Giacometti’s The Cat
cast to crush
of common rats--
Dan MacIsaac, a trial lawyer, served for ten years as a director on the Environmental Law Centre board at the University of Victoria. In 2017, Brick Books published his collection of poetry, Cries from the Ark. His poetry, fiction and verse translations have been published in a wide variety of literary magazines, including Stand, The Malahat Review, Arc, and The American Journal of Poetry. His poetry has received awards including the Foley Prize from America Magazine. Dan MacIsaac’s work has been short-listed for the Walrus Poetry Prize and the CBC Short Story Prize. His website, which includes links to his poetry published in online journals, is www.danmacisaac.com.
Marisa's Birthday Gift to Her Friend the Owl
“What could she have been thinking”, a facebook friend
comments concerning the watercolour
I’ve posted. At three years old minus one month,
could she tell us…could she detach herself
from the wash of colours to reflect
on what decisions she’d made to place a figure
or splash here and not there…how would she answer…
the inverted “C”, for instance, and
the affiliated dashes and dots that occupy
the bottom half of the drawing paper. Brushed
in light orange, it catches the eye first,
half encapsulating two deft strokes running
parallel to each other in opposing green
whose route of escape—if they wished to escape--
is blocked at the entrance by a series
of dots like black guards manning a blockade…
was she thinking at all…I mean
at that place when and where thinking is
a function of putting aside or away
a part of self—the part entangled with all
that is out there: for instance, the mocking bird
I’m hearing just now, proclaiming its right
the part of self we never fully know
or wonder about, the ease of opening
our eyes to admit the world
into the wordless mind--
this continuance of see-er and seen
forgotten or put aside by degrees in exchange
for the piecing apart and attempt
of putting together of a seamless vision
no finger as yet has been laid upon
with supporting and opposing evidence.
Her mother texted me to say
she’d worked with total concentration—rare
at any age—on what was coming to light
in a wash of colours and when she’d finished,
in response to her mother’s question, she answered
“It’s a birthday gift for my friend the owl.”
A series of black dots, alternating with haphazardly
colored dashes, marks a pathway beginning
at the bottom left and continuing
below the inverted “C” (as if this figure
were being carried or floated to the right)
then spirals upward and around the “C” itself
where, at its midway point, the path forks
—the lesser path heading upward toward
the top half of the water colour, while
the main path circles the “C”, mirroring it
in dots, where at a point further along,
a dash is prolonged into one more
inverted “C” in a light wash
of opposing green.
The black dots and coloured dashes proceed
to the right then spiral upwards to divide
the top half of the painting into two quadrants.
The left quadrant shows long splashes
in green, pink and blue, each separated
from the others like islands adrift
on a sea of white.
Two deeply coloured splashes in dark grey
and orange dominate the right quadrant
contrasting with while balancing
the left quadrant. Seen now
in its entirety, the dots and dashes (some
mirroring the inverted “C” while others
pulling us to where they wish to go, coiling,
curving around and seemingly carrying
the three principle images) hold
the watercolour together.
The painting is complete: a gift
to her friend the owl.
In Japan an artist may attempt a line
a thousand, maybe a million times
before he or she traces that first spontaneous line,
the one the emptied mind perceives and frees
to flow directly to the hand and fingers
to the brush and onto the rice paper
a lifeless son lies prone across the lap
of the mourning mother…what steps must she
repeat before the dancer is the dance?
The canvas occupies the whole floor space
(or so it seems) as Lee Krasner sits
on a stool in the background as though watching
over the process, while Jackson Pollack
dribbles paint and sand onto the image
struggling into being at his feet
and under his straining body. Think
(because without thought we are almost tool-less). Think
of hot humid days along the southern coast
of Eastern Long Island, of dreams drenched in alcohol,
waking with the taste of dust in your mouth. Think
of the bitterness and the joy: Montauk pointing
to sunrise across the endlessly rocking ocean
and home in the far Mid-West and how many
dribbles of paint it takes, how from a plan,
time after time delayed, altered, broken,
and from chance a pattern emerges.
I’ve seen graphs of the courses various
sub-atomic particles may take
when the atom is smashed in a particle accelerator
and it occurred to me that Jackson Pollock
was no abstract artist. He painted energy,
the struggle to be…which was his soul…
and this time without thought, see
the watchful mother and the child painting
the birthday gift for her friend the owl.
I think (which is my compensation
for a mind no longer emptied, perhaps
my booby prize) is it energy that
children paint—all the children:
those who have mommies and daddies who love them;
and the children locked in cages and those
without food who haunt the border between
two states neither of which loves them, and those,
before they washed up, face down, along a beach
with all the ocean’s detritus.
