Songs, by Kate Copeland
To C. - as we live ...
Something about birdsong, a Spring morning,
the total freedom at daybreak, and, when
you elude last night's thoughts,
the evening wine,
then, tear the windows open,
invite the blackbirds in -
Something about blue tunes, the Summer set
a total dreamdom on days two-faced, and, when
you read the words you saved,
the songs he sang,
then, feel the vastness afresh,
invite the promises in -
Something about last flowers, in lasting fields,
the dogs out at light hours, and, when,
safe grounds seemed tried, clogged
by angry clouds, by
heaven's songbook, when
the heavenly mind might shroud -
Then, something about firm lines, in lasting skies
will make you not fall of the earth,
not set sail for temporary truce, so, when
you play snowy weather, you
have the towers fuel your terms,
then, you will learn, the space between songs.
Kate Copeland started absorbing stories ever since a little lass. Her love for words led her to teaching & translating, her love for art & water to poetry…please find her pieces @ The Ekphrastic Review (plus Podcast & translations), First Lit.Review-East, GrandLittleThings, The Metaworker, The Weekly/Five South, New Feathers, Poetry Barn, Poetry Distillery a.o. Her recent Insta reads: : https://www.instagram.com/kate.copeland.poems/ Over the years Kate has volunteered at literary festivals and is now assisting Lisa Freedman with Breathe-Read-Write workshops. She was born @ Rotterdam some 53 ages ago and adores housesitting @ the world.
Contemplation on Cove
You pull me in
with centrifugal grandeur
Are you real
or my deepest fear swirling up in Ecstasy?
barricaded off by your enticing
or is it just a beach in sunshine glory?
mirrored in the patient sea
Seductive emerald green
teasing me downward
like dimples in a benevolent face
Rock formations only to the right
framing your gaping mouth
Staggered charcoal with roots in violent red
you’re pulling me in
Yet, swirling sunlight seeding diamonds
into the patient soil of ocean depths
Glowing carpet bowl
keeps me rooted in the here and now
And then –
The unexpected horror
facing faces down below
in golden water cave
far out-measuring your impenetrable gazing gate
Kaleidoscope of spirits
Regal ancient cat
Smiling faces – screaming faces
layered fragments blending with each other
merging with a mighty deer
Sediments of human life and history
Darkness you draw me in
Black Hole of long-lost Womb
Golden Promise – Nectar Bridge
Glowing Belt of the Abyss
Slicing the Unknown in Half
Brazen Bridge or Barrier
Are you the New Horizon Path?
Inviting us for more behind the Veil?
Attraction and Repulsion
Do I really want to know
what’s on the Other Side?
Let me surrender
follow your Dark Call
into my innermost Self –
Eelka Franziska Lampe
Eelka Franziska Lampe, Ph.D., is a bi-coastal writer/poet and teacher of the healing arts. Her essays and poems have been published in various journals and anthologies including MoonstoneArts Center's Remembering The Wasteland - 100th Anniversary, 26th Annual Poetry Ink Anthology, and First Literary Review-East. Eelka has presented at Brooklyn Poets, Artful Dodgers, MBR Salon in Chelsea, Olympic Peninsula Authors and others.
Pointillism, by Jane Blanchard
Look! There she is, and there she goes,
Within the limits of this view.
She had much rather run than pose.
As she proceeds, an image grows:
Brown, yellow, white, gold, black, and blue.
Look! There she is, and there she goes.
Why begs the question of who knows.
What else is there for her to do?
She had much rather run than pose.
She seems at ease—yet not—in clothes.
Her dress and boots could well be new.
Look! There she is, and there she goes.
Her style? Heels favoured less than toes.
How lots of lively dots accrue!
She had much rather run than pose.
Her preference for movement shows.
Perhaps she never will be through.
Look! There she is, and there she goes.
She had much rather run than pose.
This villanelle by Jane Blanchard of Augusta, Georgia, was first published in Time of Singing. Jane’s collections include Never Enough Already (2021) and Sooner or Later (2022).
Oh Guston, by David Duer
Your red six-lane ramp
Rising into a blue sky tinged
Pink with sunset
And the nude descending that ramp
What was on your mind in 1979
Metallic shields and Frisbees
Some bleary as graveyard shift eyeballs
Menstrual pads and cheese graters
Orange and red and blue phalli (or dildos)
Billy clubs truncheons switchblades all
Protruding from atop this entourage
This invincible cacophony
And at its centre a red ear
Listening intently to America
David Duer is currently a docent guide at the University of Iowa's Stanley Museum of Art and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, where he’s come to know the works he writes about intimately. His work has been published in Ascent, Exquisite Corpse, Milkweed Chronicle, North American Review, and Poetry, among others.
Pop, by Brent Short
Interviewer: Do you like interviews?
Andy Warhol: Yes
Andy Warhol: No
Andy Warhol: No
Interviewer: Yes and no?
Andy Warhol: Yes
death and celebrity,
golden screened icons,
objects of veneration.
Mass produced, manufactured,
grid, interchangeable, appropriation,
technique, original in their lack
of originality, overload.
Pop, off-beat, a put-on,
the culture of product,
a true brand,
blank, a copy, surface.
What’s exciting, what’s boring,
blotted line between life,
death, a flatness to everything,
pleasure of repetition.
Pictures of money,
the serial splendor
of soup cans, permutations
within the same.
The complexities of looking,
staring into the camera’s eye,
A witness, fundamentally absent,
fey, camp, monosyllabic,
stalking fame, living in
your own movie, new kind of person.
of the now.
lost time, found time,
Shot, spectacle, stain,
amazed in our watching.
candy color allure, Marilyn,
your journey is over,
amazed in our watching.
Death and disaster,
iconic car crash,
revelation, be careful,
Grainy, grim, unbearable,
electric chair, hot seat,
holy, waiting room,
Daddy’s little rich girl,
message from Edie,
phone call from God, colorize,
invisible, high contrast.
silver on silver,
movie star president,
America, the bright and shiny.
Blur, saturate, erase,
the plastic inevitable,
print it like money.
