Nevermore leaps from Poe’s suitcase.
He, alas, no better master
of grief than I, who greets each morning
with forever. A single word
engraved on my mind’s front door.
Like hazardous weather, it ghosts
my hours, pricks my eyes, allows the Raven’s
deep-pitched raw raw raw to tear
into my spleen. For a moment, I thought
I’d cornered grief, wrapped it safely
in an old quilt, stuffed it into
a worn, brown suitcase. Now, it’s burst out
again, wild wings batting the air,
dropping feathers, ruffled
memories. Nevermore a shadow
forever on the kitchen floor.
Sandi Stromberg has been a devotee of The Ekphrastic Review since she discovered the biweekly challenges in January 2019 and has recently joined the publication as an editor. Her poetry has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. Most recently, it has appeared in The Orchards Poetry Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, Panoply, MockingHeart Review, San Pedro River Review, and the anthology woodlands: nature-magic-mystery-myth. Her poetry collection, Frogs Don’t Sing Red, is due out later this year from Kelsay Books.
Poe in Purgatory
Eternity is lasting way too long. I tire
of these modern humans, their lewd
profanity, their murder of grammar.
This must be Purgatory. I’ve already lived
through Hell. If it were Heaven, my dear
Virginia would be in my arms. Instead,
this blasted bird insists on being by my side
every long minute of the day and night.
We need no sleep or food, so I read to him.
About a century ago, Raven stopped repeating
the one cursèd word I gave him after I agreed
not to call him Damned Raven. My biographer
is the one who should be damned. I realize
that I owe much of my growing literary stature
to Raven, but made the mistake of saying so.
Now he puffs himself up, stays a step ahead
of me, puts me in his shadow. Do these changes
mean we’re moving closer to judgment?
Or maybe reincarnation? I’d like to be
a writer again if I could but know
the secrets I know now.
Alarie Tennille graduated from the first coed class at the University of Virginia, where she earned her B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. Alarie has long felt an affinity for Poe. She took a tour of his childhood home when she was eight and already knew snippets of “The Bells” and “The Raven” from her mother’s recitations. She read his stories in high school, then went to the same university that Poe attended. They were both seen as misfits in different ways, but she managed to complete her degree. The University of Virginia maintains one of the original dormitory rooms, number 13 of course, as it would have looked in Poe’s day, which is not very different from how those coveted rooms look today.
Poe Felt Stuck and Story-less
Poe is traveling, from one editing job to another,
often fired for drunkenness. He carries another story
to sell in a plain suitcase. His love for sherry,
his bane, too often in bars, makes him jobless once again.
He is on his way to meet N.P. Willis in New York City
to talk about being a subeditor to the New York Mirror.
He is in a train, watching the landscape pour as cherry.
His gaunt face and in the window have dark rings
under his black eyes like coffins. He promised his wife
about drinking, nevermore. The train wheels on metal rails
reminded him, nevermore, nevermore, nevermore.
He searches the soul of the passing landscape for an idea
for his next short story. He needs the job, the money,
clacks the train on rails. He is as dry as an empty sherry bottle.
Just a taste of sherry, just a taste of a story, just a taste,
just a dram, money, a place to settle. Poe tries to focus,
not be a fall-down drunk in a graveyard, moaning over Lenore.
When he saw that name, Lenore, on the carved gravestone,
his black coat flapped open like wings. One too many drinks,
he shuddered in the howling rain-wind, one too many.
His face on the window floats ghostly over the passing fields.
The mind plays tricks on people, he concludes gloomily.
Perhaps, ask for some cherry when he arrives to lift his spirit.
N.P. waits for his magic with words. He promises the dead
if they gave him something to show N.P., he’ll stay drink-less.
Melancholy houses ghost by. When he arrives at Penn Station,
he accidentally drops his battered, worn-to-the-fray suitcase,
and out flies a raven, as big as night terrors and withdraws.
Martin Willitts, Jr.
Martin Willitts Jr edits the Comstock Review. Nominated for 17 Pushcart and 14 Best of the Net awards. Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, 2016, Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; Editor’s Choice, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2020. His 25 chapbooks include the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections including 2019 Blue Light Award The Temporary World. Among his many collections is his exphrastic full-length poetry collection, Three Ages of Women, Deerbrook Editions, 2021. His new book is Not Only the Extraordinary are Exiting the Dream World (Flowstone Press, 2022).
