Dear Ekphrastic Challengees,
Thank you all so much for submitting your top-tier pieces to The Ekphrastic Review; as in: to the art of Jennifer Angus this time. I have read and re-read your words with great joy and admiration. This was a fascinating challenge, and selecting pieces for publication was a tough task indeed. I hope you will enjoy reading the compilation. Hurrah for each and every writer, for The Ekphrastic Review and for The Wonderful Lorette!
Congratulations to all, go well, Kate Copeland
Fellow Woodlanders be seated!
The hard work is done,
the best china set out,
the heads have rolled
and now we are ready
to eat the rest
giving thanks and gratitude
for what we are about to receive.
So fear not
let us enjoy our feast
no one is there to watch us eat.
All the rest are just dead meat.
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: Consequence Magazine, 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/
Feast of the Masses
this fine evening
humans long departed,
we the hunted
of the masses
like never before
while men sleep,
well into cups –
fox joins buck,
lynx with peacock
none prey tonight.
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson loves writing to art prompts and has contributed to The Ekphrastic Review for several years, having recently been a guest editor. Her poems appear in full length of Amazon and in journals including Misfit, Medusa's Kitchen, Lothlorien Review and The Ekphrastic Review, among others. Dickson holds a BPS in Behavioral Science and served on two poetry boards. She advocates for captive elephants and shares her home with two rescued feral cats.
of sizzling ant eaters,
for maddening guests.
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. Her most recent book In A Flash, was published in the spring of 2022. She currently resides on Long Island, New York with her husband Richard and dogs Lucy and Breanna.
The deer hunter has been maimed
by a grizzly up north
(yeah, the same smarmy hunter who wore pants with the scene of a tropical forest
and kept his parakeet caged)
and the traffickers' trucks
have been reported missing.
There are flying rumours
that all of them
were taken at the pass,
on the steepest road to Beelzebub's
Our surviving friends
and are on their way here.
The writer's name is Prithvijeet Sinha from Lucknow, India. He is a post graduate in MPhil from the University of Lucknow, having launched his prolific writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog An Awadh Boy's Panorama (https://anawadhboyspanorama.wordpress.com/) Besides that, his works have been published in several varied publications as FemAsia Magazine, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, Inklette Magazine and others.
A Darwinian Dinner
This supper isn't on Circe’s
isle, or else the guests who’ve come to dine
would’ve all been turned into swine
instead of a menagerie
of creatures. Prêt à manger or to be
eaten: it’s the survival of the most able
to survive. The menu served at this table
caters for a spectrum of selected species.
Is this stuffed animal court Orwellian in hierarchy?
Who hosts this taxidermy feast? Are some
beasts more equal than others in this kingdom
of claws, furs, fangs, and beaks?
Which alpha male Henry
beheaded those four heads
adorning that bright red
wall? What un-wifely treachery
was committed by that
bodiless, cornigerous quartet?
is finally served, will Mr and Mrs Wildcat
have stopped arguing? Do Lord Fox and Lady Deer regret
having invited them to their soirée?
Danny de Oliveira
Danny de Oliveira lives on the Sussex coast of the UK. He has been writing amateur ekphrastic poetry for many years, becoming one of his favourite poetic forms. He self-published a book of poems called SURGINGS in 2015. It contains his very first ekphrastic poem entitled "Drowning Hylas," inspired by John William Waterhouse's painting Hylas and the Nymphs.
memento mori - a scene carrying the seeds of its own destruction
a three course dinner served in vignettes
I dream I'm in a dining room
walls stained carmine
with cochineal extract
neo classical symbols flow
across the walls
rams' skulls replaced
by ebony deer heads
with gilded horns
delicate porcelain adorns the table
patterned with a tree's lacy tracery
spidery branches spreading
like ink slowly seeping across paper
capillaries drawing it from a brush bristle,
water dripping through silty sand
a cornucopia of riches
spills from the table top
there's a banquet for all the senses
it's everywhere, including on the floor
ii main course
stags to the right of me
stag beetles to the left
I'm stuck here in the middle -
what kind of febrile world is this?
the foxes seem to smile
holding their own court
delighted by the cunning ploys
as they watch the drama unfold
this space is familiar yet not
not just my hackles rise
it's a scene of tooth and claw
fangs are bared
the hunters sit among the hunted
nothing is quite at it seems
life, death - both part of a dream
all around a subtle scuttling is sounding
many tiny insect feet move
antennae, pincers waving
tasting the air, sampling the food
I hear insidious burrowing noises
munch and crunch of chitinous jaws
decay's rife amongst all this life
the tiny creatures are bringing it
they know much more about community
their special roles in the ant's nest
the cohesion of the hive mind
what place in all this for beauty?
why do the butterflies shimmer so much?
there's an iridescent gleam of the beetle shell
a light glinting off a deep brown eye
the soft velvet of a furry body
mirrored in a peach's skin
nature has its own chaos
Mandelbrot recurrence of complexity
patterns emerge, form, reform
instincts driving behaviours
cycles run on an endless mobius loop
creation, nurture, destruction
new growth will arise
and in this room-scene-dream
every item curated
to remind us humans
of our vanitas
Emily Tee writes poetry and flash fiction. She has had pieces published inThe Ekphrastic Review and for its challenges, and elsewhere online, and in print in some publications by Dreich, in Poetry Scotland and in several poetry anthologies. She lives in the UK.
