Tag Archives: Ekphrasis

Portrait of My Mother by Kathy Nelson

My mother sits in profile on the photographer’s stool,
one arm draped over crossed knees, the other behind her.
White crinoline and ruffles. Classic pose. Scuffed shoes.

She is taking that single breath between girl and woman.
The ripening plum of her mouth. The start of softness
above the narrow velvet ribbon of her empire waist.

Nights, she listens from her bed to slamming doors,
the late thunder of tires on oyster shells in the drive.
Or her mother rouses her from sleep, commands her

to yell her father’s name from the car, embarrass him―
he and his tart carousing at the open-air bar. She’s
a conscript in her mother’s war. What she longs for―

her father’s love. He’s bound to his pocket flask.
Mornings, she sits at the piano, as her mother requires,
plays scales and études. Duty over desire. I want to break

the glass over the portrait, let her out. I want to tell her:
set the house on fire, let them wonder if you drowned
in the canal, run away to Kathmandu in your scuffed shoes,

Kathy Nelson (Fairview, North Carolina) is the author of two chapbooks―Cattails (Main Street Rag, 2013) and Whose Names Have Slipped Away (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Asheville Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, Broad River Review, and Southern Poetry Review.

Reading Moby Dick Again by Roy Beckemeyer

1
“…a way I have of driving off the spleen”

says Ishmael, and I wonder
if the writing of it is as much the remedy
as the decoction of travel, the pen and page
as much as the Pequod prescription,
if the narrative, as dense as a cud of bolus,
is truly the prima medicina for men at sea,
at least for sailing men of letters
longing to be shut of the shore,
carpet bags stuffed with shirts,
paper, a bottle of India’s finest,
black, corked, ready.

2

“the whale would by all hands
be considered a noble dish,
were there not so much of him”

…and Moby Dick a noble book,perhaps because there is so much
of it, and all that explanatory
digression between the true and
hearty, grab you by the short-hairs
narration is really needed, because,
by Ahab, by Queequeg, by God,
you cannot appreciate the story
without you understand the job,
the whaler’s lot in life, his tools,
his fare, his devotion to his brothers
on the sea, to the whale, his prey,
the incarnation of his every need,
his very nature.

Watch for Roy Beckemeyer’s new book of ekphrastic poems, Amanuensis Angel, coming soon (March 2018) from Spartan Press, Kansas City, MO.

 

 

“Reverend Billy’s Boogie Woogie and Mom’s Gulbransen” by Gianna Russo

The Palladium Theatre, Saint Petersburg, FL.

We’re here for the Hillbilly Deathmatch.
Two balladeers duking it out:
heartbreak vs. boogie woogie
Les Paul guitar vs. Steinway Baby Grand.
The Friday Night music palace seeps age and glory–
rows of faded velvet seats, wooden backs worn smooth
from decades of sweat and delight.

The balladeer’s got the guitar: his fingerwork is a cheery stroll,
his second-tenor-muttered lyrics walking us around the yard,
down the block to the intersection of Heartbroke and Wanting More.
We’re referees: our seat-shifting and half-yawns call it:
no way is that round going to him.

Then Reverend Billy stomps on stage
in a cowboy zoot suit and kickass boots.
He pounces on the ivories, his hands
the tarantella, the electric slide, the St. Vitus dance of boogie woogie.
We hoot and jive in our seats.
It’s a musical K.O.

God, it feels good to get shaken this way,
after months of putting the house to sleep,
forcing a coma on one room at a time.
Rev says he want to slow it down, play somethin pretty.
Melodic and melancholy, it takes me
to my mother’s back room
where her old upright Gulbransen sags unsold, untuned.
She filled the house with show tunes and old standards–
South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, her low alto tremolo.
It’s been mute for years.

Rev caresses the Steinway.
Behind him the velvet curtains are crenelated, ballooned.
Above him the stage lights are blue as my mother’s eyes.