Who needs people
when you have television?
People just go by, voyeur
of extremes, deeply superficial.
clean and plastic,
strange and new,
open and closed.
End point, pointless,
We’re all consumers and stars,
a figment, an apparition,
a walk into the future,
I accept everything,
I accept nothing,
Lord’s Supper, motorcycle,
to find a point of indifference,
to not be sure, to be
your own product.
are the new museums.
Automation gives us
something to do,
art gives us something to do,
bland concealment, non-interview.
their fifteen minutes of fame,
the camera never lies.
Brent Short lives in Kansas City, Missouri. His poetry chapbook, The Properties of Light was published in 2015 by Green Rabbit Press. His poetry has appeared in Eads Bridge Literary Review, Sandhill Review, Tar River Poetry, Saint Katherine Review, The Windhover, Amethyst Review, San Pedro River Review, The Thieving Magpie, The Writing Disorder and The Orchards Poetry Journal.
The Ekphrastic Review is absolutely delighted to showcase students from Arrowhead Union High School in Wisconsin for the second time. Last year, teachers Elizabeth Jorgensen and Terri Carnell connected with us to share the ekphrastic creative writing of their students. We chose a selection to publish. It was so rewarding for us to feature young voices, many learning what ekphrasis means for the first time. Elizabeth and Terri reported how meaningful the experience of ekphrastic writing was for their students, along with the excitement of publishing their work in an ekphrastic journal. We decided to do a showcase again. This year, TER chose four paintings to inspire the students. We received an amazing wealth of poems and stories, and selected 25 for publication in this showcase.
It is always so difficult to choose a few from many submissions, and this was no exception. We want to encourage every student writer to keep creating poetry and stories and to continue to pursue your curiosity about art. The gifts of writing and art are profound. Creative writing is a powerful way to learn, think, communicate, express, share, grow, explore, and imagine. We thank every one of you for your courage trying something new and sharing those words with us. We hope you will continue to look at art and to write.
A big congratulations to the writers whose work was selected. We invite our readers to share this page far and wide on your social media to help us promote young ekphrastic voices and support these young writers. Thank you again, Arrowhead Union students and teachers for this amazing experience!
Lorette, editor, The Ekphrastic Review
The poems and stories are showcased in alphabetical order by author under the corresponding paintings. The complete list of 25 is immediately below in alphabetical order by author.
The Sailors’ Harbour, by Samuel B. Brandt
Upside Down, by Carter Burg
The Performer, by Kendall Danielson
Heartless, by Anna Davis
World of Change, by Emma Domacinovich
A Moon and a Harbour, by Peyton Drexler
Same But Different, by Anna Frederickson
Rehearsal Dinner, by Eden Harrison
Soy yo, by Diego Hernandez
Silent Thoughts, by Harry Hostetler
Rainbows in the Moonlight, by Calvin Irvine
Lion Heart, by Courtney Janssen
The Lifeless Waves, by Brittany Kaja
The Eerie Harbour, by Jayden Kohler
Frida Left or Frida Right, by Lindsey Landowski
The Moon’s Glow, by Brooke McLaughlin
A Night in Mykonos, by Ally Merlet
Red Dress Girl, by Austin Mueller
Small Paradise, by Jackson Pierce
The Walk of Light, by Arianna Scaffidi
Limitless, by Henry Sobczak
Staying Afloat, by Caden Steinbauer
Diary of a Nobody, by Elizabeth Stern
Carmen Amaya: The Greatest Flamenco Dancer Who Ever Lived, by Courtney Weston
Tal Para Cual, Atamos Cabos, by Alan Whitmoyer
Note from Elizabeth Jorgensen and Terri Carnell
As high school English teachers, Elizabeth Jorgensen and Terri Carnell aim to provide authentic and enjoyable experiences for their students. They are so grateful to The Ekphrastic Review and Lorette C. Luzajic for providing a place and purpose for their students’ voices.
To The Ekphrastic Review, Jorgensen and Carnell submitted more than 180 student pieces. Here are what a few of the students thought:
Taylor Manne said, “I learned so much about writing and reading ekphrastic poems over the past few weeks. This was such a fun unit for me, and I am so excited to read the poems that you eventually choose for publication!”
Katherine Thompson said, “I have never heard of ekphrastic poetry before last week, but I really do enjoy it. I felt that all of the artwork this year was extremely relatable and everyone perceived each artwork in a different way. I already had a connection prior to the Two Fridas painting because of a Spanish project, but I had never openly said my interpretation. Again, thank you for the opportunity to write and learn a new style!”
Adalia Fritsche said, “I learned a new way of writing and a new reason to write because of this experience! I would have never thought to connect two different types of art in this way. So, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity of this experience!”
Ella Hardtke-Laughlin said, “Thank you so much for opening up a different and completely new style of writing to me. It really showed me a new way of expressing an emotion in a powerful way that I haven’t really thought to ever try before. The writing process felt as though it was full of creativity and options as the writer could have taken their story any way from just looking at an image.”
Courtney Weston said, “I loved having the chance to dig deeper and get to know my painting on a different level. This contest allowed me to explore various creative lenses and backgrounds, and since participating, I have investigated ekphrastic work in other writers’ markets as well. Thank you for introducing me to this beautiful form of art!”
Megan Truax said, “I had never heard of ekphrasis before doing the project. I ended up loving the experience of interpreting a painting through my eyes to see what might have been there. To be able to bring a story to an already lively piece of work like the one I chose, El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to not only see a piece of art that I thoroughly enjoyed but the ability to create a story that I would have never been able to create otherwise.”
Everyone dancing, laughing, and drinking. But you're the only one standing. All
eyes on you, the music, the clapping. It’s all for you. But how long will it last?
The ghost of a guitar hangs on the wall, soon the music will fade with it.
The now empty chair longs for the warmth of his musician.
A blood soaked handprint writes ole on the walls.
The man beside you will soon meet the same fate. His last breath escaping from
his agape mouth.
How much longer? The music might tire but you can’t. You must keep dancing, or
another will take your place.
