekphrastic Review, Yellow Arrow Journal, OyeDrum Magazine, AvantAppal(achia), Defenestration, Superpresent Magazine, Backwards Trajectory, and by SEZ Publishing. She has work forthcoming in Black Bough Poetry. Find her on Instagram @heatherbrownbarrett
Barbara Ponomareff lives in southern Ontario, Canada. By profession a child psychotherapist, she has been fortunate to be able to pursue her lifelong interest in literature, art and psychology since her retirement. The first of her two novellas, dealt with a possible life of the painter J.S.Chardin. Her short stories, memoirs and poetry have appeared in Descant, (EX)cite, Precipice and various other literary magazines and anthologies. She regularly contributes to The Ekphrastic Review and was delighted to win one of the recent flash story contests.