Seascape-Jetty and Beloved Artist,
Henry Ossawa Tanner
Inky indigo cradles froth.
Mood roils where jetty churns.
Oils drape navy within ashen skies.
Waves turn in turquoise and sage.
Beloved artist, tell me,
did pain dampen your interior?
did nonacceptance torture your soul?
During the struggle,
did God Almighty whisper in breadth of light?
we’re not so different, you and I--
when inky indigo cradled froth,
mood roiled where jetty churned,
oils draped navy within ashen skies,
and waves turned in turquoise and sage--
amid the pain,
did you see angels?
Jeannie E. Roberts lives in west-central Wisconsin. She has authored four poetry collections and two children’s books. Her work appears in print and online in North American and international journals and anthologies. She's a coffee drinker, an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, and poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings.
after Henry Ossawa Tanner
It’s the wave that I see but don’t hear that cresting crashes
each window pane a notion the sunlight shatters onto rocks
to lap each piling’s circumference into froth and dumbness
upon which a roar errant for its tardiness is solitary reason
the suckling waters deceptive in their imitation of stillness
an audible sunray that slits the looming gale’s cobalt skein
siren in charm and lure the aquatic blues deepen to black
echoed in a pine for feet’s muffled percussion upon planks
that frame both promenade and window and offer escape
in steps counterpointed against wave strike along tan bluff
in the distance a storm too close in my mind for comfort
along creosote-soaked stanchions driven to last a battering
the navy-blue tempest overhead echoed inside my head
black against black to ground the sea’s recession into itself
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer with an MFA from California State University, Long Beach. His work has appeared in Panoplyzine, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review and other publications. His poetry chapbook, Colors the Thorns Draw, was released by Desert Willow Press in August 2018.
after two paintings by Henry Ossawa Tanner (USA), The Banjo Lesson, 1893
and Seascape-Jetty, 1879
the wind out there is wild, son
it gives the sky a churn
the sea too, and our rough shore
they never stop
make of your arms a cradle, son
feel the way I stomp
like the surf at dawn when we wake
and the waves
in time beat on
just your thumb now, an open G
let's rock to a steady strum
let the strings resound as one
while the waves
out there still pound
place fingers on the frets, son
first and second, pointer and ring
move from open to C
for the waves crash
and never do they hush
hush, my son, hear that cadent thrum--
beneath it all, the heart’s tidal turn
a lesson never done
so waves, beat on and sing
beat on beat on . . .
Alan Girling writes poetry mainly, sometimes fiction, non-fiction, or plays. His work has been seen in print, heard on the radio, at live readings, even viewed in shop windows. Such venues include The Ponder Review, Panoply, Hobart, The MacGuffin, Smokelong Quarterly, FreeFall, The Ekphrastic Review and CBC Radio. He is happy to have had poems win or place in four local poetry contests and a play produced for the Walking Fish Festival in Vancouver, B.C.
Rearranged in Strange Light
I want to be in this water
dark as night, cold, alive.
I, of both flesh and water,
ask to land hard
on this stark coast, epidermis
purged by salt and wind, body
leaving grain by grain,
face leveling like a rock.
I ask this raging water
to knock my coils off,
to mutate me, spilling green over
gold, churning me out
sweeping me back without
thought, my carnality
downed by turbulence.
In water I become
water, ebbing from mortal
time, moving in blankness
rearranged in strange light
like that ambiguous shape
at the rocky edge where
the sea turns over its colours
again, where in a thin coat,
a black figure, an artist perhaps,
balances two surfaces of
the water I know
and the rest of water.
Janice Bethany is a part-time professor in Houston who recently placed in a writing competition for Letheon with work forthcoming in 2020. Her work has appeared in the The Ekphrastic Review, Kansas Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review and more.
disappointment, transformed into strength
fueled by inner storms as fierce
as the weather canvas recreates.
Crossing the state to study with Eakins,
Talent respected but not the man.
A dark form on the edge of the
Jetty—is it you, waiting there
to jump off of, out of, our world
into one where you are respected?
I hear the ocean argue with you,
its voice deep,
deep as the crash of waves upon the jetty
deep as the darkness of stormy afternoon sky
deep as the water that sprays up between rocks
as waves crashes onto the jetty.
I hear you argue from your place
on the canvas and behind the brush--
will stormy waters continue
to rage about the rockes, your soul,
or will you in a leap of faith,
leave these shores?
When skies clear, only those
stronger than the waves,
stronger than the bold brush
of the master teacher,
Joan Leotta, born in Pittsburgh herself, plays with words on page and stage. She loves the sea and spends hours walking the beach, looking for shells when she is not writing or performing.
Near fifty years since I in Sceaux,
not knowing Henry Tanner there -
a grave place for a starry son.
I would have honoured him:
mother a slave till underground,
Wesley episcopal, father brand,
and he debated octoroon.
He detailed real rather than type,
his daily frame, as middle name,
a battleground for freedom fought -
from canvassed shades came life and height.
His passage first on seascape rocked,
the horses riding in their rage,
the roar of forties turning bend,
the swell, walls, gulfs topography,
sourced bubbled springs, drops of rain,
oasis cloud or ice-melt stain.
That water of the gully drift,
should visit berg and sailing ship,
moisten lips, xylem, tree of life,
intricacies of massive maze,
the plumbing of a worldly sort,
nature, nurture, experience.
So of Sarah, Ossawa welled and willed,
pattern against the template wield,
some hope in stratified, stultified,
a point of light in layered dark.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales, from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by over a dozen on-line poetry sites, including The Ekphrastic Review, and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader & Foxtrot Uniform Poetry Magazines. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/
Our faces glow,
Flushed with firelight.
The bonfire blazes warmth for fingers and toes.
Laughter trills chatter like crackle from burning logs.
Beneath the smile heartbreak arises,
A hiss of sea spray fogs that memory.
Sand and seaweed,
Fishermen hurl their weighty spinning rods,
Mullet bait tossed from the shore.
Today the chill wind tugs my hair
And the strong shoulder of love gone.
Skiffs bump the dock.
The jetty reaches far into the gulf.
Patsy Kate Booth
Born in Beaumont, Texas, Patsy Kate migrated to the La Garita mountains of southern Colorado in 1973 where she lived off the grid, taught special education, created an outfitting/guide service with llamas as pack animals and began publishing her poetry and prose. Publications include, Lummox Press, Willow Creek Journal, Sand Hill Review, Amethyst Review, several anthologies including, Why We Boat, and A Walk Along the River. She is currently compiling decades of memoir adventures and endlessly organizing her poetry for publication.
distant forms, unattached, pull away
like a feather drifting unbalanced,
unaware of the difficulty of flight--
following the wind without intention
like a feather drifting unbalanced
into what is not after before--
following the wind without intention,
currented by air carried away
into what is now after before--
molecules alive with their own journeys,
currented by air, carried away,
caught by circumstance by tides
molecules alive with their own journey
turning into the undertow
caught by circumstance, by tides,
by sooner or later--
turning into the undertow,
the unchosen intersection of elements,
the sooner or later
at the crossroads of to come or to go--
the unchosen intersection of elements
unafraid of the difficulty of flight--
at the crossroads of to come or to go
distant forms, unattached, pull away
A resident of New York City, Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new. Follow her explorations on her blogs, https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/ (which she does with her friend Nina), and https://kblog.blog/, and see more of her work on her website http://kerferoig.com/
Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Seascape-Jetty
Brings to Mind Winslow Homer
My brother, who died a year ago, lived not far
from Homer’s studio at Black Point, Maine.
Seascapes with jetties all have the same look
as the path I hiked behind the painter’s house.
Before it became part of Portland Museum of Art
you could walk right in, door unlocked, sit down
at the table and read his books. For someone who grew
up on the sea, it was like waking up in Van Gogh’s
blue bedroom after a dream. For even the most sacred
of spaces, there is a limit of your endurance of them.
They are so still and quiet your attention wanders.
I left the studio for slippery rocks crashed by waves
as the tide came in. I took off a necklace of tumbled
stones and left it in a crevice of the jetty.
My brother’s wish was to have his ashes scattered
from the breakwater just across the inlet where lobster
boats leave to check their traps buoyed off the coast.
Everyone gathered in a bitter Nor’easter, cast point
closed for safety. They went ahead anyway for a sailor
who’d settled on one of the most dramatic seas found
and same as Homer, only left the protection of jetty
to be swept up into a storm.
Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
Tanner Speaks, 1879
So you think because a man is black--
father preaching to a church of small children,
sad black men & wordless women, his mother
of Virginia slave-stock—so you think
he hasn’t a word to say for himself,
but cap in hand will mutter, ‘Sir’, and bow
& back away with eyes downcast?
Not I, Mister! For I have stood watching
on that jetty where the Delaware sweeps
out into the rolling Atlantic. Sure,
that sight, those sounds will diminish me to
however, not one word that you can say
will ring above the roar of my senses
when I stand here next the jetty; where moaning
fog has closed the cliffs and all before us
is the drag & thrash of water, waves
bursting on these boulders into shards of light:
the blue & turquoise of my palette
melted like wax by light & water—light!
Black I may be, but I can hear the hiss
& rush & lash of sea, the same salt sea
my fathers crossed in chains below
the foetid decks.
This brush, these oils speak louder in my ears
than oceans, drown your voice to the abyss.
And more than that—for I can see the ocean
with my own dark eyes, frame it with my white-
soled palms, ebony African fingers
that hold these oils, this brush.
So let me speak
in darkest hues shot through with truth’s hot light.
And for God’s sake
hold your tongue.
A published novelist between 1984 and 1996 in North America, Australasia, the UK, Netherlands and Sweden (pen-name Elizabeth Gibson), Lizzie Ballagher is now writing poetry rather than fiction. Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines and webzines, including The Ekphrastic Review. She blogs at https://www.lizzieballagherpoetry.wordpress.com/.
To Henry Ossawa Tanner Regarding Seascape-Jetty
Your brush enlightened sounds the roar
of rage against resistant shore
where harbour must be engineered
to still the waters being steered
so those asea can come ashore
as equals -- neither less nor more --
with blood in common though unique
to follow course by art you seek
that wills one's authenticity
by skills -- not by ethnicity --
respecting and yet not enslaved
to path behind that pain has paved
for those who now are free to yearn
for joy they have a right to earn.
Portly Bard: Old man.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
Sea-Jetty, 1879, by Henry Ossawa Tanner, the Only African-American Enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1879-1885.
One night his easel was carried out into the middle of Broad Street and, though not painfully crucified, he was firmly tied to it and left there.
—Joseph Pennell, The Adventures of an Illustrator
The cloud-river sky, absorbed with itself, is speeding along on its own.
A ship nearing the horizon has somewhere to get to, and sails on.
But, in the middle distance, a ribbon of shallower water, sunlit
by early or late rays, turns chrysoprase green for the artist’s eye,
and where obdurate land and driven sea confront each other
in a cataclysm of spume, something is exploding open--
like light about to be prism-split, like a crystal revealing
its secret geometries, like the seed-pod of his own universe.
Judy Kronenfeld’s most recent books of poetry are Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017) and Shimmer (WordTech, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, Natural Bridge, New Ohio Review, One (Jacar Press), Rattle, South Florida Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals, and in two dozen anthologies. She is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside, and an Associate Editor of the online poetry journal, Poemeleon.
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