Darkness follows your every step, beginning to swallow you whole. How long
until it’s just you? Left alone in nothing but darkness.
Who will look at you then?
Before shackles and a ring befall her so says her friends, who are still free to wear their
curtains of crimson while she dons a thick cloud of white.
Sheds light upon the chaos hidden safely in dark rooms and makes faded shadows dance
along even more faded walls of grey.
Is shielded in smoke and masked by ash, similar to the monochromatic and missing face of
the man whom her mother has decided she will wed.
Gives small colours to skin and wine as she decides to stand, spin, and caper about, the ruffles
of her stifling cloud starting to raise dust.
Sets loose a young woman with only a few hours left to call her own; she wills that the only
strings that will tug at her tonight are those of the guitars,
And reaches for that last kiss of freedom.
While the band strums
knowing only the ways of the guitar
the clustered crowd dances.
However, they only play for the well-bred women.
Her shadow dancing upon the wall
like the king of the jungle on his hind legs.
People watch, engaged,
engaged in the way she moves with grace
engaged in the way she sways effortlessly
engaged in the way she strides as a show-stopper.
The men watch, in hopes the zipper holding her dress together comes loose,
the women watch, praying they looked like her
the little girls watch, longing to one day look like the women dancing before them.`
Is that what it would be like to be beautiful?
To have something that other people desperately desire?
Red Dress Girl
The mariachi band plays a lively jig
as the people glide all across the dance floor.
Everyone gliding and blending together
shades of midnight black, snow white, and charcoal grey blended together
like stars against the night sky.
Except for her.
She didn’t try to be the center of attention.
Yet she was.
My eyes couldn’t leave her.
Her bright strawberry red dress glistened in the darkness,
It was hard not to be entranced by her grace.
Diary of a Nobody
I arrived on time and found myself among the staff still prepping the ballroom. Men sporting thin, gray hair and their wrinkled wives bathed with the perfume of old money were the only guests decorating the dim scene. Their eyes lingered on me, hunger festering in their scowls despite the untouched tapas they picked at with platinum cutlery and judicial glares. I placed my gift on a silk-clothed table and stared at my scuffed shoes in an attempt to conceal the ruby flush in my cheeks. I took my place in an empty seat and watched as dozens more tables were furnished by the white-gloved hands of emotionless waiters.
The guests were pouring in faster than seconds could tick by on the diamond clock looming over the entrance. As the sun set, the age of couples walking in plummeted along with their sobriety. A band of guitar players sauntered to the side of the dance floor, a parade of cigar smoke trailing behind them like a knife cutting through the stench of alcohol painting the walls. They each stumbled onto the wooden white chairs lining the wall and began strumming their instruments, releasing a shriek of excitement from drunken women who dragged their defeated husbands to dance near the music.
I found myself alone at a table of other single men, waving smoking cigars in their hands as they gestured with sneering remarks about rumors concerning a lady’s impoverished past despite her newlywed wealth decorating her neck with diamonds. They offered me a drink and demanded my opinion, but I declined the liquor and denied any knowledge of the couple. Silence plagued scowls on their faces, so I cracked a half-hearted joke about a ball-and-chain that diminished their brief reproval with satisfied laughter. They continued a conversation about their newest asset or their relative’s expensive wedding they funded, but I avoided their derisive sneers by staring in the distance.
The woman was a family friend who I admired. I found myself reminiscing about her endless charity with the less fortunate last year.
I almost lost this journal in the crowd. Women started clawing at my suit and giggling to me with intoxicated breath, so I introduced them to the other men at my table and slipped away across the dance floor to an empty table. The tablecloth was stained by the air. The band was still competing with the noise of howling laughter or low business deals, but one of the white chairs was now empty with an orange curiously upon it. I pondered its placement before a pair of young women at the table beside mine noticed and began shouting over the music to each other.
These musicians are so lazy—look, one couldn’t even play through the night!
It looks like they haven’t showered in weeks. I’d suffocate with so much grease in my hair.
A strand of my hair is worth more than those guitars, they could fall apart any second!
They cackled proudly before swallowing another shot of tequila. One wiped her face with a silk handkerchief she pulled from a gold-laced purse slung over her shoulder, resting on her skin-tight dress that shimmered like a sapphire.
I sipped a glass of water and replaced their comments in my mind with the virtuosity of the band’s melody.
Exhaustion plagued my bones, but attempting escape would risk injury in the chaos of the room. I sat quietly and found myself ignored as long as I kept my eyes on the dancers livening the space in front of the musicians. One in a white dress danced alone as the other two of her group cheered in the white chairs with the musicians. The table on my other side had three older women with disapproving frowns concealing the crow’s feet that would surely form if they smiled. They voiced their opinions like chittering parrots while shaking their heads with feathered hats.
These dancers couldn’t bother to afford decent attire. They’re practically wearing rags.
That one’s eyes are too far apart. Her cheeks are red as a baboon’s bottom.
They chose a sickening shade of red to wear, what lack of taste!
I wiped a bead of sweat from my forehead and waved my face with the fan that a drunk woman left on my table. She was desperately chasing a man—presumably her husband—in tears as he held a slimmer woman by the hand, slithering through the crowd while his wife pleaded until they were consumed by the sea of suits and diamonds.
I managed to crawl to the front of the ballroom to wait for the crowd to clear. I clutched the small gift box to my side that I had left on the silk-clothed table after seeing no others accompany it. Women and men march out in pairs, talking about a new dress and a new vacation home they’ll purchase tomorrow. Some berated staff on the cleanliness of the event before flicking cigars to their feet, while others were too inebriated to keep their suits tucked or makeup from running. They clamber into limos or sports cars, a few of the younger couples speeding away in convertibles despite the chilled evening air.
Shivering by the side of the doorsteps, I was discovered by a man with the first face that made my own relax.
Thank you for coming, I’m so sorry I couldn’t find you in that crowd!
I assured him I completely understood, and extended the gift to him, mumbling out my apologies for not realizing gifts weren’t appropriate. He accepted it with a blank face.
It’s the only gift she received.