But the steps, the thousand lines of ink,
the dribbled paint…can for one moment the mind,
emptied and mindful, open to the things
of this world?
and only once, a small pink rubber ball
was batted or punched across a poor
asphalt field—all the grinding city could afford--
and I, last to be chosen for a side
—and often out of charity—perceived
the perfect arc through air, and without thought
became the catcher waiting at the end
of its curve…part of its curve. It may happen.
The gift is given.
We are the owl.
Vincent Spina is from Brooklyn, NY. He is a retired Associate Professor of Spanish Language and South American Literature. Spina has published three books of poetry: OUTER BOROUGH: Pecan Grove Press, 2008; DIALOGUE: The Poet’s Press, 2015; THE SUMPTUOUS HILLS OF GULFPORT: Lamar University Literary Press, 2017. Recent poems have appeared In VOX POPULI, an online journal, VEXT, also online and THE BRIDGE LITERARY ARTS JOURNAL.
About Suffering, by Gary Leising
Henry Clay Frick before Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl
Since childhood I haven't suffered in the flesh
save eyestrain from hunching over a ledger
in light dimmed to conserve oil.
Sleep stopped my eyes' burning.
I was happy when you were born. But now I'm forgetting
your life, have only things: a quilt's singed corner,
a once-worn dress, and a shuttlecock's gray feathers.
Awkward, posed pictures recall memories
of your sick bed, Easter services, a September lawn game.
Only in memory survives the image of you
coughing up blood. There your bones ratchet
beneath barely-concealing skin. Speechless
doctors watch. In their breaths, I hear she'll
on the inhale. On the exhale, die. She'll die. She'll die.
I believe you are seen by those
who glimpse beyond this world to make art
with scenes alive in God’s world, like this laughing girl
the age you would be now. Vermeer set her
where windowed sunlight gestures to the room's vanishing point.
She rises from the shadows of her dress.
The officer's profile hints at facial hair. If he turned
to face me, I'd see his beard creep from where there is no skin,
half his face only skull, jagged where teeth meet bone.
You smile because this is beautiful to you,
but your—that girl’s—her perspective hurts me.
You weren't meant to reach her age, so
I offer you enchanted smiles like this girl's,
stretching for light beyond this window pane.
Gary Leising is the author of the book, The Alp at the End of My Street, from Brick Road Poetry Press (2014). He has also published three poetry chapbooks: The Girl with the JAKE Tattoo (Two of Cups Press, 2015), Temple of Bones (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Fastened to a Dying Animal (Pudding House, 2010) He lives in Clinton, New York, with his wife and two sons, where he teaches creative writing and poetry as a professor of English.
Melancholy Woman, by Leland James
of those with syphilis
the prison Saint Lazare
the same of Pablo ached
she would surely wither
the ache in her unlocked
unchecked left rotting
the drape of blue
her chiseled face
to drop away
not yet today
Pablo knew this face
and recently another
from Montmartre the same
—he wrote "the artist & his model"
turn your back
but stay in view at the same time
(now look away,
anything else confuses) …
i separate day from night
and the starless sky
from the empty heart--
with syphilis imprisoned
like the other all the others
away in a prison cell
the window behind her
painted without bars
Leland James is the author of five poetry collections, four children’s books in verse, and a book on creative writing and poetry craft. He has published over three hundred poems in poetry venues worldwide including Rattle, The Lyric, London Magazine, The London Reader, The South Carolina Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New Millennium Writings, The American Poetry Review, Acumen, Carillon Magazine, The Dawntreader, The Haiku Quarterly, Taj Mahal Review, The American Cowboy, and The Ekphrastic Review. Leland was the winner of The UK’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and the Writer’s Forum Short Poem contest. In the USA, Leland has won The Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize, the Portland Pen Poetry Contest, and was the winner of an Atlanta Review International Publication Prize. Runners-up and Honors: the Sequestrum Editor's Reprint Awards, the Fish International Poetry Prize in Ireland, the Welsh International Poetry Prize, London Magazine Poetry Contest, and Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Award for Poetry. Honors: the Bridport Prize, Morton Marr, The Southwest Review, and many others. Leland has been featured in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Kansas was the first state to completely close its school buildings. This drastic shift from face-to-face teaching to digital lessons was a shock for everyone, and it required a lot of quick creativity.
Tina McIver, ELA teacher at Council Grove Jr-Sr High School, had to transform her regular English courses and her Creative Writing class. Creative Writing, a class that is normally very high-energy and interactive, had to be reduced to videos and Google Slides.