To Jennifer Angus Regarding View from The Grasshopper and the Ant, and Other Stories.
Wall bizarre but apropos
stands behind your strange tableau
-- creatures, as they were, preserved
gathered as if being served
-- all, perhaps, to celebrate
triumph over lesser fate --
here immortal as the art
yielding wisdom they impart,
stilled to ably represent
life surviving by descent
chained as both the beast and feast,
links that live by links deceased
using instinct to sustain
birth and nurture to remain
overcoming all but that
striking down the habitat
giving them the time and place
reproducing lets them chase
role fulfilled in living course
man and nature steer by force
planned and random leaving trail
those unable to prevail
mark behind, as fear evolved,
truth of future unresolved.
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.
Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, from the essay, Nature.
And the fugitive hunter had the last laugh, gangly rangers in white trucks charging in, clouds of white dust rising like white-rhino ghosts behind them. The old one with white hair and a pistol picked grapes off the platter, his troops cradling, carrying out the stiff game, like new fathers hold their first babies. Brown and white fur stuck to their green tunics and the oriental rugs, and mud off their black boots made a trail through the house as they searched for the poacher, rifles up, black barrels poking into the empty rooms. A left-behind cat under the table hissed, and one man pissed himself, his green trousers darker on one leg. The old one with the white hair, pistol on the table, laughed and spit grape seeds on the rug. When they were done, all the heads and bodies gone, sparrows flew through the left-open door, ate the grape seeds and nested in the holes in the walls, and when the house burned to the ground only the rats that had chewed the wires got out. The old ranger read it in a paper later and thought of Hemingway, how the writer always shot more than he could eat, and how the game was too heavy for a gangly, barefoot boy to hump alone.
Robert E. Ray
Robert E. Ray is a retired public servant. His poetry has been published by Rattle, Beyond Words International Literary Magazine, Wild Roof Journal, The Ekphrastic Review and in four poetry anthologies. Robert lives in coastal Georgia.
In Pursuit of Patterns
Hosting a Christmas feast for forest animals
As the high priestess of the Mother of Beauty,
The Insect Lady pours more heart and art
Into designing walls than what’s on the table.
She serves her Goddess by telling the stories
That she insists must be told at whatever price.
She knows each insect pays a horrendous price
Of no less than life. She would cause no animals
To die for an unworthy cause. There are stories,
However, of their own species’ unknown beauty
Some must be sacrificed to put on the table.
Thus vulnerably she defends her ethics of art.
From afar we adore the Victorian decorative art
But frown at the artist coming near, At what price
Have you come by those? She knuckles the table,
Scarcely disturbing equanimity of the animals,
None of them are endangered, then adds, beauty
Is endangered. We neglect to value its stories.
We teach children to learn from the ants in the story,
Never the grasshopper. We dismiss his idling art.
We deny some some species their right to beauty.
For these farmed specimens I pay no higher price
Than do these hapless ambassadors of animals.
And indigenous collectors put bread on the table
Because I buy from them. Pastries on the table
Are plastic, the insects all real. The stories
May be made up, allegorical, but the animals
are losing habitats in the actual world. Art
Awakens great awareness for a small price,
Reveals from hideous things hidden beauty.
In jungle nymphs and giant titans dwells beauty;
A magpie shows that in the meticulous table
Of contents of its baubled nest. Life’s price
Is a difficult topic. Lives with no magic stories
are swept up and thrown away as beneath art,
As poor things without a culture, dumb animals.
Cochineal blood is the price of the peach beauty
Of this wall. Under it, animals round the table
have a symposium on their own stories of art.
Lucie Chou is an ecopoet working in mainland China. Currently an undergraduate majoring in English language and literature, she is also interested in the ecotone between ekphrasis and ecopoetics. Her work has appeared in the Entropy magazine, the Black Earth Institute Blog, the Tiny Seed Journal website, The Ekphrastic Review, and in the Plant Your Words Anthology published by Tiny Seed Press. A poem is forthcoming in from Tofu Ink Arts, both in print and online. She has published a debut collection of ecopoetry, Convivial Communiverse, with Atmosphere Press. She hikes, gardens, and studies works of natural history by Victorian writers with gusto.