Poe on the Square
I watched him stride across the square. Collar popped, valise in hand, and the look of determination of a man striding toward an uncertain reception at his destination. Perhaps one he has simultaneously anticipated and dreaded for a long while. Planned, packed, and ready for what may come.
He didn’t notice the trail of books he was emptying on the ground until stopped by a passerby. The raven hovered around, squawking as the man gathered his belongings. His aggravation was evident as he haphazardly shoved the items into his bag. The latches strained against the weight, threatening to burst open again. The raven turned, facing away from the man, watching the passersby, randomly pecking the ground for discarded morsels.
In what was undoubtedly exasperation and likely aggravation, the man stood and slid his belt off with a flourish. Wrapping it through the case’s handles, he pulled the worn leather into a knot, securing the contents. He crossed to a bench near me and sat, followed by the raven. Drawing from an inside pocket a packet of biscuits, he idly pinched off pieces for the bird. The bird seemed more relaxed of the two, ignoring the man repeatedly picking and pulling at his coat and jacket.
I watched openly, staring. Impolite? Certainly. In my youth, my Nanna would have been instructing me to look away, mind my own business, and not be so gauche as to stare. I’m grown, and Nanna gone now for more than a year. But I know she would have been observing the man and bird from under her lashes, peering over the ever-present fan she carried. An object to cool oneself, Nanna flung it open any time she wanted to feign disinterest all, the while gazing intently.
Where was he going? And who was he? He had the look of one who should be familiar to me. Certainly, the bird companion was an oddity. Perhaps I’d seen him in the Globe or the Daily Record. But the bird. The bird seemed oddly possessive of the man. And who has a large bird that travels alongside them? The bird was curious, looking everywhere, responding to every noise on the square. The man was seemingly nonplussed by anything around him. He pulled a small book from inside ,his overcoat and at last he located a pencil stub from the woolen depths.
He's a writer. That’s it. Even though I had many errands, I remained seated, observing the pair. What was to happen next?
A man approached from the rear, the bird noticing him first, a loud squawk heralding his arrival. “Poe? Is that you, old man?”
He turned slightly and nodded acknowledgment, then returned his attention to his writing.
“What brings you to Boston? I thought you loathed it here. Best not show your face to the literati here. The reception won’t be a warm one, I fear.”
Poe shrugged. I couldn’t hear his response, but he seemed not to care about the man’s assessment of his visit. The two spoke for a minute or so, and suddenly the man reached for Poe’s small book.
“No!” Poe said loudly and withdrew the book from his reach. Simultaneously, the raven flew next to the man flapping his wings wildly while cawing loudly. Slipping the book and pencil back into his overcoat, Poe turned away from the man. The raven positioned himself on the ground between the two men.
The man laughed but backed away from the bird. “This bird should be shot. Nuisance and a menace.” Poe didn’t engage with him. He turned and strode away in my direction, shouting over his shoulder, “Don’t expect an invitation to Concord, Poe. Those writers are beloved by Boston.” The implication hung heavy that Poe was not loved here.
The raven squawked loudly once again at the man and hopped up to perch on the back of the bench beside Poe. Poe once again retrieved his small book and pencil.
Although I had errands, none were pressing, so I continued to sit and watch the pair. He never looked up, but the raven scanned the square, a lookout it seemed, rather like a watchdog protecting its master. I wondered about the man who had approached Poe. Were they friends at some point? Was he, too, a writer? My curiosity nearly compelled me to cross over to Poe and introduce myself. Restraint and the thought of Nanna’s insistence on proper decorum at all times kept me in my seat.
I was almost sad when Poe stood, gathering his belongings, and strode off. He passed me within a few yards. Never looking left or right, he walked briskly by. The raven flew up in the air, making lazy circles as he followed the man. He dipped down toward me after Poe passed. The low rattling call seemed like he was bidding goodbye.
I resumed my day, if not entertained by what had transpired, I had certainly been thoroughly engaged for a bit. Nanna would admonish me that where he was going and what transpired with the nameless man was none of my business.
My last glance at Poe was of his overcoat whipping behind him. And the raven flying close behind.
