I repeat a mantra. It vanishes like windswept
feathers. All I hear is the violet drum of hearts.
Once I was a river, raging beyond the gorge,
finding only driftwood. Now I stand beneath
a large Buddha, perched on an urban
throne, legs folded in poised contemplation.
Pilgrims buzz around his granite smile, small
curves insinuating discreet joy. He glances down
in satisfied equanimity, commanding the Gallery
as if it were a hilltop monastery.
Does he know this is Chicago where even
stone lions roar?
Tourists gawk, eager to catch a drop of clarity
cascading from an eye between his brows,
to seize a sprout of divine wisdom, flaming
from his sea shell curls.
I advance closer, his ear lobes stretching down
to greet me, holding harmonies of “Oms.”
His right hand harbours the wheel of chakras,
extending the lotus of enlightenment.
His quiet, graceful magnetism urges me to whisper:
“Om muni, muni mahamuni Shakyamuni svaha”
Swells of stress slowly dissipate as my spine
straightens into stillness.
Jocelyn Ajami is an award-winning painter, filmmaker and poet. She turned to writing poetry in 2014 as a way of connecting more intimately with issues of social consciousness and cultural awareness. She has been published in several anthologies of prize winning poems. Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, she speaks five languages. She resides in Chicago, Illinois, where she is presently working on a book of ekphrastic poetry.
Too many copper lights in this worn house,
the wolf lies restless and I am not aware,
when to walk, mark or carve, overthinking
used to be a quality, now, I step aside, the side
of plain and naked, of not lying down, still not
losing grip, but that long-ago idea of wild and
wander, of ice cold rain on a plain wooden floor
The peace the wolf gave me, so hard to cover
other than a sense, not even sure if it is real
really peaceful, but it need only do, for now,
for, man, did I try it all, acceptance, avoidance
and now, escape, if I just mix all the herbs to
drink at once, would that not be far easier, if
I just stop holding, far more arcadian?
Always two questions on Tuesdays, he knew
me. Two lovers on the West coast, I told him.
He hurled me, while setting plans for his own
Saturday anyway, while November monsters
havocked all, and so, the non-physical outcome
redounded to some handsome mistakes, yet,
fate never flaws when women talk about beauty-
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.
When the phone rang at seven a.m.,
leaden light crept beneath our
blackout shades in eerie streaks,
and overnight, the damp Seattle air
had left its clammy imprint on our skin.
Rob was dead.
Found on his kitchen floor,
a needle in his arm, an IV bag
stolen from the hospital hanging
above his young body.
His sister came, and we scattered
Rob’s ashes in the Sound, the San Juan
Islands silent witnesses to our grim
work on that dreary day.
No rowing for us, no coffin;
just a ferry, and an urn.
But look how the painter’s pinched
faces mirror our own. Parents,
grandmother, sister (younger
than Rob’s), each wearing identical
flat, distanced frowns as if,
though they are all in the same boat,
each is victim to his own private
tragedy, her own disorienting loss.
They stare stupefied at the bleak
horizon or gaze into the black
waters below, as if their pain
could fly away with the gulls or
sink down into the depths, done.
See the forethought in their hands,
how the body copes long after the mind
goes numb. Look how father grips
the oars and rows, mother cradles
her bundle of provisions (even in grief
her hands do the work of living),
how grandmother clutches
a bible which does not console,
while sister gently holds
a yellow flower to place
atop the baby’s coffin.
It was the same for us. Our bodies
conveyed us to the task: hands drove
the car out of the city, turned
the pages of Rob’s diary (eyes absorbed
the fathomless sadness
hidden there), arms held
each other tight, fingers scooped
out black ashes from the box, scattered
them, as if we had done all this before.
I couldn’t speak of it for weeks. My throat
clamped down on my words.
Rob was gone, his sister back east.
The damp and gray plodded on.
Some days I’d walk down to
Pikes Place Market and watch
how the rugged mountains hovered
white over water, the remains
of my wretchedness softening
under their primordial spell. Soon
I could say it:
Rob is dead. I could convey it
out into gray skies, and over steely waters
as if the pain of my farewell could
fly to the farthest shores, gone.
Sara Palmer is a retired psychologist and an active writer, reader, hiker, knitter, and volunteer with literary and health nonprofits. Her poems have appeared in Yellow Arrow Journal, Pen in Hand, and Poetry is Life: Writing with Yellow Arrow. She lives in Baltimore, MD.
Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine
Il Moro’s mistress sits
composed with an ermine,
his emblem and her familiar,
pure beauty and pure beast.
The pale hunter boasts
a pelage of chaste frost
more striking than
her sumptuous dress.
Has the animal, pressed
to her plush warmth,
been wholly tamed
or might he claim her?
Her hand pauses, wavers,
lithe and supple as the weasel.
Dan MacIsaac writes from Metchosin, BC in a house overlooking a salt water lagoon. His poetry has appeared in magazines such as Event, The Ekphrastic Review, Prism, and Canadian Literature. Brick Books published his collection of poetry, Cries from the Ark; and, in 2022, Alfred Gustav Press published his chapbook, Jazz Sessions.
In a masterful play of design
Vermeer leads us on
guiding our eyes
first to this young woman’s face
in its white-kerchieved
as she listens to a story being told
of her satin robe
like her smile
in the light flowing from a window
The curved index finger
of her upturned hand on the table
is an open invitation
into her world
one that’s too small
for this oversized man
in the foreground
foreboding in demeanor
with the worldliness of a warrior
There’s a boastful sense
in the firmness of his ruffled hand on hip
in the jut of his elbow
and the vivid red of his clothing
paints the bold black rim of the officer’s hat
at a rakish angle
that points to a map on the wall
telling it all
she’s blind to that image
if she falls for this wanderer
someday far away he’ll philander
and while he’s telling those tales
to charm someone else
she’ll be raising his babies
The Space Between Them
Vermeer hints at half a story.
Perhaps he’s fooling us into focusing on questions
surrounding an unopened letter
that a young maid is handing to her mistress,
who, with pen in hand,
is about to write her own.
Both young women gaze at the envelope
with tentative faces,
anxious to find out what’s inside.
As their hands almost touch,
we sense a shared secret
As was often the case
they probably once played together,
laughing while rolling hoops with sticks,
till society and servitude intervened,
but now, one woman,
though blending into the background,
in her plain brown frock,
reaches out towards the other,
in her contrasting pearls, fur,
and as their downcast eyes briefly meet,
sisterhood fills the space
Joan Kantor has completed several poetry collections and has been published in numerous journals. She has won The Hackney Literary Award for Poetry, first place for poetry in The Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards and has been a finalist in several other contests. She has mentored young poets at The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, performs in Stringing Words Together (violinist and poet duo) and does readings and workshops throughout the Northeast and Florida. Her work focuses on nature, the human condition and the arts.
In a light of Albert Pinkham Ryder
As dawn breaks hard along the ashen ridge,
as mare’s-tails sweep across the scarlet swells,
we seem to hear behind the rumbling hills
our granite mountains on the move again.
We sense an anxious weather massing in the West,
the restless herds are darkly gathered there.
A hastening sky, already nearly here, has set
its chorused ravens ranting through the dusky air.
On this high place the ancient house holds fast
against the tossing slap, these troubling sounds,
as we, like wary sailors in a freshening breeze,
lash tight to buck the heaving desert ground.
As if to ride before this rising spray of mankind’s making,
we’ll run to port before our makeshift craft starts leaking.
DB Jonas is an orchardist living in the mountains of New Mexico. His work has appeared in Tar River, Neologism, Water Wheel, The Ekphrastic Review, The Decadent Review and over 30 other journals. His first collection, Tarantula Season, is scheduled for release later this year.
A Canvas of Sky
Our coasts boast a split canvas
of sky and sea. Here in middle America,
the few city skylines and river bluffs point upward,
but our eyes don’t need directions to look up
to sky, sky, endless sky.
Night darkness reminds us we’re rotating
in a vast cosmos. By day, we feel sheltered,
independent. We were not the first to stumble
here as we look up. Nor the first to wonder
if roiling clouds might pull us into oblivion.
We see this sky as all ours, an infinite wealth,
though doubts grow.
Will it be ours forever?
Alarie Tennille graduated from the first coed class at the University of Virginia, where she earned her B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. She loves appearing in The Ekphrastic Review so much that she invites local artist friends to let her submit their art with her poems.
Michael Driggs grew up and attended schools in Utah, including the illustration program of Utah State University under Glen Edwards. Painting and drawing skills remain his primary interest, study, and practice. Life and making a living interrupted (or postponed) a promising art career for several years until returning to school to receive his BFA at Washington University in Saint Louis in 1988. Michael then accepted and excelled in Illustration and Senior Design positions at Hallmark Cards for 26 years. He retired in 2014 and is enthusiastic in pursuing his lifelong desire to paint.
This poem is after Plaza Real, by Josep Costa Vila (Spain) contemporary. Click here to view.
It rained that day, and you were tired and you were never tired, so we hailed a cab back to our Air B and B room. You took everything off and you never nap naked, crawled to stark sleep under a single sheet. Barcelona has a way of getting under your skin. The art, the fish, the wine. It was an old world covered in spiraling rainbows of broken pottery, and ceilings hanged with Spanish jamon. The spirits were everywhere.
After awhile you stirred the way you always did if there was a shift in the room. Why are you crying? you asked and your voice was soft with sleep. Oh, I’m not crying, I said. You nodded. It’s only everything, I said. I knew you understood how I cried all the time. How I got so filled up with beauty, I had to release a bit of sea to get back to earth.
Lorette C. Luzajic
This poem was first published in MacQueen's Quinterly.
Uss din baarish hui thi, aur tum thake huwe thay aur tum kabhi bhi thake huwe nahein hote thay, toh hum ne apne Air BnB mein kamre mein wapis jane ke liye cab pakri. Tum ne apne saare kapre utaar diye aur tum kabhi bhi pure nange nahein soote thay. Halki chadar orh ker gehri neend so gye. Barcelona ka kisi ko apni terf maayal kerne ka eik khaas terika hai. Fan, machliyaan, sharaab. Woh eik purani dunya thi, totay howe mati ke bartanoon ki ghomti huwi qoos-e-qazaoon aur khushk kiye huwe ghost se latki chatoon mein dhaki huwi. Har teraf roohain thein.
Kuch lamhe ke ba’ad tum neend se eise baidaar huwe jaise tum hameesha hote thay agar kamre mein hal-chal hoti. Tum roo kayoon rehi ho? Tum ne poocha aur tmhari aawaaz ganoodgi mein dhemi thi. Oh, main roo nahein rehi, main ne kaha. Tum ne apna sar haan mein hilaaya. Bas, sab kuch iketthaa ho gaya hai, main ne kaha. Mujhe pata tha ke tum samajhte the ke mere har waqat roonay ki wajh kya thi. Kaise main khubsourti se magloob ho jati, apne aap mein lootne ke liye mujhe kuch aansoo bahaana parte thay.
translated by Maraam Pasha and Saad Ali
Saad Ali (b. 1980 C.E. in Okara, Pakistan) has been educated and brought up in the United Kingdom (UK) and Pakistan. He holds a BSc and an MSc in Management from the University of Leicester, UK. He is an (existential) philosopher, poet, and translator. Ali has authored five books of poetry. His latest collection of poetry is called Owl Of Pines: Sunyata (AuthorHouse, 2021). His work has been nominated for The Best of the Net Anthology. He is a regular contributor to The Ekphrastic Review. By profession, he is a Lecturer, Consultant, and Trainer/Mentor. Some of his influences include: Vyasa, Homer, Ovid, Attar, Rumi, Nietzsche, and Tagore. He is fond of the Persian, Chinese, and Greek cuisines. He likes learning different languages, travelling by train, and exploring cities on foot. To learn more about his work, please visit www.saadalipoetry.com, or his Facebook Author Page at www.facebook.com/owlofpines.
Maraam Pasha (b. 1999 C.E. in Lahore, Pakistan) has been raised in Rawalpindi & Islamabad, Pakistan. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Finance from the National University of Pakistan, Pakistan. By profession, she is a Marketing & Communication Executive, and now works at Mob Inspire, USA. She has been published in The Ekphrastic Review. She finds literature a way to connect with both herself and others. Her other interests include: photography, painting, music, travelling, baking, and sculpting. She shares her artistic creations on her page: www.instagram.com/maraam_pasha.
Lorette C. Luzajic's latest collection, The Neon Rosary: Tiny Prose Poems is available through Cyberwit Books.
Reading Between the Lines
In Ice Age paintings, bison seem in motion
with herds advancing in successive waves,
inevitable as tides in the ocean,
time frozen on walls in a limestone cave.
Beneath bold brushwork lie strange cryptic marks -
Y-shaped forms, crosses, dashes, rows of dots.
The written word born, innovation sparked?
Or doodles, nonsense scrawled, all scattershot?
We crave a hidden message in these signs,
perhaps the ancient artist’s hunting tips
passed down. We think we read between the lines,
but what we really do is try to slip
some meaning in where now it’s disappeared,
like prey that fled, tracks left to haunt those near.
Carl D. Kinsky
Carl Kinsky is a poet pretending to be a criminal defense lawyer in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. He started writing sonnets when his wife insisted he write her a love poem. He has only recently developed enough courage to start submitting a few of them for publication.
Tower and Shadows
This tower still looms
in the dust of history,
still guards the shadows,
still watches over ruins,
the lost Japanese gardens,
still haunts fading memories.
Silence in the Mist
in this silence
the far shore a rumor
no wake in the water
rocks this empty rowboat
sitting and reflecting
Aurora and snow
bend the backs of these trees--
struggle their way across
barrens in the moonlight,
try to reach the fallen.
feather under ice
caught with bubbles on the sand
seabirds hop and fly…
does a bird feel a flutter
every time a feather falls
or does it just shake it off
Gary S. Rosin
Gary S. Rosin’s poetry has appeared in various literary reviews and anthologies, in contemporary haibun, dadakuku, Failed Haiku, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Texas Poetry Calendar, The Ekphrastic Review’s Perkins Challenge, and The Wild Word. He has two chapbooks, Standing Inside the Web (Bear House Publishing 1990), and Fire and Shadows (Legal Studies Forum 2008). His poems “Viewing the Dead,” and “Black Dogs,” were nominated for Pushcart Prizes.
The Ekphrastic Review
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