Silver Spoon in a Tureen
Grey and taupe variations on the cream of white
make you stare at the surface of bowl and folds of linen.
A glass vessel holds salt for the bread.
The soup is mushroom scoured below trees in the forest--
forms rounded in desire.
Slice open the crust on the limestone table and eat.
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 six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and France. Granted residencies in poetry from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), she is one of eight members of the Boiler House Poets who perform and study at the museum. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
When my mother went into a home and we were left to pack up hers,
all my Florida sister wanted was the Pyrex casserole,
the one that held weekly tuna noodle casseroles, summer ambrosia salads, lunchtime macaroni and cheese—even the kind with little pieces of hot dogs we kids didn’t like—and those terrible jello salads.
In that bowl, transparent and large, we three sisters learned to cook, mixing cookies and pancakes, soaking fruit for pies, and covering mom’s
famous Sunday dinner roll dough with a damp tea towel leaving it to rise
while mom sang all the while
over the potatoes on the stove.
My brother had packed it—so fast!—in with all the other pots and pans, the holiday mugs and water glasses and colanders, all the potato mashers. So many boxes, ceiling high and heavy.
I opened every one until I found it.
But even after I shipped it off, as dull and scratched as ever after 45 years,
I still cried for the Wrigley soup noodles made there with flour and good Amish butter. That recipe is one I never got and one she’ll never remember now.
“The soup in this place is simply terrible,” my mother says. “You’d think by now they would have learned how to cook.”
Kate is a Pittsburgh based writer who works for a public school system and has a terrible habit of reading everything she sees that contains print, including roadside signs and the backs of other people’s cereal boxes. She has been published in The Ekphrastic Review previously and enjoys the challenges the Review offers writers.
I think I shall paint a still life.
Perhaps a still still life
unconnected to life
set up for its decorative value
to the viewer
or the challenges it presents
to the artist.
Or should I still try to capture life
a life once lived
a meal once eaten
or a life
into the present
as long as it can stay still
and not move into
a future life,
a still to come life
a meal still
to be partaken.
That’s what I’ll paint
while there still is life.
Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Vagabond Press, Light Journal and So It Goes Journal.
Potage Parmentier, Light, and La jatte blanche
Steam rises above the soup tureen,
so aromatic, I could lift the ladle,
pour myself a bowl. A perfect blend
of leeks and potatoes, a dash of salt,
a slow simmer until all is velouté.
The painting breathes beyond Vallayer’s
allotted genre. Still life. Her glass ceiling
as a woman in the old boys’
Académie Royale. And she excelled,
a commercial success with her dead-eyed
mackerel, pheasants hung to ferment,
flowers fresh as dew. Light bounces off
the white bowl and cloth, cradling a baguette’s
crusty temptation. So life-like I could
tear a morsel and dip it in the piping
hot soup. So animated, Diderot called
her precision “imitative magic.”
Was nature morte really a glass ceiling
for Vallayer, a woman definitely
of her time, not mine? I fancy her
content, deemed gifted in artful
composition where her eighteenth-
century sentiments could be
devoted to colour, form, and light.
Sandi Stromberg is a juried poet in the annual Houston Poetry Fest for the eleventh year. She recently had a poem chosen for Waco WORDFEST’s water-themed anthology. In addition, her three submissions to the Third Annual Friendswood Library Ekphrastic Reading and Contest were selected for the September reading and publication in the forth-coming anthology.
She has no legacy, no inheritance. Only a box of photos of her ghosts.
Her grandmother and mother dead, their possessions dispersed or lost.
She yearns to hold something of theirs, to grip a ring or brush, to swirl
a shawl around her shoulders, to turn the pages of their books.
Today, on a mid-August morning, she walks toward the park, passes
a yard sale, halts, turns back. There, on a flimsy card table,
a soup bowl, large and round, dulled white, chipped
on the rim, but sturdy, still capable of holding heat.
She imagines it on her counter as a stockpot simmers with chicken,
carrots, onion and celery, its scent heady like wine.
She imagines baking bread, kneading dough, adding raisins
and allspice, its fragrance slipping from the oven.
The scene is clear. Her table set, grandmother and mother returned
from the World to Come. They sit, eyes alert, lips curved, spoons in hands.
Wait for her to bring bread on a platter with sweet softened butter.
Wait for the soup bowl, warm in her hands, heavy with love.
Valerie Bacharach’s poetry has appeared in publications including Pittsburgh Poetry Review Pittsburgh Quarterly, US 1 Worksheets, The Tishman Review, Topology Magazine, Poetica, and The Ekphrastic Review. She is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at Carlow University and is a member of the Madwomen in the Attic workshops. Her first chapbook, Fireweed, was published in August 2018 by Main Street Rag.
Lamps flickered and waned
as the men from Duquesne Light
worked to repair a failed transformer.
Cobwebs on the dusty candles sizzled
in their flame, leaning towards each other
in ill-fitting candelabras, a gift
from an anniversary long past.
Slices of pink and tender ham
were passed beneath flickering shadows.
Butter clung to steamed cabbage
like an embrace and the lima beans
shucked their coats of translucent skin.
Presents were opened in
the checkerboard kitchen near
benevolent windows reflecting in light.
As the last package was opened
electricity sang like a familiar carol
bidding the darkness to fly away.
Janette Schafer is a writer, nature photographer, part-time rocker, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her writing and photographs have appeared in numerous journals, magazines, newspapers, and websites. She is co-editor of The Dreamers Anthology, released by Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh in April 2019. Her poem "What we want to remember about this river" was the 2019 winner of Laurie Mansell Reich/Academy of American Poets prize.
A Maasai Art Student Feels Homesick in Paris
Not your sooted sufuria,
charcoal ingrained in its dented base.
Not your wooden spoon,
rough-hewn from the neighbour’s acacia.
Not your gourds full of cow’s milk
and blood with goatskin handles.
Not your soup, eked out with thin strips of bark
and a vegetable or meat chunk if we were lucky.
This is dressed in crisp linen, a clean white bowl,
silver-served and glinting in the gleam of light,
laid out with the lid off and bottle uncorked
next to the crusted golden bread.
Yet the steam and the twinge in my stomach
take me straight back to you.
Helen has been published in several online magazines and supplements including with Corbel Stone Press, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Clear Poetry, Algebra of Owls, Ground Poetry, Your One Phone-call, Open Mouse, Red River Review, Barren Magazine, The Drabble, Sukoon and The Ekphrastic Review. She lives in England.
White Soup Bowl
Are the holes flavour-related?
Flavour adjacent? Or perhaps a
flavour impetus, the pompatus
of taste? It’s my first time
making bread. Soup is old hat.
The dough on the third day –
it will rise. Will it rise again
if it deflates, flattens out, gives
a torn damnation? When dipping
is there a consistency or variable
that guarantees butter isn’t needed?
Well, let’s use it anyway. The salty
dogs pant under the splintered table.
Steam and yeast wait for no one.
The soup will taste like an old hat
if you leave the lid ajar like a god
or gangster. Excessive celery erases
dreams. Could be the wine. Probably
it’s the wine. It’s the wine. Will you
pick crumbs from my beard forever?
R Walsh was born in Syracuse, NY and lives in Boise, Idaho. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University, where he now teaches English as a Second Language. He is the Online/Fiction Editor at The Citron Review. His writing is found in many fine publications, such as Rougarou, Timber, Juked, Grey Sparrow Journal, Alice Blue, Timshel, Esquire, and B O D Y. For more: itsjrwalsh.com.
By All Her Womanly Charms
In wintertime what could be better
Then a warm home-cooked cob of bread
A hearty parsnip, turnip mutton stew
And a glass or two of heady mead before bed.
It’s the kind of nostalgia
That takes out life’s game-shot lead
And fills your heart full-fed
A dumpling or two,
And a well-bosomed lass to lift your soul
Above a near-empty glass;
What more could any man wish or ask?
After a hard day’s work; has
-taken his every-sinew too task.
Then to just-sleep, sleep likes a babe in arms.
And know no other qualms,
Other then he’s well-suited
Well cared for, by all her womanly charms.
Mark Andrew Heathcote
Mark Andrew Heathcote is from Manchester in the UK, author of In Perpetuity and Back on Earth, two books of poems published by a CTU publishing group ~ Creative Talents Unleashed and in creative charge, the direction of two anthologies by the same publisher. He's an adult learning difficulties support worker, who began writing poetry at an early age at school. Mark enjoys spending his leisure time off work reading and writing and spending time gardening.
Half the Loaf...
Such irony is so well done,
your steaming bowl as smoking gun
of greater talent not resigned
to be by lesser thus confined
to stillness in which brush compelled
would find its rightful fame withheld,
not measured by the weight of worth
but gender to which given birth.
Your bowl will have the final word
deposed by time as witness heard
for praise no longer left unearned
when table is more fairly turned
and half the loaf so well you've done
will see the day your point is won.
Portly Bard: Old man. Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
The Seaweed Soup
A broth of Dead Man's Rope?
A fusion of Fucus flavours:
Or perhaps a mash of Devil's Apron/
bulbous prongs of Velvet Horn?
Something named only in Gaelic
with a little garlic?
Each summer evening,
after a long Atlantic swim,
with no skins,
cook and try the day's new find,
ranging ever further out
onto rarely visited skerries of taste.
Bruach Mhor lives by a loch. He is transitioing into a seal. His poems have most recently appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears and The Lake, Morphrog, Poetry Village, Plumwood Mountain and Emerald (Monstrous Regiment Publishing, Edinburgh)
The Cooking Pot
It is a very heavy cooking pot made of twice-baked clay. Do you hear the lid scrape the lip of the pot? Do you smell the onion soup brewing within, ready to receive the muenster?
When you indulge, you must allow the strings of cheese to keep you tethered to your bowl, and let the conversation float around you, not distracting you from the onion bouquet, the liquor of the soup.
For, to be sure, you are surrounded by friends, and the talk is lively. But they can get on without you, just enjoy the rich fond and the cheese, take a sip of your Red now and again.
And the bread awaits—the bread whose raisins will mix well with the broth. Ah! How charming that young girl looks, across at the table to the left. Her father, busy with the chatter, has not observed her drop and reclaim her napkin, the curls of her rich brown hair falling briefly across her face, concealing for a moment her wide, dark, and beautiful child-eyes.
Here is deep satisfaction. To view such beauty, to fill the stomach, to laugh at the remarks of friends! Suddenly I hear the slow, restful phrases of Gregorian chants coming to me from a distance. One needs nothing more. Only to receive the heat of the broth, to smile and touch the arms of friends, to give thanks and breathe.
Come now, must you gush so, my friend?
Yes, for the night is perfect and will never be repeated. Ah, the little girl with the beautiful curls, grows restless. The father wipes his moustache; after tipping, bids good night to his companions and rises to carry his daughter home.
Carole Mertz, poet and essayist, writes in Parma, Ohio. Her chapbook Toward a Peeping Sunrise will be published by Prolific Press in October.
After You Went Away
I chopped onions and sauteed leeks,
potatoes (apples of the ground),
then simmered them in the huge pot
filled to the top with broth and cream
and a fistful of herbs garni -
all we’d delighted in sharing
that lost evening so long ago.
To recreate the loaf of bread
I pounded dough, I pounded dough,
it rose, it rose. I loved you so.
Here is the soup, just like before,
the white tureen, the serving spoon.
My offering of bread, still warm.
Bottled wine. All waiting for you.
Bonnie Naradzay leads writing workshops in as church basement and at a retirement center, both in Washington DC. Two of her students at the retirement center, Henry Morgenthau III and Sarah Yerkes, published their first books of poetry after they turned 100 years old. Ms Naradzay has published poems recently in New Letters (Pushcart nomination), RHINO, Tar River Poetry, Tampa Review, Poet Lore, EPOCH, Anglican Theological Review, Seminary Ridge Review, The Xavier Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Split This Rock, newversenews, and Passager. In 2017 she earned an MA in liberal arts from the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College in Annapolis.