Mrs. McIver decided to try out something new with her students. After doing intensive research into ekphrastic poetry, she launched a series of lessons that would ultimately end in each student selecting a piece of artwork to use as the basis for an ekphrastic poem. The video “Vincent” by Don McLean was used as an introductory piece for the lessons.
From there, students analyzed figurative language and word choice in other poems and spent some time “visiting” art museums (virtually) to get an idea of what type of artwork they enjoyed. Then, they selected a piece of art and got to work.
Over the course of the next week, students met virtually with Mrs. McIver to discuss their poems and consider modifications and edits that might make the poems even better. Finally, students combined their poems with the artwork and finished their submissions.
A Woman and A Rose
She stares out the window,
Not because it makes the lighting better,
But because everything out there
Is much more interesting
Than the dull thoughts of a painter
Who only refers to women as flowers.
She hopes you mean the dress.
She can see the resemblance.
It’s stiff, prickly,
And highly overrated.
She prefers daisies anyway.
Never before has she felt so trapped
In her own home.
It’s not her house,
But her father’s.
At least the chair is comfortable.
What she would give
To be out the window, down the road,
On a grand adventure.
That’s what all the books say, anyway.
What she would give,
To travel the world.
And she’s sure she could
than this man.
But every day she finds herself
Back in this house
Of gold and of red.
It’s quite exquisite,
She should think herself lucky.
Lucky to have this life,
Lucky to be drawn
By this man.
Who can’t tell the difference between
And a rose.
Carissa (15) likes cows and Chris LeDoux.
The Beauty of Lilies
Lily pads glisten.
Lavender and blush petals float silently, in peace.
The light of a full day shines bright.
Lily pads, petals, and lush flowers glow from below.
The frog’s crooooaaak. The wind
slowly swishes across the sparkling water.
A willow drapes over the pond, leaves sweep the water.
Ripples dance across the water.
Dusk sets in.
Soft silk lilies close for the night, to reopen in the sun when birds peeeeep,
And the water sees the light of day.
Eden (16) loves the beach and raspberries.
Her Facial Features
Fake smiles circling the room
With “Good Afternoons”
And friendly gestures
Cheeky kisses and handshakes
With a white teacup.
Ruffled pink and white dress.
Striped black and grey chair.
Someone is watching her.
But, she is thinking of something else
Perhaps about the party? No.
Perhaps about her husband? No.
Curly headed and slightly slouched down,
next to a tray of flowers
she sees the butler staring.
Giving him “The look,”
Fake smiles run the room
With “Good Afternoons”
And friendly gestures
Cheeky kisses and handshakes
She is thinking of her great life,
full of potential and possibility.
Knowing she will live her life,
to the fullest as she can.
Michelle (16) likes ranching and photography.
The Last Meal
Well, this is it
I'd never thought that I
Would find myself in the lion's pit.
I don't belong here in this vile hole of death
I didn't do anything, and the worst part:
There's no way out.
These majestic, yet ferocious, cats aren't paying too much mind yet
But a few are beginning to circle each other,
just outside of the crisp sunlight pouring in.
Perhaps they are fighting over which will get to finish me off.
Only if that hole was a bit closer, then I could get the freedom I deserve
But it’s just out of reach. I have tried everything, but it's no use.
I am screaming for someone to help me, but no one cares.
As utterly terrifying as this moment is
I can only wonder,
What was the last thing I drank?
Or the last meal I had? I can't remember, but I bet it was great.
But now that there is virtually no way out,
The only thing crossing my mind is
That I'm about to be the last meal I'll ever attend.
Kaleb (16) likes anime and his friends.
Self-Portrait with Blake
My body was born from infernal
metal, made man. Bone black and
madder lake, vermilion, yellow ocher,
and Prussian blues. Beyond all this I
will die for you, and I am glad for it.
My arms stay splaying, outstretched as
a dancing Leonardo, I sing from my
spire flailing like a tarot fool. A
bastard angel. I am the invention of
zero, burning in my holy place,
I am the little creator and my
happiness is immense. Beneath the
starlight the sun radiates my joy. I
have no pretense of mind. I bray to
the wind from god's symmetry
Daniel Haskin is a Buffalo NY based poet, writer, musician, artist, and illustrator. His chapbooks of poetry include Amnesia, Past Life Invisible, The Shallow Sea, and his newly published work, Picture Book: Love, Death Time, and Assorted Ekphrasis. He has also been published in various newspapers, and international journals.
Saffron Honey Hugs
For behold, blood cometh from every pore,
so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness
and the abominations of his people.
He hugs me.
And oh, I’m home.
He drapes me around his body. I spread myself across his shoulder, shying off of his elbow.
I’m a crimson red: symbolic.
