In the Musée d'Orsay
About suffering, the Old Masters, they were never wrong.
—W. H. Auden
We flail our bodies along, legs
failing, arches falling, but we've never
seen such light, tint, and tone at once,
the sky gushing through the ribs of steel
to show each Cézanne and Van Gogh,
in a line along the wall, no darker than the real
windows to the France outside, Montmartre,
mount of martyrs on the hill,
bleached in sun like a cemetery,
the sky deep blue above the Sacre Coeur
and Seine with orange Magritte hot-air balloons
and puffy bruised-on-the-bottom clouds.
Raised a temple to the train, then
almost razed, the bones were resurrected,
the skeleton was saved and given
new transparent flesh.
Through the crystal ceiling and
high windows everywhere,
light falls past us to the ground
where sculptures writhe, held down
by stone that lends its form
to all their yearning.
We should stop before we kill ourselves,
and we have to pee again,
and it's always in the basement,
but there's also always one more room
of air and colour, and a greedy childish
clarity still intact inside
drags us to another sunlit day in Arles,
its wrung-out cypresses squirming up,
or the stony mount of gauzy St. Victoire,
till we are down, but still not out,
crawling towards another bright Monet
mirage of river, sea, and sky,
gasping, water, water as we die.
William Greenway’s newest collection Selected Poems was the winner of the 2014 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book of the Year Award. Everywhere at Once (2008), won the Ohioana Poetry Book of the Year Award, as did his Ascending Order (2003), both from the University of Akron Press. He has published in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner, and has won the Helen and Laura Krout Memorial Poetry Award, the Larry Levis Editors' Prize from Missouri Review, the Open Voice Poetry Award from The Writer's Voice, the State Street Press Chapbook Competition, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, and was 1994 Georgia Author of the Year. He’s Professor Emeritus of English at Youngstown State University, but lives now in Ephrata, PA.
Staring Straight at Me
olive pit eyes called Jesus, I
know pretext, too much red
wine made us sleepy, they
said, denying that they fell
asleep upon garden stones; they
didn’t look at him, staring
straight at me.
M.J.Iuppa lives on a small farm near Lake Ontario’s shores. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.
Lady Be Good (April 1943)
The men you carried once
might be on Broadway
for all the good it would do.
Benghazi is, in real terms,
no closer than that gray desert.
They’ve set off across hills and
plains of sand instead of the sea
they thought waited below the dark.
Given a week their trek will be
complete for infinity’s hours.
Eventually, as it must,
the desert will finish
you as well, as you
finished your final flight
on its deceptive waves.
The slide into not being
will take as long as
the slide between low dunes,
though one is measured in years
and one eternity's seconds.
Rust won't do it. Left long enough,
you'll be blasted to atomic thinness
by your carpet carried on the air.
The truths within your mystery,
your memory, alone remain behind.
This poem was first published in Poems Against Cancer 2014, by Lennart Lundh.
Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965. Len can be found on Facebook, and his books are available from the VisionsWords store on Etsy, as well as on Amazon.
Collecting sins in old bottles, the days reach out and drop them
in like pebbles, still smelling of fond river beds. Yesterday, it was
the temptation of an improbable love, too big to fit into that
slim hipped flask, but sin is pliable, twists and changes as it is
gathered, as we change its name, change its colour, make it
bearable in the morning. When all those hours, all those words,
all that feel of skin on skin has been corked, when the bottles fill
the shelves and rooms and toss and turn on the breasts of the
tides, when everything has been cleansed and bathed and the rain
never stops falling, tell me then, when did love become a mistake.
Rajani Radhakrishnan: "I am from Bangalore, India and post my work on thotpurge.wordpress.com. Some of my poems have recently been featured in The Calamus Journal, Quiet Letter, Visual Verse and Parentheses Journal."
