Dear Ekphrastic Writers,
You are my people. I so admire your limitless creativity and surprise.
That’s why reading so many submissions, several times over, was more
pleasure than work. Thank you all!
Congratulations to my Top Twelve!
My apologies to those I did not accept. I’m a less is more type, and I’m sorry that meant turning away most of you, even those I’ve accepted or nominated for prizes in the past.
You’re about to see how wonderfully varied the viewpoints are – not just night and day different, but spring and winter, somber and playful, flash fiction and poetry, beautiful and witty, downtown and out in nature, even skipping off to another universe.
A big THANK YOU TO ARTIST JOY BAER for inspiring your talent! Please visit Joy’s website to learn more about her and her artwork.
And thanks always to Lorette C. Luzajic for bringing our ekphrastic community together.
Deck the Halls with Love and Folly
It was his arm around her waist I saw first,
her bright yellow raincoat caught in the headlights
of impatient queuing traffic: people rushing home
on Christmas Eve. I was watching from my window.
The rain had just begun to fall. I felt glad
to be tucked inside four walls glowing orange,
fire crackling spitting, and sprinkling embers
on the hearth. I didn’t know which one I should be thinking of.
The one who’d shared so many of my days, who called me
to say nothing much at all except he missed me, but
take all the time you need or the one I wanted
wrapped in tinsel and delivered to my door, who
made blood rush to my head and turned my belly
into a pit of snakes. The windowpane was now
a muted kaleidoscope of colours.
Sinatra crooned, the wine was mulled and I sipped it thinking I
had not been good. No need
to put the milk and cookies out.
Linda McQuarrie-Bowerman is a Poet living and writing in the coastal village of Lake Tabourie, New South Wales, Australia. She has been writing poetry since April 2021. Her formal qualifications are in Business Management and Personal Training so she immerses herself in reading classic and modern poets and studying the art of writing poetry. Linda has recently been published in three anthologies, and also by viewlesswings.com and in The Ekphrastic Review.
a tall magnolia spreads
its large leathery stiff
deep green leaves
each bigger than
my palm, rich, cool
under my fingers
it casts long shadows
on a bright blue-sky
in this courtyard
I want to lean in
to the tree's embrace
its rigid branches strong,
supple, dark, enveloping,
find respite from too
much brightness, heat
I inhale it, its woody
scent over another
softer citronella note
then a surprise flash
of startling white –
a single perfect bloom
the silky floral globe
as big as two fists
wafting its perfume
months after spring
and blossom time
this perfect pale orb's
Emily Tee spent her working life wrangling numbers. In retirement she's started writing poetry and flash fiction. She has had pieces published for The Ekphrastic Review challenges and in print with Dreich magazine, with others forthcoming with Dreich and elsewhere. She lives in England.
New York Nights in Another Universe
As time passes, I see you more & more
as glimmer, window glare on a passing
train—whoever joins me in its wake will see
only the dull olive hues of the subway tunnel,
but my retinas still remember the vibrant flash,
the full spectrum of your heart’s technicolor beats.
Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum
Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum is a writer and teacher born and raised in Alaska. She has published eight books of poetry and fiction through her company, Red Sweater Press, in addition to dozens of individual pieces in numerous literary magazines. She currently serves as President of Alaska Writers Guild and Editor in Chief of The Poets' Touchstone, a publication by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire.
I’d walked down the street many times
in both day time and night time
and not noticed them.
I’d driven down there many times
in both day time and night time
and not noticed them.
But something seen so often may become unseen
without a new perspective,
a new dimension.
And tonight I climbed higher
to see the street from above.
A mosaic lay below me,
a city of squares.
were no squares
Squares of light
like an art installation,
broken and fragmented
making the ordinary
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/
Geometry of Urban Landscape
A liquorice river parts the neon heat.
There’s a hum where songbirds cannot be.
Look, a pick and mix
flecked sweet shop of night energy,
squares, towers, blots in Morse code,
places to lose your soul,
hang out with strangers
you’ll never meet again.
You dance in clubs, on pavements,
below those sky-scraping giants,
escape the bills and who you really are,
pretending it’s a masked ball.
Maggie Mackay’s pamphlet, The Heart of the Run, Picaroon Poetry, 2018 was followed by her full collection A West Coast Psalter, Kelsay Books, 2021. In 2020 she was awarded a place in the Poetry Archive’s WordView permanent collection. She reviews poetry pamphlets at https://sphinxreview.co.uk (Happenstance Press)and collections at The Friday Poem (https://thefridaypoem.com).She can be found on Twitter @Bonniedreamer.
falling like rain
In my dreams I lack a destination, but I continue to travel through the landscapes, visiting mysterious buildings with hallways that form mazes, that leave me unable to find the right room – late for a meeting, a test, a rendezvous with no time or place attached –living in houses that seem familiar yet not quite right, filled with people whose names I don’t know.
It’s always dark with artificial light, often below ground. Staircases are a common feature. Cats and dogs wander in and out of narrow shadowed empty streets, and I always miss my train.
What day is it? I have no idea.
What did I do yesterday? I can’t remember.
But I’m pretty sure I’m awake now — aren’t I?
Kerfe Roig resides in NYC where she plays with words and images. You can follow her work on the blog she does with her friend Nina, https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/, or at https://kblog.blog/.