Gianna Russo is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Moonflower (Kitsune Books), winner of a Florida Book Awards bronze medal, and two chapbooks, including one based on the art work of Vermeer, The Companion of Joy (Green Rabbit Press). Russo is founding editor of YellowJacket Press, (www.yellowjacketpress.org ), Florida’s publisher of poetry chapbook manuscripts. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has published poems in Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Apalachee Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, saw palm, Kestrel, Tampa Review, Water-Stone, The MacGuffin, and Calyx, among others. In 2017, she was named Best of the Bay Local Poet by Creative Loafing. She is assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she is editor-in-chief of Sandhill Review and director of the Sandhill Writers Retreat.

 

The Artist as Her Own Model by Andrés Rodríguez

The more these higher orders look like us, the nearer we are to them. —W.S. Di Piero

From each canvass
she inhales heavy oils
breathed as from a fane
of laundry and books.
Each is different
yet with all she offers
this world’s future
or distant past.
For thirty years
imagination put her
on a bank she smoothed
into marbled jade
the waters stilled
under a milky sky
blanket-wrapped women
filing to the dazzle
beside boulders
that morph into rooms.

Today she looks
and sees the colors
of gamma knife
pilgrims draped
in surgical gowns
herself naked as her palette.
The sacred scene
inside her skull
tilts on a laptop screen
as she lies waiting for
the radiant beam
and in the air
hovering above her eyes
sees a long moment
turning green to red
so she can enter
future or past.

Andrés Rodríguez is the author of Night Song (Tia Chucha Press) and Book of the Heart (Lindisfarne Press). In 2007 he won Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egan Award for Poetry. His MA in Creative Writing is from Stanford and his PhD in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Susan Restringing Wind Chimes by Alan Proctor

The stitching I could never do. She threads
fishing line – stronger than last season’s
snapped string – through the chimes’ pinhole
throats: the petite, sprung belfry fixed.

Or not. She’s winging it, retracts
the line, reams nits from a clogged
winter hole, plucks a gnat from her wine
glass with a tool better suited

for spackle, strangles the racket
of clanging, takes a sip, shakes the throats
of sound itself until the bells
dangle. Harmonious.

Fishing line, wine, choked cacophony,
chime-stitched wind of her surgery.

Proctor’s poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals including New Letters and Laurel Review. His hybrid memoir, The Sweden File: Memoir of an American Expatriate (Westphalia Press 2015), received a featured Kirkus Review and was named by the KC Star as one of the 12 best memoirs of 2015.

If Yellow Sang To Me by Linda Imbler

If yellow sang to me of bright sun’s day,
the consonance of corn on the cob served at picnics
sweet cream butter at the side

If yellow sang to me as I watch the march
of lemony taxicabs
transporting frazzled strangers
from airports to who knows where

The rhythm of bouncing saffron school buses conveying our future

A vase of sunflowers painted on canvas, the romantic interpretation
through beautiful hands belonging to Van Gogh,
harvest gold portrayed

Stunning yellow tang, the maestro, swimming amid corals in clear water

A cadence of newly sharpened pencils united with
cobalt legal pads

The aria of a canary’s song

A polyphony-
Bananas to be peeled and sliced
placed atop cereal

If yellow sang to me.

Linda Imbler is the author of the published poetry collection “Big Questions, Little Sleep.” Twenty-one of her poems have been published by various magazines and journals. Another poem is forthcoming in Leaves of Ink. Online, she can be found at lindaspoetryblog.blogspot.com. She lives in Wichita, Kansas.

Read last week’s poem: “Somewhere Near Odessa, 1900” by Joanne Townsend

I Love Broken Things by Kym Cunningham

 

The walnut man in a broken straw
hat divined our future in streetside palm fronds
a          womb
an oil-derrick apartment and that
three-legged dog I
always wanted

Our children would be beautiful, if only
they had none of me and all of you
Your hair your smile
Your lips your eyes
Your skin
Your skin
Your skin

I can’t let them be broken too
So every month, I break the egg
Watch the yolk
slide
down my legs

Our hatchlings with locked jaws of
monsters sing

Tell me, love
Are we thicker than water


Kym Cunningham will receive her MFA from San Jose State University with emphases in creative nonfiction and poetry.  She is the lead Nonfiction Editor of Reed Magazine, the oldest literary magazine West of the Mississippi.  She received the Ida Fay Sachs Ludwig Memorial Scholarship and the Academy of American Poets Prize for outstanding achievement in her writing. Her writing has been published in Drunk Monkeys and Reed.

That Photo, Which She Carried to Class by KJ Hannah Greenberg

That photo, which she carried to events, shows youth and beauty,
Also free-flowing wisdom, lovelies hung on walls, gnawing on doors,
Climbing telephone poles; maidens with few fears
Whose exploits include difficult pairings, full sublet prices.
It radiates diatribes wrung out by emotional teenagers,
Depicts all forms of obsequious behavior, reflects inner balance,
Remains spiced by conflict, bravado, and the questioning of cleaning fun.
Also, it gives a peek in to that rarity of reasoned decision-making.

Along the speaking circuit of hillbillies, horrible monster with swollen fingers
Extrasensory abilities, flawed couplings, pimply noses, articulated opinions,
Shuttle cats to local hospitals, pull up forbs of spring, teach herbal gymnastics,
Maybe, additionally, reserve castile soap for parental participation in public schools.
A plethora of high manors, bards, and local serfs, reduced to sharing shrugs,
Smile, chuckle, throw tantrums while morally relaxed others surf Internet cafes,
Seeking pink or gray beaches beneath Northeastern dumps, tiaras, gloves,
Sleek modes of dress, suspicious manners as found in bridal magazines.

Loosened onto existing ephemera, drunken gulls carry away bits of time, viscera,
Harnesses, new careers among succulent barramundis, gasping tourists’ limbs,
While books written by domestic divas parcel accidental merit, split fifths,
Trumpet dames’ lingo, falsetto productions, women’s song, acoustic guitar music.
Feminine health products never turn heads as long as people continue to be
“Smart enough” to discern among glossy rhetoric. Alternatively, provoked into curiosity
Concerning manner of eating starfish, hunting quail, gathering leprechauns,
Persons smooth minor inconveniences, including the complexity of the universe.

KJ Hannah Greenberg, who only pretends at being indomitable, tramps across literary genres and giggles in her sleep. Her newest poetry books are: Dancing with Hedgehogs, (Fowlpox Press, 2014), and The Little Temple of My Sleeping Bag (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), Citrus-Inspired Ceramics (Aldrich Press, 2013).

“Klee’s Angel” by bz niditch

Like moving
the wings
and cloudletsKlee's Angels
of our history
the futurists
turn back to
acknowledge
the high art
embodied
in you,
Angelus Novus
speak to us
of all possibilities
on an unshaven
earth time span
where the voice
of fern and grass
belongs to us,
the ocean is clear
for salmon
whale and dolphin,
unpolluted city masks
now familial
be removed,
for wheat and grains
to again grow
on threshing floors.

 

“A Better Poem” by Thomas Zimmerman

Your life’s a better poem than any that
you’ll ever write. I feel that I should end
with this, but think that it’s been said before.
And now the snow (perhaps the season’s last)
is swirling, and the coffee’s working fast,
with Mahler’s Second, playing now, to rend
then mend my pent emotions; soothe, combat
the ambiguities that pack the core
of my identity. It’s sour-sweet:
catharsis, death-and-resurrection. We
all know this well, but I am every time
enthralled by it. The music stops. My street
is buried quietly. My reverie
will linger longer than this cobbled rhyme.

Thomas Zimmerman teaches English and directs the Writing Center at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, MI. His chapbook In Stereo was published by The Camel Saloon Books on Blog in 2012.

January Photographs by Mary Dudley

January looms large-
a huge floe on the sea
of the early year.
Thick, translucent ice
under which the crocus sleep.

January mornings dawn
as a pink blush in a crystalline sky.
The sun warms as hours pass
but noon still glares, brilliantly cold.

January’s dusk descends early
and its sun burns orange and red
setting behind the bare-branched tangle
of the back-yard trees.

January’s cold thickens
as the world darkens:
It seeps under the door frame,
pushes us into the circle of
the warmest room,
hangs over the haven of our bed
like a cold fog
that morning won’t burn off.

January looms large—
a month to reckon with.

Mary Dudley has written poems since childhood. She studied poetry before moving to NM in 1968, and changing her professional focus to family and child development. She’s published two chapbooks and her work has been included in the Rag, the NM Center for Peace & Justice Newsletter and calendar, la LloronaSin Fronteras , and 200 NM Poems.