Tone Poem #1: The Bride Speaks
now I have taken all the bread and gathered it
inside my whale-like belly
for another time, or for when they dissect me
or if I have children
and petals from white roses too, plucked from
afar and sent into the avenues
and markets like cough-drop fairies
now I have sent out the last of many
invitations, lit all my candles and
turned on the hot water, before opening
the window for the first sound of birds
always a tree somewhere
connecting earth to ether
hope to what went before
a bride waiting to be kissed
something perfect prayed for
and a star just bright enough
to make it so
singing there must be singing
or at least the desire to sing
a moment of cultivated composure
before breath is expelled and with it
the universal melody of longing
even the naysayers who know
if we were meant to fly
God would have given us wishbones
even they have been invited because
even they want to get it right
this moment of grand intent
of one and one thousand
searching for coffee beans
and leather for my soles,
in the hush beneath the tower,
and the green whisper
comes an echo of shells
and the boots of occupiers,
and spoiling wine
the uncertain cut
of the tourists’ shirts,
blinking from crowds
bound by cobbled streets
behind shutters and doors
hands reach for wings.
how easy to become
lost to the world of men
to the thing of it
I could nod and nod forever
my mock acquiescence
live grateful for nothing
instead I wait
in this hiding place
bunkered against the light
as the sun intensifies
to mere artefact
ad libbing a prayer thumbing
the beans of a makeshift rosary
and I know he will come for me
love or some other small
revolution driving him to the tower
he will know not to look up
he will remember the direction
fear takes me
in the steel heat
children still trade marbles,
a turtle sneaks down the drain
and no-one notices
all eyes are bronzed
by the sun, bare chests
locked in the heroics of time
that is what becomes
of love here, an echo cupped
in our hands
it was never part
of anyone’s deal making
this shadow crossing
between wed and widowed
between mankind and man
friends spare each other
the whole truth
husbands and wives
forgive and forgive again
through a red fog
a father sees his father
in the shape of
his own raised fist
of hushed things
a thin reach of moonlight
from long dead skin
this single feather
Ashley Capes & Jane Williams
This poem was first published at Poetry Slave: Collaborative Verse.
Jane Williams is an Australian writer based in Tasmania. While best known for her poetry, Jane enjoys writing in a variety of forms and genres, combining photography with poetry and collaborating with other artists. She has been a featured reader in countries including the USA, Ireland, Malaysia, Czech Republic and Slovakia where she held a three month artist residency in 2016. Her most recent book is a collection of haiku and senryu Echoes of Flight, Ginninderra Press. Her first collection of poems for children will be published by Gininnderra Press in 2018. https://janewilliams.wordpress.com
Ashley Capes is a poet, novelist and teacher living in Australia. He teaches English, Media and Music Production, has played in a metal band, worked in an art gallery and slaved away at music retail. Aside from reading and writing, Ashley loves volleyball and Studio Ghibli –and Magnum PI, easily one of the greatest television shows ever made.
Rubber Glove Wedding Dress
Tier upon tier, this froth
of inside-out fingers, pinned
to a dressmaker’s dummy.
It must have taken weeks -
fingers deft inside fingers,
latex nipped and stretched
like balloons before the blowing
which makes you think of birthdays,
the prickle of magazine-pattern dresses
your mother stayed up to sew,
the terrycloth apron she wore
to wash up the best plates
and afterwards, Marigolds over taps,
her wedding ring, with its dusting of talc,
on the draining board.
The day you scrubbed up in white,
she had her first manicure,
Rose-Dawn-tipped fingers fussing,
pulling hooks and eyes tight.
Today, you can almost hear
her gallery whisper
berating this modern stuff –
this foamy pooling, this train
of gloves, empty-handed
as the pair you found yesterday
in the pockets of her coat.
Victoria Gatehouse is a Yorkshire-based poets whose work has featured in numerous magazines and anthologies. She originally trained as a scientist before working on her MA in Poetry from MMU. Victoria is particularly obsessed by the garment sculptures and installations of Suzie MacMurry who’s work she first encountered during a poetry course at Manchester Art Gallery. She has a pamphlet forthcoming with Valley Press and does voluntary work as a Library Ambassador for Calderdale.
Dance of the Palette Knife
the hand flies
the canvas bounces, receives
what the blade delivers
jabbing, jabbing, jabbing
leaving behind each time
its load of colour.
the blade scrapes
scratches and scribbles
replaces and scrapes
over blue over yellow
over white over black--
a synaptic map
of synaptic gaps
Anne Swannell’s work has appeared in anthologies from Leaf Press, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Chuffed Buff Books, OWF Press, Polar Expressions. Poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, Grain, Event, CV2, Prairie Fire, Dandelion, Antigonish Review, and many other literary journals. She has published three books of poetry.
Arca de Noé
My body is seasick with rot,
a few suns burn under my ribs
and bubble up to boil out my eyes.
I’m half a blown-out moon--
How strange to see
There’s a version of myself
over there behind the rock
bent double in selfish grief.
Is this what I get for thinking I could die?
The red deer are waiting
to climb aboard.
Where do they think I can take them,
when I’m so twisted in on myself,
my boards white as bone,
and my stern mocking me?
Who are these birds
that light on my other half,
and these cloud apparitions in the rain?
I dreamed of three brothers
throwing rocks off a rooftop.
The youngest had something to prove.
He threw too hard and as I watched,
he fell ten stories to the ground.
What have I done, bringing children
This poem first appeared in SurVision Magazine.
Jessica Purdy teaches Poetry Workshops at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. In 2014 she was nominated by Flycatcher for Best New Poets and Best of the Net. She was a featured reader at the Abroad Writers’ Conference in Dublin, Ireland, 2015. Recently her poems have appeared in The Light Ekphrastic, The Wild Word, SurVision Magazine, Silver Birch Press "Beach and Pool Memories" Series, Local Nomad, Bluestem Magazine, The Telephone Game, The Tower Journal, The Cafe Review, Off the Coast, and The Foundling Review. Her chapbook, Learning the Names, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. Her book STARLAND was published in October 2017 with Nixes Mate Books.
Death of a Fisherman, Alicante
after Heliodoro Guillén Pedemonti
There was the sea, impenitent,
ruffling its muddy plumage across Raval Rouge,
the altar boys scuffling by the doorstep
weighed down by candelabra,
men holding a stray oar, sword-like,
curious neighbours in feisty veils,
fishing nets splayed on walls
like rambling roses
and dawn, having tinged a rusty vine,
bearing a crucifix of light.
Abigail Ardelle Zammit
Editor's note: The wonderful image above is a placeholder and not the painting that inspired the poem. Zammit's poetry was prompted by a painting she viewed at MUBAG, The Museum of Fine Arts Gravina in Spain. The artwork was by Alicante artist Heliodoro Guillen Pedemonti, possibly also titled Death of a Fisherman. We regret we are unable to find an image to show or link. You can learn more about the artist here: http://www.mubag.com/guillen-pedemonti-heliodoro/.
Abigail Ardelle Zammit is from the island of Malta. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing (Lancaster) and has had poems published in various British and Canadian journals. Her first collection, Voices from the Land of Trees (Smokestack 2007), takes its inspiration from Guatemala’s violent past. Abigail’s second collection Portrait of a Woman with Sea Urchin won second prize in the Sentinel Poetry Book Competition (London) and was published in 2015. Abigail is a lecturer in English at the G.F. Abela Junior College. She has had workshops with many established poets and in 2016 she was a guest poet at the Inizjamed Mediterranean literature festival, thanks to which she started translating poems from Maltese into English. Her poetry spans various themes but there is a sustained interest in the relationship between text, body, landscape, coastal geographies and the female experience.
I was honoured to be approached by James B. Nicola, one of our poets here at The Ekphrastic Review, to blurb his poetry book. Here are the covers for his beautiful collection of ekphrases.
Click the link below to view, read blurbs, and order.
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The Ekphrastic Review
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