He wrapped me in an embrace, and I felt the slightest trembling but pretended not to notice. He thanked me and we made small talk until the cold air seeped too far into my bones, and I flashed a final smile with gratitude for his invitation. While I walked down the steps and fished this journal from my suit coat pocket, pen in hand, he called out to me and grinned with tears in his eyes as I turned to look.
You’d think they’d bring more gifts to a birthday party.
Carmen Amaya: The Greatest Flamenco Dancer Who Ever Lived
Dancing wasn’t for them. Dancing meant joy. Dancing meant self-expression. Dancing meant power. And it wasn’t just for the men. They couldn’t take that away from me, even if they tried.
Barcelona, Spain. My home. Oh how I loved her. From her grand cathedrals to every last cobblestone that lined her well-trodden streets. A warm embrace is what she was. Until fascism foiled flamenco.
Fransisco Franco is a stain that will never be removed, no matter how hard we scrub. His slimy grasp still clutches my home country today. It was he who started the bans. Nacionalflamenquismo, they called it. “National-flamencoism.”
“¡Más machista!” The instructors would exclaim. “More macho.”
What a toxic way to live. They give us gorgeous frilly skirts and for what? To hide in the shadows behind our male counterparts? Step and slide, step and slide… to hell with “step and slide!” I yearned to dance. To feel the rhythms—to create earthquakes in the floorboards.
“Carmen,” my mother would say, “this is just the way that it is. Franco is going to bring Spain back to greatness—put it back on the map you see? Why make waves? Why question his choices? Being quiet for once is a small price to pay for our country’s freedom; let the men have their moment.”
“Mama, the men have always had their moment. Every moment is their moment! How can I be free when I can no longer dance?”
During my next lesson, I stormed the dance floor.
Stomping, spinning, jumping—I could no longer see. I let out all of my anger, my hatred, for Franco fly. My frustrated screams pierced the air, my face hot with sweat and rage—eyebrows scrunched far into my forehead. When my heels ached and my head was done swirling, I heaved in cold breaths of stagnant air. Slightly slouched, I paused and waited for my instructor to kick me out of his salon for good.
Immediately followed by a roar of applause.
Before we met I always looked at you with wonder in my eyes. You were the exact person I wanted to be in my life; someone who’s funny and sweet, someone who understood how hard it was sometimes to wake up, someone who made others feel better whenever they were around.
Someone who understood me.
That was Freshman year, though. And then our normal was flipped upside down and everyone was forced into lockdown. I suddenly stopped worrying about making friends and started worrying about my immune-compromised family. Staying home through the next school year wasn’t even a question.
The lockdown was good for me, you know that. I thrived on my own. I learned a lot about myself, but I never felt more alone. Seeing all of my friends off having fun with one another was rough, to say the least. And then Junior year came and I was filled with anxiety. Scared I wouldn’t make any friends, scared my current ones forgot about me, scared to be out again. I needed someone like you at that time, and without hesitation, you were there.
We were inseparable. I fell in love with you so quickly. I had no choice, really. We understood each other on a level nobody else did; we had all the same issues and trauma, the same beliefs and values, and the same hobbies and skills. We were like sisters from the get-go. I thought that our love for each other was one in a million. That I had found my platonic soulmate. For the first few months of our relationship, it was perfect.
But then, suddenly, you changed. You were struggling and I know that, but so was I. Your issues soon became a daily discussion. Whenever we talked it was always about how your boyfriend was awful, how your mental health was tiresome, how you were insecure. And I loved you, so I wanted to help you; to fix you. I wanted to make you feel better so I put my issues aside and focused on your own. I loved you, so I gave you all the love I had, all the love that should have been put into myself I put into you.
And you ate it up.
You told me how awful you felt for making me deal with all of this. You cried to me about how you felt like a burden to me and everyone else. Yet, you let it happen. You let yourself absorb all of my energy while watching me be drained and think nothing of it. And I reassured you that you were in the right. I told you it was normal to confide in your friends and rely on them sometimes. I let you use me, my heart, my energy. I let you. But you didn’t stop me.
Months went by unchanged, this vicious cycle of self-deprecation and reassurance continued, and it only got worse. Your issues became more drastic, more concerning. And I became more at a loss of how to help you. Yet, whenever I tried to get you real help, you turned it down. Said it wouldn’t do anything, said nobody cared enough, said it was pointless. And I sat there trying to convince you to fix the issues you claimed tore you up inside. I got closer and closer to the edge.
By this time, the final push was evident. It was a ticking time bomb, truthfully. I felt more and more resentment when I looked at you, more and more anger whenever you complained. I saw you fall down this rabbit hole, filling the problems with your vices. And when I reached my hand to pull you out, all you did was bite me. You told me that I didn’t care about you. That I was the one who didn’t want what was best for you. After over a year of standing by your side through everything, and I mean everything, you pushed me away.
I didn’t jump—you pushed me off that cliff.
And when I was finally done, finally done with this one-sided relationship, finally done with your bad habits that hurt those who cared for you, you acted like it was my fault. Like I for no reason had abandoned you during your time of need.
I did not abandon you. I stood by you through everything; through all the times you and your boyfriend broke up, through every breakdown, through every bad decision. I was there for all of it. And I realized you were never going to get better. Because, truthfully, you didn’t want to. You were so comfortable with your turmoil that you couldn’t picture yourself without it. I couldn’t help you if you didn’t want to be helped yourself.
I had no choice but to give you up. I had ripped my own heart out to give to you and my wound was still bleeding. I couldn’t lose myself in order to save you when saving you wasn’t even an option. I loved you, I still love you even through everything you have put me through, and I miss you — but I miss me more.
I am she and she is me
Sat said by side propped
On stiffend spines
Surrounded by louring clouds
That hang like a weighted past
Hand holding hand
Heart bound blood pumping
Through shared veins
My pulse a fine thread
Swen and hemmed in a high necked
Grown lashed by torn lace
A life line dressed in a bold olive and blue
The clamp to my artery
Splattered blood sets leaves a fractured stain
Frida Left or Frida Right
I was Frida on the right. I lived in Coyoacan, Mexico. It was the middle of summer. I had woken up as if it were any other morning. The sun was shining. As I walked downstairs, I saw my husband Diego making breakfast. I decided I would pick out my outfit for the day while I was waiting. I chose a blue top with a green skirt.
That day I was feeling happy and laid back as if nothing could go wrong. I ate breakfast and conversed with Diego about our plans for the day. Diego said he was going to a church to work on a new mural he had been commissioned to do. I decided I would go walking around downtown. I walked happily among the streets of Spain; my heart was full. I decided I would go to the farmer’s market and shop for all of our food for that week. I picked out fresh fruits and vegetables. That day was going so well for me. I said hello to everyone I passed on the street with a smile on my face.
As I walked home from the market, I decided to pass by Diego's studio, as it was on the way. As I crossed the street into the church he was working for, I heard music and laughter that filled the room. I walked in, excited to surprise my husband. As I opened the church doors, I saw Diego with another woman. She met my glance and stared deeply into my eyes, with a look as though she had been caught red handed. She grabbed her things and ran off.
“Frida, I am so sorry,” Diego said. But it was too late, our relationship had forever changed.
Now, I am Frida on the right. I take the bus home from the church and pack a bag as soon as I can. I put in only what I need, my art supplies and one outfit. A white dress. It was a white flowy dress with green print on the top and red flowers around the rim. I feel that the outfit conveyed how I feel, bland, empty, lost. I now stay over at an apartment above my studio. Without Diego I have no one. I feel like my heart has been torn out of my chest.
I want so badly to leave him and never think about him again, but there is one problem.
I still love him.
Tal Para Cual, Atamos Cabos
“We go through this together?”
The starched dress claws at our skin, our spirit.
Our homeland comforts us in brilliant gold and deep azure.
“Yes, two in the same.”
Connected through blood, yet our minds stray apart.
If only these vain tethers could be severed.
“Yet entirely different?”
Painfully separating perceptions from self.
“Yes, even so.”
Not enough blood could wash the sin from this white.
“My heart is not where he expects it to be.”
The locket burns against our skin,
Betrayal clashes with disillusioned hope.
“That may be, but only you must know.”
If only one would subsume the other;
Soulless decision on our behalf.
“And why is that so?”
Our hands’ embrace gently reassures.
“Because together, we form our whole.”
“Why do you stand upside down?”
“I said, why do you stand upside down like that?”
“What do you mean, friend?”
“Look around you! Do you not see the rest of us? Do you not see us with our feet planted firmly on the ground, while your talons are in the clouds? Why then do you sit there upside down like a fool?”
“Well, from my perspective, all of you are upside down.”
“How preposterous! We are the ones upside down?”
“Yes, from my perspective, you are. But if that's the way you want to stand, that’s perfectly fine by me.”
“How dare you! We have always stood here on the ground because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. My great grandfather, William J. Featherton, and every generation before me has always planted our talons on the ground, and, as long as I have any say in the matter, every generation after me will too! The last thing our flock needs is someone like you. A fiend who corrupts our chicks and tricks them into believing that they can just flap their wings and abandon their flesh and bones here on the ground.”
“Why are you so hateful, friend? I choose to stand in my own way, just as you choose to stand in your own way. If you choose to build your nest on the ground, so be it. I’m glad for you! But your children and I shouldn’t be forced to sit in the dirt with you.”
“Predator! Now you have shown your true colors! You wish not to ‘live in your own way’, but instead, you wish to convert my chicks into your immorality and indecency. We are not oblivious to your plot; we know how you prey on our children, and how you seek to tempt them into scorning their heritage. Well, we won’t let you! Here on the ground, us real birds have been talking about what to do with your kind.”
“And what is that?”
“We have decided that a bird, or whatever you are, should have no place corrupting our youth. From now on, any talk of flying, standing, or even thinking upside down is explicitly banned. Dangerous books which spread wicked fairy tales of standing upside down are being removed at this very moment!”
“Friend, didn’t you ever dream of standing upside down, even if for only a moment? In your younger days, didn’t you ever imagine the wondrous thrill of blood rushing down to your head; didn’t you ever dream of seeing the whole world from your special perch in the sky?”
“We will have no more of your temptations, fiend. We find ourselves stuck with you, and we are unable to get rid of you for good, but it is perfectly within our power to cut you out from polite society. Do not await invitations to parties, or greetings at the dawn of each new day. Do not expect celebrations of your wickedness, and do not expect tolerance of your upside down ways. You are no bird.”
“But I am no different than you! I just wish to live upside down as you live on the ground. Friend, please listen! Are you there?”
world of change
in my world,
the moon rests on the leaves without a tree.
the birds don’t need anything to rest on.
the plants find themselves wherever they find themselves most comfortable.
everything is so wrong,
i find it right.
as i wander through something so abnormal,
it becomes my normal soon,
everything that was odd,
becomes odder when normal.
familiar with the randomness of the environment i feel no urge to fit in
this world allows me to do as i please.
my favorite is the cactus’ that touch the clouds,
for it’s my normal.
i emerge myself within a world of change,
change no longer scares me,
i am change.
Same But Different
As I watch the golden bird on the right peak out,
I notice the a golden bird on the left,
perching up on the scarlet algae as they would with trees,
looking at the tall milky and leafy plants that compare to cactus.
Two alike golden birds on the bottom doing the same,
but instead they are using the hazel rock and ivory coral that came with the sea.
I soon then notice a bird that is a similar golden bird,
perching upside down on a bleached white cloud in the navy blue night sky,
looking at the chalky-white bulb in the flower that imitates the luminous moon.
Just one last golden bird that’s the comparable,
settled between two bleached white clouds,
using flight to keep him afloat in the sky from touching the colourful ocean floor.
Two worlds that are so comparably the same, but so comparably different.
Rainbows in the Moonlight
Amber fish flying high above the other creatures. Stalks of
hunter green oaks growing up, reaching for the pale,
doughy white, moon light. The burning
lemon yellow birds stand out swimming amongst the rough coral. Shades of
cobalt clashes with the bird's fluorescent scales catching the attention of all the animals around.
A mustard bird hides behind a
leather brown rock, its feathers shimmer in the moonlight, attracting
ivory predators thirsting and deprived of this beautiful pigment. A
golden bird to the ocean is a fish to the air. Both swimming through the
icy blue. Only when we stop looking between
brunswick green trees and
vermillion coral, jealous of the hues of another, can we find the true colour in ourselves. Our
rainbow tint reflects, shimmers, and shines off all of our vibrant and fluorescent scales.
The sky is the limit,
or maybe it is the floor.
The floor of the ocean.
Many colours galore.
The look of the jungle
There is some gold
flying, swimming, floating.
There is a moon,
Giving light to the unknown
With obsidian-tinted eyes
The trees, no coral;
Coloured smiles and shapes
Littered through the ocean scape.
The peaceful serenity of the environment.
Mysterious, but purposeful.
The gold is the only one that knows
If the environment is air
If the sky really is the limit.
The Sailors’ Harbour
“Oh the wind leads us to the land of plenty”
“Charting full of grand prizes”
“Mighty battles on the waves”
“While the sea is home to many others, our home is the Harbor”
“This harbour brings us always home”
“When were lost the moon shines bright”
“She will always lead us to our home”
“The Moon over the Harbour”
“We are sailors and fishermen by heart”
“Nothing can keep us from home”
“Not the mighty storm or shallow waters”
“The Moon over the Harbour “
“Our wives and children wait right there now”
“On that dock, we live at”
“Bringing back a mighty score of fish”
“The Moon over the Harbour”
“Now We all don’t come back home”
“Some stay in the sea with us”
“But we all will be buried at sea”
“Moon over our home”
“We all sit down and thank the man who gave us our home”
“Eward Mitchile built this land with only a paintbrush.”
“All the ships and docks that call this home”
“The Moon over the Harbour”
“That Moon over the Harbour”
Samuel B. Brandt
Editor’s note: Samuel was also inspired by the video game, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, where a crew is singing a shanty. His poem was inspired by the idea of the fisherman’s sea shanty.
A Moon and a Harbour
overloaded with boats
in and out they go all day long
5:00 and the last of the boats leave
businesses turn their signs to closed
keys jingle, locking doors letting nobody in
anchors reach the sand and dig in, boats sit still
sails come down next to ensure there is no movement
the harbor becomes still as the sailors go home to their families
clouds roll in just as the sun sets covering the sky in hues of salmon
the sun reaches the horizon and the birds stop tweeting and new sounds appear
the stillness of the world allows for crickets to be heard and glowing eyes to be seen
black fills the sky and the moon produces a glow to let the clouds and boats show themselves
the darkness is the best time of the day where the animals play in the calm, dark water
there are no fisherman to disturb the creatures of the sea so they swim carefree
a house on the corner houses a fisherman’s wife with no husband to be found
he went out to sea to never return, she sits in the dark looking out, waiting
she hopes to see him combing home in the shadows of the night
as the moon lowers into the sky a new day comes to life
people unlock their doors before the sun has risen
the fisherman’s wife goes into her house
sunny salmon hues fill the sky
the boats start rushing in
a new day had come
in the harbour
The Lifeless Waves
I stood there watching
Watching the moon over the harbour
The harbour that used to belong to us
I miss us
The trailer that we bought
Bought with our savings
Saving you would have been better
I miss you
I get chills when I get hit with the breeze
The breeze you send me from heaven
Heaven is when we would be laughing together
I miss laughing
The waves seem so lifeless
Lifeless is what you are now
Now my heart aches everyday
I miss you everyday
The moon. The stars. The waves.
All leave scars.
You loved watching the stars, as the moon shined bright.
You loved dancing under the moonlight.
You loved when the waves would splash up and hit your face.
You loved it so much, you said you could live like this forever.
I love you always.
The Eerie Harbour
Peering out the dirty windows of my shack, I stare out into the abyss of the harbour, as the moon creeps across the night sky. As I look, I notice some movement among the tall grass and weeds across the water. It is too dark to be able to see what was causing all the noise, but I assume it is only a small animal, a rabbit, or maybe a fox looking for its next meal. I try to fall back asleep on my small and old mattress and lay in the chilled temperature of 48 degrees. When I set my head down I shut my eyes and start to fall into a deep sleep, when I am suddenly awakened by a loud thud. I darted upwards and am now fully awake, and when I look around to see what had happened, I see nothing. Nothing had fallen, broken, or been moved. So I once again peer out the dirty window of my shack.
This time when I look outside, I see the same things; however, as I turn and look across the water, I see a figure, right where the grass was moving earlier. The moonlight was the only light shining, so I cannot decipher what I am seeing, but it seemed like a person covered in baggy clothing, and a hood covering their head, almost like a cloak. I am so startled that I cannot look away for even a second, but after a minute, my eyes feel like they are about to dry out, and I try to just lie back down while also keeping an eye on the figure. But as I look back towards it, it is nowhere to be seen. Looking around and out every window, it is nowhere. I know I saw something. Am I going crazy? I begin thinking to myself. For minutes I stand around pacing inside wondering what just happened. But I check my rusty clock, and it is already 2:00 a.m. and I haven’t gotten much sleep. So I lay back down, and just try to fall asleep as best I can.
Moments later as I try to relax, I hear gusting winds and harsh conditions outside which are making it harder to fall asleep. For minutes and minutes I lie in my own thoughts staring up at the ceiling. As more time passes, I feel my eyes getting heavier and heavier, until they cannot stay open any longer. As they are closed I feel something, not physically, but mentally. An eerie feeling in my mind. I feel a presence. All of these feelings happening within seconds as my eyelids lift off my eyes, I am met by the figure.
I instantly go into a panic, and I am wide awake, but while I try to get up from the bed, I cannot get up. Stuck to the bed as if I was a fly in a trap. My head glued to the hard and flat pillow. The dark cloaked figure approaches me from the bottom of my bed, slowly getting closer and I cannot move to defend myself. Absolutely shocked with fear, I finally jolt upwards to a sitting position, and the figure is gone. I am in a pool of sweat, my body trembling, but I see nothing out of the ordinary. It is still dark outside, and the clock reads 2:42 a.m. What just happened? I begin to think to myself. There is no way that was a dream. I was wide awake. I keep thinking and I realize what had just happened. Sleep Paralysis.
I go back to look outside, and I see the rustling in the grass once again. But this time out comes a big bird, perhaps an owl, and it flies out. It goes off into the night sky, and it seems that everything I had seen previously was all inside my mind.
The Moon's Glow
The moon over the harbour symbolizes hope,
a beacon of light in the darkness of the night.
It reminds us that even in the darkest of times,
a glimmer of hope, shines bright.
The harbour remains a place of refuge and rest,
a sanctuary from the storms of life.
The storms of life can leave us feeling lost,
alone on a sea of doubt and fear
and when the moon's light guides us to this safe place,
the light inspires us in the battles we've won;
the light reminds us of strength we hold.
The light flares a path that helps us find our way.
But sometimes we face the storm alone
with no one to hold our hand.
Yet even in the darkness of night,
there is a light that shines at our core.
The moon's reflection on the water below,
is a reminder of the power of reflection.
For in the stillness of the harbour,
we reflect on our lives and make a connection.
The moon over the harbour provides a call to stillness--
a reminder to slow down and take a breath.
For in the quiet of the night,
we find the strength in to glow.
A Night in Mykonos
This past summer my sister, McKenna, my mom, and I went to Greece. This was McKenna and my first time in Europe. We were there for ten days and went to Santorini, Mykonos, and Athens.
One night in particular has really stuck with me. It was just a fun night with my mom and sister that I will always remember. Our first night in Mykonos was the most beautiful city I have ever been in. There were no cars and the streets were filled with people. All of the walls and building are white with brightly colored flowers hanging off the slides. There were restaurants, cafe’s, and boutiques on every turn. That night was super windy. I was wearing a short blue floral dress and every time we walked near the water I had to hold my dress down to keep it from blowing up. The three of us went to an Italian place right on the water. This was the best pasta I have ever had. I also had Baklava for the first time. Baklava is a popular dessert in Greece that is a pastry with chopped nuts and cinnamon. On the trip, it was really cool to try all of these new foods that I had never heard of.
Dinner was so fun and I love going on these trips with just the three of us and making new memories together. My mom, McKenna, and I are all very close and I love having a sister so close in age because she feels like my friend. We do argue over very pointless things sometimes but she still is my favorite person to spend time with. After dinner we walked around by the water and went into some of the shops. Something in Greece that is really popular are evil eyes. My mom and I both got bracelets with an evil eye gem on them. The bracelet was a thin black string with a small evil eye gem. The gem is circular and has a dark blue ring followed by a white ring and then a light blue ring and a black pupil in the centre. I still have the bracelet sitting on my dresser to remind me of the trip. After that we walked around the beach and the piers and there were beautiful sailboats and the water was so blue. It felt like something I have only seen in pictures. The scenery of the boats, the water and the moon reminded me of the painting Moon Over a Harbour by Edward Mitchell Bannister. The scene of the painting is much darker than how I remember Greece. It was still light outside and the sun was just starting to set. The painting looks similar to that night in Mykonos, and I love seeing things that remind me of that day.
Hidden away in this rotten harbour, between the cat tails and murky water.
Although it's just a hazard to many and is slated to be removed –
the ships sunken to shallow bottom, the boardwalk falling away.
They don't see its new purpose;
A kingdom, a small pallet of bricks rearranged by children into a vast kingdom.
A family getaway, a tackle box and fishing rod sit at the end of the boardwalk.
A meetup spot, a small pile of cigarette butts and ash have developed on a side of the
A hiding place, canned food sits in a small pile in a corner of the small house.
A date spot, beanbag chairs sit–haphazardly thrown into a corner.
Although everyone uses it, it’s so dejected
the outside slowly falling away.
It now sits here, alone, solely watching over the lake
Its glory days are now nothing but half-hearted dribble in history books.
It is a small paradise, a slice of heaven on earth
Offering what little warmth it has in its old worn-down shell can.
Hidden away in this rotten harbor, the harbour sits
maybe in a less cruel universe it would be loved and this would be more than –
Its last night.
The Walk of Light
I sit alone:
watching the slight wave of the water
reflect the daffodil Moon
creating the perfect halo,
I sit alone:
as the blur of trees in the distance
makes me wonder,
what's beyond this lake?
I sit alone.
I sit alone.
I sit alone:
waiting for a boat to drift towards the rocky sand,
the dark ink blue closes in on me.
why is the only source of light so far away?
how is it
that these graphite
(lighter than me)
by the Moon.
not a single house light on.
small critters chirping,
and the faint whisper of my breath
rustling the blades of grass
beneath my legs.
the Moon creates a walk way of light
from one end of the lake
and I wish I could walk on this gleaming bridge
but only these boats
that don't drift toward my sand
walk this glistening path.
The collection of masts, each cast a different shadow upon the dimly lit waters. The jagged rocks stick out of the waters surrounding the harbour, threatening any sailors. The moon provides the only light, essential for all these shadows to occur. Each mast having a base and each base having a different story. Every boat in this harbour has a collection of tales associated with it. From surviving a terrible storm to being sailed across the world each boat has had its own challenges to conquer.
The boats all sit together but secretly they judge one another based on their exteriors. How many sails? What kind of motor? How smart is the captain? All these determine which boats are deemed valuable and which are not. Those who are deemed the highest quality are given a spot in the docks. Each boat fights for its spot in the harbour, for those who do not get space must stay overnight in the surrounding waters filled with razor sharp rocks. And more often than not, the ones who don’t get a spot struggle in these waters near to the harbour and sink to the bottom.
