The Ekphrastic Review is pleased to present a special student showcase of ekphrastic writing!
Teacher Sarah Malesh says, "This class of students is from C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air, Maryland. This course offers young students from tenth to twelfth grade a chance to learn about different genres of writing as well as potential careers and publication opportunities for these writings. During our poetry unit, students evaluated artwork of their choosing and created a poetic interpretation of this work. These interpretations are shown throughout this showcase."
The Woman before me
The Woman with the long dark cloak.
The Woman with the story written on
Her hands folded in her lap, showing
confidence, despite her growing age.
Draping over her shoulders, is a cloak.
But it’s a strange cloak, it doesn’t cover
her features, but enhances
It brings out the fierceness in her
eyes. The pain and agony she’s faced.
The shimmer of light that brings out
The mysterious shadow, that makes
her seem like she’s trying to get you
to figure her out.
But also, the love her eyes show.
The love she gave, and the love she
Her mouth curved in a slight smile,
that can be mistaken for a smirk.
Her eyebrows slightly tilted to tease
me with her confidence.
Her cheekbones, high enough for her
head to be tilted to be looking directly
She embodies herself. Laying enough
of her story out of the table, to make
you want to learn more.
About this Woman in front of me.
the dancers fell,
they broke their toes,
the scenery collapsed,
but even as the curtain tore,
The Audience stood, and clapped.
In a world so vast
Full of exploration
This place is yours
The grass, the sand, the buildings, the trees
Made amongst our own
The world can take you to fetching places
The world can take you to ghastly places
But either way this world
So claim it and make it yours
The Death of Marat for the Umpteenth Time
Are those to consider
The end of an era
Another in the deaths of Marat?
A man lay dead here
And yet I stand here
To show self to me as what you’ve done
For you left me to be as what I’ve become
I did as I am to be
For what I am to do matters not
As without you I am only as good as I am dead,
I’ll be taken before it's off with my head.
I am already naked and bare
I’ll be there watching
Laughing as you're washing
The unladen blood
Off from your revolutionary hands.
As I look at the detail the blacksmith put into the forging of that piece of metal into the shape of a sword with every swing of his hammer and to be precise to make sure to get the metal to bend and form the way he wants it to. Making sure that he doesn’t forge the blade too thin so that the blade will not shatter into a million pieces with every clash. When the shaping of the blade is done, he takes a chisel to it making the deep grooves in the blade going around and round the blade.
I’m standing here with the wind blowing on my cheeks.
The leaves on the trees rustling as the wind blows harder
I’m standing here watching the mountain reflect off the water.
The fish dancing away as I skip a rock
I’m standing here listing to the peaceful sound of nature
The calm lullaby making me relaxed
I’m standing here wishing I could share the moment with my friends
The beautiful sight giving me goosebumps the more I look at it
I’m standing here releasing how gorgeous this earth is not touched by man kind
I used to think in red and blue
Now orange and green are all I see
With dashes of pink and cold grey detail
Off white blocks placed as if my mind was bought at retail.
Preached until the opposing is only few.
Labelling me with a single colour, but is it not clear that my being is an amalgam of colours.
If at all possible, attempt to understand the deep navy river that is my stream of thought.
Notice my unique value as my shades of grey ever so smoothly transition.
I change, I am complex, simplicity is not my definition.
As if repetition of the same colour is the only way you may understand me.
All Along the Watchtower
You watch us as we dance
As your fate is decided by chance.
You think that you can win
So you raise the bet and go all in.
You’ve just sealed your fate
The chips are at their limit.
You still think you've won.
You hear a gunshot.
You feel your hip.
It was a direct hit.
Your body falls on to your cold blood.
In your last moments you realized we distracted you.
All Along the Watchtower is your blood.
Our silly little dance was predicting your future.
You’d be dead after the shuffle.
The secret was our dance disguised the shuffle.
THICK HAIR GROWS ABOVE MY LIPS AND BETWEEN MY EYES
I AM A WOMAN
I DRAW THE ATTENTION OF ANIMALS
THEIR EYES PEER INTO MY SOUL AND I KNOW
WE ARE ONE
THEY SAY I'M FOOLISH FOR SPENDING ALL MY TIME IN THE FOREST
AND I SHOULD BE OUT LOOKING FOR A HUSBAND
BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN
BUT I REFUSE TO BE HELD DOWN BY ANYTHING BUT MOTHER NATURE HERSELF
I AM NOT IDEAL
THICK HAIR GROWS ABOVE MY LIPS AND BETWEEN MY EYES
I AM A WOMAN
Mount Wellmington - Kangaroo Point
I've been on this land since I was born
I grew up with a huge family
They helped me hunt
Hunting was so exhilarating
The feel of the fish when it touches my hand
The way the arrow shoots off into the trees
Hitting through brushes to the animal
The wonderful feeling of the sun rays hitting my back
While I carry the prize animal on my shoulder
Smiling cause, I did something great
The long uncut grass grazes across my legs
As I'm walking to the fire
The warm rays of burning flames
The ashes shifting through the air
As we approach, the tribe witnesses my find
They start to celebrate
Jumping up and down waving their arms in the air
We feast on the animal
All the flavor going through our bodies give us joy
As days pass by we notice changes
White people start to arrive to our lands
They call themselves soldiers
They start to build homes
Ships of people arrive
More and more things get crowded into our beautiful open lands
We were fine until they came to our side
With weapons in hand they told us to move
That this was their land and we were no longer needed
We didn’t want to leave
They were wrong to move us
What did we do?
Now I'm in another area
But I will always remember my home land
Cause it was the land to which I am from
And they stole it
So, I hope that they are happy
Living in a place I called my own
Worried about getting to work,
Worried about how you’re going to pay the bills,
Worried about how you’ll be able to get over this depression and act like you’re all right,
Worried about finding the right one and getting married,
Worried about making him happy so he doesn’t mention the word divorce,
Worried about what the doctor will say when you go to your next appointment,
Worried about taking care of your family,
And scared to think about what will happen if you can’t take care of your own children one day,
So much of it that you lost yourself.
You let yourself go because you’re so caught up in stress,
It swallowed you completely.
It’s sad that people let themselves get to that point,
If you’re in constant stress I want you to stop and ask yourself,
Can your inner child come out and play?
It was a beautiful night
The brilliant crescent moon casted her glow onto the calm ocean waters
The sky was dotted with millions of magnificent little stars
I could see the flicker of candles from many open windows
The soft breeze catching the light silk curtains, causing them to dance...
It was a shame I had to carry out my job on this evening
I drifted downward from where the stars shone so brightly
I floated towards one of the only houses in sight without candle light
The open window granted me entrance into the dark, cool room
There in the corner was a child, on a small bed fit for her size
My feet touched the soft but chill wooden floors and I watched over her
A cat who so silently slept, suddenly perked his ears
He lifted his gentle, small head and opened his eyes to stare
He stared with an unfazed gaze, and went back to his nighttime nap
The bedroom door opened, a woman peered in with a gentle gaze
A gaze that met mine then looked away to see the child
The woman planted a kiss on the child’s forehead and left
I then took the sleeping child gently into my arms
I could hear her soft breathing, it broke my heart to take her away
I slipped from the window and slowly took off toward the sky
As we hovered over the village I couldn’t help but smile
This exchange was sad but beautiful
But what a wonderful job it is to be a guardian angel
Never Trust the Living
A faint scent of lavender fills the air,
The sound of a video game and reloading guns filled my ear drums.
The air had been silenced of any voices for a good moment,
His chocolate brown eyes focused onto the screen.
I faced his back starred at the white lettering.
Never Trust the Living,
The room slowly fell more silent as the sound of his game being finished.
I wrapped my short arms around his dense chest
Allowing the massive amount of body heat to consume my every touch.
A soft hand fell upon mine as I shoved my face farther into him.
A sweet deep chuckle left his dark lips.
The words of "You Dork” left my blush pink lips as I was suddenly met with his face.
His soft lips soon meet mine.
The Mind of Annabel Gray
Beyond the isles of conscious thought
Is Annabel Gray
With the ability to poise herself so clearly
Her thoughts unknown to the undivine
Shakes my mortal being.
Her gaze electric with pre-processed fire
For precious moments to burn the bridge
Like a crouched beast
She waits for her moment
An evenhanded alignment
Quiet as my god
Is Annabel Gray
The Starry Shades
Soft silver gleam upon old aging Wood,
Upon old natural carved posts it Stood,
The light once grey refracted as royal Blue,
As if Starry Night was based off this image Drew,
Surrounded by the morning Dew.
The tree once black as night stood warped and Black,
An ashen colour upon their mirrors Plaque.
A carving sat unaging within the Planks,
An eternal scripture and title of Name,
A sample of which never to be found Blank,
Lest it falls to time's immortal Game.
Dark Dragon Boy
Dark Dragon Boy
eyes glistening upon the sky
Swirling and flying along in Avalon
Free as ever was
Knowing the world finally set you free
To your actual form
White dragon boy
With eyes as yellow as the midnight harvest moon
The scales telling a story
For many lifetimes to learn
Soar high white dragon boy
As your feet transform back to talons
May you release the fangs
And rip yourself from death's claws
Dark dragon boy fly high
And let those brilliant scales
Glisten your form on all
Who love you
Saying to them your melody of roars
Dark dragon boy
Your life take by another
But your mind always yours
As the symphony you sing transforms
It's sings the song of relief
Flying free from denoted titles
Of the human vessel
To form into the roars of who you are
Dark Dragon Boy
Soar high in the night
And roar your symphonies loud across the land
The man in the clouds
Ponders away with his own thoughts
Thoughts of love, fear, dreams, and nightmares
He continues to think
In a world with millions of people
He thinks alone
Back against the world
Head down to the ground
Alone in a sky full of thoughts
The only question that now wonders his thoughts
Is why is he still alone
The man in the clouds
The Danger of a Wish
The clouds swarm above my head.
Dark and heavy, ready to rain
Still I run, never stopping, never slowing.
Through the woods into the dark
I pick the path where the most dandelions lay
Kicking and stomping on them
The woods cave in
And only then do I fall
Tumbling down like little Alice
Just as I struggle to get up
The dark clouds rumble like a battle cry
Then the rain, not the soft droplets but stinging rain a thousand needles in my skin,
falling for heaven.
Looking up, there’s one perfect dandelion
Staring at me, judging me for the dreams I let go.
Blood washes away from my slit knee and my trembling lip.
The rain runs down my cheek, wiping it away.
I reach for the dandelion snapping the stem, separating it from the ground.
I hold it watching as if it has all the secrets in the world.
Deciding whether I should crush it like my dreams or make a wish.
I made a wish and as all the seeds blow away I watch all my dreams fly away left
with only the hope of a wish to come true.
Editor's Note: The Klimt painting shown is a placeholder. Christine Wolf's poem was inspired by Body Language 2, by Romanian artist Dorina Costras. As we were unable to get permission to show the image, please visit artist site at www. dorinacostras.com/paintings/ and scroll down to see the work.
The Top Hat Man
The light shimmered off the crimson,
coating my palms.
The sticky substance was still warm.
In each ripple of the puddle now
accumulating around him,
were memories of the final moments.
Pain enveloped my skull.
And I screamed.
The path to fresh air was slippery.
The salty air stung my eyes first.
Followed by the alarming of gulls.
And the unmistakable smell of already rotting
Watchmen could not see me.
The endangered could not hear me.
Perilous was the path before me.
Vocal chords were ripped
like the body.
Sweat dripped off my brow,
like the tears that had stained his cheeks.
My hands soaked in the evidence.
I resembled the one in the top hat.
Who hobbled away,
Down the crowded streets.
Forever the concealed culprit,
of the promenade tragedy.
We were just walking
Like we did every day
Then out of nowhere it sprang out
I was so scared and lost control
Of course, my master did not notice
He was too busy singing
He noticed that I was spooked
But could not imagine what would happen next
He was flung from my bridle and could not get back up
He lost full control of me, his trustworthy horse
But he did not know the fear in me
He held on for his life, but I was so spoked that I was not paying attention to him at all
He fell and then out of blindness I stomped on my master
Again, and again until there was no movement
Once I realized that I was stomping on my master I stopped
For I feared that he was dead but luckily, he was alive
People say that horses are dumb but that was all out of pure terror not out of spite.
Tempest Ariah Akins
Pain From Pleasure
As I sit here, looking out over this land, the walls that divide the two halves of my brain finally break, rushing every thought from either side in to all forbidden places, just as the clear edges of these city buildings blur in to the maze of jagged rocks lining the ancient mountains that cradle them with a perfect stillness.
It appears from here, as if no one but me lives here. As if I could ever discover such an exaggerated serene place on my own.
Or is it serene? My mind began to speak back at me.
But of course, can you not see the seldom shattering in the smooth mist blanketing the water? Do you not pay attention to the divine silhouette of this impossible mass of land? Why will you not look at this world the way I want to? The way everyone else wants to?
If you believe you should only view this tide as beautiful, you are a disgrace to everything that the balance of life holds, I say to myself. Look closer, you can always see that horrid city you are here to abandon, you know it is there, so why do you ignore it?
I prefer to watch it as if there are no problems haunting me there.
Of course, you do, look at yourself, too human for your own good, I say. Then again, you still think of human as a description for the good of your existence.
What am I saying? Of course, it is! I am part of man, and as such I survive for the peak of my own survival!
You as a man, strives for what is convenient! You as a man, strives for what is comfortable for the now! You justify your eradication of this world with gracefulness in your methods of survival! You as man disgrace the means to be called alive!
No, no you’re wrong, stop.
You squish them under your feet with pride, but you are locust yourself, at the start of your cosmic feast!
You can not bury these truths, they are a part of you. There are bad things in this world, why won't you embrace them?
I won’t listen to you anymore.
You can not truly experience pleasure until you’ve felt the touch of pain! You can not truly feel the touch of pain until you have sat contently among pleasure!
NO! You’re wrong! Wrong I say!
If I’m am truly wrong, then ask yourself why you have come to this hillside? You’ve convinced yourself that you are here to escape from your life in that horrid city, but I know the truth! You came here to escape from the shadows lining those cliffs, hanging over you, swallowing you, as you ignorantly accept it.
I-I am here to, escape? But what of my family and friends, and their families?
They will die wallowing in the darkness, blissfully looking only for the light.
I must go back then, right? Because I know how to help them. I know how to save them, right?
And for that moment, I had forgotten I was alone with my thoughts. My very, aware, thoughts. Willing to suffer, in exchange to know.
Editor's Note: Billy Rayboen's poem was written in response to the painting Viewing the Tide, by Chinese artist Yang Yongliang (2008.) We were unable to find permission to show the image and used a placeholder artwork instead. We invite you to view the original prompt for the poem by clicking here.
My legs grew tired as we walked down the endless dirt path
My father looking at me with a smile
Knowing what’s to come
He held my hand as I looked ahead
I heard people laughing
The sound of water splashing
As we took our final steps on the dirt path
I looked down at my feet
My feet and toes digging into the soft sand
Surrounding the beautiful water’s edge
My father keeps his gentle grip
On my small delicate hand
As he beckons me over to a small boat
He lifts me up as I let out a small giggle
Taking a seat obediently as I watch him get in as well
The cold water hitting the side of our small boat
Some even splashing onto me
My father grabs onto each of the oars
Pulling them back before pushing them forward
Pushing us out in the deep crystal water
The cold wind was blowing through my hair
While singing in my ears
My father stayed quiet with a soft smile on his face
As he rowed the boat down the river
As we entered the thick fog, I questioned him
But he did not answer
He kept his smile
After a few moments passed the fog was lifting
My father pulled the oars into the boat
Letting the beautiful water splash around in the boat
He pointed up to his right
I followed the way his hand moved with my eyes
Looking up to where he pointed
And all at once I felt my heart beat get faster
Before me was a large gorgeous mountain
Standing tall and old
Knowing so many secrets
I turned to my father with a large smile
Telling him with my excited and lovable voice
One day father
I'll climb that mountain
Capturing her beauty in all its glory, am I capable?
For she is so captivating like a rose, perfect from day one, infatuated with beautiful I am,
In her leisure for she is still so beautiful with intellect and emotions,
pleasing pure aesthetic, I want to love,
So deeply in complete admiration she has made me,
so deeply in desire to love and care for her,
Beauty beyond description, your warm brown eyes dazzle in the golden hour,
your skin glows a heavenly bright,
and I beg of you if this is a
sweet dream for please
don’t wake me up.
my favorite colour.
in the spot where it all began.
where we had our first kiss.
the butterflies trapped in my stomach.
i thought we were perfect…
the weight on top of aching shoulders.
where we had our last fight.
in the spot where it all ended.
my favourite colour.
Editor's Note: This poem was written in response to Blue Blanket, by Catherine Murphy (USA, 1990.) The painting is not in the public domain so we used a placeholder image, but invite you to view the work that inspired Kaitlyn Valenza's poem, by clicking here.
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