Similar to the colour of his blood. Sticky strings scrape his chafed skin creating streaks of ribbon
Leeching sacred drops of saffron honey,
His skin still gleams white
White and righteous
Ton-heavy with sorrow.
His sclera rolls back
Syrian Christ Thorns dig- dig and dig
Finding spaces in the flesh of his scalp
A scream, a yell, a cry for help
Yet the sole answer he receives
Comes suffocated with leather,
Their endless tails haul metal spheres in silt
The crack of a whip
The sound of brutality
Voice of humiliation
Each step: the equivalent to balls of lead
He stares at the sky, soggy with tears
He knows His plan.
Knows His truth
His sternum vibrates against his dermis,
Shaking me too,
And though I wrinkle
He never seizes me with disgust.
His eyes swell with empathy: adoration
Towards me, for me
Sagging in his arms,
He carries me,
As he carries your sins
Bleeding from every pore
Living your sorrows and afflictions
Each of his shoulders serving each of your legs
They call it
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
Amrutha Obulasetty is a freshman at Utah State University, majoring in Psychology and English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, and she is a recently published author for the University magazine, Sink Hollow. Amrutha lives in Chandler, Arizona and is a proud member of the Utah State Speech and Debate team, the Leadership Society of Arizona, and a grateful volunteer for ASSERT and Teen Lifeline.
Dali’s Invisible Man at Home
Truth is a sword that slices along
two edges—for mercy, for justice;
lovely as spring blossoms, yet
able to cut. It’s certainly not
what he says, what he does,
deceiving innocents at a river bank
usually near dusk; not who he says
he is in the dark where he fails
to see any difference. Because tonight,
as truth sharpens at least one edge,
he scrambles for the invisible
cloak of Father reading to his child
a bedtime story of rainbow promises
in skies now clear of storms;
the invisible ware of Husband
trying to resuscitate his coding
marriage—brush of skin, vintage
wine under early evening stars.
How surprising when all to him
seems like wrapping arthritic knees
in silken bands against the threat
of gale-force winds.
Because tonight, he sees
the yellow clouds shaping his hair;
ruins scattered across barren landscape
forming his upper torso, the panic
striking face and lash-less eyes;
waterfalls creating the legs that carried
him to and from a secret rendezvous
where he broke it off with a little red
dress, tongue-ring clicking against
her teeth. Arm roping her shoulders,
he sold the shapely, short-lived lie
of love that doesn’t last. She bought it,
only to end up with lean fingers in a lion’s
clutch at nothing by the lapping waves.
Stuns him, though, when her tears
haunted his trek home … where now
he wades the disquieting
end of trying to hide from a tyranny
of conscience not the Father nor
the Husband ever knew he had.
Olga Dugan is a Cave Canem poet from Philadelphia, PA. Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes, her award-winning poems appear in The Southern Quarterly, Virga, Kweli, E-Verse Radio, The Sunlight Press, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal, Origins, Cave Canem: XIII, The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, Tipton Poetry, and other publications. Articles on poetry and culture appear in The Journal of African American History, The North Star, and Emory University's “Meet the Fellows.”
To Joaquin Torres Garcia Regarding Pintura As Your Call To Constructivism Was Nearing...
Your fleeting dream -- art undefined
by label someone else designed --
I daresay you had here achieved
in Paris real and yet perceived
as absent depth in flattened view
with somber, planar beings who
appear collaged to stagnant scene,
each by the others never seen,
of flesh and clothing indistinct
unclearly to your purpose linked
unless, perhaps, to have us see
that urban anonymity
is, rather than the blessing, curse
of being polar and diverse.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
The Longings of a Separate Self
Leaving the tabac
from an innocuous errand
taken up at perhaps an odd hour.
Who can predict when ordinary needs
for a stamp,
a smoke, a lotto ticket,
a magazine, or even
a small candy, will strike.
Walking back home I see her,
at her usual night time sentry post,
woman in red, whore of the night,
One side of me sees her
as an expense my soul cannot afford,
yet, a part of me wants to stop
to discover the exotic
revel in her flame, bring
flash of colour into my drab life.
Only part of me wants this—I think--
at least for now.
Joan Leotta is a frequent contributer to The Ekphrastic Review. She loves writing ekphrastic poetry and other forms. She also writes essays, newspaper and magazine articles, short fiction, books, and even a play. Her blog, joanleottarecipes.com, offers recipes for dishes mentioned in the Inspector Montalbano mystery series. In addition, she performs tales of food, fmaily, and strong women. In the fall, she will debut her one woman show, Louisa May Alcott, Civil War Nurse.
Ten years before Tradition of the Abstract Man
he paints two men in contrast, one light, one dark,
a tobacco sign above, and a woman beside
the image of a pool parlor.