One boat sits alone at the end of the harbor. This boat does like the rest, and attaches itself to the pier each night so that it may be secure. Unlike the rest, it does not truly want a spot in the harbour. For it, a spot in the harbour is a necessity instead of a desire. Instead, this vessel would rather sail the sea never having to secure itself to another pier for as long as it stays afloat.
It is until one day that this boat gets sick of hanging onto the pier and being judged by the fellow boats. This day the boat decides to leave the docks and sail out to the open sea. It was troubling, but it was able to make it past the jagged rocks. It was seen as an outcast by the other boats.“ A boat that didn’t belong.” Yet this boat was happier than any other boat at the pier for it had made it past the challenging waters and could live its life on its own, without the judgment of others. For what most boats don’t understand is, there lies a peaceful life without judgment or insecurity. They just must first break away from the pier that is so comforting and venture into the unknown and dangerous water to make it there.
The Cast of Light
Through glass we see:
red-tinted tenderness of light,
the spread of red on lake and land,
the far sky coming forth to join.
The window, though, is smeared with violence.
This red is blood. Or has a child been here,
small ghost in the night,
and made for us a finger-painting, innocent?
There Will Be Doors Disguised, and No Key Needed
When words drip over the day like paint,
a modest partial flow,
and their colours are wrong
and the water, the blue water,
remains a steady presence,
the puzzled soul can only
breathe and wait.
Perhaps there is a bed to make,
a floor to clean,
a swath of sunlight to step into
while breathing. A little later
the outline of an opening appears,
and another, and another, and another.
In the Falling Happenstance of Depth and Light
The curtain tears itself to let the radiance,
the braid of chance and form,
the accidental glow,
Droplets of light gleam through streaks descending,
through living lines of deep-sea blue-green,
We urge it toward words:
this thing that happens.
We are compelled.
It’s like sex, physical. Like sex it insists,
pulling and flinging and melting
and otherwise shifting the shy soul to a whirl of cells,
cells of self and cells of the other,
and to the deep whirl inside cells,
and flung too yes outward
along the singing spiraling path
of the crazed and the sacred unthinkable essence of all.
We make the attempt: to lure it to pure thought, through language--
this thing that happens when in one moment we receive--
and again and again between birth and death--
in beauty receiving, astonished, unable.
Unable. But if it were possible--
once even, or repeatedly--
if we were able--
How near to death might we then be—
or near to (dare I say it?) the known/unknown,
the overflowing: God…?
Shirley Glubka is a retired psychotherapist as well as, at the age of 80, a mostly-retired poet, essayist, and novelist. But every once in a while: new work! Shirley’s proudest online publishing has been, for years, at The Ekphrastic Review. Her latest book is A Single Drop Was Full: erasure poetry (2022). Shirley lives in Prospect, Maine with her spouse, Virginia Holmes. Website: https://shirleyglubka.weebly.com/
Lorette is excited to announce another duet workshop on ekphrastic microfiction with the amazing Meg Pokrass, cofounder of the Best Microfiction annual anthology series!
Tiny Windows will look at famous and infamous windows in art and the idea of windows to inspire tiny stories.
This special workshop is asynchronous and self-directed so that you work according to your own schedule and from your own time zone each day. We use a private Facebook group to connect, share our stories, chat with participants, and comment.
Our workshops are positive spaces to explore and experiment. Each story receives peer comments and a critique from both Meg and Lorette to help you shape your ideas. You have no doubt already read multiple stories from these workshops in amazing journals everywhere!
Sign up or learn more about Meg and Lorette and our workshops here.
Whispers of Spring
So delicately wrapped is the blush pink silk,
Gracefully flowing to the ends of her ankles.
Enchanted golden jewels adorn her radiant face,
Shining like the brilliant sun itself.
Carefully threaded jasmine flowers
Sit still on her ink-black hair.
She rests beneath the flowering tree
On the edge of the tranquil blue pond.
Her blissful smile of lighthearted joy
Whispers stories to the blossoming rose.
The chime of her golden anklets
Stills the rippling waves.
At the sound of her melodic song,
The lilies raise their sleepy heads
And welcome the queen of spring.
Saghana Parasuraman is a high schooler living in Michigan. Between assignments, she enjoys reading and writing poetry about the simple parts of nature. She takes inspiration from her family and culture.
The Gleaners, by Jessica Manack
Take pity: the heft of our shadows misleads. While your rosy wife kneads the dough, take pity on we who go hands sagging and backs sagging and sacks sagging into the fields, scavenging for edible matter, blowing dirt grains from meal.
We go after the thresher, comb the remains with soft fingernails, and behind us trail the shadows flat as maps along the used-up ground. We glean, we lean in when the farmhands walk by, we die but no one ever knows it, we never show it when we find the piece we seek.
We sift, feigning occupation. We’re really listening in, with eyes that don’t sleep and ears that reap more than these hands ever do. If not for listening to you, we’d never know that our kneeling and kneeling, our bending and rising, arms flicking in and out, was not waltzing.
If not for the stories of status you drop us, we wouldn’t know we weren’t queens. You talk around us like we can’t put pieces together, dumb as spent soil when the boss walks by, as if our existence wasn’t picking up crumbs. As if our heads were hidden, as if these cloth bonnets protected us from any element.
We like the dancing stories best. We like to dance, and we would if we weren’t so weary, if we didn’t have to carry these bags. We, too, would talk of romance if our hands weren’t callused, if our faces weren’t burnt so, if our feet didn’t drag so. Only vicariously do we learn all we will ever know.
We hoard money we can never spend, confessions clutched in our rake-hands with the precious grain. We have come to depend on this currency. It is necessary, it comes naturally. It is alimentary.
Take pity on we who don’t get to choose, who don’t know if it’s worse that we’re so bones, so worked, poor and too proud to borrow, or that we bear this curse of always having just enough gritty bread to make it to tomorrow.
Jessica Manack holds degrees from Hollins University and lives with her family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her writing has recently appeared in Maudlin House, Still: the Journal and Litro Magazine. She is a recipient of a 2022 Curious Creators Grant. Keep up with her work at http://www.jessicamanack.com
The Ekphrastic Review
Join us on Facebook: