Join Meg Pokrass and Lorette C. Luzajic next weekend for a very special asynchronous 3-day workshop on themes of chronic pain and illness. Both women have experienced profoundly debilitating health issues and know how common this experience is. Nevertheless, it is almost taboo to talk about our relationship to our bodies and tell our truth about pain, fear, mortality, grief, resentment, hope, medical trauma, medical gaslighting, relationships, sexuality, moods, and the various transformations we undergo.
This is a special space to write on these themes in any way that moves you. We will write memoir, microfiction, and poetry, as you are inspired. Your work can be whatever you need it to be: angry, hopeful, triumphant, or defeated. You can write true experiences or use the themes to fuel complex, well-rounded, realistic characters and scenes. You can be funny or furious. You can focus on the strength or the pain, as needed. This is an opportunity to process and honour your experiences and all the emotions that go with them.
For inspiration, we will look at an optional reading list on the subject and related themes. We will look at a variety of artworks by artists who struggled with chronic pain or serious illnesses. We will use the creativity of others to access our own deep well of experience and expression.
This workshop will take place over several days, working independently and connecting with each other in a private Facebook group.
Click image above or here to sign up or view more information.
She doesn’t know her strength, not yet. She’s young
and modest in her ways. Her face is mild.
The dragon likes to think that he has won;
his wings are stretched and taut, his eyes are wild,
his legs are spread in muscular display –
the thick tail thumps the floor in victory.
She doesn’t look. Her wide-eyed gaze is raised,
as are her hands, appealing. Please, help me!
Whatever answers fills her soul with light,
which radiates through dress and skin and hair.
She hasn’t lost. One day she’s going to rise,
no matter how much threat the fiend might bear.
For in this big reveal, his battle pose,
there is no might; only his weakness shows.
It comes to her like something out of Hell:
Anxiety. This beast beside the bed.
Its mouths emit a never-ending yell;
its poison seeps inside her pounding head.
All truth is twisted. Gold is turned to grey,
to match its shade, the tarnished, tinged with blood,
her blood. It likes to drain her, every day.
All that she is, lies trampled in the mud.
There has to be a remedy for this,
a reason found, a diagnosis, pills,
the monster slain, a prince’s waking kiss,
before it strikes – the last attack that kills.
F.F. Teague (Fliss) is a copyeditor/copywriter by day and a poet/composer come nightfall. She lives in Pittville, a suburb of Cheltenham (UK). Her poetry features regularly in the Spotlight of The HyperTexts; she has also been published by a number of other journals such as Snakeskin, Pulsebeat, Lighten Up Online, Amethyst Review, and a local Morris dancing group. Her interests include art, film, and photography.
Artists and Women and Light
“It’s all about light,” said Vermeer.
“Oh, I agree,” said Monet. “Light and how it changes minute by minute. Almost as if it were being swept up and carried along by the wind itself.”
“Oh, but I prefer the constancy of light,” said Vermeer, “how it is like whitewash clinging to the almost flat wall, a sheet of light sliding so slowly, so carefully to the floor. And why did you hide your wife from the light?” he asked. “Look at my maiden, her face sculpted into real dimensions, rounded, inviting you to run your hand over her forehead, down the curve of her cheek. Look at her white arm, dissecting the dark floor of my painting from the white wall and its luminous work.”
“Oh, but that was the very idea, Johannes,” said Claude, “that was the idea—to have her head shaded, the dark parasol her crown, her face beaming back at us and highlighted by being in and of the shade but lightened by the aureole of clouds and sky and her skirt billowing brightly in the wind. Look at our son, in the background, lighted just as she, tied to her in this way so completely. That was the idea, you see, to make her stand out - set in light but apart from it, special, striking and unique in a light all her own, not the brilliant light of day, but her own warm and living light.”
“Say, now, old, fellows, it is so much simpler than that,” said Warhol. “These days we artists dictate the light. We snap on the switch, adjust the clamp, angle the reflecting foil, spotlight the face. Or even simply imagine doing it. Look at Marilyn. Surrounded by gold, but more luminous than gold herself, her hair the brashness of fool’s gold. You see, the background, tarnished though it may be, asserts her claim to royalty, but the yellow hair, the pink face, both cast some doubt. Here is light manipulated to tell a new tale.”
“Oh, but your light is so brazen,” said Vermeer, “it does not love your subject.”
“And your light is neither realistic nor impressionistic,” said Monet, “it does not let us imagine her alive in sunlight. It neither revels in her nor reveals her at all.”
“Ah, but that is the point,” replied Warhol, “that is the whole point.”
Roy J. Beckemeyer’s fifth and latest book of poetry is The Currency of His Light, (Turning Plow Press, 2023). Beckemeyer’s work has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards and has appeared in Best Small Fictions 2019. He has designed and built airplanes, discovered and named fossils of Palaeozoic insect species, and has traveled the world. Beckemeyer lives with and for his wife of 61 years, Pat, in Wichita, Kansas. His author’s page is at royjbeckemeyer.com.
Ghostwriting the Winter
scanning the dark pines
helps me forget just for once
I am getting old
if I had a voice
I would echo crows to shake
branches off the trees
how the winter sun
freezes on the path ahead
shadows of a ghost
the frosting of ice
becomes a polished mirror
my blood on the ice
marked the place where I toppled
youngsters slide laughing
visit the poet Basho
what do they tell him
my remembered loves
like wings torn from butterflies
for a memento
wove a cocoon and vanished
a textbook on life
I think like a child
but more than seventy now
the moon almost full
tracking that full moon
seems an old tragedy played
without any masks
watching the moon change
until a cloud flotilla
gives me needed rest
as snow falls on snow
my dreams pile up on past dreams
sleepless more and more
Royal Rhodes taught global religions for almost forty years at Kenyon College. His poems have appeared in multiple literary journals, including: The Ekphrastic Review, The Chained Muse, Autumn Sky Poetry, The Lyric, and elsewhere.
Built over barracks
By concrete and glass
Buildings of national Catholic pride
Along with the chapel behind.
Christ stretches arms points his legs
Metal black over white chapel wall
Symmetrical body with no cross to bear
Hovers in clean modern air
Majestically simple and straight
(Chapel of the Catholic University of Lublin, 31 August 2023)
In a tunnel like stairway
Leading up to the stations of sorrow
Humble niche and a bench for
Humble devotion and rest.
It houses an image
Simple and childish
Peeled off and stained.
Light blue skies.
Flat green hills.
Cross looming heavy and dark
Its bearer removed
An empty, bright space
A body no more
(Sanctuary of Our Lady of Kazimierz, 31 August 2023)
Shlomi Efrati was born and raised in Kibbutz Yavneh, Israel, and studied Talmud at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He currently lives in Leuven, Belgium. He enjoys the meticulous study of ancient texts and the ongoing attempt to perceive the worlds from which they emerged.
Resting While Flying
It’s the fire that draws them in.
This thing that burns, that flings heat and light
from inside itself. It draws them like a corpse
draws flies – child, goats, cow, shepherd,
the reflections in the water, the whole forest,
sky and pond, all of it falling toward the fire,
as if fire were a gravitational force, a collapsing in
instead of a forcing out, a warm pair of arms
gathering you close, a way to escape the dark,
to find that sleep you’ve longed for –
a bed of coals, pillow of flame.
José A. Alcántara
José A. Alcántara has worked at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station, on a fishing boat in Alaska, as a baker in Montana, and as a calculus teacher in Cartagena, Colombia. He is the author of The Bitten World: Poems (Tebot Bach, 2022). His poetry has appeared in American Life in Poetry, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and Rattle. He lives in western Colorado and wherever he happens to pitch his tent.
Blue Moon Reverie
again we meet
at the sentineled wood,
the dance of light beyond,
from which, before,
we’ve always moved on,
each to our own next day.
Yet, haven’t we known
this moment would come?
I must gain passage through.
Highborn friend, play your light
through the sentinels’ boughs
that I might find my way
to that shimmery place.
My heart longs to abide
in such mystical shine.
Adieu then, yet when next
you greet the night, lend ear:
if still I have body to sing,
hear my unworldly song.
Darrell Petska, a retired university engineering editor and Wisconsin poet, has published in journals such as The Ekphrastic Review, Third Wednesday Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Verse-Virtual (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Petska is collaborating with Brent Skinner, who lives in Minnesota and has an estate planning and probate law practice in Wisconsin. Skinner's passion is creating works of art. A serendipitous encounter reunited poet and artist after their lives diverged more than 50 years ago.
A big congratulations to our Best Microfiction nominees this year.
Every year, the series Best Microfiction anthologies honours the short form and the small press with a collection of stellar shorts. The series was founded by Meg Pokrass and Gary Fincke.
We are thrilled to announce our nominees. Please join us in congratulating these writers on their amazing stories.
Light and Colour Like Clutching the Shadow of an Old Lover, by Joy Dube
The Long View, by Pamela Painter
(scroll down to read)
After, by Robert E. Ray
Notes on Lost Highway, by Clare Welsh
We Walked Out of the Forest, by Francine Witte
(scroll down to read)
The Princess Loses Her Way, Strips Naked, Steals Money, and We are Thrown Off-kilter
La Casa Batlló in Barcelona by Antoní Gaudi, Summer 1981
We walk by la Casa Batlló (mejor que Disney, verdad?) to buy bread, cheese, olives. Antoní Gaudi’s blue tile castle dreamworld soars high in Barcelona’s sky. Fish markets teem with what else but fish. Sunlight sparkles a façade curved by membranes, skulls and bones, our insides turned outside like so many red roses offered to the princess. She sleeps a forever sleep behind wooden casements, wavy doors, flowing arches. Not leaning out of a window, not unravelling her golden tresses. She hasn’t yet learnt not to trust the dragon, its fish-scale back, undulating ceramic spells above a magic temple. Later that night la mujerona in a bar describes in painful detail her sex change operation (Ay, qué dolor!). We listen, we party, we read poetry – António Machado, Rubén Darío, Jorge Borges. The princess awakens, transformed into una pasajota – fed up with empty promises of religion and la república, she appears on a red-tiled balcony, smoking, drinking, dancing naked. She pockets our money and disappears, still naked. The dragon in hot pursuit. La Casa Batlló was our last stop, but it threw us off-kilter. Its dreamy spirals hold us hostage for one last visit, one last photo. We stare in wonder, kiltering, like ceramic eggs rolling toward the edge of a table.
"I am Joy Dubé, living on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada. I write poetry to explore meaning and to connect more deeply with people and places around me. I love words and many times I find I do not know the meanings of words until I juxtapose them with other words in a creative way. I try to give voice to a unique way of looking and feeling. Using art as a visual prompt is a challenge I enjoy."
The Eyes Are Looking
All the eyes are looking. The woman looks from the couch at the many animals and plants in the jungle around her. What kind of world do they have here? she wonders, crossing bare legs before her. She sets an arm over the couch back and takes in the scene eagerly. A lioness stares at her from the ferns. What is she, reclining in that golden curve? the tawny creature wonders. I've never encountered another such creature. Close by, a snake studies the woman from among the plants. Too curious, he thinks as he poises upright on his pink belly and stretches forward. Does she walk on her legs? Or does she slither like me?
Elsewhere, other animals look too. The elephant amid the dark trees has an eye on both her and us. What might they mean looking on us here? he thinks. And who is she, lying out by the tall plants, turning her head everywhere? He curls his trunk as if he would put these questions aloud. The bird, poised in the orange tree, gives our group a close study. So many people out there, she thinks, black wings tucked in closely, keeping her profile to us. Who might they be? Why have they come? Monkeys crouch in the sweep of branches around the bird, gazing intently, too. What strange creatures there, the dark-furred one muses. They look and look. They never get their fill of it. His cousin in the orange tree thinks, The people are very different. They come in many sizes and colors. And they're wrapped in even more colours. What a great mix they are! Near at hand, the lion amid the tall flowers’ glares. What do those creatures out there want? he thinks. Don't they see this is our home? They'd better watch out if they would take care.
Amid the many animals and plants, a dark-skinned man plays on a wooden flute. He fingers its holes intently and sees that we give him much attention. He plays on, as if to make the charm last. Yet his music pours forth unheard by us across the divide. What might his melody sound like? we wonder, a smile at our lips. The woman, who can hear, doesn't turn from him once.
Norbert Kovacs lives and writes in Hartford, Connecticut. He loves visiting art museums, especially the Met in New York. He has published stories recently in Blink-Ink, The Ekphrastic Review, and MacQueen's Quinterly. His website: www.norbertkovacs.net.
The Ekphrastic Review
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