French Pumpkin Soup
It is winter in Paris, and light outside the window is pewter-gray as poor man's silver
in her father's shop in Bievre. The moon has fallen into the 18th century,
and resembles an empty soup bowl sitting on a table in her apartment in the Louvre.
The spoon in the bowl ran away with the dish on her birthday, the year she was six,
four days before Christmas. The clock and the ornate calendar had argued.
The did not want to be Rococo. The cook would not make a cake.
And now it is snowing in Paris. Marie Antoinette is powdering her cheeks,
white as a Queen's cabbage rose; and the Academy Royale de Peinture
has decided on non-controversial still life paintings for exhibition competition --
a fat fowl for the soup bowl, eaten before she could paint it, flavored with market herbs.
And today, in the winter gray, she yearns for fruit, a large pumpkin, the Rouge Vif d'etampes,
round and red. The popularity of Rococo elegance is being replaced by the art of Intimate
Interiors. "And what," she wonders, "can possibly be more intimate than soup?"
With a lover's touch she unwraps the warm loaf of bread, now naked on the table,
exposed in the folds of a white napkin, and picks up her paint brush. Moon Soup for the bowl
would be invisible, of course, eaten only in childhood, part of a game played in the nursery
before her father moved the family to Paris, where she is safe, although unrest is growing
in the city, and the peasants are hungry -- she has heard that their eyes cannot find
a single loaf of bread as she paints their simple meal. An artist, she sometimes wants colour,
a brilliantly red lobster; but today she paints only the wind-swept pewter gray background,
and the tall brown bottles, the sort that will be left behind when Aristocrats are forced to flee
during the Revolution, leaving their expert chefs, fine wine and kitchen crockery.
She focuses on the soup bowl, pale gray-white, influenced by the winter light
and snow-white napkin, fallen open to the bread. Is her canvas inspired by hunger?
Imagination? Memory? How suggestive such a painting would look, a domestic scene
waiting for a story to happen on a wall above a Rouge Vif d'etampes sitting on a kitchen table
in Charles Perrault's home after he resigned his position at the Academie Francaise
during a debate on art, ancient vs. modern, and stayed home with his children to write
fairy tales. The Artist's father read his stories to her when tension threatened the social order
and literary content was questioned. But the magic of the stories couldn't be ruined
by censorship. One afternoon, when she went to market with the cook, she felt her heart jump
when she saw the Rouge Vif d'etampes, its size and extraordinary redness -- a fairy tale
pumpkin! She watched the cook cut it in chunks for the soup, imagining how the pieces
might come together, transformed, if the social undercurrent of class differences
could be resolved -- if the clock and the calendar would resume their timely duty,
defining timelessness as her father showed her how tin could be covered with porcelain,
thin as a paper plate to hold her birthday cake; and how metals could be mixed to make pewter, poor man's silver, shaped and polished in a little silver horse. She'd put it in her pocket,
and that night, when she slept, it came to life, the color of the pale silver moonlight.
The pumpkin -- Rouge Vif d'etampes -- turned into Cinderella's coach pulled by horses.
In the artist's studio, the pewter light outside the window is sad, somehow, in the snow;
the Interior Intimacy of her still life is more Puritanical than French, austere
without the gastronomic delight of the lobster, its claws dangling over the side of the table.
But the message of the painting is a warning to the Aristocracy; it is sustenance, the bread,
what the commoners desperately need; and the soup bowl is empty, a symbol of starvation.
The Rouge Vif d'etampes changed into a coach to carry Cinderella safely to her destination.
Without a fairy tale, Marie Antoinette is not safe. She will stopped as she tries to leave Paris,
taken by force and beheaded....In four days, it will be Christmas, 1771. Anne Vallayer-Coster
will be forty-seven. In he shadows of her life, her father died a year ago, and now she paints
an empty soup bowl (The White Soup Tureen, 1771.) Yet he comes to life, a winter memory
in her Intimate Interior. He shakes snow from the shoulders of his great woolen cape,
and looks at her canvas. She knows that he observes that there are no flowers on the table,
pastel intimations of a spring garden. No cherished objects, like the little pewter horse.