Not Wait in Vain
She looked up at the mottled skin of the housing complex that seemed to quiver with the flickering of the lights, flexing reptilian muscles. Each square of brilliance, red, blue, green, white was a window. She wouldn’t have used the word ‘home’ even if it had been a familiar one. Cells. Bees. Except that bees had been useful. They didn’t talk about bees any more.
A transport train zipped along a rail fifty yards up, flying through darkness. Closer, at ground level, the beams of a patrol vehicle sliced the darkness as it passed with the whirr of a metallic, predatory insect. She moved on, the sound of her footsteps too loud.
Not that the night was silent. Some of the windows were open, parties, frantic, music loud. Police drones droned. Someone threw something out of a window, too many levels up to count. She heard a scream and corrected herself. Someone threw someone out of a window, too many levels up to count.
The night was not silent, but her footsteps rang out high and clear, arresting. The sound was a quiet intrusion, like the persistent cough in the middle of a symphony concert, like the flick of a knife blade in the clamour of a fight. No one ever walked the city night.
She hunched her shoulders against the lights of the mottled dragon, let her gaze drift along the restless concrete river of a highway, an artery irrigating half-life. The highway rolled between hundreds, thousands of complexes, their skin flickering with luminous warts. She had no idea how far the never-sleeping dragon coiled. Hundreds of miles perhaps. It didn’t matter, as long as its coils ended somewhere.
It didn’t matter because it was time to accept that no one else would be walking the city night. He would never come down from his blue or red or green room, not now. Not even for her.
A hundred feet up, a light flicked from green to red before it went out. The traffic whined and whispered, not now, not ever.
Laughter rattled inside her head. She swallowed back all the longing, the tears, the anger and despair and began to walk.
Jane Dougherty lives and works in southwest France. Her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, The Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, ink sweat and tears, Gleam, Nightingale & Sparrow, Green Ink and Brilliant Flash Fiction. She blogs at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com. Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than water and birds and other feathers were published in October and November 2020.
In a Galaxy Not Far Away
Gone our walks past the art school.
Gone its glass-block wall. Gone
my walking partner, our flickering
shadows. Rush-hour reflections
no longer waver in the glass
like supernovas—white headlights,
red taillights. Gone the blue-green night
of downtown’s encroaching
darkness. Demolition, another
kind of death. But isn’t that the way
of the universe? I enter an earthly space
of timeless symbols as cinematic
as photos sent back from outer,
or is that inner, space
where the gas and dust of a nebula
can be either the explosion of a dying
star or where new stars begin.
Each glass square witnesses
a story. The first time we touched
hands, a shooting star. The first time
we kissed, a pulsar in the sultry heat
of a Southern summer. Now my walking
partner no longer orbits my life.
I imagine he has entered another
dimension, translucent as these glass blocks,
in another galaxy not far away.
Sandi Stromberg loves the marriage of poetry and art and is a frequent contributor to The Ekphrastic Review’s biweekly challenges. Her poetry has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. She lives in Houston, the city of NASA and space exploration, where so often architectural marvels are demolished to make way for the new. The loss of the old Glassell Art School’s building, a tour-de-force of reflective glass blocks built in 1978, caused considerable upset. It was seen as a sacrifice of the city’s architectural heritage.
Fractured flimsy images of a time gone by
Music, dance and other tomfoolery
Holding court for all to see.
Brazen and baffling
Conniving and cajoling
Life from a carcass.
Let it be for all to see
That things are not always
What they appear to be.
Ellie Klaus was born and raised in Montreal. She has lived different selves over several decades: daughter, wildlife biology graduate, vision quest traveler, family life educator, president (of her son's school committee), friend, confidante, lover, wife, mother, caregiver and now caregivee, if there is such a word. Each has contributed to a different perspective of living, of life. The pieces of the puzzle are evident and coming together, although the final image is yet to be revealed. So, writing has reemerged as a creative endeavor to release some of the angst that arises from living a confined life, or any life for that matter. She has a poem entitled 'Bones' that appears in NationalPoetryMonth.ca April 9, 2020 and poems published in The Ekphrastic Review and Pocket Lint.
this is the city
rippling with life
a million pixelations
cast like glass lilies
skating wet pavements
this is the city
bouncing off steel
this is the city
the anonymity of it
drawing me in
the tramp and shuffle
of footed expectation
silvered in mercury
this is the city
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.
My Wings Are Not Waterproof
A murderous mid-afternoon in June,
as I sink below the surface of the pond,
thirty thousand waterlilies reflect and
refract in my compound eyes.
Falling through fathoms of cold khaki,
down in the dark deep algae, lemon and
lime light splinters on sticklebacks, flicking
fish scales flash onto my failing lenses
the supernova of my universe.
Saskia Ashby is an artist, poet, academic and theatre practitioner from the UK.
It’s that bare toes in the grass
Dew jumping against ankles
Green blades parting and undulating
In partnership of streetlight and moon.
It’s that giggle for no reason
Just an instinct
Crowned with joy
An internal invisible shimmer.
It’s that single wild strawberry
Unexpected gift from the roadside
Solitary succulent delight
Testimony to all things sweetly innocent.
Melinda experiences poetry as therapy, a kind of grounding exercise that connects physical embodiment with big ideas and deep truths. During the pandemic, she and her mother wrote Pandemic Poems back and forth to one another. In 2021, their experience was featured in an interview and poetry reading on CBC radio’s On the Coast. Melinda lives in Langley, British Columbia.