M. Lynne Squires
M. Lynne Squires is a Pushcart Prize-nominated Appalachian author. Her books include the award-winning Letters to My Son – Reflections of Urban Appalachia at Mid-Century. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including the anthology Voices on Unity – Coming Together, Falling Apart, and the Anthology of Appalachian Writers – Wiley Cash Volume X. She is the host of the WV Library Commission television program WV Author. Writing happens overlooking a sugar maple and bird feeder, while fending off her two cats, Scout and Boo Radley.
Ravens Can’t Read
“That’s quite a raven,”
But of course
it needed to be large
all the pages
all the words
he had written.
what will happen next
all those words
are collected up
and made ready
to be consumed
Ravens can’t read
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/
Sonnet—To the Muses
In this wondrous world, death can only fail
when we honor the muses and their arts.
Anyone—or thing—can burst through the veil,
stride alongside the absence in our hearts.
What has the raven to do with being black?
It should cease to be a sign of mourning.
It flies ahead, instead of looking back--
rising, as the sun that greets the morning.
Death need not bring us into nothingness.
None of our fondest memories need end.
Preserved in artifacts, they are deathless
thanks to the artists, as they seek to mend.
Join them, and celebrate what’s come before.
And so, ensure death’s grip is nevermore.
Becky DeVito is a psychology professor at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. After working her way through trauma by writing poetry, her doctoral dissertation investigates the ways in which poets come to new insights through the process of drafting and revising their poems. Her poetry has been published in The Ekphrastic Review, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Ribbons: Tanka Society of America Journal, and others. She is currently working on a novel series. Join her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
To my birthplace
Of vacant courtyards,
In broken threads
Of moth-eaten frames.
I carry death
Fear no more the noises,
The yellow chills
Buried in my pages-
Trailing behind as in a dream
A banner of silk
Inscribed with nothing-
Prayer flags drooping
Off the rusted railing
By the third floor terrace.
It is many years since
I heard the bangles rustling,
Smelt the pentagon box
Of dried leaves-
Outstretched wings darkening
The moon, in my home
Black smoke marking the dead
I ascend the truth of circling mist,
The school bus moving past
The same day and night.
Abha Das Sarma
An engineer and management consultant by profession, Abha Das Sarma enjoys writing. 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, Silver Birch Press, Blue Heron Review, here and elsewhere. Having spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, she currently lives in Bengaluru.
Mr. Poe's Mysterious Death
The suitcase opened at the elbow,
What he never wrote
in gutters instead of him
dressed in soiled suit
and delirium dreaming,
no inkling of the danger.
Julene Waffle, a graduate of Hartwick College and Binghamton University, is a rural public school teacher, an entrepreneur, nature lover, wife, mother of three boys, three dogs, three cats, a bearded dragon, and, of course, she is a writer. She finds great pleasure in juggling all these things and seeming like she has it together. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal Blog, NCTE’s English Journal, La Presa, The Ekphrastic Review, and Mslexia, among others. She was also published in several anthologies, and her chapbook So I Will Remember debuted in 2020. Learn more at www.wafflepoetry.com, Twitter: @JuleneWaffle, and Instagram: julenewaffle.
A statue carved, again at home,
A man once flesh, then only stone,
I played with sticks, now lay with bones,
Once here, once there, often alone.
Past waters dark, I roam the streets,
With swirling thoughts, caught under speech,
Roads narrowed tight, rooms out of reach,
I stumble low, high ravens screech.
A single pen, my anchored oar,
I compose life, ‘pon tavern’s floor,
With drunken prose, from grief to lore,
These stories short, then nevermore.
Corrie Pappas is a small business owner living outside Boston. Her poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, and she is the author of the children’s book, Come Along and Dream.
I told him, satchel in hand
strolling Faneuil Hall, bricks
underfoot echo steps, never
but return I must, booksellers
I trust will welcome back
their son lost to time, tale to tell
and still his voice murmurs never
but from where it tears at leather seam,
beak trying at clasp, ‘cross common,
city - onlookers speak in whispers,
black cat in arched doorway, tail thumps
heartbeat in chest rhythm, I need still more
walk each square, whilst satchel sways
in my grasp, pass by church steps, sentries
stand to usher in passersby, history to tell
then a far off bell, like a dream of death, red
rivulets run, blood red streets, more
I repeat as heels hit pavement, beat tattoo
but then it bursts forth - screams, never as books
scatter on bricks outside market on stark day
I am but of a crowd, returned home for more.
Julie A. Dickson
Julie A. Dickson is hooked on ekphrastic poetry, and has been writing since her early teen years. Dickson holds a BPS in Behavioral Science, has been guest editor for several journals, served on two poetry boards and is a Push Cart nominee. Her work appears in Last Leaves, Misfit, Blue Heron Review and The Ekphrastic Review, among others.
Poe at the airport security check
Sir, you are not allowed to import wild creatures
in your carry-on. Did you not read the rules?
We can’t have alien ravens roaming around at will.
You only have words?
That’s the problem with you poets, you create
insurrection, disobedience, madness, and chaos.
‘Only words’? Sir, we have seen what your kind
has contributed to order.
You reject even the order of sentences, of an orderly march
of words on a page, clear thoughts in a paragraph,
pragmatism on a page.
Your words lead into dark alleys, rallie the discontent,
condemn our well-intentioned leaders, mock
the solid bourgeoisie… your words have even been known
to confuse the mind and make people think, or scare
them into nightmares and worse.
Sir. we deny you access to our well-ordered State.
Go back to Boston.
Rose Mary Boehm
Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as seven poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her latest: DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022), WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Cyberwit July 2022), and SAUDADE (December 2022) are available on Amazon. https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/
Within the suitcase of our minds
we carry the music of The Bells
the melancholy of The Raven
the horror of The Tell-Tale Heart;
releasing these words and images
relies upon our determination
to claw open the latch, spill
what’s inside onto the pavement,
risk scrutiny and censure
or embrace focus and purpose,
strutting resolutely town to town
shedding our singular light on the world.
Elaine Sorrentino, communications director by day, poet by night, has been published in Minerva Rising, Willawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Ekphrastic Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, Global Poemic, ONE ART: a journal of poetry, The Door is a Jar, Agape Review, Haiku Universe, Sparks of Calliope, Muddy River Poetry Review, Panoply, Etched Onyx Magazine, and at wildamorris.blogspot.com. She was featured on a poetry podcast at Onyx Publications.
You heard the raven speak
saw his shadow, a dark wing
rising, even in the brightest sky.
You were driven, intimate, in love
with nightmare, her body’s
sweet scent, her pallor fine
as moonlight, a fall of silk,
a whisper heard at midnight,
irresistible. You knew the secret
of the tell-tale heart, beating
under the floor, behind the wall,
the pulse insisting it will make
the worst of us- legacies
of guilt, revenge, desire,
an inheritance of losses
you could not escape-
the masquerade that took you
room by room, hour by hour
into the last black chapel
of blood and sorrow, last step
in your life-long dance
dark prince, bridegroom, master
of our most intoxicating dreams.
Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work appears in many anthologies and journals, including The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette Luzajic, The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, and recent issues of Verse Virtual. 3rd Wednesday, Blue Heron Review. Earth’s Daughters, Gyroscope, and Caustic Frolic. She has been a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee.
Bound Breaks Free
Spilling volumes, strapped leather case,
how could the raven be contained,
enclosed in baggage, papers, page,
bursting, such larger life than he?
Poe returning, ghosts break free,
homeward, bound like trail of texts
left in his train, from station walk,
marking steps since he first left.
Adoptive, in short story form,
consumptive for child cousin bride;
patina, Verdigris of bronze,
once journeyman, now sett apart.
It’s no tea party, reading fear -
a nevermore. Finality.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales, UK, from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, including The Ekphrastic Review. His blog is at https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/
Edgar Leaves Home
Sometimes we have to leave
what we know to begin to know ourselves.
So it is with Edgar who left Boston,
like a prophet who could not
garner honor in his hometown.
Led by his iconic Raven, a symbol
of his writing, larger, greater, in
the minds of many that the works
of those who rejected Edgar.
Raven’s claws have sprung
his case’s latches spilling out
the books and poems deemed unworthy
by Boston’s literary Brahmins.
Edgar does not look back
as he walks away, casting off
the dust of the place that rejected
his prophetic introduction of the
public’s love for mysteries
for stories of his style.
I can hear Raven shouting
as Edgar strides away,
Nevermore will he return to Boston.
Sadly, neither will he conquer
his inner demons, although
his spilled out works
as they trail behind him shout,
you will be remembered.”
Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales featuring food, family, and strong women. Internationally published, she’s a 2021 and 2022 Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net 2022 nominee, from The Ekphrastic Review) and 2022 runner-up in the Robert Frost Competition. She is on the board of Indelible, a London-based literary journal. Her essays, poems, and fiction are in The Ekphrastic Review, Brass Bell, The Lake, Verse Visual, Verse Virtual, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, Silver Birch, Active Muse, The Wild, Synkroniciti, Ovunquesiamo, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Short Humour, Yellow Mama, and others. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon is from Finishing Line Press and Feathers on Stone, is out from Main Street Rag. https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/feathers-on-stone-joan-leotta/
in metal, settled
to a verdigris blue, you
stride purposefully. We
see your coat afloat
on the breeze, knees
flexed in wrinkling pants. Glance
towards the family happily
waiting for you to
return home again when
they can read your latest story, glory
in its originality, immortality
assured as the raven erupts, disrupts
our view through
With feather and claw. ‘Nevermore’
croaks the bird, unheard
as books fall, sprawl
on the ground, unbound
from your case. Face
on a course, perforce
away from the frog pond, beyond
the literati you’ve surpassed…
Alison R Reed
Alison R Reed has been writing for many years, but came to poetry in the last few years, and only recently discovered Ekphrasis. She won the 2020 Writers Bureau Poetry competition and has been published in several local anthologies and online, including in The Ekphrastic Review. She enjoys experimenting with different poetic forms, especially ones which take her out of her comfort zone. She is a long-time member of Walsall Writers’ Circle.
In Charleston, only one ghost tour company has access to the old Unitarian Graveyard. Tonight, an old guide leads the tourists in through its metal gate. The path is overgrown and they all use their cell phones to light their steps, to check what insects are stuck to their calves, and to try and read the names on the headstones.
At the back of the graveyard, the guide instructs the tourists to sit on a wide concrete step. Here the guide tells them that Poe once lived in Charleston, that this very city was the kingdom by the sea turned sepulcher—for Anna, the young woman Poe had fallen in love with long ago, a young woman buried in this very place. Many of the tourists are not listening. A woman turns to her husband, discussing dinner plans. “I will not eat anywhere that serves creamed chipped beef.”
“In fact,” the guide says, “Anna’s ghost might breathe in your ear if you’re calm enough.”
This quiets the tourists. Now they sit with their cheeks tilted upward, as though steeling themselves for a kiss. The guide needs them to move along.
“The concrete step you are sitting on, folks? That is the lid of a mass paupers’ grave.”
They’re up, startled, frantically brushing the dirt and beetles from their legs, ready to move on, and no one is feeling for Anna’s breath on their cheek anymore.
Except for Edgar.
No matter how many times he has heard the guide tell this story, he believes. The old guide used to recite Annabel Lee here in the dark for the tourists. And Edgar could somewhat feel her then, hearing his words aloud. On those nights he’d fly into the star-studded black like a winged seraph and feel like he might nearly, finally, break through. But then the guide stopped reciting it. Someone said, “Aren’t you the one who could recite Annabel Lee from memory? We remember you from years back,” and the guide said, “I don’t do that anymore. It started to change the air.”
When his Anna fell sick, her father, who had disapproved of their love, hid her unmarked grave in this churchyard so Edgar could never find it and properly mourn her. Nightly, Edgar has sought her breath above every palm-swayed stone. He flings himself at every one, seeking her, lifting his ghost-cheek to every breeze, aching to feel her current.
Tonight’s tour group is almost gone. Stragglers, a husband and wife, slowly make their way out along the churchyard’s jungly path. They are just two lights from phones bouncing among the palms. “Not as good as the ghost tour we did in Boston,” the man says, and the gate clanks closed and they are off to argue over dinner plans.
Edgar had forgotten about Boston. He had come to Charleston after death to seek her—he was always seeking—but now that word, Boston, was coming back to him like a bomb on his lips, an explosion—that was where he had found himself, years after her death. Where he had stopped only seeking and also learned to conjur. In his writing she had become a raven, a bell, a heart in his ears.
He is moving up the coast now, letting the raven of his spirit lead him back to where he learned to write.
This is who we see walking now down the brick path, acid green with determination, his bird ahead of him to scout, to announce, screech and warn, that in death, too, if he cannot find, he will create.
People see him outside the bookstore and think he’s rooted to the brick walk. But he moves. He moves an inch each night, his spirit pages trailing behind him, until one day he will be inside the bookstore. Suddenly he’ll be beside you, and you’ll go for your phone to take a selfie but find your hand instead reaching for his book on a shelf. Your hand will know just where to find it, and his hot breath on your neck will compel you to read Annabel Lee aloud.
And there she’ll be.
Diane Zinna is a writer and teacher from Fairfax, VA. She is the author of the novel, The All-Night Sun (Random House, 2020), and her craft book on the art of writing our hardest stories, Letting Grief Speak, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. Write with her at www.dianezinna.com.
I never blended with your gentlemen,
or ladies donned with pearls;
If only I’d been born a duke
or held the title of an earl.
You turned blind eyes to written page;
you cared not for my words;
I could scream with all my might;
you’d pretend you never heard.
All I wanted was to call you home
but from House to beating heart,
you stuck your noses in the air,
let me bleed in my own art.
Alas, you know me from the grave;
I stride through your public square;
come face me now you hounds of hell,
speak to raven if you dare.
Arvilla Fee teaches English Composition for Clark State College and is the poetry editor for the San Antonio Review. She has published poetry, photography, and short stories in numerous presses, and her poetry book, The Human Side, was just released December 2022. For Arvilla, writing produces the greatest joy when it connects us to each other.
Don’t drag, don’t push, mate!
I’m not your pet eagle.
I’m your alter ego.
Remember when you were a teen
how you became winged away
from a wicked street prank –
it was I who came to the rescue.
Remember when you fell in love
how your heart was uplifted from despair –
it was I who took you on a fluttering fairy tale.
Or, remember when your career-deciding test
was about to collapse –
it was I who upheld your mind
and it all came to a bright growth.
Until this moment.
When you are acting like an opponent
to my natural urge and dangle me shocked
and mocked in your old broken suitcase,
crushing my feathers at every step.
I guess, this is a midlife crisis, mate,
to tramp engrossed, deaf for nature,
blind for skies, senseless for callings
jammed in your own marching orders
in the middle of a bare over-trodden square –
you are like your spinning of myself, mate –
trapped in your own mind suitcase.
You know I can’t survive this test,
unless I recharge my idiosyncrasies;
so, like I in the past,
now you let me raise out of this hoax.
‘Unleash thy wings’, calls my own alter ego.
So, let your hand off thy share, mate,
it is time for rebirth.
Ekaterina Dukas, MA, has studied and taught linguistics and culture at universities of Sofia, Delhi and London and authored a book on mediaeval art for the British Library. She writes poetry as a pilgrimage to the meaning and her poems feature often in the The Ekphrastic Review, its challenges and Poetrywivenhoe among others. Her poetry collection Ekphrasticon is published by Europa Edizioni, 2021.
Poe On His Way
In a motionless rush over tired bricks
billow-blown cloak in some private wind;
the inverted sail of a land-locked vessel
hefted earthward from The City in the Sea
resists the surge of his headlong stride.
Dust cemented to dust by ballast turned anchor—
too many, too heavy, too deathless words
behind him but never cast off.
Becalmed in static fervor,
he is going home.
Sophie King, is a sophomore at Hillsdale College, MI.
Does homecoming always include suitcases?
There’s always a little bit of baggage,
Because you carry yourself with you.
Return implies you were able to get away.
You can flee to the ends of the earth
And your burden is the memory of the place you cannot leave.
Your flight accomplished little,
Your mind remained behind and nothing you saw felt real:
You started to doubt your own sanity.
The pyramids, the palms, Providence.
And your home was with you, it clutched you to its hearth.
No escape from your beginnings.
You feel like you don’t deserve oblivion.
The bottle didn’t offer it:
What made you think Baltimore would?
You are haunted by your past in a foreign land.
You carry it all with you.
And you carry heavy baggage home.
Maureen Martin is a senior at Hillsdale College studying English and Theatre. Her passions include yelling at period dramas for their historical inaccuracies, working on multiple theatrical projects simultaneously, and having a bookshelf of a To Be Read pile.
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