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Posts Tagged ‘ekphrasis’

 

 

 

Of course it was awful, what he did, chopping

up his son to serve him in a stew to the gods,

confused somehow about sacrifice.

 

After that, the gods never let Tantalus be nourished again.

He was forever made to stand in a pool of water

beneath a fruit tree, its branches low hanging.

 

And whenever her reached to eat the fruit, sweet and ripe,

the branches would rise. And whenever he tried to drink,

the clear water would recede.

 

There are many kinds of prisons. Some

have iron bars, cement walls. Some deprive

you of your senses. But the gods knew some look like paradise.

 

Haven’t we all been confused before?

Haven’t we all made misguided sacrifice?

I’m not trying to defend Tantalus. I’m just saying

 

we all understand hunger. And no matter how many times

the branch is taken away, it is survival to want the fruit,

to reach, to reach again.

 

to see the image, click here

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after The Conjurer by Hieronymous Bosch, 1475

The-Conjuror

No one is so much a fool as a willful fool.

            Flemish proverb

 

 

Most people don’t know where to look—

they’re easy to distract. Some simple patter

can confuse their eyes and cloud their

clarity. “You see this pearl,” I say,

“so luminous,” and hold it up to gather light.

And while they look, a hand can do what hands

can do. And if something should disappear—

a ball, a purse, a trust—I tell myself

it is a fool who’s always credulous.

And in the end, it’s just another empty pocket.

Just another empty cup. Just another

empty promise in a world

with shame enough. So call it magic.

Call it theft. They’re both just rearranging.

One ends in astonishment.

The other in a hanging.

It’s plain survival, this secret art,

this instinct to deceive.

Thank God for fools, their froggish blear,

their longing to believe.

 

 

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One Blooming

 

looking outside myself

for my dream, when all along

it takes my shape

 

 

Thank You Letter to My Lungs

 

No matter the shame,

the fear, the loss, the pain,

you bring the outside in

and then share what’s inside

with everything else,

 

and rhythmically, quietly,

hidden and tireless,

you stich me,

unite me

to the cloth of all that is.

 

How do I sometimes

ignore the communion?

And you breathe on,

barely audible prayer,

weaving me into here, here, here.

 

 

 

One Reason for Clarity

 

 

playing hide and seek

with myself, I always win

I always lose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lesson

 

 

I said to love I am lost

and she gave me

 

a ladder, a leaf,

a crooked blue door,

an alley I’d never

traveled before,

 

a room with no ceiling

three circles, some green,

bouquet of uncertainty

scent of spring,

 

a small red window

a straight backed chair.

Still lost? she said.

Now share.

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            Based on an encaustic piece by the same name by Andrea Bird

 

 

 

She asks if I can hear the silence.

I try. I try too hard and all I hear is a low

green chant: lovable, loveless, loophole, loose. 

 

So she gives me petals, a handful of pink,

and I gather them in my hands. How lovely

they are as I listen to them fall.

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After over a hundred years,

the blue flowers in her hair

are still as blue and the ivy

in his hair is still as green

and her face is just as soft

and serene as when she received

the kiss, the kiss that made

the whole world fall in love

with Gustav Klimt. And who

wouldn’t want to be caught

forever and ever in a golden

embrace, infinitely tender,

eternally erotic, the way

no kiss truly is? But here

they are, defying the fall,

these lovers, hanging unframed

on the wall of the Belvedere,

still passionate, lust-drowsy,

their love spilling into the halls

as the whole world around

them dissolves into shimmer,

into shine.

 

 

http://www.cnn.com/style/article/gustav-klimt-100-years/?iid=ob_lockedrail_bottomlarge

 

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She said my eyes had a golden gleam,

but it was her eyes, her eyes that redeemed

the world—the way she translated all she saw

into slender verse. I still hear her voice, soft as rain,

as she’d say, 0 Il faut, voyez-vous,

nous pardonner les choses—reciting Verlaine

as we sat beneath my old black umbrella

in the Jardin du Luxembourg. I knew,

even then, she would leave me. Knew

that although she threw red roses onto my floor

she would always return to Russia, her home.

Oh, but the tapered length of her. Like a candle,

a dancer, an Egyptian queen. How

her figure astonishes me. I draw her always

by memory. She, with the poise

of a Siamese cat. She with her stray dog soul.

When she left me, she took a single scroll

with her portrait sketched in pencil.

She tells me she’s taped it above her couch.

But she never returned. She never

returned. Now all my lines are ghosts.

 

To see some of Modigliani’s images of Anna Akhmatova, visit:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/amedeo-modiglianis-nude-drawings-of-anna-akhmatova/7389982

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When Georgia painted the petunia,

she knew that to make busy people stop

in surprise and consider petunia,

 

she needed to make it large—

and she did—enormous petunias

revealed, unfolding along the wall—

 

and there the busy people saw

the intimate petals of women,

when all Georgia wanted to show them

 

was flower, the essence of flower,

the beauty of flower, the pure

purpled splendor of flower—

 

how soft, how sensual, how

wholly day stopping

a single flower can be.

 

 

to see the artwork, visit:

https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/store/products/posters/flowers/petunia-no-2-1924/

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I love the practice of Ekphrasis–the art of writing poems for other works of art. One of my favorite poetry journals, Rattle, has a monthly Ekphrastic Challenge, in which they invite poets to write poems for a piece of art, which the editors select. This month, one of my poems was selected by the editor, Tim Green. You can find the poem and the artwork by Samantha Gee here . Want to try your own hand at an Ekphrastic poem? It’s fun! You can find the monthly challenge here .

 

 

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Don’t look in the sink for happiness.

It sounds so obvious. But even the shiniest,

cleanest sink is still only a sink.

Don’t look in the cupboards.

Don’t look in the fridge. Don’t look

to the tile floor—though this

is a place we’ve danced before.

Even the stovetop, the home of flame

and chemical change—the burners

are not what we seek. Of course

we look to the kitchen. The center

of everything. Don’t look out

the open window. Don’t expect

from the empty green vase.

The only thing that’s ever mattered

were the lovers in this space.

No matter how clean the counters.

No matter how soft the breeze.

It’s us, my love, it’s us that’s missing.

It’s us that we most need.

 

 

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Wet-in-Wet

 

 

 

while not looking

at Van Gogh’s sunflowers,

inside my thoughts

I find them—

large unruly bouquets,

torches of hope

and yellow

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