When the ocean fills with darkness

This is the third of the poems I wrote for the Ekphrastic challenge using this painting by Dale Patterson.

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When the ocean fills with darkness, fish will fly

Into the murky sky on silver wings;

In their tender mouths the seeds of perhaps.

 

The spring is silent now, no birds to sing,

All fallen, and the deer have gone, though mockers said,

When the ocean fills with darkness fish will fly.

 

So many flew, their souvenirs all wrapped in gossamer

But in the ports no welcome banners waved, and back they fell

Into the murky sky, on silver wings.

 

These children, my children, may still look up and see

The dreams go flying by and take up the fading cry

In their tender mouths—the seeds of perhaps.

Nights and hawks

I have a poem in the Ekphrastic Review today, a response to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Shame the WP lines aren’t long enough for the formatting…

You can read all the responses here.

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There comes a time, but you have to wait until the hubbub dies, the rolling home

and car doors slamming, radios blaring with final weary laughter, when dark falls.

 

There’s a time when dark trickles silent except for hollow footsteps and the whoosh

of the espresso machine, brushing our faces with a remembered caress, and we

 

can imagine the stars. City nights are starless and moonless and each cupful of quiet

has to be dipped from a diminishing stream, a slender trickle where the pigeons sip.

 

Follow the stray cats to find it, where the kerb bends sharp, always right angles,

into the brief silence that waits for the birds to return with the rumbling dawn.

 

Café lights glow, turning streets into gullets, swallowing shadows. No moonlight

this, only ersatz, that draws moths with fluttering, papery wings, not hawks,

 

hawks don’t come here foraging with the pigeons in this delusion. Hawks fly high

and fierce where the night is dark and bottomless, and their sharp, narrow wings are

 

moon-silvered. Shield your eyes with your hand and look higher than the gully of

darkness, above the rumbling dawn, and you can see them, hanging among the stars.

 

 

Nights of no moon

One of the poems I wrote for the Ekphrastic challenge and forgot to send it. The painting is by Cristobal Rojas.

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Nights of no moon

 

Nights of no moon,

it’s easy to hear the voices.

When the wind winds rags of dying sun

among black branches,

we hear the hiss of flames.

 

We share the fear of darkness,

wear the same chains

of upbringing and blindness.

Our eyes pits of obscurity,

desires crass mediocrity,

hands full of futilities

grasping for more.

 

We look for salvation

in hypotheses,

in the flight of angels.

 

Nights of no moon,

an owl passes on silent wings,

feathered in forest fronds,

all-seeing—eyes deep and dark

as the night

when there is no moon.

 

Others

Here is one of the poems I wrote in response to this painting by Joan Miro for the Ekphrastic Review challenge. The title is Hors du cercle (Outside the circle). Neither of my poems were chosen, but you can read those that were here. (Congratulations Ken and Kerfe).

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We gaze,

hands pressed to the glass

at the sceptr’d isle,

the island set apart,

at the green and pleasant land

where sheep graze safely.

We gaze,

the cold curling waves clinging like death,

until the batons fall and the bones break,

and we fall back again into the silver sea.

Oh happy breed of men,

is there no room beneath your piece of sky

for misfortune’s children?

Running in circles

The last Ekphrastic challenge prompt was this painting by Ginny Caraco, and this is one of the poems I submitted. Probably not very diplomatic but I love the beauty of horses and hate to see them abused. Horse racing is after all about making lots of money for racehorse owners and bookies.

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Running in circles

 

Round and round the horses run,

bridled, blinkered and bit-bound mouths.

On their saddled backs perch little men

capped and caparisoned in gaudy silks,

circus monkey-mastering

the flow of muscle-powered grace

and beauty with whip

and the wrenching of soft mouth tissue.

Round and round

while cash piles and shifts to the din of cupidity

pounding round

round.

 

In the meadow that was once,

when the world was quiet green,

a shadow passes.

Ghost shapes glide and watch

from their distance of death

the children with nothing of their ancestors

but the grass beneath their hooves.

Dearth of Humanity

This was my entry for the Ekphastic Review challenge inspired by this painting by Fidelio Ponce de Leon. It wasn’t chosen to be published but here it is anyway.

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Dearth of humanity

 

 

There are some places in this world

Where ghosts walk daylit streets, the trackless

Famine fields and cotton fields,

Between sugar canes and potato stalks.

Human misery in shrouded white

Of rotting once-was-food now putrid blight,

Stalks the dark and comfortless night

Children’s hollow eyes the only light.

Bought and sold or simply left to rot,

Unwanted weeds in a neat suburban plot,

They haunt us still, or should if we have hearts.

The legacy of blind profit, abundant paunch

For some and padded cushioned ease until the grave,

For others bone-white lassitude and shrivelled hope,

Weary of waiting for the end,

Of dragging rattling skin from dawn to dusk.

Humanity is passion-fire not graveworm, maggot-bland,

Yet our children, grown from tender seed to budding flower,

Shrink into wind-blown dust, ground into desert sand

Timeless

The chosen poems for the Ekphrastic Review challenge are published today. You can read them here, There are some very good ones among them.

The painting is by Marianne von Werefkin, and I think it’s tremendous. Neither of the poems I submitted was selected but I enjoyed writing to this prompt so here’s one of them anyway.

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Timeless

 

Timeless the scene, the bowed, hunched backs,

All dressed in black the women walk,

Silent as night without moon or stars.

 

With their worldly goods, the light of the world

On their shoulders bent, the women walk;

Timeless the scene, the bowed, hunched backs.

 

Invisible, ghosts, mere holes in the day,

In the shadow of walls dressed proud by men,

All dressed in black the women walk.

 

Bundled in white is the light on their backs,

Though weary they walk dressed in black, unheard,

Silent as night without moon or stars.