He’s in Paris, was in New York, and city life influences
a mind full of signs and symbols, arrows and buildings,
letters in Spanish with the simple title Painting
reserving complexity for handmade books,
taking commerce into art the way a banner of a bare
Coppertone behind is pulled by a twin-engine plane
along beaches over and over in poems
about my youth.
This painting is in motion, different than Nighthawks,
that scene of Edward Hopper that came later,
the tension of men and women created in a garden
brought to the city by a revolution industrial.
There is darkness under the streetlights.
Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
She is not quite refined
She is not quite a trollop
Unchaperoned she finds herself in a place she ought
not to be
The café has closed,
where will she go?
Carole Mertz has reviewed poetry collections at Main Street Rag, Eclectica, Copperfield Review, The Compulsive Reader, and elsewhere. She finds ekphrastics among the most enjoyable approaches. Carole plays piano, paints, and rides a bike in Parma, Ohio, where she resides with her husband.
Three Stanzas Standing on the Sidewalk
Contrasts begin this monochrome world.
A canvas: paint.
black man red woman white man
addicted to preconception
like the first man who counted his money
in hieroglyphics from beyond the grave
or the hand reaching in its pocket
A canvas: paint.
The woman waits.
The streetlamp is concrete, not giving
anything to the progression beneath
which is as natural as 6 following 5
in any nameless café or the insatiable need
to define with words and colours.
Emerging from the threshold
the white man’s eyes receive the street, his gaze
my gaze, a canvas painted,
his feet elevated, his coat armoured
against the wind in a way
the blankness cannot defend.
Wilson Taylor is a poet living in New York City. Most recently his work landed in The Merrimack Review; all of his writing can be found online at wilsontaylorwrites.wordpress.com.
So Close But So Far Away
Five before seven
most every Monday thru Friday
come wet or dry
cold or warm
in the dark or in light,
the lady in red
and the man in black
stand next me in line
awaiting to breakfast
at Café de Pintura.
We don’t say a word
avoiding eye to eye contact
observe passing traffic
and early morning joggers
as fluorescents glow white
while glancing at our watches
to listen for the door unlock
promptly on seven.
I don’t know the duo’s names
wouldn’t recognise them on the Metro
have no idea of their back stories
or the apartments they call home
though often wonder
who they are
where they work
whether they are in love
or if they have been hurt.
But for now we social distance
keeping so far apart
he wears a white face mask
she wraps round a silk scarf, red
as we order our breakfast
at Café de Pintura
with doors bolted shut for
“Only Window Service”
displayed in three tongues.
Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He particularly enjoys ekphrastic challenges. In 2019, he was a Featured Writer of the Federation of Writers Scotland.
broke through our dreams,
warned of early rising waters,
brown, shadowed, sent
damp- raw tobacco scents
to steam up the yellowing papered walls
in our rooms. The cafe’s windows, low, grey,
later framed us as we shelled cranberry and runner beans,
their pearly pigments pouring rich
over beige ceramic platters at our meagre,
common meals. There was the aromatic blend
of pecans, cinnamon, of car fumes and loud voices
drifting through each time the cafe’s front doors shifted.
Sometimes, a round of silences surrounding
the negative spaces and solitary streetlamp along our stretch
of the rue Saint-Honoré floated in. We snuck cupfuls
of blended orange aperitif, were warmed enough
to enlighten our shaded shadowed
sorrowful souls with the hope that we might again meet one day
another crested awning
in our beloved city. May that moment be
a promise of healing,
redemption, and not
a shifting perspective
from another dream.
J. Adams Lagana
J. Adams Lagana’s poetry has previously appeared in Atlanta Review, Naugatuck River Review, the Paterson Literary Review, and others. She is the co-editor of River Heron Review and resides with her family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. jlagana.com
Meeting at Night
after Eavan Boland
A packet of cigarettes to sit snug in the pocket.
(This on a monochrome stroll towards that café.
In the Marais.)
She’s there, they see, under the awning. Burnt up.
A flare of paint.
Their talk turns to where they’re going. This trio. What
route they should take.
Her question is which of these two to trust, given
their black-or-whiteness. All’s even.
So go nowhere. Stay right here. Watch the night disappear
and speak rarely:
all buy drinks. An impasse. Laughter in the bars. And
in the past.
Michael Caines was longlisted for this year's National Poetry Competition and highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly competition for winter 2019
I. Dear Joaquin
Your building blocks of another world
Reflect my someone-else-ness
Would that I knew your Montevideo, Catalan,
shared visits through Barcelona,
that I could see what you have seen,
paint with words what colours speak.
II. Thank you
Simplified bare but not barren
I long for green, the verdant you left out.