Who need no invitation
the first to build and excavate
here before we softer things
many jointed, spurred and winged
armed with jaws and poison stings
stuff of nightmare
stuff of dreams
alive on leaf and blood
and nectar treasure
sipped from the flower’s
dainty lip–ants and bees
in hives and hills
gilt and vermilion
blue and green
In showgirl finery
moths like painted angels
crowds of locusts and cicadas
singing in the trees
engines of decay
appetites all life depends on
trading sweetness for pollen
to fruit and seed
there’d be no feast without them
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 Gyroscope, 3rd Wednesday, Caustic Frolic, the Blue Heron Review, and Verse Virtual. Her collection How to Become Invisible will come out from Kelsay early next year.
Banquet of Beasts
A Duplex Poem, after Jericho Brown
With garish abundance a table is set. Above preside the heads of state
who with solemn stares officiate.
Eden’s garden is garbed in green when humans begin to officiate.
Remembrance banners hang in red, for the blood sacrifice others shed.
And while they plot and machinate, gift medals for blood sacrifice,
the dam has breached and scours land, and with it women and the men.
Children reach up stubby hands, as do the women and the men,
soon all are gone, swept to never neverland.
Extra limbs and strength to swim keeps beasts from never neverland.
A few have found the laden table then spitting cats commence to fight.
The serpent twists in sly delight as hissing cats commence to fight.
Immobile all the others stand, frozen in their silent fright.
Men rule beasts and beasts make men, the rest inactive in their fright.
How long will tables burgeon full, watched over by the heads of state?
Nancy Sobanik graduated from the University of Connecticut and is a registered nurse who discovered her love of writing in the last three years. Publication includes Verse-Virtual June 2023; Sparks of Calliope, March 17, 2023; Triggerfish Critical Review Issue # 29, Jan. 2023, and upcoming in Sheila-Na-Gig Summer 2023 and One Art Poetry, July 15, 2023. Other selections of her poems can be found on poetcollectives.org. She is active in the Maine Poets Society.
These kids are not behaving pinned
To their seats may we go now
A grown-ups dinner table
Ever so boring
I’m not hungry I don’t like
my liver pasties
Arranging man and ant
How it sparks my belly
With a wonderful urge
A taste for the immaculate a
Craving for captivation
And ant and ant and ant
In mesmerizing pattern
So beautiful, translucent
The ephemeral flight
Pressed down so softly
It’s in a story we come
Together we are
Man and ant
Strangely enstrangled where
Nature excites us
Closer come closer but
Outside of these boxes
Off the wall
Ever so boring
Away from us
Closer come closer then
Let us delight you
Excite your foxes, content your cicadas
Paint our bodies as you choose
Set us up for dancing in mid air
Let us swarm and crawl
Stage us in a world unnamed
To burst and germinate,
To rot and decay, to turn to dust and
Sail with the eastern winds
Disperse and bind again
Turn us real time into butterfly
A centerpiece for you to exhibit
Anything but one more minute in the bell jar
Dying of curiosity, time ticking away
Kids and cubs, they need to stir
But halfway up life’s sleeve I am
Enchanted by this tale
Its silenced beauty calls to me
Nature transcended, the endgame of man
So much life dominated so
Head over heels
My touch of ankle laid bare
Stien Pijp lives east of the river IJssel, in Gelderland, The Netherlands. Some years ago she and her family moved there to a house in the woods. As a dreamy urban person she experienced nature to be quite unnatural to her and seeks to connect with it ever since. She works as a language therapist and wrote a dissertation about the search for meaning in conversations with people who lost language due to brain damage. She reads stories and poetry of friends and sometimes writes a poem herself.
So How Was Your Thanksgiving?
asks nearly every neighbour, coworker, or street vendor
this time of year. I shrug it off with, Oh, the usual: turkey,
pumpkin pie, and waiting to see who will be the first one
roasted at the table. They laugh. I don’t. But sarcasm
usually buys me another year of privacy. They’d never
believe the truth.
In college, I went home with my roommate one year. First
time I’d ever heard of a children’s table. Five siblings
and cousins under age eight were seated there. I almost
pulled my chair over to join them. You’ve never eaten
at a children’s table? they asked. Only child, I explained.
Couldn’t admit I was the only child EVER in the house.
No wonder people think me odd. I learned my people
skills, from table manners to how to speak, from the
psychiatrist next door and his patient wife. They even
sent me to school, but told me I could never invite a friend
over to play. Obviously, I was just one of their subjects.
They were the researchers, hoping to learn what?
