Symphony in White
Whistler painted the woman in white standing on a wolf rug,
off-white curtain with folds mimicking her dress,
his whites are there but not quite there, lost by light
brown fur. He picked out textures, contours, nuances,
and traced the wonders of this colour. He celebrated
how white hides, or hatches into a miracle.
Accused of creating a painting without a story
his painting was banished to the Salon des Refusés,
a sanctuary for misunderstood art,
a home for a forgettable colour and for struggling artists.
Whistler knew how white hides, how it fills gaps
where no colour wants to be,
white shapes our world
with the curve of a wave, ice geometry,
and spiral cloud.
White smudges into reds and blues
softens into baby pinks and pastel blues.
White, as undervalued as toothpaste,
froth on a cappuccino,
the Holy Ghost.
White as forgettable as
a mother’s milk.
Maria Roe is a poet, short fiction writer, and an artist. She lives in Dorset, UK. Her work was published in the Bath International Short Story anthology, highly commended in the AUB International Poetry competition and she is longlisted in the Yeovil Literary Prize (Poetry) 2023.
Museum of Detroit Industry, North Wall Mural
Jesucristo, I tempered my message
yet critics call the murals of Diego Rivera subversive?
If you take umbrage at seeing the
white and the colored working together,
take a closer look at the colored fellow
in blue overalls. See him pushing
the cart full of engine blocks--eight cylinder engine blocks!
For engines of unfathomable power.
Does he look familiar to you?
If you guessed Jack Johnson,
heavyweight champion of the world,
you win a free piston ring.
I came thisclose to painting Jack brandishing his big fist.
Frida kept saying, Do it. Do it, Diego.
But no, I exercised restraint.
I threw in a young Jesus despite my atheism,
but still the priests condemn me as heretic.
Do they object to my fusion,
the image of the Aztec goddess Coatlicue
in the stamping machine?
Coatlicue made the moon and the stars,
was the mother to the god of the sun, but
Padres, I do not advocate a human sacrifice
to Coatlicue. I do not even suggest
that we roast a goat to honor her, I merely
want to demonstrate the unity of America and Mexico,
the oneness of technology and art.
Do you see the man with the spectacles and
the porkpie hat? In my sketches I gave him
a much larger nose, knowing it would
offend those anti-Semite Fords.
Frida kept saying, Do it. Do it, Diego.
Granted, I may have exercised self-interest
in--well, let’s call it moderating--my composition.
I couldn’t afford to lose this commission.
But those critics have no idea
how I hammered off the rough spurs of my world view,
and filed down the edges of my beliefs
to assure the smooth running of this engine of a mural.
If I had my way I would have painted
a team of workers in a dark corner of the shop floor
building a guillotine for Henry Ford.
Frida kept telling me, Do it. Do it, Diego.
Flavian Mark Lupinetti, a poet, fiction writer, and cardiac surgeon, received his MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poems have appeared in Briar Cliff Review, december, and Sheila-Na-Gig. Mark lives in New Mexico where he hikes with his dogs and watches too much pro football on television.
Figure of a Male Rice Deity
definitely not god, it’s balding, smooth
domed cranium glossy in the small
display case. put a toupee on him, or may
i suggest rogaine because it makes heads
tingle. yet i move closer, level with its
lozenge eyes, see its legs muscular, knees
slightly bent. it’s father, lifting two-by-fours
for flower beds while i follow with a
drill and a box of screws. i wasn’t fond
of hydrangeas or tomatoes. (i would’ve rather
been scanning an atlas of new jersey.) but i was
there as he carried galaxies after a twelve-hour shift
at the hospital, where a patient expelled the
entire universe all over his scrubs. and now
i recall all those times he had his lips open,
thin projection, tongue scolding the stars in
retrograde because i didn’t understand what
it meant to leave a country over oceans. i
saw him a few days ago, his back, proper
right side, and base somewhat eroded. he says,
“if i’m still alive next year.” i tell him “you're
unfortunately stuck with us for a while
longer.” and even though for years people
reminded me how much we looked alike,
i never realized it until then. not exactly a
true reflection because he bore more marks
by metal blade, but close enough. in the philippines,
the bulul is often passed down for generations,
overseeing many harvest seasons and ceremonies.
i’ve managed to keep a cactus and an orchid
alive. back at his house, my father reminds me
that he didn’t start losing hair until he was in his
forties. i’m only in my mid-twenties. perhaps,
this my version of a quarter-life crises. but
we both laugh, rubbing the spot on our heads
reserved for the insertion of a plume of hair.
Editor's note: Italics are from artifact information from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
William Pagdatoon is the son of Filipino immigrants. Born and raised in New Jersey, he received his MFA from Queens College—CUNY. His interests include Filipino American identity, history, film, music, food, and anything else that catches his senses.
We walked into the forest wearing
costumes we did not understand,
our bodies gyrated, hopped,
imagined the survival songs
of tree frogs to be a music made for us.
We searched for our innocence, danced
on the body of a snake because we’d
read it once had a human voice and
would not now be a snake, not here.
Naked, we mimicked a movement
we did not understand, and thought
we had escaped a savage civilization.
Repairing that society – it did not interest us.
We protested our innocence, alone
in those woods, whose citizens, alarmed,
retreated into a darkness we did not understand.
D. A. Gray
D. A. Gray is the author of Contested Terrain (FutureCycle Press, 2017). His poems have appeared in The Sewanee Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Still: The Journal, Collateral Journal and Wrath-Bearing Tree among others. He earned his MFA at the Sewanee School of Letters. Gray now teaches, writes and lives in Central Texas.
“Don’t Say Gay” Bill Passes in Florida
crucified by your father
crucified like Christ
crucified with eyes
while men point
and men weep
and no women allowed
to tend you
a soft beard
a body you called your own
my God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?
with your arms wing-wide
and wrists tied
we kneel inside your poem
where doves coo
and candles flicker
on the numinous altar of your courage
Carey Taylor is the author of The Lure of Impermanence (Cirque Press 2018). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the 2022 Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize. Her work has been published both in Ireland and the United States and most recently in The Black Spring Press Group Anthology-Before the Cameras Leave Ukraine (London). She holds a Master of Arts degree in School Counseling and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. https://careyleetaylor.com
Follow wheat buzzes with the wind,
the soft tops tickle my palms.
From a wood pile in a discarded field
a roughhewn visage stares at me.
Board nose & crooked mouth,
chiseled face, silvered patina--
Kept close for near five decades
hung on walls from here to there.
Disdained by some:
Too crude, too poorly rendered,
too stern, maybe frightening.
Your starkness draws me.
Reminds me of then.
Then, what was coming—unknown.
What had been—pushed aside.
Crafting a lived story, breathing
in the day, exhaling the future.
Then was Jodie, David, Jimbo & Judy Blueskies,
Owl Creek Farm, Fool on the Hill & Down the Road.
Once, strangers gathered in yurts, & farmhouses.
Cows milked, chickens fed, food harvested.
Music, art & poetry were created.
Wanting to remake the world--
thinking we had the answer.
Then travelers wandered through,
hoping to share our community.
We partied, danced, denounced the war,
spoke of injustice & railed against the man.
Then was the annual pig roast.
Short hair John Birch farmers with made families
Long-haired hippies with chosen families,
gathered, shared potluck, & conversations,
as fiddlers' strings twanged, a square dance
and called opposites to weave and reel together.
Our journey from coast to coast,
from North to South marked
by explosive joy & shattering grief
that threatened to break me apart.
And yet you and I remain.
I accept what life has given me. As I sit
in stillness under your watchful eyes.
Mary Chris Bailey
Mary Chris Bailey is a retired pediatric emergency medicine physician. In retirement, she can often be found willing words to flow from her brain to the keyboard and onto the computer screen. Her work has been published in Please See me, Defenestration, The Gulf Coast Bards Anthology, and others. She lives with her husband and two dogs. Her dogs love her writing. Her husband is withholding judgement.
Modigliani Knew Them All
I noted the dolorous length of the face. The tilt of the delicate head as if in confusion or doubt. The hands placed demurely, though restlessly on the thigh bones. The thighs are covered in the coarse fabric of the sensible or the poor. The mouth is small with a confusion of muscles animating the appearance of misgiving, sadness. The jet black hair like a raven before flight. I recognized my foremother, in fact, all of my foremothers in her eyes. Modigliani knew them all, by each feature their passions, terrors, regrets and insincerities. With his brush he fashioned from a woman from paint who speaks to me across generations and time. A woman who he would immortalize on canvas, to be venerated and adored, though she be created in ambiguity and forever nameless.
Michelle Reale is the author of several poetry collections, including Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) Blood Memory (Idea Press, 2021) In the Year of Hurricane Agnes (Alien Buddha Press, 2023). She is the Founding and Managing Editor for both OVUNQUE SIAMO: New Italian-American Writing and The Red Fern Review.
"The most interesting thing is what it is itself."
I saw two stones yesterday
at the Met Breuer
inside a plexiglas case.
Identical, but one was stone
the other cast in bronze
and painted by Vija Celmins.
What if you can't tell what's real
if you can't tell a Rembrandt
from a fake?
If your husband dies
after 68 years of marriage
and no matter how many times
your daughter tells you he's gone
you don't believe it.
A man came over to look
his face close to the top
of the box, and close to mine.
We muttered like old friends
our eyes going from one
stone to the other--
which is which?
We were unaware
of being happy.
On the way out I saw
the people in the first
room of the exhibit.
I was jealous of them
still locked in trance
faces inches away
from Vija's ocean drawings
which appear to be photographs
even close up.
Vija spent ten years
on the ocean drawings
sharpening her pencil
shading a wavelet
shaping the larger undulation
of the surface of the sea
by square centimetre.
"I am a poet, artist and cellist living in the Hudson valley. My poems have been published in various literary journals such as The Westchester Review, BigCityLit, and Lumina, but a particular joy for me is when someone I know is walking in Sleepy Hollow and they come across the poetry walk and read my poem inscribed in the sidewalk. I play cello in the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra and with the Kort String Quartet. I draw and paint in my home studio. My experiences making art and music inspire my writing, and I enjoy letting the different modes of expression influence and inform each other."
Recipe for Salt-Baked Maidmer
* a marooned maidmer
* three obols of Charon
* skeins of kelp strands
* moistened seasalt to cover
* ginger, coriander, lemongrass, lime
* rinse sand from the maidmer
* gut her, keeping head intact
* close each eye with an obol
* insert the third in the mouth
* trim dorsal and pectoral fins
* shave the pubis
* scrape silvery scales
* pinion knees and ankles with kelp strands
* lay maidmer on a bed of moist salt
* stuff chopped aromatics in body cavity
* mound maidmer with remaining damp salt
* ensure there are no fissures
* bake in a hot oven until done
* allow to rest
* crack the crust with a hammer and discard
* serve at a banquet with thong-weed salad
Christian Donovan lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales and works as a part-time guide in ancient, beautiful
Carew Castle. She leads ghost walks around the castle.
Misericord (or Lasciviousness)
a conversation with a particular misericord at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
The guide tells me, “She
is a picture of transgression,”
the bawdy, pictorial satire of the time
telling all who cared to look,
how far you ‘fell’,
how low you are:
a woman, not a man.
He notes the loose hair.
The nudity. The garland.
The scroll. The stag you ride.
Each coded rejection of social norms;
of God’s truth; of Mary’s docile
I think you look angry and free,
a pattern of a woman who was other.
A thing they refused to comprehend.
Friend, you were the object of their fear:
a wild creature that could not be
tamed, or owned.
(And I know
a man carved you,
for a man to sit upon,
while a man told other men
how they ought to think
about the travesty of
You’re bloody livid, after all these years,
lurking under the choirboys,
like a suffragette beneath a stage.
Howling your disharmony, your discontent -
and I get it, girl.
They are still telling people what you mean.
Lauren K. Nixon
An ex-archaeologist enjoying life in the slow-lane, Lauren K. Nixon is the author of numerous short stories, The Fox and the Fool, Mayflies, The Last Human Getaway and The House of Vines, along with various poetry collections, including Wild Daughter, Marry Your Chameleon and umbel.. She has also written two plays - one on purpose! When she's not writing, she can be found pootling around the garden or library, researching weird stuff, making miniatures, annoying the cats, and playing board games. You can find out more at her website: (www.laurenknixon.com) Or check her out on Instagram (@laurenknixon) Facebook (@IndieAuthorLaurenKNixon)
The Ekphrastic Review
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