Insistent hues wrap the world
like brown paper packages
tied up with pedestrian stares.
I feel your challenge to wander
the streets I once enjoyed.
III. Saludos, Goodbye
You tell me to move but let the eyes linger.
Stop among the billiards,
step out of the rain.
Dance the city but don’t let it show
We know you know,
you know we see
the places we would rather be.
K. M. Huber
K. M. Huber’s work is coloured by growing up in the USA’s Pacific Northwest, a decade in NYC, and many years living in South America. Her stories and poems have appeared in Earth Island Journal, Diner, McGuffin, Post Road, Pydras Review and ViceVersa among others. She has recently moved to Tennessee with her Peruvian husband and her novel of sixth-century Nazca is looking for a home.
In math terms
It is easy
Think of it
As a word problem
In this word problem
There is a 1926 DeSoto Sedan
The seating could happily seat
Three across the front
One of the three or
Each one of the three
Could take turns driving
Or, if it is a long journey,
One driving, one passenger front, one seated behind
Or at a passionate rest stop
Three across the back
If the journey
Is as long and as difficult
As love often is
There is room for
One or two
In the trunk
Remember some one
must drive the getaway
John Stickney is a poet and writer originally from Cleveland, Ohio, now living in the Wilmington NC area.
Three Cherita and Cherita Terbalik Poems in response to Joaquin Torres Garcia
1. Remember when we were
all coffee grounds
on a Saturday night
made more bitter
scatter spent by dawn?
2. She knew a door
for what it was–
not portal but promise.
In the street sign spotlight
her winning smile
(never mind fingers crossed).
3. Midnight puddles shine
solid gold cufflinks,
How I miss the simple
business of buttons
doing their duty!
Emily Reid Green
Emily Reid Green's poetry has appeared in various publications, including: Gravel, Khroma Magazine, 1932 Quarterly, Moon Magazine, and The Ekphrastic Review. Her first chapbook Still Speak was published earlier this year by Writing Knights Press. She has also been a sponsored poet with Tiferet Journal and their annual poem-a-thon. Emily lives in Toledo, Ohio with her family.
56 Café Lima, Peru
Lima. Gentle girls.
They find you.
Mi amor. Mi rey.
Want to be happy?
A tunnel would be leading
from Lima’s Plaza de Armas
down, down, baja,
straight to Bangkok,
to Pat Phong and the girl
who can blow
smoke rings down under.
Want to be happy?
In America everything
so big, no?
Oh my! H̄ıỵ̀ !
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and Tangents, a full-length poetry collection published in the UK in 2011, She’s three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition. Recent poetry collections: From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949: A Child’s Journey, and Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back. Her latest full-length poetry MS, The Rain Girl, will be published by Chaffinch Press in 2020.
The language of death
The language of dying
like a sword,
the inside bleeding,
the inside covered
the silence entombed
The language of deceased
is like shrouded bones--
to the remains--
the before of never.
The language of gone
is a call without
a response, so loud
The language of absence
is on the other side--
no matter which
Kerfe Roig plays with words and images in her apartment in NYC. You can see the results on her blog https://kblog.blog/.
Memory of the Fleeing
I stroll past cafes and remember your
wide smile across a small table,
fit my feet between the stones of a
foreign street we once conquered together,
glimpse the palaces and plazas whose difficult
pronunciations I’ve replaced with your name
I feel the beach breeze of Montevideo,
I watch the moon rise behind Punta Ballena,
I remember the sight of your plane, shrinking
as it distanced –– enough for me to hide it
behind my thumb
I soak in the hot air of Uruguay nights,
I learn what it means to have come and gone,
I thank the South American wind for bringing us together;
I curse the promise of America for carrying you away.
Niko Malouf is a teenager living in Los Angeles. "I enjoy writing about the things that surround me, stimulate me, the events of my adolescence as well as the happenings of the world. I hope to share my experiences and perspective with others and inspire them to do the same."
La java des petits diables
Ils font la java devant le bar tabac
et tabassent les gars à qui la gueule leur déplaît,
et les filles faciles leur emboitent le pas.
Tu montes, chérie ?
Elle monte, ils montent, ils montent tous les trois
et n’amènent aucune nouvelle ni a Gand ni a Aix,
car la bête a deux dos, depuis la nuit des temps,
beugle toujours, connaît tout, blasée.
Tu montes, chérie ?
Et la rue remplie d’ombres du phare sur la mer,
appelle les marins et les marins d’eaux douce
de faire la java dans les chambres d’hôtels,
louées à l’heure, avec filles faciles,
qui guettent les clients depuis la porte,
étoiles fatiguées, du Bar du Port.
Un chat passe,
la nuit chante un hymne à l’amour,
sur un brin d’air marin et un parfum fade
et l’odeur rance de vieux mégots.
Lost Boys and Girls
They ruckus in front of the Bar du Port
beat up the kids whose faces don’t fit
and the painted girls sidle up close,
Tu montes, chérie?
So they gallop, she gallops, they gallop all three,
and they bring no good news not to Ghent nor Aix,
for the beast with two backs, since the dawn of time
knows it all, seen everything, yawns as it moans,
Tu montes, chérie?
And the lights of the port fill with shadows the streets,
a beacon draws sailors and landsmen the same,
to kick up a ruckus in hotel rooms,
let by the hour, with painted girls
who watch for trade from the bar tabac door,
red star-glitter of the Bar du Port.
A cat slopes past,
night sings a hymn
to love on the sea air of cheap perfume
and the stale reek of old dog ends.
Jane Dougherty lives and works in southwest France. Her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, Hedgerow Journal, Visual Verse, ink sweat and tears, Eye to the Telescope, Nightingale & Sparrow, the Drabble, Lucent Dreaming and The Ekphrastic Review. She has a well-stocked blog at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
Joaquín Torres-García’s Un Caballito
Childhood, terrain of nightmares,
old folktales about witches and demons
shapes and figures in the dark
behind the Iron Curtain
the land of your people
swoop across colours in grey
an old hag sitting on your cot while you sleep
a mare peeks from behind a door.
It slides down. Flies under the table. A big lump
play taking the Thanatos out of the Eros
white rocking horse,
wood put together with dowel and peg,
painted over rough texture, carved
and incised. Simple shape,
a red saddle, black pigments.
your father receives censored letters
aunts, uncles, and cousins
you’ve never met.
Muted amaranth pink
the sky in Earth’s shadow.
Ilona Martonfi is an editor, poet, curator, advocate and activist. Author of four poetry books, the most recent collection is Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna, 2021). Writes in journals, anthologies, and six chapbooks. Her poem “Dachau on a Rainy Day” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. Artistic director of Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. QWF 2010 Community Award.
Through the dark door
of the hidden underworld
a man and his shadow
slip beside the spoon-street-lamp
sneaking snuff into their pockets
outside a tobacco shop.
A lady of the night
curves a blood-orange dress
she hustles in the light
of a cafe window
where pool players shoot billiards.
I spied three cut-outs in a painted collage
looking out at me observing them
knowing that I knew what they did.
I caught them in the act,
their button eyes startled
on a murky night in Uruguay
in black brown grey.
Tanya Adèle Koehnke
Tanya Adèle Koehnke is a member of the Scarborough Poetry Club. Tanya’s ekphrastic poems appear in The Canvas and Big Arts Book. Tanya taught critical writing about the visual arts at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU). Tanya also has a background in arts journalism.
In Paris, 1928
It was the year for roaring in Paris.
Smoky cafés for flapping, emancipating,
cabarets for toe-tapping. It was the year
of androgyny, rebellion, extravagance,
a stock-market bubble.
Iconoclastic artists—their brushes beastly
with colour—cubed the human body, lingered
over absinthe, late-night tête-à-têtes.
Contentious debates, like mental tugs-of-war,
pitted classical against avant-garde.
It was the year of Duesenbergs, Bugattis,
Peugeot Landaulets, hot cars swerving around
horses and carriages, madmen with new toys.
Flâneurs idly strolled the grands boulevards,
the chestnut shade of the Tuileries.
It was the year for high fashion, Coco Chanel,
pearl necklaces, wide lapels and cricket jackets,
white or black, the homburg, bowler,
cloche. Artists caught between reason and
feeling, figuration and abstraction.
It was the year for thoughts of the circle
and the square. For the grid. For the voice
of Joaquin Torres Garcia, artist,
For the mystical and the material.
Sandi Stromberg lived more than 20 years in Europe, but, alas, never in Paris. She would like to have experienced the City of Lights in 1928, but probably not in 1929!
She had always been able to see the corona around the head and had made her living that way for awhile, traveling from fair to fair reading auras and fortunes, telling people where there were breaks in the envelope around them and how to fix them, who to ask for help and where they could be found.
And while those days were long gone and she had a proper job and a mortgage again now, the ability to see still stood close by her throughout her days, like the patience of underlings waiting for attention so they might have a word.
She appreciated this of course. An underling herself, she knew something about waiting steadfast at the gate. So this sort of peace between them, her ability and her, this sort of agreement around energetic chalk marks where one began and the other ended, had become part of the measure of her days.
And if she noticed an aura, she took note of it for her own guidance but rarely remarked on it to its owner, knowing the low tolerance for this type of thing in the community she lived in now.
When the virus started to spread and the lockdowns began, she began to see things differently. At first, she noticed light glaring around the heads of those she encountered on the street and a few holes near the heart where their auras had been pierced and attacked. These encounters were few and at a recommended distance, so she couldn’t be completely sure of what she was seeing. She didn’t think too much about them really, having concerns of her own now over survival.
But soon this shifted along with the government’s warnings on the new iterations the virus was taking and further precautions that would be needed.
She had begun to volunteer at the food pantry and animal shelter preparing boxes of foods to fill the hundreds of cars on line for hours to receive them. There was no work now. Only need.
She and her coworkers were gloved and masked and mostly silent, though furiously busy. And while this made them a little harder to get to know, she could still read them.
The light around their heads began to recede and spill down the body as the weeks went on, forming shapes—the outline of a trumpet, a chandelier, a bell—instead of their typical egg shape. She herself could no longer tell where her own chalk lines began and ended. All she could do was see, and she knew patience was at its end and her ability had come forward to stay.
And so she watched as the bodies stretched out to fill their new light shapes. Faces elongated vertically looking like cornices at the top of buildings while the body below flared into the shape of a chalet or narrowed into a bassoon or kayak or any shape at all that revealed the present condition of the heart of its owner.
All these people shapes tumbled together as each day unfolded— like a kaleidoscope congregating then into patterns. Within each pattern she saw the sickled moon face of the virus and the domino path it planned to follow. And then she had to say it. Had to tell them what she saw. The geography of it—where plates rubbed and bucked against one another; where silt slowly dropped off the water’s edge floating down through to the bottom of the water; what was happening or going to happen inside them soon.
Eventually they would build her right into the town’s wall—an anchoress as their own personal gyroscope for the days ahead—and would feed her through her window, plaiting her white hair that reached her feet and bringing her sweet smelling cream to rub into her skin.
But first it was only wonder, blinking questions “Tell me my fortune.” “Will I?” “Is there?” “What can you see?” The mind being the box that it is and need, so much need, being insatiable and therefore, like an onion, without a core.
Some people did survive. She did. And while their aura was never truly rounded again, it was no longer as angular, the sickle shape of the virus having gone back to the moon after all while the sun, the glorious sun, radiated again round and ready shouting with life.
But for those who didn’t, who kept their odd geometry as they climbed back up to the moon, she raised her face at night in the window of her cell under the stars and recited their names and remembered for hours until moonlight spilled down and the earth was briefly quiet.
Kate is a Pittsburgh based writer who works for a large, urban school system by day and practices yoga, pottery, and improv comedy at night. She has been published previously in The Ekphrastic Review.
Second Light, by Rebecca Ellis
“There is always colour, it has yet to become light.” Pierre Bonnard
He liked white tables, their surfaces flat and square.
Objects of daily life moved into the painting randomly
like cats, choosing their own places.
Each cup or sugar bowl or mustard-coloured pitcher
with a line of green clovers around the lip
settled into the canvas as if it had forgotten
what it was, remembering only now the part of itself
that conversed with light, vibrating and humming
energies of ochre, blue, white, orange.
Around the room any available frame became willingly
a painting within a painting – window, door, mirror,
the yellow panel of a tablecloth on which a platter,
regally white and glowing, sat.
In these paintings his Marthe stood at the edge,
blending into a chair or partially hidden by a Japanese screen, or
behind a table quietly spooning food into a dish
for the small brown dachshund.
Earlier, there had been Marthe at her bath, violet and soft,
but in later years he began painting her bristling with hot colours
as she bent, in her quiet way, over a breakfast bowl.
The blue electric flowers from the wallpaper
reflected in her hair, the vibrations out of control.
When she was gone, the paintings grew furious,
steeped in wild reds. Windows became plunging vertical lines
and table legs refused perspective. The days
were hot colors, the thick lonely pleasure of viridian,
lemon cadmium, Venetian red, where tabletops
could not be contained except by their colour.
The wallpaper with its border of bold black stripes,
much like those on Marthe’s blouse
so long ago, constructed the only solid lines
in this part of his life, where wide platters might reflect
a hive of gold dashes at the window
behind the unused blue cup, the quiet white bowl.
Rebecca Ellis lives in southern Illinois. Her poems can be found in Bellevue Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Naugatuck River Review, Sugar Mule, Sweet, Prairie Schooner, Natural Bridge, Adanna, RHINO, and Crab Creek Review. She is a Master Naturalist through the University of Illinois Extension Service, and has learned to be equally at home with mallards and mergansers and poems.
The Ekphrastic Review
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