It was quite unbelievable in its way. How did they get
carnivores, foxes, raccoons, otters, snakes, and various
wild cats, to live side by side with pheasants, squirrels, and
me? Was this an experimental Eden? I never heard
or witnessed a single attack. All night long, I laid there
unprotected, my five-year-old head on a pillow beside
whatever new fur baby was brought in to stay. How
was I added to the menagerie?
Every year meant one new diner at the table and one new
taxidermied head on the wall. I began to fear that my head
might be the next trophy. Instead of asking questions,
I moved to the opposite coast, changed my name, and use
a pseudonym, too.
Last week a fan letter arrived from the mad doctor, as I think
of him now. He used my pen name, but I was still unnerved
when he said, I wish I had half your wild imagination. I think
of your stories as a macabre version of Winnie-the-Pooh
Alarie Tennille was a pioneer coed at the University of Virginia, where she earned her degree in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. Alarie received the first editor’s choice Fantastic Ekphrastic Award from The Ekphrastic Review, and in 2022, her latest book, Three A.M. at the Museum, was named Director’s Pick for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art gift shop. [ alariepoet.com ]
(on The Ant and The Grasshopper, Angus, USA)
It was his best trick, pinning the grasshopper
with his thumb, and taking my hand
to its brittle legs rasped, surprised,
against a lack of lines,
and in my empty palm it spit, lost a leg.
I remember the grasshoppers, my grandfather's shills,
the quick loss of moveable parts and my alarm
at dismemberment -- wings, lost, legs, lost --
or milagros, little miracles, the charms
made by mestizos, arms and fists and eyes
conjured, offered for the saving of some lost part
or strung in a kind of native rosary,
dull silver and wearable, their worn wealth
the magic and half-death of damaged disappearance:
Summer, my grandfather waiting in the portico,
my grandfather emptying his pockets.
I thought I'd find what wasn't there,
the light in his long fingers.
Laurie Newendorp lives and writes in Houston. "The Trick," an early poem, was a part of her Master's Thesis, Crossing Time Lines/ The Grandfather Journey (1992), poems that revealed her fascination with her Grandfather's tricks, many of which had, for her, a magical quality.
am i the only one
over the loss
of the beautiful 15000
am i the only one
am i the only one
am i the only one
the beautiful 15000 were
am i the only one
the terrible sacrifice
of the beautiful 15000
the terrible impact
on our planet
Donna-Lee Smith loves and respects the insect world. She recognizes the beauty of bugs and that people in cities want to see them. She also recognizes that the Indigenous folk who capture bugs do so because there is a lucrative market for the beautiful 15000. She also recognizes that these folk earn a mere pittance compared to the middleman.
Not until you’re stuffed, does the dinner
party really make sense. And what’s
more off the wall than an unsettled
guest list to make the bright room
appear a great room, appear a pair
of paws, or as an aside,
the fine line between interior
design and the imagined
interiority only happens
after the dessert is served,
after the racoon is seated,
post joke, but not yet
afterhours. The obscene
will only be obvious
Jeanne Morel and Anthony Warnke
Jeanne Morel is the author of three chapbooks, I See My Way to Some Partial Results (Ravenna Press), Jackpot (Bottlecap Press), and That Crossing Is Not Automatic (Tarpaulin Sky Press). She holds an MFA from Pacific University and has been nominated for a Pushcart in both poetry and fiction. Her recent work has appeared in Black Sunflowers, Crab Creek Review, Fugue, and Great Weather for MEDIA. She is a gallery guide at the Frye Art Museum and co-facilitates the Columbia City Writing Circle with Anthony Warnke.
Anthony Warnke ’s poetry has appeared in Cimarron Review, North American Review, Salt Hill, Sentence, Sixth Finch, and Sugar House Review, among other journals. He also publishes scholarly work promoting access and equity at two-year colleges. He earned his Master’s degree in English from Western Washington University and his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Washington, Seattle. He teaches writing at Green River College and lives in Seattle, where he co-facilitates the Columbia City Writing Circle.
the uterine walls of the dining room
time appears to stop
except even now
clusters of fruit ripen
fur rots in thickets
like helixes of pine needles swept to the side
the rug grows invisible
the tablecloth yellows just as teeth do
taxidermy is a myth
the doe cranes her gentle neck
look, what I’m saying is insects are flying off the walls
in imperceptible gales
the air repopulates
the porcelain is turning into a variant of sea glass
the animals cycle round
not quite their wildest breathing selves again
not the racoon or crooked-toed pheasant
but maybe in a billion years
they emerge as you or a dream you had
Nature’s intricacies inspire Carolyn Wilsey to write poems. She holds a BA in American Literature from Middlebury College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Carolyn's poems appear in Pretty Owl Poetry, Rogue Agent, Stirring, Eclectica, Pigeon Pages, West Marin Review, Quiet Lightning, and other publications. In 2020, one of her poems was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology.