Dear Writers, Dear Readers,
This challenge was absolutely brutal on this end. We received an avalanche of entries. Choosing a selection was a terrible task. I always aim to include as many as possible for these challenges, and still lose sleep over what I leave out. Our whole purpose at The Ekphrastic Review is to give space to your words and share diverse ekphrases that come from art. Our challenge section is about showing all the different ideas that one painting or artwork can generate in a variety of writers. And we do that, but choosing is still tough. This time, it was really tough. We had an outpouring of responses.
We choose a variety of artworks for these prompts, always curated to provoke your curiosity and set you on a discovery pathway. We aim to tip your writing into unexpected directions and open surprising new doors to art. Once in awhile, we pick one of the “big” paintings of art’s history- The Starry Night, Nighthawks, and now, The Persistence of Memory. These are paintings that have had a major impact on countless people. If much has been said about them, there is still much more they can and will inspire. Dali and his work are fascinating, and this painting resonates in intriguing ways, far and wide, with writers in a unique space to give words to the themes suggested, to philosophize and analyze and dissect.
We love seeing entries from new writers and new to us writers. We also love giving a platform to long-time contributors who give so much to this community. I left out so many wonderful entries by favourite regulars and had to make difficult decisions between many new voices. I say this every now and again to remind you: know that your words matter to us. We can’t run even a fraction of submissions we receive even though we publish daily, plus two monthly challenge showcases that are brimming over. Know that we love how inspired you are, the heart you bare, the lantern that you are, illuminating art and our tough world.
I hope you enjoy the works selected for Dali’s melting clock painting.
Until next time, love, Lorette
Persistence of Memory
Artist and poet, currently based in Atlanta. More info here: lenazycinsky.com
That tick-tock your heart, your head, that aren’t as dead as you thought. One of those moments, a first date, perhaps, is draped on the branch of a tree. There you are fifteen again with nothing but hope and hairspray, and your wrong-boy date is reaching for you in the movie dark. A thought-flicker lights up your face like screen-flicker, and you know you shouldn’t, but you kiss him anyway. In another old moment, you marry a different wrong boy and that moment is slung like a saddle across the back of a dead, dismembered horse, a horse that gives up wanting you to go somewhere, do something, only you never do. And when your husband leaves you, your heart dries up and flakes into bits, and all your old moments have you wandering a desert, dark sand and cragged hills way off in the distance and you somehow know that on top of those hills are beautiful moments scrubbed free of remember, remember, and so you belly-crawl yourself, dragging your body by the elbows, and you are almost there, and that’s when you see it out of the corner of your eye, another chance at bad romance, and you think this is a new moment and why bother crawling anymore, and wrong love distracts you and you do forget, for a second, for a minute, for an hour, and there with the desert sun parching your mouth, scabbing your lips, you turn away from that hill, happy and even peaceful with the thought of how new and different this moment will be until you get a mouthful of sand, and they all come back, a heartful of old moments filling up inside you, ticking and tocking and ticking again.
Francine Witte’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, and Passages North. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press,) The Way of the Wind (AdHoc fiction,) and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books) She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal. She is an associate poetry editor for Pidgeonholes. Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) was published by ELJ Editions in September, 2021. She lives in NYC.
So far in my lifetime, half
the species on earth have vanished
quietly, offstage, in graveyard hours
when no one is watching and glaciers
calve. Polar bears sink on a flightless ice
shelves turned feather while streetlamps
melt in Stillwater. Solid and liquid
in limbo, one day rivers rise in Girona
as Lake Mead recedes in a recession.
I find a key—on the chalk red shore
cracked like an elephant’s eye. The door
it belongs to long-submerged, the key
opens nothing now and I cannot drink it.
Allison A. deFreese
Allison A. deFreese is a poet and literary translator who has studied in Catalonia. She has two poetry chapbooks forthcoming this fall: The Night With James Dean and Other Prose Poems (winner of Cathexis Northwest Press's 2022 chapbook competition) and Nurdles and Other Poems (Finishing Line). Her work also appears in Pangyrus, Permafrost, and Plainsongs. .
She was sitting in her backyard in a folding chair – late March?
Staring straight ahead – if not actually at our yard
No boundary plantings – or few – we had a young thornless honey locust
Her head wrapped like a mummy’s – her eyes showing black as tarvia
Two sons under five
Mr Silver had died in the accident – she’d hit the windshield
I could see her from the picture window in the dining room
It would be ten years before the high school would screen
Night of the Living Dead – the graveyard scene
Filmed in broad daylight – slow persistent images
But four or so before her youngest – born of Mr Crystal – would fly in the rec room
A hospital bed so the boy – in full body cast – could watch Superman and cartoons
Months whiling – the season sweltering – melting to dreamscape
The grass browned out under the tree – the house a headland cliff
Joanne DeSimone Reynolds
Joanne DeSimone Reynolds is the author of two chapbooks, Comes a Blossom, published in 2014 by Main Street Rag, and a collection of ekphrastic poems, Brought to Our Knees, in collaboration with 2020 Art Ramble in Concord, Ma, viewable at theumbrellaarts.org. She lives on the south shore of Boston.
A deserted seashore, oversized pocketwatches, a bronze one covered in ants ticks the minutes, bodies shiny rosary beads your fingers press as you pray. Two watches melt, one molded over a table edge, another slung on a withered branch like a limp, skinned carcass. One serves as saddle cinched on a pale beached creature, head one vast wrinkly eyelid, lashes long as the limbs of a daddy-longlegs, a pebbled tongue protrudes from a duck mouth—stranded amid shapeshifting.
In the distance, mountains ease into water. An egg basks, shadow pointed to the sea as if to say I’m the beginning, end, and eternity.
Outside the reverie, past the frame, a presence casts a massive shadow—time and memories aimed at you—a hot, heavy bullet: the time your first husband’s lung collapsed, the time an oncologist diagnosed your second husband with stage 4 lung cancer—the smother of ache and terror.
Karen George is author of five chapbooks, and three poetry collections from Dos Madres Press: Swim Your Way Back (2014), A Map and One Year (2018), and Where Wind Tastes Like Pears (2021). Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Slippery Elm as winner of their 2022 poetry contest, Adirondack Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Cultural Daily, Indianapolis Review, Salamander, and Poet Lore. Her website is: https://karenlgeorge.blogspot.com/.
An All-Night Conversation with You
after "Having a Coke with You" by Frank O’Hara
If I could turn back time - Cher
An all-night conversation with you
is better than an afternoon chat with anyone else right now.
Maybe because we love absorbing esoteric movies
and dissecting them ad nauseum for days.
Maybe because we love attending theatres
and pretending to be theatre critics.
Maybe because I loved to have parties
And you loved being a guest in our home.
Maybe because we traveled so much.
And, now, the world reminds me of you.
I would rather see you than –
London, Paris, Kashmir, Machu Picchu or Disneyland
on either coast.
I imagine us a couple of old pillows
hanging out on the sofa
Stuffing our faces with popcorn and wine.
If we invited your wife, could you get a hall pass
for one more movie
one more conversation?
I have so much to tell you.
Margo Stutts Toombs
A self-proclaimed internal humorist, Margo creates and dwells in wacky worlds. Her poetry dances at Untameable City - Mutabilis Press, a Texas Poetry Calendar, Love over 60: An Anthology of Women’s Poems, Newsletter of the Gulf Coast Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, The Ekphrastic Review, the 2021 Friendswood Library Ekphrastic Poetry Reading and Archway Gallery chap books. Her flash nonfiction unfolds at Equinox, Synkroniciti, and Airplane Reading. Margo’s videos screen at local and national film/video festivals. She performs her monologues at Fringe Festivals, art galleries and anywhere food and beverages are served. One of Margo’s favorite pastimes is co-hosting the monthly poetry/flash readings at the Archway Gallery in Houston, Texas. For 2022, Margo is the Program Chair for Women in the Visual and Literary Arts, Houston, Tx. Check out her shenanigans at https://www.margostuttstoombs.com/ and on Facebook
A Memory of Mist
Usually my eyes skate around the mirror / avoiding the ruts / but today / on my birthday / I look myself full in the face / as the clocks tick / they number all the things I have lost in the silence / I think about the life we burnt / never noticing the absence of clouds / and I know / I do not belong here anymore
Did you know / there are ants / who grow their own fungus for food / or white whales that sing like ghostly canaries in the mines of the sea / yet still we think ants are the pests / and we fill the oceans with plastic / so soon the only whales will be bleached relics / hung like chandeliers / reminding us / once / we were not the only beasts
So I hang a stopped watch / on the bare branch of a tree / and tuck the last blossom / behind my ear / it leaves the scent of ruin in my hair / I let my skin flake / and morph into a cloud of butterflies / and then I slip out of time / and disappear into the mountains / like so many memories / of mist
Adele Evershed was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Connecticut. Her poetry and prose have been published in over eighty online journals and print anthologies such as Every Day, Grey Sparrow Journal, High Shelf, Tofu Ink Arts Press, The Fib Review, Selcouth Station, Open Door Magazine, and Hole in the Head Review. Adele has recently been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize for poetry, the Staunch Prize for flash fiction, and her novella-in-flash, A History of Hand Thrown Walls was shortlisted in Reflex Press Novella Contest.
The Persistence of Memory
The fleshy creature draped across a rock
bringing to mind my terrier’s passing, tongue
paralyzed, folded, drooping as he clung
to being, gasping, braindead. A wooden block
and clocks that flop (“The Camembert of time”).
Ants drawn to a gold watch like bees to nectar.
A dried-out leafless tree still trying to climb
toward a light shining upon this specter
of absolute extinction. The sinking sun
casts shadows on the ominous beach, the sea
still lit, as are the far-off cliffs, ablaze
in a world that unrelentingly decays,
a cliff that feels some lifeless sort of glee
persisting in a world whose days are done.
Martin Elster, who never misses a beat, was for many years a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Aside from playing and composing music, he finds contentment in long walks in the woods or the city and, most of all, writing poetry, often alluding to the creatures and plants he encounters. His career in music has influenced his fondness for writing metrical verse, which has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the US and abroad. His honors include Rhymezone’s poetry contest (2016) co-winner, the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition (2014) winner, the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s poetry contest (2015) third place, four Pushcart nominations, and a Best of the Net nomination. A full-length collection, Celestial Euphony, was published by Plum White Press in 2019.
It’s about that time and Sali looks at his watch, but I make no move because I haven’t owned one since ‘76. Or was it ’77. And then, only because I fancied thick leather watch bands of the day. The 70s. We rinse our bowls and leave them to dry. It’s about that time. I draw a door. We step out of the cliff and onto a passing paper plane. Timing is everything, which some define as luck. We glide through languid clouds above the heat, giving clear sky lightning the dodge and see our destination before we know it. Landing delicately on the table’s edge of eternity has a way of saying you’ve arrived. Sali throws together a forever lunch of cheese and salami with mustard the size of reality he smuggled from France, where now they have a shortage. He’s all slit eyebrows and grins. We picnic with Henri and Alba who are playing the same game of chess under the same leafless tree in the same afternoon sun from 40 years before. It's both comforting and sad when time stands still. I savor an olive, keep this to myself. Sali knows how the game will end, having invented the viewfinder in ’39. What is there to say when the same wind blows while the time-to-stand-still marches on and we view each other as we were then while somehow and somewhat heroically, believing in now, leaving little time for a future that is nothing more than a pencil of lines— magenta and purple, orange and gold, waiting to be drawn, knowing it’s time. Knowing it’s time we catch a ferry and watch a pelican rising, remembering its way home. Henri’s King falls as Alba makes a final move, and though we aren’t there to see it, we’ll never forget, our clockwork minds driven by all that came before. Sali brings mustard back to France, where its absence brought a nation to its knees. A hero’s welcome we did not expect, nor receive. Always late for history we melt into the past only to discover what we already knew. Punctuality was never our strong suit, but memory keeps its own time.
Born in the Chihuahuan desert, raised on a stingray in Ventura, Guy Biederman writes afloat on a houseboat in Richarson’s Bay. His work has appeared in MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Ekphrastic Review, Riddled With Arrows, The Disappointed Housewife, Bull, Carve, Flashback Fiction and many other journals. His 6th collection, Translated From The Original: one-inch punch fiction will be released by Nomadic Press in December of 2022. guybiederman.com
For me, time hangs stretched between a rock and a hard place,
unreliable, unrelenting, it slithers from the past to the dead
uncertainty of now, after you, feeling trapped, desiccated
by the dark of your barren, precipitous world,
took one last step.
Lynda Scott Araya
Lynda Scott Araya is a short fiction writer from New Zealand who has most recently been published in The Bangalore Review and DarkWinter Literary. She has work forthcoming with Weasel Press. Currently, she is writing a poetic memoir.
Memory Cannot Persist
Memory cannot persist in such barren times. Which one of you remembers the second time Salvador set fire to himself, his watch wilting in time to the singeing of his moustache, a black stench of fizzling hair snaking beyond the borders of imagination, fumes rising in the desert of madness? Dry biscuits were all his trembling hands could grab before mounting his donkey, racing against the horizon and creating the smoking sunset of the final day of September. Dale señor. There ain’t no smoke without fire and by the time the fire brigade have put down their thoughts all artists will be charred and the well dry. The sick, on the other hand, with their moist coughs need no dousing. They carry, in their splattered handkerchiefs, the weight of abstract expressionism into a future without fathers. No more daddies to ride the donkey back from brittle oblivion. What use is time when we’ve forgotten how to use it? Salvador, or what was left of him, strode in the distance, stroking the donkey’s ears with his false teeth, solid dentures resistant to the licking flames that had returned him to blackened bone and mouthing a clacking melody for a fallen dictator. Listen carefully and the bittersweet harmony of Salvador’s blues will push the blood of your heart into the passing wheelbarrow of hurt. More slop for the the slag heap of time. Let it flow. Let it go. There’s no need for love when the day has been forgotten. You can slip back into yesterday before the fires began. Before the fall. Before he made fools of us all riding our lame mules, eyes searching the sand and sniffing hungrily at his trail of paint.
Simon Parker is a London based writer, performer and teacher. His work been published in The Ekphrastic Review and 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. If you want to know more go to https://www.simonparkerwriter.com
Six Times as Much
Interview: ‘I sometimes feel like a god who fell in love with a mortal’ - life for an Inter-Pox couple
Written by M. Parsons, Epidemic Features Editor; 10th October, 2081
When I meet Tom and Lola, she is cooking dinner in the kitchen and calls out an artificially slowed hello. I wave quickly, it hurts my wrist. Tom pours me a wine and offers me a seat in their large, plush garden. A water fountain fills the air with the melodic splash of droplets in real time. Lola’s knife pounds a chopping board as a background beat.
Tom, thank you for allowing me to interview you today. As something of a celebrity couple, you have done well to stave off the media this last two years.
At first we were just learning how to be with each other, how to identify and live within the new parameters of our relationship. It took us some time to realise the full implications of an Inter-Pox relationship.
For background, for our readers, can you describe the moment the epidemic arrived at your home?
Like every other morning, I woke up, kissed Lola and offered her a coffee. My slurred speech initially made her think I’d had a stroke in the night and she was terrified, getting her phone out to call an ambulance. To me, she was just making odd noises and movements, and I was sort of laughing. The ambulance didn’t come of course - they couldn’t understand her. This, and my cheerful me-ness, made her agitated and upset. She locked herself in the bathroom all morning. Her concern and my giggling gave way then to confusion, followed by a brief flare up of anger. At one point I got dizzy just watching her, lost my footing and fell backwards at the top of the stairs, but her reaction time was amazing – she grabbed my wrists and caught me. As I got my balance back, I realised I had burn marks. Lola was whirring, actually making a noise like a broken machine. Finally I grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled the question that changed everything, “Which one of us is broken?”
It’s the question that became the title of your bestselling book.
Yes, and sometimes I think that question is more pertinent than ever. Her illness – as we are beginning to see – gives her so many advantages in life. We are looking at two-thirds of the world now infected with Bluebottle Pox. With those statistics, really, what is the new norm?
Many are feeling like the world is geared more for Lola and her ‘community’ [he puts this in air quotations] than for those who never contracted the illness in the first place. At Lola’s rate of productivity, it’s not surprising employers aren’t interested anymore in those without the Pox. I even heard that the vaccine effort has been totally abandoned now.
Your relationship obviously isn’t broken. In early news coverage, it seemed that most Inter-Pox relationships fell apart within days of the epidemic starting, sometimes hours. How do you make it work?
After I wrote that first note, we passed hand-written notes to each other for weeks. We’d hide them in places to discover, it was actually very romantic. The epidemic was obviously spreading very quickly and it wasn’t long before the technology was out there to slow her speech down and speed mine up. But we still write each other letters.
And, actually, it’s more than that. My whole being – as a photographer – told me that life was more beautiful in stills. Lola’s career in the city meant she lived at a fast pace and was used to everything being frenetic. We used those skills, experiences, to find common ground. It gave us empathy, I think.
There were times in the beginning when she trembled all the time, and her new speed made her a blur to me. I would reach out my hands and place them on her vibrating shoulders –and I’d tell her just enjoy the world in slow motion, see the detail in movement as if in stills. Other times, she would tell me to speak faster, sing quicker, jump, skip, run, which brought me so much joy.
Q. Knowing what you do, i.e. how tough it is to engage in physical activities together - I think you know what I’m saying here – and did it ever occur to you to break up, go into conventional relationships with people living at your own speeds?
Almost all activities involve a significant loss of lifespan for Lola, so I’m mindful of that. Let’s just say, I try to go a bit quicker, and she tries to go a little slower. No one wants to hurt anyone – either by abrasions, or by boring them to death. We are always trying to keep time with one another. It wasn’t, and isn’t, easy, but we try to imagine that there’s my world, running on slow, her world running on fast, and a middle world, which we have to create and actively step into. Sometimes its harder than others. When Lola moisturises her hands at night, she looks eerily like a fly rubbing its legs together. When she gets insomnia, my infinite snoring makes her murderous.
Q. You mention what virologists are seeing more and more - that the Pox shortens the lifespan of its hosts.
I will outlive Lola by six times, the same increase in the speed of the data processed by her optic nerve, her muscle responses, the decaying of her cells. I think to others it seems like she has the speed and power of a god, but sometimes I feel like a god that fell in love with a mortal, knowing that I will outlive her by possibly hundreds of years.
Q. How do the two of you face this impending end?
We laugh six times as much, and she loves hundreds of years’ worth.
Katja Sass studied philosophy at university and now teaches philosophy and religious studies at a secondary school in the UK. She writes short fiction with a focus on flash. Her stories can be found at
Lost Futures, Janus Literary, Paragraph Planet, The Loop anthology, and most recently as 3rd prize winner at Reflex Fiction.
The Soft Hours
After Salvador Dali
The clocks soften, melting
until dripping like a tap no one hears. Reduced
to the murmur of stirring seagulls at night,
to ants lost in the dark.
But not so lost that I find you.
Not soft enough to clearly remember
your face. In the microscopic detail
of a painter who sees everything. In the clarity
of love's presence. Memory tapping
at the soft hours like the night tide lapping
at the shore, the reflections on the surface
dance to nothing.
Christopher Martin is a poet living at the north east coast of England. His debut collection comes out later next year with The Black Cat Poetry Press.
The Summer Demands and Takes Away Too Much*
in memory of Chris D. Allec (1964-2022)
There’s nothing like a death in the family
to make a pocket-watch melt and run
without a July heat wave to use as excuse,
or the guns of August, or poppies. Hands
melt under crystal. A silence between ticks
etches deeper in ear than Roman numerals
while all the room’s clocks play poker-face.
My great-grandmother collected them--
Felix the Cat like his Cheshire counterpart,
rolling his eyes while hanging on a wall;
walnut mantel-clock broadening its seat;
in a staring contest with the grandfather
just across the room from it. All of that’s
grown legs and run, as my dad would claim
whenever tools went missing and he looked,
determined metal didn’t do such things
but stayed in their metal box. Quiet children--
what they used to call good children, before
seen-and-unheard became politically incorrect.
Now the flies are ganging up, black and abuzz,
ready to spread long white rows of rumors
under the guise of procreation. Dancing nouns
and verbs across a round, golden watch-back
which watches nothing but minds tremendously
in the mindset that running hands backwards
was preferable, if not impossible, as the sun
would never consent to backstroke to China,
even if the moon could make the sea sit still
and mind itself, watch surrounding mountains
on a role model on how to become granitic
instead of crumbling, rude and sedimentary.
My great-grandmother died before summer--
did I tell you that? And now your dad, blood
going Fourth-of-July in the sky, into thin air,
the winds of leukemia blowing to the north,
neighbor’s rubber tree bending in its sway
and you feeling roots pull soil, hanging on
as they’d say in church. Keep on keeping on.
The yard is flat and hard, pocked with rocks,
trying its best, like us, not to fall downhill.
Some days, gravity and tectonics give slack,
a break to catch breath, let thoughts settle
even when the underlying strata doesn’t.
Maybe that’s the hill’s way, which becomes
nothing and everything like watches draped
on tree limbs, oozing like brie or camembert.
Our brains do just that, memories leaking in
an over-ripeness of desire and want for time
until absence of both makes yearning fonder,
wishing it were the other way around—clocks
yielding, waves rolling to crests in reverse.
Imagine dust reforming into a complete skin.
Microshaved personage back in cloudless
affirmation. Waves keep views to themselves,
in doing so suggest some things, somewhere,
remain timeless. But paint doesn’t stand still,
not for a moment of silence. It clamors on.
And Mummy Brown is Soylent Green gone
visual art and culturally appropriate. Ground
and mixed with linseed oil into a subterfuge,
to smear into something like immortality by
hand. Your father the artist may have loved
the thought of it—hugging for beauty’s sake
onto canvas long past the rest of us, a calm
bench upon which to contemplate his scene.
*Title taken from the poem “As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat” by John Ashbery, from the collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer whose ghost, given the choice, would likely choose to haunt the Norton Simon gallery in Pasadena, California for as much as he loves the art there. His work has appeared in Gleam, MacQueen's Quinterly, Panoply, Synkroniciti and other publications.
Time, Your Grave is My Tree of Life
Time, mandrakes, saliva.
Cobwebs, spider webs.
bushels of bookworms.
Wormwood. Swallow with
forked tail. Old man, a load
of baggage, your pride of life.
Numbered years, three score
and ten ad infinitum.
Son of a perverse father,
rebellious mother, lost dominion.
Your reward is a tarnished timepiece.
Time, you slide like water.
I'd like to bend you, straightjacket
you strapped to the belly of a meteor,
fire you into a nameless galaxy.
Like a raven, you sit on my shoulder,
like a raven, your bird tracks never
cease. I bear witness like a falling feather.
when I reach the other side,
I'll look compassionately as you disappear
into space. To think we were once close-
knit like stitches in a pullover.
I'll lock you in a bell tower and melt
the key, drown you in a tornado of ticks,
scramble you in a wind chasm
and sink you in the sea.
There're some things your fingers
cannot touch--- the praising soul,
the handmade poem wrought
out of nothing.
Deborah Gerrish is the author of four collections of poems, Indeed Jasmine (2022), Light in Light (2017), The Language of Paisley (2012), and the chapbook, The Language of Rain (2008). She was awarded an Edward Fry Fellowship and received an EDD from Rutger’s University in Literacy Education. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Drew University, teaches poetry workshops at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and organizes readings for Visiting Poets.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper.
- T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
On the horizon pale yellows,
whites, blues are reminiscent
of the cool of early morning.
Yet, it is not cool.
Cool is a distant memory.
Catalonian cliffs are ominous and jagged.
Burnt by blazing sun, the landscape
is roasted orange, fiery red.
It is calm. Creators and perpetuators
of chaos and havoc have vanished,
leaving in their wake decay and desolation.
An amorphous melting watch
is draped mysteriously
over a naked branch of a barren tree
stripped by lightening of its progeny.
Another strangles a monstrous creature,
deathly white in its last moments of life,
mouth gaping, tongue protruding,
desperate for water. Alas!
Water only exists in dreams.
Ever organized and resilient,
ants infest an orange pocket watch,
still intact, resisting melt.
Soon they too will become
listless and succumb
to heat and their inevitable fate.
This is the way the world ends.
Not a bang. Not a whimper.
It melts, at first gradually.
Then, like lava, the molten mass
spreads out exponentially
suffocating rot and decay
in its deadly path.
Slowly, silently, the world slips away.
Roberta McGill grew up in Ireland where she loved reciting poetry as a child. She immigrated to Canada with her husband and lives in Orillia. Her poetry has won several awards at the annual K. Valerie Connor Memorial Celebration, Orillia, and has appeared in several anthologies.
I have been here before:
all leading to the same
I turn each knob, lean my
weight and wait,
confronted by confusion again.
Inside the seizure
Crow opens her beak.
Down her throat bronze gears spin.
Her heart beats a metronome.
I float between reality and a dream,
body shuddering its morse code poetry,
eyes tumbleweeding back towards tomorrow.
Muscles ripple along my back as the Moon
uses me as her marionette,
dancing me along iridescent shimmering tidepools.
I have been here before:
nested in that one
nested in this one,
nested in that reality,
expanding and contracting with
I try to claw my way to
your voice calling me back,
but the watery mirage of your words
do nothing to release the talons
that pulled my soul to this dimension.
I’m left with two handfuls of Time,
running silver and mercurial down my arms.
I open my mouth to say your name
and exhale the desert,
watch as sun-bleached bones
Ezekial themselves back to life.
Time rewinds until once again
I know nothing,
confronted by confusion.
I have been here before.
Angie Ebba is a queer disabled writer, educator, and performer who has taught writing workshops and performed both online and across the United States. She's a published poet and essayist with a focus on writing about disability, the body, relationships, and sexuality. Angie believes strongly in the power of words to help us gain a better understanding of ourselves, to build connections and community, and to make personal and social change. Angie can be found online at rebelonpage.com
(What’s Your Emergency?)
What’s that you say, Dolly?
You’re here to slay, Dolly?
You’re here to murder décor
on the altar of art? In House of Dior,
a smear of Lake Mead’s last mud?
Your hidden rictus cracked
and grinning, your clocks
all gone to goo? I’ve got to hand
it to you, putting on a happy face.
It’s punk. It’s pop! (Though
we’re down to our last weasel,
and somewhere Lichtenstein laughs
until he hiccups, ‘til he cries.)
It’s closing in on midnight, Dolly,
it’s sneaking up on noon.
Here in Death Valley it’s six fifty-five.
Let’s call 9-1-1 when time’s a figment
and the gizmo on your noggin
can’t lose at beat the clock.
What’s that again, Dolly?
You’re done with men, Dolly?
Canary in a coal mine, wind-up bird
in a Warhol short, White Shoulder waft,
apocalipstick frozen in a velvet Elvis tone?
Who the hell am I, Dolly?
That homeroom guy…golly!
Last row, worst row, still daydreaming lost
in the foreign language of your hair.
Still hiding my tumescence in the margins:
bad poetry and botched conjugation,
my felt tip pens aflame.
It’s our last gasp, so what’s the good, you ask,
this serenade at the end of time?
Well, hello, Dolly! Here’s all I know, Dolly:
With two tocks left on the Doomsday clock,
when I sing I’ll love you forever, (together at last
in the aftermath) you’ll know I mean it.
Brent Terry is an award-winning writer and a runner who teaches at Easter Connecticut State University. He won the Connecticut Poetry Prize and was nominated for the PEN Faulkner Award for fiction. He is the author of The Body Electric, Troubadour Logic, and 21st Century Autoimmune Blues, among others. He is an accomplished Spoken Word artist. He loves Dr. Pepper.