Watermill at Ondenv
The wheel rotates water into a slide. Women take buckets away while other women are bringing empty buckets. The wheel brings water regardless if anyone takes any water away.
Men carry sacks of wheat to be ground into smaller grain. The wheel rolls over the grain in another circle, churned by the water. As the water turns, so does the wheel. The wheel crushes the wheat into almost dust. The wheel never stops. The number of men carrying bags never stops. The water never stops.
The sun follows the moon on a bridge as it crosses over the sky.
This world has motions this repetitive. This is useless pursuit. Not even Mount Fuji can explain why. I am dizzy watching this turning activity.
Is it possible for a day to avoid following another day by skipping the endless cycle of days?
My paintbrush makes small, tight circles: Light and Dark walk on the same circular path around Mount Fuji, wearing it down.
This world is a grain
carried in a sack, then ground
into fine laughter.
Martin Willitts, Jr
Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 16 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover, Coming Home Celebration. Forthcoming books include Harvest Time (Deerbrook Press) and the Blue Light Award winner The Temporary World. He is an editor for Comstock Review.
gold mining in 1929
broad landscape of frosted purplish mountains
the fresh purity of a clear blue sky
perfectly dotted with feathery clouds
painted as a child might imagine them
summits stretch skyward in vain pursuit
houses painted scarlet and sapphire
boldly refuse to blend into the earth
the habitat of fresh aspirations
hopes unrestricted by harrowing truths
peacefully unaware of disaster
emerald trees cascade down the mountainside
flecks of disparate colours coalesce
into blended streaks of reality
everything made up of differences
harder to discern the closer you look
a portrait of simple intricacies
like the backdrop of a distant memory
or the vignette of a forgotten life
a daydream drenched in natural brilliance
imagination in technicolour
from nature’s evocative majesty
inspiration suddenly emerges
in reveries fueled by desperation
like a history of untold stories
unrelenting once they are truly free
searching for magic glistening metal
rumored to solve the problems life presents
in a frantic effort to steal from the earth
they never truly stop to wonder
what if we’re looking for something else?
Stephanie Gemmell is an undergraduate at George Washington University studying Religion, Journalism, and Creative Writing. Her poetry has appeared in Wooden Teeth, and she has been a correspondent and editor for The Rival GW. She currently leads a campus service organization and serves as chaplain for a gender-inclusive fraternity. She is also a flutist and composer, and her work is motivated by the unique power of art to ask questions and inspire unity.
Imagine the scene inside this New York apartment
through the three windows,
one open to the midnight air, a translucent blue
curtain billowing in the cold breeze,
two closed to the sound
of the desperate corner traffic below
where a young woman attends to her private affairs,
her toilet, her telephone conversation
with her estranged husband,
her "unexamined life," played out
in partial view of the artist/voyeur scrutinising
the night windows, three floors up.
Imagine again our heroine (for all women who live
alone in the city of dreams/the city
that never sleeps
are de facto heroines) bending over
in her pink/mauve dress, revealing her formidable
backside, to read the weekly best-seller lists
in the NY Times, where Winnie-the-Pooh, still sits
at No. 1, a sad reminder of her lost
childhood, far away from the latter day metropolis
with its all night diners, movie houses,
and automats, that eat at her soul, her solitude,
her unassuming laughter, like a cancer.
No doubt, she will do a great many strange things
again and again, like reading
The Great Gatsby, aloud to her unborn child,
dancing the Charleston, the Peabody,
the Turkey Trot, without any partner to swing
with, dine with, dream with, share in her
triumphs and tragedies, in her stifling room
in the city of strangers, strange loves, strange art,
strange affairs, but she will never sit,
stand, or otherwise pose for Edward Hopper
again, even if she lives to be
a hundred, aware or unaware of her lasting
Mark A. Murphy
Mark A. Murphy was born in 1969 in the UK. His poetry publications include Tin Cat Alley (1996), Our Little Bit of Immortality (2011), Night-watch Man & Muse (2013) and his next full length collection, Night Wanderer’s Plea is pending from Waterloo Press, UK. His latest collection, To Nora, A Singer of Sad Songs is to be published this year by Clare Songbirds Publishing House in America. He is currently looking for a publisher for his collection of epigrams, Little Known Aphorisms and he is now also working on a full length collection of ekphrastic poems, Word Painting. His poems have been published in 18 countries in over 200 journals in print and online.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge: Dale Patterson
Join us for biweekly ekphrastic writing challenges. See why so many writers are hooked on ekphrastic! We feature some of the most accomplished influential poets writing today, and we also welcome emerging or first time writers and those who simply want to experience art in a deeper way or try something creative.
The prompt this time is Beyond the Storm, by Dale Patterson. Deadline is October 4, 2019.
We welcome Jordan Trethewey for his second round as guest editor for our ekphrastic challenges.
Guest editor's note:
Dale is a wonderful mixed-media master I recently met online at Open Arts Forum (where I edit and curate). Not long ago he posted Beyond the Storm, which knocked me flat and sideways. Not only is it a stunning visual, the image and title combined screamed, "Write about me!" If this is before the storm...whew! Fish are flying, birds are in hysterics and the seaside row houses are jitterbugging with all the lights on! What comes next? What just happened to get things to this state? As the saying goes, the image is the start. The rest is up to you. Have fun!
Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Some of his work found a home here, and in other online and print publications such as Burning House Press, Visual Verse, CarpeArte Journal, Califragile, and is forthcoming in The Blue Nib and Fishbowl Press. His poetry has also been translated in Vietnamese and Farsi. Jordan is an editor at https://openartsforum.com. To see more of his work go to: https://jordantretheweywriter.wordpress.com.
Dale Patterson is an Indiana based artist and poet. His works have appeared in numerous online and print publications. Prior to retiring in 2011 Dale was a high school art teacher. You can learn more about Dale at dalepattersonart.com
1. Use this visual art prompt as a springboard for your writing. It can be a poem or short prose (fiction or nonfiction.) You can research the artwork or artist and use your discoveries to fuel your writing, or you can let the image alone provoke your imagination.
2. Write as many poems and stories as you like. Send only your best works or final draft, not everything. Please copy and paste your submission into the body of the email, even if you include an attachment such as Word or PDF.
3. Have fun.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY.
Send your work to email@example.com. Challenge submissions sent to the other inboxes will most likely be lost as those are read in chronological order of receipt, weeks or longer behind, and are not seen at all by guest editors. They will be discarded. Sorry.
5.Include DALE PATTERSON WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line please.
6. Include your name and a brief bio. If you do not include your bio, it will not be included with your work, if accepted. Even if you have already written for The Ekphrastic Review or submitted other works and your bio is "on file" you must include it in your challenge submission. Do not send it after acceptance or later; it will not be added to your poem. Guest editors may not be familiar with your bio or have access to archives. We are sorry about these technicalities, but have found that following up, requesting, adding, and changing later takes too much time and is very confusing.
7. Late submissions will be discarded. Sorry.
8. Deadline is midnight, October 4, 2019.
9. Please do not send revisions, corrections, or changes to your poetry or your biography after the fact. If it's not ready yet, hang on to it until it is.
10. Selected submissions will be published together, with the prompt, one week after the deadline.
11. Rinse and repeat with upcoming ekphrastic writing challenges!
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Georgia O’Keeffe Made Rubble Out of Me
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Maybe it was holy, the edge of the petal
the way it curved, rippling outward
as if it were a blessing.
And the fragrance
it would crush me for its sweetness
with its softness
break my bones to dust.
You know, she could shatter walls with just her gaze.
Oh yes, she could be defiant
with her hat tipped to the sky like a dark moon.
But did you see her in the garden
did you see the black iris of her eye?
Vulnerability, was always her strength.
And I felt something
breaking, rising free.
Alyssa Sineni is a metalsmith and writer. She is a member of The Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange, The Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh, and she works as the Director of Programming for Art and Inspiration, a non-profit, which celebrates artists and writers. Ms. Sineni holds a BFA from The State University College at Buffalo and a BA in Spanish Language from Slippery Rock University. She has had four poems published in Soul-Lit and has been published in Hot Metal Press, and Uppagus.
Finally to Burn
Athena takes me
sometimes by both hands
and we go levitating
through strange Dreamlands
where Apollo sleeps
in his dark forgetting
and Passion seems
like a wise bloodletting
and all I remember
is: to Love sometimes
is like forsaking
one’s Being—to glide
heroically beyond thought,
forsaking the here
for the There and the Not.
O, finally to Burn,
gravity beyond escaping!
To plummet is Bliss
when the blisters breaking
rain down red scabs
on the earth’s mudpuddle ...
Feathers and wax
and the watchers huddle ...
O, and innocent lambs!,
I will rock me to sleep
on the waves’ iambs.
Michael R. Burch
With over 4,500 publications (including poems that have gone viral), Michael R. Burch claims to be one of the world’s most-published “complete unknowns.” His poems, translations, essays, articles, letters, epigrams, jokes and puns have been published by TIME, USA Today, BBC Radio 3, Writer’s Digest–The Year’s Best Writing and hundreds of literary journals. His poems have been translated into fourteen languages and set to music by four composers. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com and has served as editor of international poetry and translations for Better Than Starbucks.
Watching Li Po at the Waterfall
In our Dark Ages, China’s poets turned
Proud backs to futile wars along the Wall
To journey into mountains thick with mist
And contemplate cascades sprung from the moon.
A thousand years had passed when Hokusai
Looked back to capture one immortal soul,
Engraving Li Po rapt with wonderment
But not alone as in his famous verse,
Accompanied instead by acolytes
Who cling to Master’s robe above the cliffs.
The painter’s waterfall, against his wont,
Emerges from no rocks, nor feeds a pool.
Omitting even polished, frothy slopes,
It drops uninterrupted, unified
As Li Po’s skystream circling the world,
Joining Middle Kingdom’s running streams
With all the universal ethers poured
In every cycle of created life,
A revelation of the writer’s art
Forever redirecting such spare lines
Imprinted once again in time’s long scroll.
Now I add my voice to the accolade,
Writing about painting about writing,
Part of the cosmic stream brought full around.
Jim Gaines lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia and is active in state and local writing groups there. His work has been widely published, most recently in journals such as Avocet, Poetry Quarterly, Piedmont Journal of Fiction and Poetry, The Poet's Domain, and El Portal.
At the Psychiatrist’s Office
Through an open door,
while seated in a waiting room chair ,
I glimpse a partially hidden view of Starry Night
magically, its thick eclipse exposes yellow sun & moon,
inky blues now streaking across canvas once the colour
of clinical white walls.
It’s only a print. One of many Van Gogh
reproductions stacked in bins in shopping malls
across the country, thumb-tacked on dorm walls,
or framed in the homes of aspiring corporate types
with a fondness for the arts, doctors’ offices, or here,
in the office of my teenage daughter’s psychiatrist.
Printed posters everywhere, easy to overlook or
dismiss in the rush of ubiquitous overload,
not unlike breathing—forgotten—until one forgets
Thick broad brushstrokes deceptively simple
until one notes the swirling complexity--
the giant fingerprints of god,
the bold genius of colour gone mad
This brief glimpse of a starry night escaping
through an open door that will soon close to swallow
my daughter and her secrets bruises my mother-heart
with new tenderness.
I think of my daughter’s sad lovely eyes peering through
her camera’s view, recognizing beauty in a hard world,
if only for a tiny starlit flicker, before the dark of night
descends and we wait for a new constellation to appear.
This poem first appeared in The Rappahhanock Review.
Robin Michel’s fiction and poetry has been published in Fresh Ink VI, The Midwest Poetry Review, The Noyo River Review, The New Guard, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Star 82 Review and elsewhere.
I Read The Ekphrastic Review Fridge Magnet Red
Zazzle in the mail drop
Brown package, double sealed
Scissors in my right
Delving with what is left
To open, excited
Then into the kitchen
Feet in the dog’s biscuits
Confronting the fridge freezer
Surveyed for ten seconds
Stuck forward my hand
Placed red in the middle
Under the Streets of Baltimore
In sight of a Poppy from Flanders
A watchful Evil Eye Talisman
Above Istanbul and Prague
Close by CI Sark
To the left Florence
On the right Nigel, long gone
Behind it the ice box
Whirring like the stream engine
En route to Noyelles-sur-Mer
About to drop off, again
Wondering whether the red
Is derived cochineal
Or blood from the mail man
Bitten by a hound - not mine
But as I am observing
Should it be “read” not “red”
Cannot stand conundrums if
I could work out what they are.
Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions in Europe and North America. His poems have featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He is particularly inspired by ekphrastic challenges.
The Ekphrastic Review
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