Which is just as well. He did not make it to be part of a vanitas still life, a reminder
that moments of pleasure are transient, that a pumpkin cannot become a coach
pulled by silver horses; that pumpkin soup is gone when it is eaten. Because time
is defined by the movement of timelessness, he looks beyond death. A fire
crackles in the grate, and he takes off his cape to cover and protect her childhood.
Although the Revolution is coming, the moon falls into the empty soup bowl.
Laurie Newendorp is a poet writing in Houston. She graduated from the Creative Writing Department, U of Houston, a million years ago, and continues to enjoy the art of poetry, reading at Archway Gallery. Her ekphrastic poem received second place in the Poetry Fest Ekphrastic Contest last fall, 2018.
Krumplis Kenyér (Potato Bread)
On des Érables Street in a bakery gravel yard, tall leafless maple trees. Pale yellow sunshine melting snow. Thick icicles breaking and crashing. There on a rickety wooden table near the gate, father set up a sidewalk stand. Fresh round unwrapped loaves. One dollar for potato bread. “Ca coûte trop cher! It's expensive!” customers said. “I am not making money,” apu, my father, finally said. Stopped baking potato bread.
Father had plastered old newspapers on the cold drafty bakery attic walls. Mixed flour with water. Layers and layers of fifties Quebec news. Beneath the Mount Royal cross, Montreal, metropolis of two million people. Salt trucks prowled icy roads. They had quarreled, father and his younger brother Willy. Our guarantor. Three months in Canada.
Hungarian Landed immigrants. Father moved our two large pine crates, his chocolate machinery to the des Érables rented bakery. Wall to wall red brick baker’s oven. The glow of a warm log fire. I had learned my first words in English and French, “Hello” and “Bonjour”.
Tall, pimpled thirteen year old. Hair tied back into a ponytail. I worked in my parents’ bakery. Peeled potatoes for potato bread. Melted dark chocolate. Washed copper pots and whisks and baking sheets. Swept wide-plank oak floors. Cold water white porcelain sink.
A steep ladder took us upstairs to the attic. Old mattresses. Duck down feather beds and pillows my mother Magda had sewn by hand. A family of seven, four daughters and one son, ages seven to fourteen. Budapest war refugees from Bavaria. We were not yet in school.
Father was a Magyar cukrász – a confectioner. He dipped pralines and painted marzipan fruits. Apples, peaches, bananas. Rich pastries. Baked Dobos torte. Chocolate rabbits wrapped in cellophane tied with red ribbons. Delivered them by streetcar to Hungarian pastry shops on Queen Mary Road. I helped apu carry the carton boxes.
Ilona Martonfi is the author of three poetry books, Blue Poppy (2009), Black Grass (2012), The Snow Kimono (Inanna Publications, 2015). Forthcoming, Salt Bride (Inanna, fall 2019). The Tempest (Inanna, 2020). Publishes in five chapbooks, journals across North America and abroad. Her poem “Dachau on a Rainy Day” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. Artistic Director of Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. Recipient of the QWF 2010 Community Award.
Soup Is Forgiving
Not enough salt or chicken?
Soup forgives the mistake.
A little too much? That’s never
a problem at our house.
Maman says I’ll have to wait
till I’m older to bake bread.
Because we can’t eat bricks,
But YOU can go weed the garden,
she tells him, swatting him with
a towel. She winks at me – just us
Soup, soup, soup every day –
if we’re lucky. I don’t think Maman
forgives Papa for dying. No more
Sunday roasts. She cries a lot.
The butcher saves soup bones
for us. Other neighbors help
when they can, but no one
Cupping her hand, Maman
shows this much salt to start.
You can always add more later.
(I know better than to waste.)
I add a bay leaf, thyme, and bones
to the kettle of water while she chops.
It will take hours. I’m hungry
already, but don’t say.
My tummy rumbles. She puts
a finger to her lips and hands me
a small chunk of bread. Papa
would be proud of you.
Alarie Tennille graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She’s now lived more than half her life in Kansas City, where she serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Her latest poetry book, Waking on the Moon, contains many poems first published by The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
The Ekphrastic Review
Join us on Facebook: